Your Personal Information
Under the Data Protection Act 1998, the Pensions Ombudsman is a data controller for any personal information that he holds about individuals. This means that he must comply with various duties; for instance, he must use personal information fairly, and keep it safely and securely.
By “personal information”, we mean information that is about identifiable living individuals. Complaints will include a considerable amount of information about individuals, such as names, ages, where individuals work or used to work and their roles. Sometimes they include information about individuals' financial affairs and medical history. When we investigate complaints we often receive additional personal information about the complainant.
We use this information to help us reach decisions about complaints, and we may need to share information with other individuals or organisations that are involved in dealing with the pension. As we have a duty to deal with personal information securely, we do not usually share personal information by e-mail or encourage others to do so (unless the information is encrypted). From 1 June 2011, all telephone calls that are made to or from this office are recorded for quality and training purposes. We store all recordings securely whether or not they contain personal information, and occasionally we may use them to check information given by telephone, where this is disputed.
By law, the Ombudsman also has the power to share information about complaints with a small number of other organisations, if he thinks it necessary in helping them carry out their own functions, but he will always consider this carefully before doing so.
We aim to carry out our work openly and transparently and for this reason, we usually publish the Ombudsman's decisions on this website. The published decisions give the complainant's name (but not address), and include relevant information about them and possibly other individuals who have been involved in the case, in order to explain what decision the Ombudsman has reached and why.
In some cases, before publishing a decision, the Ombudsman may decide to edit it, so that individuals cannot be identified or so that particular information is not disclosed. For example, he might: remove names and/or other information that might enable individuals to be identified; he might also remove particularly sensitive material such as medical information; or, in an exceptional case, publish the decision in summary form only, while making more information available to anyone who requests it.
The Ombudsman would consider editing a decision before publication where, for example, a case involves: details about an individual's medical history ; information about a complainant's family members (particularly children); serious and unfounded allegations where publication would give them wider circulation; information about other sensitive matters (such as an individual's sexual life).
If you are involved in a complaint that is being investigated and you think that the Ombudsman should edit the decision before publishing it, you should let us know as soon as possible, giving your reasons. He will not always agree, but will always consider a request very carefully.