skip tocontent

data protection

how we handle your personal information if you ask us to look into a complaint

The Financial Ombudsman Service is covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which places legal obligations on us, as a data controller, when we hold and 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 information with care and discretion. This page sets out how we use your personal information if you ask us to look into a complaint about a financial business.

why we process your personal information

Personal information means information that is about you – for example, your name, date of birth, financial details and phone conversations with us.

With your consent, we process (eg collect, record, share) your personal information to help resolve your complaint.

We may contact you for feedback to help improve our service – but only if you give your consent.

We may also use information about your case to spot any wider issues or trends in the complaints that we receive. For example, we may review a group of similar complaints to check whether a product has been sold unfairly to consumers on a wide scale and what the cause might be. We’ll only do this where we consider that there is a legitimate interest.

who we share your personal information with

We may share or check your information with the business your complaint is about and occasionally others – for example, another business that was involved in your complaint (eg a broker, underwriter, lender) or a credit referencing agency.

Where we can, we keep your personal information within the European Economic Area. If that’s not possible, we take appropriate steps to safeguard your information.

If you have a complaint about the service we’ve provided to you, and we’ve not been able to resolve this, you can ask the Independent Assessor to investigate your complaint about our service. We will pass on relevant details to the Independent Assessor so that they can investigate and respond to your service complaint.

how long we keep your personal information

We keep your personal information only for as long as we need to. This includes things like:

  • We will keep your case file for 6 years after your case closes (or 3 years if we did not go on to fully investigate your case)
  • We keep ombudsman decisions permanently
  • If you brought a case to our service before February 2014, your case may have had a paper file. If your case had a paper file, we would only keep a record of this for three years after your case closed and your electronic file for 6 years after your case close
  • If you ask the Independent Assessor to look into a complaint about our service, the Independent Assessor’s office will keep their opinion for 6 years and any correspondence for 2 years

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.

your rights

You have a right to withdraw your consent to us processing your personal information at any time. You can also ask us to delete your personal information or to restrict or object to the way we use it.

This may mean we won’t be able to look into your complaint. We might also need to keep some personal information – for example, to avoid duplicate complaints or to comply with the law.

You have a right to receive any personal information you have given to us in an easy to use way – and to have it sent to another organisation. You can also ask us for a copy of your personal information and to correct it.

what to do if you’re unhappy with how we’ve handled your personal information

Please first let the person looking after your complaint (or their manager) know so they can look into your concerns. You can also contact our data protection officer at: data.protection@financial-ombudsman.org.uk.

If you’re unhappy with our response, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office at www.ico.org.uk, casework@ico.org.uk or 01625 545 745.

free, fair, for everyone

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

need help?

consumer helpline
0800 023 4567

our technical advice desk
(for businesses and consumer advisers)
020 7964 1400

media enquiries
press office - 020 7964 1234 out of hours - 07901 118 018