As described in detail below, we may collect certain identifying information from or about you in connection with your use of, or your submissions to, the System (collectively, the "Collected Information"). Collected Information may include identifying information provided to the System on your behalf by one of our call center employees when you call our call centers to make a payment or enroll in one of our products or services. Collected Information includes, without limitation, any information that may be used to identify an individual, including, but not limited to, a first and last name, a home, business, service or other physical address, geographic location, business name, a phone number, a Social Security number, an email address, tax identification number, employer name, employer information (i.e., company size, industry, number of employees), utility account number or other identifier, credit or debit card number (and related information such as expiration date), bank account information, and account number or other identifier used in connection with our marketing alliances (e.g., your Delta SkyMiles number pursuant to our alliance with Delta). SouthStar uses the information we collect to provide natural gas and other products and services to you; to provide required regulatory communications to you; to open, maintain, and close accounts; for payment processing; for marketing activities; for fulfillment; for provision of quotes and other pricing information; to improve the System's content, materials, and services; and to more effectively and efficiently respond to both current and future customer inquiries.
Some of our promotional offers have a referral feature that allows you to have the offer sent to a friend or contact with your comment. If you choose to use this feature, we may collect from you and use the email address of your friend(s) and contact(s) to facilitate the referral. For your convenience, we offer you the option of accessing online contact sources, including, but not limited to the Google Contacts API feature, which will allow you to import the email addresses of your contacts solely for the purpose of selecting recipients with whom you wish to share a promotional offer. Any information provided to us through the referral feature will not be shared with any third parties or stored for other uses.
By placing a small file known as a "cookie" on your computer (or other device), SouthStar's, and its third party service providers', servers passively gather information about all visitors' use of the System for several reasons, including, but not limited to, the following: statistics collection and analysis, System optimization, analytics (as described below), market research, and maintenance of user login information. The information that we and our third party service providers track with cookies includes, but is not limited to, the type of browser (such as Google Chrome or Internet Explorer) and Internet-connected device being used to access the System, your Internet protocol ("IP") address, your home domain or Internet service provider, your referrer URL (which is the URL for the website that you were viewing prior to visiting the System), how you were directed to the System, which specific pages you access on the System, how long you view each page, the time and date you access our System and the total number of visitors to the System and any portions thereof. We use your IP address to determine the general physical location of your computer or device and understand from what geographic locations our System visitors come.
We, and/or our third party service providers, may place cookies or similar files on your computer for security purposes (such as authentication), to facilitate site navigation and to personalize your experience while visiting our Website. Cookies allow us and our third party service providers to collect technical and navigational information, such as browser type, time spent on our Website and pages visited (these types of cookies are typically referred to as "Session Cookies").
Our third party service providers use pixels which cause "cookies" or similar technology to be stored on your browsers when you visit the System. This is necessary for our third party service providers to provide retargeting services. The collection of this anonymous data allows us to better target our advertising to your interests. The data also helps us and our third party service providers improve our respective product and services.
Most popular Internet browser applications will allow you to configure the browser so as not to accept cookies. However, setting your browser to reject cookies may, in certain instances, prevent you from taking full advantage of the System (or some portion thereof) and its capabilities, or cause some features of the System to function improperly or more slowly.
Some of the areas of the System may contain electronic images known as web beacons (sometimes known as clear gifs) that allow SouthStar, and its third party providers, to count and track users who have visited certain portions of the System. Web beacons collect only limited information, including a cookie number, time and date of a page view, and a description of the page on which the Web beacon resides. Web beacons do not collect any of your personal information.
We may send you emails with promotional offers. If you would no longer like to receive emailed special offer information, sales notifications or other promotional messages from us, please click the link at the bottom of any promotional email you receive from us and follow the instructions. Your email address will be removed from our marketing list. Please allow us a reasonable period of time in order to satisfy your request, as some promotions may already be in process.
