Data Protection – when and how to complain

Data Protection – when and how to complain

Under the Data Protection Act, those who collect and use personal information have to follow rules of good practice for handling information (called the data protection principles). The Act also gives rights to individuals whose information they collect and use.

How do I know if my problem is a data protection problem?

You might have a data protection problem if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have been denied any of your rights, including your right to see the personal information an organisation holds about you.
  • Personal information about you is used, held or disclosed:
    • unfairly
    • for a reason that is not the one it was collected for, or
    • without proper security.
    • Personal information about you is:
      • inadequate, irrelevant or excessive
      • inaccurate or out of date, or
      • kept for longer than is necessary.

      Before you complain to us

      First, tell the organisation concerned and give it an opportunity to put things right. Many data protection problems can be solved quickly without us getting involved. You can call our helpline on 0303 123 1113 for advice to help you to solve the problem.

      What happens if I cannot solve the problem myself?

      If you have contacted the organisation about the problem but have been unable to solve it, we may be able to help.

      If necessary, we will look into your complaint. If we think the law has been broken, we can give the organisation advice and ask it to solve the problem. In the most serious cases we can order it to do so.

      We cannot award you compensation. Our main aim is to get the organisation to change the way it works so that it handles personal information properly in the future.

      Supporting evidence

      For your complaint to be eligible for further consideration we will usually need you to provide us with supporting information or evidence.

      If you send us this information together with your completed complaint form it will avoid delays that could result from us asking you to provide it later.

      To find out what information you need to send us, please select the category below that most closely matches what you intend to complain about:

      If you are still unsure what supporting evidence you will need to send to us, are not able to provide the information we need, or are unable to complete a form please contact our Helpline on 0303 123 1113.

      Make your complaint

      Please note: some of our online complaints forms are undergoing development. In the meantime, please choose from the following options.

      • By email: If all your supporting evidence is available electronically, you can send your form via email by taking the following steps. Please be aware that email may not be secure and could be intercepted before reaching the ICO. 

        Data Protection Act complaint form (Word version)

      1. Complete and save the form to your computer.
      2. Open a new email, with 'Complaint to the ICO' in the subject line.
      3. Attach this form and any other documents you wish to send us.
      4. Send to

      • By post: If your supporting evidence is in hard copy, you can print out the form and post it to us with your supporting evidence.

        Data Protection Act complaint form (Word version)

      Send to:
      First Contact Team
      Information Commissioner's Office
      Wycliffe House
      Water Lane
      SK9 5AF

      For information about how we handle your data, please read our privacy notice.