data protection compliance statement

Data Protection Compliance Statement

This is a Data Protection Compliance Statement adopted by Pinnacle Investigations.

Pinnacle Investigations needs to collect and use certain types of information about people with whom it deals in order to operate. These include current, past and prospective employees, suppliers, clients/customers, and others with whom it communicates. In addition, it may occasionally be required by law to collect and use certain types of information of this kind to comply with the requirements of government departments for business data, for example. This personal information must be dealt with properly, however it is collected, recorded and used – whether on paper, in a computer, or recorded on other material – and there are safeguards to ensure this in the Data Protection Act 1998.
We regard the lawful and correct treatment of personal information by Pinnacle Investigations. as very important to successful operations, and to maintaining confidence between those with whom we deal and ourselves. We ensure that our organisation treats personal information lawfully and correctly.
To this end we fully endorse and adhere to the Principles of Data Protection, as enumerated in the Data Protection Act 1998.
Specifically, the Principles require that personal information:
Shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular, shall not be processed unless specific conditions are met;
Shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes;
Shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed;
Shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date;
Shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes;
Shall be processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects under the Act;
Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.
Shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data.
Therefore, Pinnacle Investigations will, through appropriate management, strict application of criteria and controls:
Observe fully conditions regarding the fair collection and use of information;
Meet its legal obligations to specify the purposes for which information is used;
Collect and process appropriate information, and only to the extent that it is needed to fulfil operational needs or to comply with any legal requirements;
Ensure the quality of information used;
Apply strict checks to determine the length of time information is held;
Ensure that the rights of people about whom information is held, are able to be fully exercised under the Act. (These include: the right to be informed that processing is being undertaken, the right of access to one’s personal information, the right to prevent processing in certain circumstances and the right to correct, rectify, block or erase information which is regarded as wrong information.);
Take appropriate technical and organisational security measures to safeguard personal information;

Ensure that personal information is not transferred abroad without suitable safeguards.

In addition, as part of this Data Protection Compliance Statement Pinnacle Investigations will ensure that:

There is someone with specific responsibility for data protection in the organisation. (Currently, the nominated person is Paul Newton);

Everyone managing and handling personal information understands that they are contractually responsible for following good data protection practice;

Everyone managing and handling personal information is appropriately trained to do so;

Everyone managing and handling personal information is appropriately supervised;

Anybody wanting to make enquiries about handling personal information knows what to do;

Queries about handling personal information are promptly and courteously dealt with;

Methods of handling personal information are clearly described;

A regular review and audit is made of the way personal information is managed;

Methods of handling personal information are regularly assessed and evaluated;

Performance with handling personal information is regularly assessed and evaluated.

Data Protection Compliance Statement & Data Protection Policy

In some cases we may profile subjects names through the live credit databases that we have access to.
This may leave "footprints" under the search purpose that the client has provided to us on the subject's credit file on Credit Reference Agency Database(s). It is always recommended therefore that the client has the consent in the original agreement. However there are exceptions in cases where it is considered not applicable. Eg. Public Interest and other DPA Exemptions. (Section 29 and 35).
If the clients instruction is a trace and dependent upon the information we obtain from these databases, this will then determine what further enquiries are appropriate. Such as obtaining telephone numbers from addresses at which we believe the subject may be or have been located. We may also utilise other publicly available databases and/or Registries that we feel would be of value in this enquiry. E.g. The Family Records Office, Land Registry, Gazette, Electoral Roll etc. etc.

Once this research has been completed we may then conduct enquiries by telephone at and around the locations identified. At no stage will we divulge to a third party any personal data relating to the Data Subject and all enquiries will be discreet.
For the avoidance of doubt the instructions are accepted on the basis that our services are conducted under the direction of the client and as such we are deemed the Data Processor and the client, and/or the principal, is deemed Data Controller. If the subject of enquiry should contact us regarding any search we will refer them to the client as we will have forwarded our report to them and we will hold no additional information/data. We will hold data for not longer than necessary which in most cases will be no longer than 6 months, unless instructed to do so by the Data Controller.

Whatever the instruction, we confirm that no part of this enquiry will be sub-contracted to any other agent without the clients prior approval. We also confirm that no information concerning the Data Subject given to us by yourselves, or obtained during the course of this enquiry, will be used for any other purpose.

