I’m the Head of Utilities in Experian’s Energy and Water Sector.
I handle a very specialized form of fraud called “energy theft,” where an individual or business steals electricity by tapping a line or bypassing the energy meter.
Back in 2010, the process for handling this type of fraud was broken. Few companies bothered investigating instances of theft; they just accepted the pervasive issue as a cost of sale.
This fraudulent activity was costing energy consumers approximately £30 per year, while putting countless homes and offices at risk, since faulty wiring for gas and electricity often leads to house fires or even explosions.
Energy regulators decided the time had come for energy providers to crack down on the practice. My team and I at Experian were invited to a consultation to discuss how to use data and innovative techniques to end energy theft. The model we suggested was adopted as the preferred approach, and in the last year the project has been implemented across the entire industry in the UK.
Our model combines data from the big energy companies with Experian’s own database to identify which residential or business properties may be stealing energy from the network. We can determine this by comparing energy consumption trends with information on how many people actually occupy the property. With both data sets, we can determine the amount of energy we believe the property should be consuming.
If the energy consumption is lower than it should be on a particular piece of property, we look at fraud and credit data sets to see if the case qualifies as a genuine instance of low consumption (such as an older woman living alone), or if someone is perpetrating theft. We send that information back to the supplier so they can prioritize it for investigation.
Through this program, I’ve helped protect countless homes and saved consumers from having to pay for energy they’re not using.
I love that what I do not only gives me the opportunity to be creative in how I use data, but also helps protect businesses and everyday people.