- At Mid & East Antrim Community Advice Services we collect and use your personal information to help solve your problems, improve our services and tackle wider issues in society that affect people’s lives.We only ask for the information we need. We always let you decide what you’re comfortable telling us, explain why we need it and treat it as confidential.
When we record and use your personal information we:
- only access it when we have a good reason
- only share what is necessary and relevant
- don’t sell it to anyone
At times we might use or share your information without your permission. If we do, we’ll always make sure there’s a legal basis for it. This could include situations where we have to use or share your information:
- to comply with the law – for example, if a court orders us to share information. This is called ‘legal obligation’
- to protect someone’s life – for example, sharing information with a paramedic if a client was unwell at our office. This is called ‘vital interests’
- to carry out our legitimate aims and goals as a charity – for example, to create statistics for our national research. This is called ‘legitimate interests’
- for us to carry out a task where we’re meeting the aims of a public body in the public interest – for example, delivering a government or local authority service. This is called ‘public task’
- to carry out a contract we have with you – for example, if you’re an employee we might need to store your bank details, so we can pay you. This is called ‘contract’
- to defend our legal rights – for example, sharing information with our legal advisors if there was a complaint that we gave the wrong advice
We handle and store your personal information in line with the law – including the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.
How Mid & East Antrim Community Advice Services collect your data
We’ll get your permission by asking you to either:
- sign a paper consent form
- give verbal agreement over the phone – if you have called us seeking advice
Before we ask for your permission, we’ll always explain how we use your information.
If you’re using our Debt Advice Project and you’ve been referred to us from another advice charity, they’ll send us your information using a referral form. They’ll get your permission before sending us your information.
Working on your behalf
When you give us authority to act on your behalf, for example to help you with a Benefits claim, we’ll need to share information with that third party.
Organisations we commonly share information with to act on behalf of clients are Mid & East Antrim Council, DfC and/or the Jobs & Benefits Office, Housing Associations/private landlords or creditors.
How Mid & East Antrim Community Advice Services store your information
Whether you get advice face to face, over the phone, or by email, our adviser will log all your information, correspondence, and notes about your problem into our secure case management systems.
Some of your information might also be kept within our secure email and IT systems.
We keep your information for 6 years. If your case has been subject to a serious complaint, insurance claim or other dispute we keep the data for 16 years.
Our case management systems are hosted within the EEA and wherever possible, the UK. Most of our trusted partners store their data securely within the European Economic Area (EEA) in line with data protection law.
We also store some data e.g. client lists, letters and other information that is scanned to our secure servers ready to be saved to your case record in our case management system. Our retention policy is to delete these from our servers on a weekly basis.
Any paper files we hold are kept securely in locked filing cabinets while they are being worked on; and on closure, are scanned into your case records.
We also store some historic paper files off site in a secure storage facility managed by our suppliers Deep Store. Once these files reach their destruction date they are destroyed securely, and a certificate of destruction is issued by our suppliers.
How Mid & East Antrim Community Advice Services share your information
With your permission, we might share your information with other organisations, so we can:
- help solve your problem – for example, if you ask us to contact your creditors we might need to share your name, address and financial details with them
- refer you quickly to another organisation for more advice, if relevant
- monitor the quality of our services
Organisations we share your data with must store and use your data in line with data protection law.
There might be specific organisations we share your information with, depending on what service you access.
When we share your data with other organisations it is transferred using either
- Secure file transfer systems
- Encrypted or password protected emails
Organisations we are likely to share your information with are:
- Other service providers we refer you to such as food banks, Housing Rights Service, Law Centre or the Labour Relations Agency.
- Other organisations we partner with to deliver specific services such as Smart Move / Simon Community.
- Organisations that fund our services, but this information is always anonymised.
If we’re concerned about yours or someone else’s safety
If something you’ve told us makes us think you or someone you know might be at serious risk of harm, we could tell the police or social services – for example if we think you might hurt yourself or someone else.
Getting feedback on our service
With your permission, we’ll share your contact details with our trusted research partner, so they can contact you for feedback on your experience with us.
Contact Mid & East Antrim Community Advice Services about your information
If you have any questions about how your information is collected or used, you can contact our office.
Telephone: 028 9600 1333 Monday to Friday 10am-4pm
You can contact us to:
- find out what personal information we hold about you
- correct your information if it’s wrong, out of date or incomplete
- request we delete your information
- ask us to limit what we do with your data – for example, ask us not to share it if you haven’t asked us already
- ask us to give you a copy of the data we hold in a format you can use to transfer it to another service
- ask us to stop using your information
Who’s responsible for looking after your personal information
The national Citizens Advice charity and your local Mid & East Antrim Community Advice Services operate a system called Advice Pro to keep your personal information safe. This means they’re a ‘joint data controller’ for your personal information that’s stored in our Advice Pro system.
Each local Citizens Advice is an independent charity, and a member of the national Citizens Advice charity. The Mid & East Antrim Community Advice Services membership agreement also requires that the use of your information complies with data protection law.
You can find out more about your data rights on the Information Commissioner’s website.