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data protection

handling your personal data

The Financial Ombudsman Service is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998, which places legal obligations on us, as a data controller, when we process personal information about individuals. Our entry in the "public register of data controllers" can be seen online on the Information Commissioner's website.

We know that the personal and financial circumstances of people who refer complaints to us can be very sensitive, and we handle people's details with care and discretion.

what is personal data?

The Data Protection Act 1998 defines ‘personal data’ as data relating to a living individual who can be identified either from the information itself, or indirectly by combining the information with other data available to the data controller.

what personal information does the Financial Ombudsman Service hold?

We collect and use certain types of information in order to carry out our statutory functions. This includes information provided by financial businesses and consumers in relation to their complaints, and information about our own employees, suppliers and others we conduct business with.

do you share information outside of the Financial Ombudsman Service?

Yes - in order to investigate and resolve complaints, we may need to share information provided to us, including sensitive or personal information, with the financial business involved or other relevant organisations. We also may need to ask these organisations for information that’s relevant to an individual’s complaint.

When a consumer brings a complaint to our service we ask them to agree to these conditions when they agree for us to look at their complaint.

do you record calls?

Yes, we record and monitor incoming and outgoing telephone calls. The call recordings are stored on our call recordings server and we keep calls for two years. If a call recording provides useful information or evidence that supports your complaint we may keep this as part of your case for the period set out below.

how long do you keep people’s information?

If we investigate someone’s complaint, we’ll keep the information for six years after the case is closed. If someone contacts us about a complaint but we don’t investigate it, we will keep the information for three years after the case has been closed. After six or three years, we will delete all of the consumer’s personal information and documents except the following, which are kept permanently:

  • an ombudsman’s decision, if there is one
  • data about the case eg the name of the business you complained about, the type of product you complained about and the outcome

There may be rare occasions where we need to keep your information for longer than the time periods set out above, in order for us to effectively resolve issues or activities surrounding your case or a group of cases, but these will be exceptional circumstances.

what if I'm unhappy with how you’ve handled my data?

If you're unhappy with how we’ve handled your data, or you think there may have been a breach, please contact the individual looking after your complaint and let them know. They’ll speak to our security team who’ll investigate the matter and let you know their findings.

And if you’re still unhappy after we’ve reviewed our response, you can contact the Information Commissioner's Office:

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
phone: 01625 545 745
fax: 01625 524 510


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The UK's official expert in sorting out problems with banking, insurance, PPI, loans, mortgages, pensions and other money and financial complaints.

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