At all stages of enquiries we recognise that we are acting as the clients Data Processor, and as such we will comply totally with the Data Protection Act and the guidelines contained within the 8 Principles.

Code of Ethics of our Trade Association

We Pledge

To perform all professional duties in accordance with the highest moral principles and never be guilty of conduct which will bring reproach upon the profession of the Investigator sector and The Association of British Investigators.

To verify the credentials of clients and that they have lawful and moral reasons to instruct an investigation.

To respect the privacy of clients and their lawful confidence.

To ensure that services are adequately secure to protect privacy and to guard against inadvertent disclosure of private information.

To ensure that all employees and other persons paid to assist an investigation adhere to this Code of Ethics and to accept responsibility thereof.

To conduct all investigations within the bounds of legality, morality and professional ethics.

To respect the best interest of our clients by maintaining the high standard of proficiency and reporting to our clients all the facts ascertained whether they be advantageous or detrimental, and nothing be withheld from the clients save by the dictates of law.

To work together with all members of our Association towards the achievement of the highest professional objectives of the Association and to observe the precepts of truth, accuracy and prudence.

Code of Practice of our Trade Association

Each member shall comply with this Code and any other Guidance issued by the ABI from time to time.
1) All Transactions
a) Each member shall conduct its business lawfully, comply with all relevant UK legislation and judicial decisions and trade fairly and responsibly.
b) Each member shall also comply with Debt and Debt Collection Guidance as published by the Office of Fair Trading from time to time.
c) Each member shall act responsibly and with integrity in the day-to-day conduct of it business. For example:
i. Provide adequate training for members of its staff, bringing to their attention the principles of this Code and requiring them to carry out their duties in accordance with it. Also, ensure continuous and appropriate training of staff in respect of current legislation and best practice.
ii. Follow where appropriate any requests conveyed to the members by the Council of the Association from the enforcement authorities.
iii. Follow where appropriate any guidance notes issued by the Council of the Association.
iv. Notify the Association of any matters, which might adversely affect the reputation of the industry or of the Association.
d) Each member shall:
i. Comply with all relevant legislation revisions, updates and amendments.

For example:

The Administration of Justice Act 1970 Section 40

The Consumer Credit Act 1974 (and regulations thereunder)

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995

The Race Relations Act 1976

The Data Protection Act 1998

The Consumer Protection Act 1987

The Criminal Justice Act 1995

Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1994

Business Names Act 1985

Companies Act 1985 (as amended 1989)

Human Rights Act 1998

Mental Health Act 1983

Money Laundering & Proceeds of Crime Act

Debt Arrangement and Attachment Act (Scotland) 2002 and subsequent regulations

This list is not exhaustive.

ii. Use plain English in all communications.
iii. All correspondence must show the full business address, telephone number and email address, where used.
iv. In all contacts by staff or agents, ensure that the member’s identity is clearly disclosed.
v. Ensure by continuously examining its debt collection procedures and those of any third parties it employs that they conform to the highest ethical standards.
vi. All members have a duty to ensure that their agents, sub contractors and subsidiaries comply with the Association’s Code and Guidelines.
vii. Comply with all reasonable requests by consumers, clients, or their appointed third parties for information concerning their agreements and accounts.
viii. All members shall ensure that the Association’s Code is available on their own websites. They shall further ensure that a copy of the code is supplied promptly to any debtor on request.

2) Confidentiality

Members must keep in strict confidence any information supplied by consumers or others, except where disclosure is authorised by the consumer or others or permitted or required by law.

3) Debt Collection & Default Guidelines

The following list of guidelines is intended as an indication of procedures to be adopted by members. It is not intended as an exhaustive directive to members.

Moreover the effectiveness of collection techniques and procedures depends on the circumstances applying at the time collection is attempted and so cannot be regulated in an absolute manner. Nevertheless, the Association expects compliance with the guidelines and any member not so complying will have to give a justifiable reason for not-complying in the event of a complaint being received by the Association.

