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Privacy notice

Who is collecting my data?

The Consumer Protection Study is being conducted on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) by NatCen Social Research. NatCen is Britain’s largest independent social research agency. For over 50 years, we have been working with charities, universities and government to find out what people really think about the big issues. NatCen is independent of all government departments and political parties.

Why are you contacting me?

We are contacting you because we want to make sure we represent the experiences of all types of people from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In order to get a truly unbiased picture of people's attitudes, we randomly select addresses from a publicly available list of postcodes (Postcode Address File). That way, everyone has an equal chance of taking part. Your household was randomly selected from this list to take part in the Consumer Protection Study. By taking part you will make sure the experiences of people like you are represented.

What if I don’t want to take part?

You are under no obligation take part in this study - taking part is your choice. If you would rather not take part in this study, simply ignore our messages or let us know.

What data is being collected?

For the Consumer Protection Study we would like you to tell us about your experiences buying goods and services over the past year, including any experiences that may have caused stress, cost money, or taken up time. To help with analysis, we ask for some information classed as sensitive personal data, such as ethnicity. Participation is entirely voluntary and you can skip individual questions if you prefer. To help us administer the survey, we collect information such as your contact details to send you a shopping voucher and the type of device with which you access our questionnaires online.

What will you do with the information I give?

The information you give will be used for research purposes only. This includes for sending you your shopping voucher, and if you agree, selecting and inviting you to take part in surveys and analysis to answer research questions. Most of the results will appear as percentages and statistics - we will not identify your individual opinion in the results without seeking your direct permission.

Pseudonymised data (without identifying details such as your name, address or date of birth) will be shared with BEIS and may be archived for use by bona fide researchers.

Will my contact information be shared with anyone else?

Your contact information will not be shared by NatCen with BEIS for this study. If there was a legitimate research purpose for sharing contact details or identifiable information, we would only do so with your direct permission.

How will you keep my data safe?

All the information collected through the survey is held in accordance with current data protection legislation (GDPR).  All information you provide to us is stored on secure servers. We use strict procedures and security features to prevent unauthorised access. NatCen holds ISO27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus certifications.

How long will the information I give be held?

All your personal details will be held by the data processors until no longer required for research purposes, in accordance with current data protection legislation (GDPR). The pseudonymised datasets will be kept indefinitely, as they will continue to be useful to researchers and policy makers.

Under this legislation, BEIS is the ‘Data Controller’ for data collected through the survey, with NatCen acting as the ‘Data Processor’ on behalf of BEIS. BEIS process information on the basis of ‘Public Task’.

NatCen will be the “Data Controller” for your contact details and demographic information and we process your information for research purposes on the basis of ‘Legitimate Interest’. We process your special category data under the condition of ‘Archiving, research and statistics’.

Will I have access to my data?

If you have recently completed a questionnaire for us and subsequently change your mind about taking part or about any of the answers you gave then we’ll always do our best to amend or delete your data. However, because your data are collected for research and statistical purposes, you do not have the right to access it or request for it to be amended.

Any questions?

If you have any questions you can contact us on Freephone 0800 652 4569 or by emailing

You can contact the BEIS Data Protection Officer by email:

You can also contact the NatCen Data Protection Officer by email:

If you wish to lodge a complaint you can email or call Freephone 0800 652 4569.

You can also contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.