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Riviera Utilities sends warning letters to 65,000 customers that their personal information could have been stolen

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 10:49 PM CDT
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FOLEY, Ala. (WALA) - Thousands of Riviera Utilities customers got a letter over the weekend saying their personal information could have been compromised. Riviera officials said the breach happened in October and an IT forensic service has been looking into it since.

Bernice and Tom Hunt were just two of many folks who received the letter and looked to Riviera Utilities for answers Monday, May 2, 2022. Letter in hand, they walked into the Foley office to see what they could find out.

“The first thing that jumped out on me was his bank account because we have a draft, and it comes out of his bank account,” Beatrice Hunt said.

There is no evidence that any information was taken, just that the potential was there, and the letter was sent to customers Riviera officials said, in an abundance of caution. 65,000 letters were sent and as you can imagine, there are a lot of worried customers.

“It’s one of those things where someone gets in the system and hacks it and they don’t find out about it until it’s too late,” said Riviera customer, Randy Perry.

Riviera officials said the risk of a compromise is no different if you only use one of their services or all of them. That’s because the breach has been restricted to just emails. Customers were warned that some of the potential information at risk include full names, social security numbers and in some cases, driver’s license numbers.

In a letter sent to 64,000 Riviera Utilities customer, the company warns of the possible theft...
In a letter sent to 64,000 Riviera Utilities customer, the company warns of the possible theft of customers' personal information, including proper names, Social Security numbers and in some cases, drivers license numbers.(Hal Scheurich)

“If there is one piece of good news, is that we’ve moved quickly enough to keep it from compromising the other systems that we use to handle people’s billing and their bank information…things like that,” said Riviera Utilities president and CEO, Tom Bell.

Some who got the letter are just taking things in stride and weren’t shocked at all, saying it’s just the new world we live in.

“I’ve seen them before from other companies, so it wasn’t a big shock,” said Riviera customer, Rick Gardner. “I know people are out there trying to get other people’s information, so it’s going to happen from time to time.”

The bigger concern is that Riviera was made aware of the breach in October. Fox 10 News reported it in November, but it took until March to learn the extent and then until this weekend to notify customers.

“The truth is, the process takes a long time, and we didn’t get the final results of the analysis until March and at that point, then we had to…we matched it up,” Bell explained. “We had to go through the process of matching it with addresses so we could get the information out to people and as soon as we had it all together, we sent out the notifications.”

If you know or think you have been affected by this data breach, Riviera Utilities has established a dedicated toll-free response line at (855) 602-1771. The response line is available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central Time.

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