Looking out for member privacy

Data Privacy

 

In today's fast-paced, technologically saturated world, many of us are becoming more informed about the necessity of guarding our individual privacy. Frequent reports in the news media feature troubling stories of both individuals and organizations who have been scammed by unscrupulous criminals. These unsolicited contacts can originate here at home or in a foreign country.  At the same time, there are also instances where, unbeknownst to their clientele, legitimate businesses have passed along personal data to other parties. Just recently, there was a news account of an electric utility in South Carolina that had been selling its customer information without those customers’ knowledge or permission. The utility has since informed its ratepayers that it had ceased that practice.

Uneasy thoughts
When I heard about that matter, I immediately wondered if our Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative members might be having some uneasy thoughts of their own. If that should be the case, I want to take this opportunity to set everyone’s mind at ease. In our nearly 80 years of operation, the cooperative has always been careful to safeguard our members’ privacy. Not too long after Blue Ridge was chartered in 1940, an Upstate appliance dealer asked for the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of our entire membership. The cooperative’s management at that time wisely and politely turned down that request, and that has served as an ironclad policy here ever since.

The cutting edge of prevention
On another front, Blue Ridge is employing every known technological action to ensure that your electric- account information doesn’t become compromised. Experts in the field of computer science tell us there’s no foolproof means of countering every online attack that might come along. However, you can be certain that the cooperative is striving to stay on the cutting edge of prevention when it comes to the security of our members’ records. We’re frequently made aware of calls our members receive from persons impersonating Blue Ridge employees. You can be sure that we’ll never call and demand that payments be made at a third-party site, or that you purchase gift cards to pay your bill. Should you get a suspicious call regarding your account, contact the local sheriff’s office and then let us know. We’ll send that information out to other members through social media, since these attacks are often targeted to just one area or co-op. The fact that Blue Ridge is a member- owned power supplier means that we’re especially focused on looking out for you and your interests. Your board of directors, my fellow employees, and I are all firmly committed to the co-op business model. That means serving you well is a preeminent concern. It’s a commitment that extends to every aspect of our work, including the protection of the personal business you carry on with Blue Ridge.

 

JIM LOVINGGOOD

President and CEO