Energy bill help poses data risk as ‘sticky customers’ could be sent emails from rival firms to make them switch
Plans to share loyal energy customers’ details with other suppliers to help householders switch to better deals may breach data protection rules.
A database of ‘sticky customers’, who have been with the same supplier for years, was suggested by the competition watchdog so rival firms could send better offers.
However, experts were worried households would be deluged with junk mail.
As part of the proposed plan, the data of loyal customers would be shared among energy companies so they can receive offers to change their providers
Energy regulator Ofgem has trialled the idea and said letters boosted switching levels.
But an industry insider warned that sharing customer details without permission could break General Data Protection Regulation rules.
Customers are now supposed to ‘opt in’ before companies can contact them. Data watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is assessing Ofgem’s plans.
An ICO spokesman says: ‘The ICO has been regularly engaging with Ofgem . . . to help ensure that any processing of personal data involved in implementing these measures is compliant with data protection law.’
An Ofgem spokesman says: ‘Ensuring the privacy and protection of customer information is fundamental to our work to help these customers find better deals. We will ensure our work in this area is compliant with data protection law.
‘We will continue to work the ICO, information security consultants and our legal advisers as we progress the work to bring better outcomes to energy consumers.’