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A Letter from NCTUE

Carol and I got a letter this afternoon from the National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange (NCTUE), a subsidiary of Equifax based in Atlanta. As best I can tell (I’ve never heard of it before today) the NCTUE is a way for phone companies and utility companies to exchange data on deadbeat customers, so that when a guy who owes three grand to the phone company moves to another state, the phone company there can examine his application with a more critical eye and possibly deny the account. In that it’s a lot like a conventional credit reporting firm, albeit a vertical-market one.

The letter was very plain, not on any sort of letterhead, and relatively crude by my standards. (I could have set up a mail merge like that using a spreadsheet twenty years ago.) It did not come with a glossy explanatory flyer, as I would expect. The key message in the letter is this: According to Colorado law, a consumer reporting agency (like NCTUE) is required to send a free report to consumers who receive either:

  • Eight credit inquiries (no indication of a timeframe) from a telecom or utility firm; or
  • A single report that adds negative information to someone’s NCTUE file.

To receive a “free disclosure copy” of our report, it suggests that we either call the number 1-866-349-5185 or fill out the bottom third of the letter sheet and send it to:

Exchange Service Center – NCTUE
PO Box 105161
Atlanta GA 30348

The phone number is a robot that immediately asks for your social security number, and provides no option to speak to a human being. The sheet requires your social security number and date of birth, along with a signature. Needless to say, they’re not getting it. Carol and I have an autopay system for all telecom/utility payments, and we keep the autopay account well-stoked. Our use is fairly predictable, and nothing has changed in a long time. The account has plenty of money in it, and no bills have failed to be paid on time. (We checked.)

Interestingly, the NCTUE Web site is not accessible right now. When I try to go to nctue.com, I get a “Bandwidth Limit Exceeded” message. What this suggests is that NCTUE is engaging in some shady marketing. If they recently dumped several million of these letters in the mail, their web site may well not be able to handle the traffic. I doubt that we got the letter because of some mistake in our own payment management. I’m guessing that gazillions of people got the same letter, and they all arrived today, and everybody is trying to go up there at once and see WTF is going on.

Either that, or they’ve pissed off enough people to earn a DDOS attack…but somehow I doubt it.

It’s unclear what NCTUE is trying to sell, and I’ll keep investigating. I’m guessing Equifax (their parent company) is trying to hawk some kind of credit protection plan, but since I won’t hand them my SS number, it’s hard to tell. In the meantime, I’d be interested in hearing if you’ve received this letter and what, if anything, you’ve done in response.

UPDATE 3/11/2012: One thing I forgot to ask people to mention in their comments: Are you in Colorado? I’m trying to determine if this effort on NCTUE’s part (whatever it turns out to be) depends on some quirk in Colorado law, or if it’s national in scope.

Also, read my next entry, for 3/11/2012!

378 Comments

  1. Susan Peters says:

    Never heard of the b******s. Have clean credit and will report to the secretary of state in Colo.

  2. Mark says:

    CO resident as well. Dated 1.13.14. I have never been late on a bill, ever. My recent credit rating is 800. Just checked. My only thought is related to the Target issue, they are resending this as a scam thinking you may have issues. I did the free Experian monitoring via Target and thought they might be related. Regardless I will not be giving my SS#.

    1. LEILA says:

      I too received a letter (March 11, 2014), live in Colorado, never been late on a bill, have a credit score of 790 and was a part of that Target security hack (even had my credit card company replace my card without me knowing). I will not be replying to this letter and will just assume its crap.
      thanks for all the info :)

      1. LEILA says:

        I just got off the phone with Equifax & they told me they aren’t associated with NCTUE & there’s only been 1 credit check in the past 6 months to my account (which I was aware of) and there has been no negative marks or collections that they could see…he then told me to disregard the letter. Hope that helps you guys too :)

  3. Debbie says:

    I also received a letter dated January 13th, 2014….same thing…I have no lates, great credit. I also used Target, but not sure it’s related, or just coincidence. I work at a bank, and have not seen any issues from clients yet.

  4. Mark says:

    I recieved one toady and I believe that its a scam of some sort. I just recently did an Xcel energy account but did not request a credit check. I’m going to contact the Colorado State Attorney General’s Office.

  5. Richard Crow says:

    If I want to know what caused a problem I would go directly to Equifax and not to a second party. I am in Colorado.

    1. sandy says:

      I got a letter dated 1/13/14. Also in Colorado. Called a number on the internet and did get a person, after trying the number in the letter, no person. I asked the lady where she was located, she said she could not give me that info, but she wanted my SS #. I told her I had no idea who or what they are, never heard of them, I was not giving my SS #. I have never missed paying a bill, never, so this really upsets me. The last time I checked my credit I had nothing on it that was negative. I also have Verizon, but have for years and never missed a payment. Doing more checking also.