In attempting to carry out collection in default of payment, members of the Association should:

a) Not use oppressive or intrusive collection procedures.
b) Not bring unreasonable pressure to bear on the consumer/debtor in default of payment.
c) Not act in a manner in public intended to embarrass the debtor.
d) Be circumspect and discreet when attempting to contact the debtor whether by telephone, or by personal visit, with due regard to OFT Guidelines.
e) Ensure that all attempted contacts with debtors are made at reasonable times and at reasonable intervals.
f) Unless instructed otherwise, accept all reasonable offers by debtors to pay by instalments provided acceptable evidence of non-ability to pay is given.
g) Unless otherwise instructed by the debtor, not discuss with or disclose to any third parties especially neighbours, relatives, or employers the consumer’s indebtedness.
h) Not use improper means to obtain the telephone number or address of a debtor. (Improper in this connection would refer to actions in breach of legislation described in para. 1) d.i. above or in breach of the Association’s Code’s.)
i) Not pressurise debtors to sell property or to raise funds by further borrowing.
j) Not falsely imply by written or verbal means that criminal proceedings will be brought nor that civil action has been instituted in default of payment nor should members falsely state or imply that a judgement or document of debt (Scotland) has been obtained against the debtor.
k) Ensure that collectors who use pseudonyms can be identified within the member’s organisation.
l) Take all possible steps to verify that the person being pursued is, in fact, the debtor.
m) To have due regard to and deal sensitively with individuals where evidence has been given, or is apparent, that the individual is incapacitated by mental or physical disability.
n) When dealing with fee charging debt advisory services, follow the Office of Fair Trading Guidelines on Debt Management.
o) Members shall offer maximum co-operation with local consumer advisers or other intermediaries consulted by the consumer/debtor.
p) Encourage consumers/debtors in financial difficulties to inform members of their difficulties and then to respond sympathetically and positively on the evidence provided.
q) Take into consideration before determining whether to enforce repayment all information supplied in relation to the reason for non payment, which may include The Common Financial Statement, or the consumer/debtors future ability to repay. If the consumer/debtor has disclosed multiple debt problems, inform them of the availability of advisory services. Provide in all relevant correspondence the name or designation of a specially trained member of staff who may be contacted regarding financial difficulties.
r) Where a debt, or the sum owed has been disputed promptly supply information to the debtor in support of the claim. Where no information has been supplied by the creditor promptly obtain the required support, or failing that cease collection action.

4) Conduct Regarding Clients

Each member shall:

a) Safeguard the security of collected monies.
b) Account to their clients at least once a month, or as otherwise agreed by their client.
c) Inform their clients of the true rates of charges for services rendered.
d) Ensure that by prior arrangement clients are able to visit their premises for the purpose of auditing and checking their accounts.
e) Conduct its business under a name, title or style which will not confuse or mislead clients, creditors, consumers or members of the public, or which will not imply any association with other organisations or persons, which do not exist.
f) Not approach, induce or persuade staff in the employment of a client to join the members organisation, although nothing in this clause will prohibit the engagement by a member of such an employee where a bona fide application is made.
5) Complaints
a) Each member shall have in place adequate processes to deal with consumer or client complaints, this must contain the following minimum procedure:
i. The management level at which complaints are handled.
ii. The time frame in which complaints are handled.
iii. The remedy, if the complainant is not satisfied.
iv. Complainants must be advised that one of the remedies is referral of the complaint to the Association where appropriate.

b) Members shall deal with complaints speedily, responsively, in a user-friendly fashion and at an appropriate management level.
c) Member’s complaints procedures must be made available to the complainant or his/her advisor on request.
d) If a complaint is made to the Association in relation to dealings with a member of the Association, the Association will deal with the complaint in accordance with the published complaints procedure.
6) The Association
a) Each member shall provide to the Council, on request, references and proof of financial solvency.
i. Members who are not required to file annual returns or accounts must provide the Association annually with a Certificate Solvency based on their last available audited accounts and signed by their Auditor.
ii. Notwithstanding the above, each member shall have their accounts audited by a firm of qualified accountants.

b) The Association shall monitor the compliance of members with the Code and shall each year publish a report of the number and types of complaints received.
c) Any instance of non-complying shall be drawn to the attention of the member concerned. In the event of continued non-compliance or of a serious breach, the Disciplinary Committee will take such action as it deems appropriate, including a warning or recommendation of expulsion of the member concerned from membership. In the event of expulsion the Association will send a report to the Office of Fair Trading.
d) Membership of the Association entitles the member to display an approved trade association symbol thereby indicating their adherence to this Code of Practice.
e) Each member must inform the Association of all Trading Names in use.

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