VULNERABLE PERSONS POLICY
FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE SUPPORTING AND PROTECTING VULNERABLE USERS
Vulnerable Persons Policy
Mobivate has adopted this company-wide policy. This policy applies to all employees and contractors (“staff”). This policy is intended to enable staff to identify users who, for a number of reasons, may be less able to represent their own interests (“vulnerable users”) and who may suffer harm as a result of that. Mobivate is committed to ensuring that its users receive, so far as is possible, the assistance they require. Failure to comply with this policy is a disciplinary offence.
1. DEFINITION OF VULNERABLE USERS
1.1 A vulnerable user is a consumer who is less likely to make fully informed or rational decisions due to a specific characteristic, circumstance or need and may be likely to suffer detriment as a result. These are users who, for a number of reasons, may be less able to represent their own interests. 1.2 In practise, there may be a range of personal characteristics or circumstances which make a user vulnerable.
2. CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH CAN MAKE USERS MORE VULNERABLE
2.1 We have set out below some examples of factors which might suggest that a user should be classed as vulnerable. 2.2 Characteristics that may lead to a user being considered vulnerable include (but are not limited to): a) Age – including children (defined as under 16 years of age) and older people; b) Learning difficulties or low mental capacity; c) Disability or mental health condition causing a cognitive impairment (e.g. suffering with dementia); d) Lack of English language skills or low literacy and/or numeracy skills; e) Low level of technical/IT literacy; and/or, f) Addiction. 2.3 Circumstances that may lead to a user being vulnerable include (again, but are not limited to): a) Income shock, e.g. due to job loss or being victim of a financial scam; b) Bereavement; c) Caring (unpaid or paid) for someone who is older, has a physical or mental illness or is disabled; d) Domestic abuse, including financial control and abuse; and/or, e) Sudden and unexpected situation causing strife, e.g. illness or relationship breakdown.
3.1 We recognise that vulnerability arising from personal characteristics or circumstances can be long term, permanent or transitory. 3.2 We understand that many people in vulnerable circumstances would not regard themselves as ‘vulnerable’, and that two people experiencing the same issue or event might interpret their degree of vulnerability very differently. 3.3 We will never assume that a user’s vulnerability means that they do not have the mental capacity to make a decision and we won’t discriminate against someone because of their vulnerability. 3.4 We will treat vulnerable user with respect and understanding and be empathetic to their situation, where possible providing practical support.
4. HOW OUR STAFF WILL IDENTIFY VULNERABLE USERS
4.1 We understand that vulnerable users will not always advise us of their personal characteristics or circumstances. We will be alert for signs that an individual may be a “vulnerable user”. This will not be a diagnosis of a condition but the application of our listening skills to identify a user’s needs and adjust our approach to that user accordingly. 4.2 Our staff will be alert for indications that a user may be vulnerable, including for signs such as the following: a) A user asks us to speak slowly or to speak louder. Our staff will consider whether the user can hear the complete conversation and whether the user can understand what we are saying; b) A user appears confused, is asking unrelated questions, wanders off the point or repeats comments. Our staff will consider whether the user fully understands what is being discussed; c) A user asks for a third party such as a relative to talk to us instead e.g. “my son/daughter deals with these things for me”; d) A user appears flustered, out of breath, or takes a long time to answer the phone which could indicate a lack of mobility due to age or illness; e) Signs of a language barrier; and/or, f) Where a user explains that they don’t understand recent correspondence or a phone conversation including their telephone bill.
5. HOW WE TREAT VULNERABLE USERS
5.1 In applying best practice when dealing with a vulnerable user we will: a) Treat each user individually; b) Speak clearly at all times; c) Be patient and empathise; d) Set clear expectations for the call – outline all the information that will be required and the likely timeframe for the call; e) Not assume that we know what the user needs or rush through the information; f) Give the user time to explain themselves; and/or g) Offer alternative forms of communication such as corresponding by post/email if helpful. 5.2 If a user is still struggling to understand information we will: a) Ask if there is a better time to call back; b) Give the user the option to go away and discuss the matter with a relative/third party; c) Establish if the user needs a period of further consideration; d) Confirm the user’s understanding by asking questions such as “is there anything else you would like me to explain?”; e) Not assume that the user is able to see; f) Not assume that the user is able to hear everything; and/or, g) Make sure that the user is not in an agitated or emotional state when agreeing to a course of action.
6. CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES THAT WE APPLY
6.1 We have adopted a number of controls and procedures to mitigate possible risks to vulnerable users from the phone-paid services including: a) In our handling of complaints we consider the particular needs of users who are or may be vulnerable; and b) Training for staff to enable them to recognise and respond appropriately to the explicit and implicit signs of potential consumer vulnerability. 6.2 To the extent that it is within Mobivate's control we will apply the following policies: a) Employing mechanisms to identify excessive use of phone-paid services where excessive bills may result; b) Where services are likely to be attractive to children, we advise how parental controls can be put in place including, where relevant, how parents may instruct their mobile carrier to put a complete block on mobile premium rate services; c) Where a service is restricted to people over 16 or over 18, we require that appropriate age verification requirements are put in place; and/or, d) Where an advertising channel is suspected of driving vulnerable consumers, for example, children, to a service we will engage in discussions with our partners and customers on this issue.
7. MEANS OF COMMUNICATING WITH US
7.1 End users may contact us via phone on +44 207 267 5222 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. KEEPING THIS POLICY UNDER REVIEW
8.1 We routinely gather data and evidence about the use of our services. We will review this information as part of our client risk and monitoring meetings to ensure fair and proper treatment of vulnerable users, and to manage our regulatory obligations. 8.2 We review this policy and our related procedures annually.
9. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS POLICY?
9.1 Mobivate’s Operations Manager is responsible for this policy and should be contacted if there are any queries.