How we use your information
This privacy notice tells you what to expect when United Utilities collects personal information. It applies to information we collect about:
- visitors to our websites
- complainants and other individuals in relation to the services we provide or an enquiry
- people who use our services, e.g. our customers past and present and others who use our services
- job applicants and our current and former employees
Visitors to our websites
When someone visits www.unitedutilities.com we collect standard internet log information and details of visitor behaviour patterns. We do this to find out things such as the number of visitors to the various parts of the site. We collect this information in a way which does not identify anyone. We do not make any attempt to find out the identities of those visiting our website. We will not associate any data gathered from this site with any personally identifying information from any source. If we do want to collect personally identifiable information through our website, we will be up front about this. We will make it clear when we collect personal information and will explain what we intend to do with it.
Search queries and results are logged anonymously to help us improve our website and search functionality. No user-specific data is collected by United Utilities.
If you call us
When you call us we will ask you security questions to identify you prior to disclosing any account related information. If you would like another person to talk to us about your account or relationship with us, you will need to contact us and give us permission prior to us discussing and disclosing your personal information to them.
We may also record and monitor calls for quality, training and security purposes. Recordings are kept internally and are retained securely for up to two years. We use this information to help improve our efficiency and effectiveness, to understand the types of calls we receive and to ensure our employees continue to give you the best possible service.
We also, upon request, can use a translation service for customers when English is not their first language, this is provided by a third party company. The company that provides this service does not retain any information from the calls or record them.
If you email us
Any email sent to us, including any attachments, may be monitored and used by us for reasons of security and for monitoring compliance with office policy. Email monitoring or blocking software may also be used. Please be aware that you have a responsibility to ensure that any email you send to us is within the bounds of the law. We also would like to make you aware that sending emails which contain personal data may not be secure due to the nature of the internet. If you prefer to contact us by telephone, please see our website for the telephone number which best meets your needs.
If you make a complaint to us
When we receive a complaint from a person we make up an electronic file containing the details of the complaint. This normally contains the identity of the complainant and any other individuals involved in the complaint.
We will only use the personal information we collect to process the complaint and to check on the level of service we provide. We do compile and publish statistics showing information like the number of complaints we receive, but not in a form which identifies anyone. We will, at times be required to share this information with our regulator Ofwat and CCW in order for them to monitor our compliance levels. If you engage with either Ofwat or CCW to act on your behalf we will share information regarding your compliant with them.
Ofwat - The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) is the economic regulator of the water and sewerage industry in England and Wales.
CCW - Customers are represented in the water industry by an independent body called the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater). CCWater took over from the previous organisation (WaterVoice) in 2005
We usually have to disclose the complainant’s identity to whoever the complaint is about. This is inevitable where, for example, the accuracy of a person’s record is in dispute. If a complainant doesn’t want information identifying him or her to be disclosed and if we have been informed of this, we will try to respect that. However, it may not be possible to handle a complaint on an anonymous basis.
We will keep personal information contained in complaint files in line with our retention policy. This means that information relating to a complaint will be retained for seven years from closure. It will be retained in a secure environment and access to it will be restricted according to the ‘need to know’ principle.
If you use our services
We have to hold the details of the people who have requested the service in order to provide it. However, we only use these details to provide the service the person has requested and for other closely related purposes, such as to understand our customer’s ability to pay or whether they have been satisfied with the service they received.
We suggest you also read our information on the use of Credit Reference Agencies.
Complaints or queries
We try to meet the highest standards when collecting and using personal information. For this reason, we take any complaints we receive about this very seriously. We encourage people to bring it to our attention if they think that our collection or use of information is unfair, inaccurate,misleading or inappropriate. We would also welcome any suggestions for improving our procedures.
This privacy notice was drafted with brevity and clarity in mind. It does not provide exhaustive detail of all aspects of our collection and use of personal information. We have provided some links which give more detail on certain aspect of our data processing. However, we are happy to provide any additional information or explanation needed. Any requests for this should be sent to the address below or you can call the number below.
Access to personal information
We try to be as open as it can be in terms of giving people access to their personal information. Individuals can find out if we hold any personal information by making a ‘subject access request’ under the Data Protection Act 1998. If we do hold information about you we will:
- give you a description of it;
- tell you why we are holding it;
- tell you who it could be disclosed to; and
- let you have a copy of the information in an intelligible form.
To make a request to us for any personal information we may hold you need to put the request in writing addressing it to our Data Protection & Fraud Manager, or write to the address provided below.
Alternatively, you can download our subject access information pack.
If we do hold information about you, you can ask us to correct any mistakes by, once again, contacting our Data Protection & Fraud Manager.
Disclosure of personal information
United Utilities and other organisations which assist us in providing services to you will use information about you to provide and enhance our services to you and for purposes ancillary to this. As part of our legitimate processing needs we will share information on all new and existing accounts with Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs) (and, when fraud is suspected, Fraud Prevention Agencies (FPAs)) in order to ensure the accuracy of our information, to trace and locate customers as well as non-payers and to better understand our customers’ ability to pay for the services we are required to supply. To enable this we may need to search the files of credit reference agencies who will record the search and we will share information with the CRAs about the way in which you conduct your account with us, this includes payment behaviours. We will also disclose your information where we are required to do so by courts of law or to comply with other legal obligations place upon us and to detect and/or prevent crime.
What we will share with CRAs: Each month we will automatically share the outstanding balance and a status reflecting the customer’s payment behaviour. If a customer is a good payer (pays their bills on time) this will be shared each month with their account balance and a status ‘0’ which tells Equifax that this customer is up to date. Customers who are more than 1 month behind will be shared as a ‘1’, 2 months a ‘2’ etc, but the highest number is a 6.
Once a customer has not paid us for 6 months then the account goes into default. When this happens, we will then issue the customer with a default notice (legal notice). Once a default notice is issued to the customer they are given a deadline date in which to make a payment. If they still do not make a payment by that date we will then let the CRA know and a default marker will be placed on the customer’s credit file.
The information that we send to Equifax is as follows:
• Customers data share reference number
• Date account opened
• Date account closed
• Default date – the date an account was defaulted
• Date of birth
• Current balance
• Default balance – the amount defaulted
• Repayment frequency – if on a payment plan
We encourage you to read the full privacy statements and Cookies factsheet on our website.
Changes to this privacy notice
We keep our privacy notice under regular review. This privacy notice was last updated on 7th September 2015.
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