I have, on occasion, been accused of being a little impatient. I like to pick up the phone, ask a question, get an answer, say a cheery goodbye and move on with my day. The reality is that after being kept on hold listening to music, or being told that my call is important, or better still, playing “hunt the option”, a human will say hello. It is then their job to establish that they are talking to the right person, usually through the use of “security questions”. It can seem all a bit inconvenient, especially as I have heard it done quite badly over the years.
Ultimately, data protection is there for all our safety. There is an ever increasing chance that any of us may fall victim to identity theft or some other cyber crime. But what if we are trying to help someone else by calling on their behalf? If the data protection rules are being adhered to properly, you will be politely told to go away and get the account or policy holders permission before they can talk to you. This is where everyone can help themselves with a little planning. All you have to do is let a company know who they can talk to.
Take the example of a couple living together in a house. They decide to take out house insurance and it is left to one of them to make the arrangements. They go online, or fill out forms and, in the absence of the other partner, just go ahead with their own details. It does, I assure you, happen a lot. Move forward some time and a claim arises. The partner who was not involved in the setting up of the plan calls to get the ball rolling and immediately is told that as they are not the policyholder, no information can be exchanged with them.
Another example, a little closer to my own situation. An elderly relative, living on their own, goes into hospital for a short while. During which time I am called upon to deal with some routine matters. Arrangements have been put in place for me to talk to some places, but others I came across for the first time and they, quite correctly, refuse to deal with me.
There is justification for everyone letting the companies and organisations they deal with know who it is ok to talk to if you’re not around. All you have to do is let them know with a letter or email, who has permission to talk on your behalf if you are unwell, away or just simply unavailable. Don’t forget to give them the persons contact details as well because the company might be having difficulty contacting you.
Who should you tell?
In short, everyone you have dealings with, either as a client or service user. The list could go on and on, but typically would include:
- Bank & Building Societies
- Local Authorities
- Utility Providers
Here’s a sample letter you can send:
And here’s a link if you would like to download and use it. Letter of Authority You can amend it to suit the situation, but make sure you include the full details of who you are giving authority to and remeber that it must be dated. As you can see, it’ need only be short and to the point but sending such an authority can save a whole lot of hassle.