Additionally, we may buy additional data related to Collected Information from certain trusted business partners for the purpose of creating custom demographic profiles, or to otherwise improve such users' System experience or use of our products or services. In connection with our alliances with certain real estate agents and agencies, we may ask such third parties to refer potential customers to us by providing your name, address, email address and the closing date of your real estate transaction.
Furthermore, we may use your phone number or other Collected Information to "scrub" the information from our advertising lists if such Collected Information is included in a "Do Not Call" list (or such other no-contact list), or as may otherwise be necessary to comply with any regulation, law, or order. Furthermore, we may, but are under no obligation to, use Collected Information as necessary to ensure that existing customers or users of our services or products do not receive advertising for such products or services.
We may, from time to time, utilize a number of trusted business and marketing partners in delivering the content, materials, and opportunities available on or through the System. For example, we may provide your Collected Information to an affiliate or third party provider to re-target certain advertising to you on different portions of the System, for market or user modeling, or use in direct advertising through the System or via direct mailing. To the extent necessary for purposes of communicating with you or fulfilling your requests for such content, materials, and opportunities, we may share Collected Information with our affiliates, third party service providers or business partners. We, or our respective trusted business parties and third party services providers may also produce reports on the System's traffic or usage patterns and share these reports with us, or our business partners and others, but the information contained in these reports is anonymous and does not allow identification of any specific individual. SouthStar also may release Collected Information in connection with joint marketing efforts and strategic alliances. We do not sell, rent, or lease our user lists or the identity of individual users to third parties. However, SouthStar may use and disclose certain aggregated, anonymized information, such as System usage data, to our affiliates, third party service providers or trusted business partners. Such information may also be shared with other users or the general public for advertising, informational, or comparison purposes. However, such information shall not be personally identifiable to any user.
As SouthStar grows and develops its business, it is possible that its corporate structure or organization might change or that it might merge or otherwise combine with, or that it or portions of its business might be acquired by, another company. In any such transactions, customer information generally is, and should be expected to be, one of the transferred business assets.
On the System, you may wish to participate in online polls, surveys, contests, sweepstakes and other promotions that we may offer from time to time. Participation in these polls, surveys, contests, sweepstakes and promotions is completely voluntary; you have a choice about whether or not to disclose information required to enter. Information requested may include personal contact information such as your name, address, date of birth, phone number, mobile phone number, e-mail address, username, and/or similar information. In addition, as noted above, we may share this information with affiliates and other organizations or entities. Through these online polls, surveys and promotions, you may choose to participate in activities such as sharing information found on the System with others and sending email invitations. In connection with any online polls, surveys, contests, sweepstakes and other promotions that we may offer from time to time via the System, we use the information you provide to administer the polls, surveys, contests, sweepstakes and other promotions. Subject to applicable contractual or legal restrictions, we also may use the information to communicate with you, or the other people you select, about our services or our marketing partners may use such information to communicate with you about the online polls, surveys, contests, sweepstakes or other promotions or their products and services.
When submitting information, corresponding, making requests for information, and otherwise interacting with SouthStar and its representatives through or in connection with the System, you choose what information to supply or submit, whether you wish to receive further information, and how you may be contacted. Please take care to share only such information as is needed or that you believe is appropriate. Note, however, that if you don't provide certain requested information, it may prevent us from providing certain Services to you and could also prevent you from taking full advantage of the System (or some portion thereof) and its capabilities, or cause some features of the System to function improperly. Any promotional email we send to you will contain a link which will allow you to opt out of receiving any further correspondence. If you have created an online account, you may have the ability to change your correspondence preferences by logging into your account and selecting your preferences.
The System (including all Websites, Mobile Applications, and Services included therein) is intended for a general audience and is not intended for use or view by children under 13 years of age, and we do not knowingly collect information about children or sell products to children. Consistent with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, we will not knowingly collect any information from children under the age of 13. If you are under the age of 13, you must ask your parent or guardian to assist you in using the System. Furthermore, we may restrict entries to any contests, sweepstakes or promotions to entrants who are at least 18 years of age.