  6. Mae says:

    I received this letter January 20 2014, I did not shop at Target. I have perfect credit. My bills are not late, not sure what its about. I will not be sending my ss#. I am in Colorado.

  7. Maria Ash says:

    I live in Colorado and was suspicious of the NCTUE letter as well.

  8. colo resident says:

    Got notice and after much digging found that Verizon had erroneously submitted a 30 day late notice to nctue/equifax. Contacted equifax who submitted a dispute. Verizon investigating cause of error. (Whole process took over two hours contacting both Verizon and equifax.) Almost threw the notice away as never having seen one from them before. Check with your telecom and utility cos. for incorrect credit info reporting to this agency. Was told nctue is legit by equifax, although there could be copycats. Did not return form to nctue. Call equifax directly and select prompt for ‘are you a telecom or utility co,’ otherwise you’ll have trouble speaking to anyone.

  9. Colorado resident says:

    Received a notice last week. Just read the last post from another colorado resident and I will follow their advice and contact Equifax directly as I am a Verizon customer and have never paid late.

  10. bARB says:

    Received the exact letter today (1/27/14). I also have excellent credit, and auto-debit on everything I can. Appears to be a scam. Thanks for posting.

  11. Colorado Resident says:

    Colorado Resident. I received the NCTUE letter dated 1-13-2014. My son received one as well. I find it suspicious that both of us received a letter on the same day. I will not be furnishing them my SS#.

  12. sam (Colorado rsident) says:

    dittos to all. I too rec’d the ltr and figured it to be a scam particularly since they wanted my ssn up front. I too plan to contact the Colorado Sec’y of State’s office. I also plan to contact someone at U.S. Postal Office since this appears to be a case of postal fraud. l think Equifax should be found culpable and penalized since they presumably have the trust of all consumers in their care. If we as consumers don’t act, who will.

  13. Kj-Colorado says:

    Add me to the list. Colorado Resident, received my letter dated January 13, 2014. I am on autopay for my Telephone (comcast) and Electric (MVEA), and have not been late on my Gas (BHE). That takes care of all my “utilities”. The State Attorney General (Colorado Secretary fo State) needs to review this process of group notification of false information.

  14. BJE OHIO says:

    I did not get a direct letter from Exchange Service Center, but a letter from Dish Network L.L.C. In short, Dish was apolgizing that they couldn’t give me there best cost for TV. Our decision was based on information obtained from the consumer reporting agency listed below, i: Exchange Service Center. Unable to verify credit references with information provided. Scared the Hell out of me, as I have all my bills paid thru Check Free for years, I quickly checked my bank account online, no problem there. So I call this E S C, 866-343-2821, They wanted my Soc. Sec. , phone number, address, DOB, reluticantly I gave them all that, what a fool I was. Then I requested a report, was told I had to fax or mail them a copy of my drivers license and Soc. Sec. card, told them no way Am I doing that. I then was informed I would get no report until I did that, End of conversation. I did get my three free credit reports immediatly after that, no adverse reports, only 3 inquires. Credit scores of 726 to 760. I’m just glad I got on the net and seen this article, mind is at easy now.

  15. BJE OHIO says:

    In regards to my previous letter. I will be sending a nasty letter to Dish Corp. Hdqtrs. In the first place they got my name wrong on all there billings plus the letter to E C S. After 210 minutes of cell phone use to Dish from day one, they still haven’t got my last name right. They are even worse to do business with DirecTV. They sure are cordial when signing up, after that, nothing but hell,

  16. CW3 -- Colo says:

    Colo resident, too. Received a flyer in January and immediately responded by snail mail requesting a full report. Now I have a letter from them dated 1/29/14 telling me they need SS# and proof of residence.

    BUT: This “letter” is on plain paper in a plain envelope. Nothing preprinted at all. Screams, “Careful! I am a scam!)

    No way will I respond to them.

    Later today I will mail this with a nice letter to the Colo AG’s office.

    SURE GLAD I FOUND THIS WEBSITE!

  17. Amos1 says:

    Colorado resident. I too recieved this letter 3/17/14. Thanks for the info. I was born in a turnip patch but send name, birthdate and ssn, really?

  18. KNA says:

    My partner has received this twice now. The most recent was received 3/17/14/. We shredded the first one without doing any investigating (her mother stole her identity years ago and we had assumed the first letter was in reference to that). This time I actually did some digging and came across this website. We’re in Colorado and the letter now says that it is coming directly from Equifax. New address they request the information mailed to: PO Box 105891, Atlanta, GA 30348. It is postmarked from an 80222 address.

  19. BOB-Colorado says:

    Also a Colorado resident and got same letter, dated 3-11-12. Won’t be sending my information back. I have not applied for credit recently with utility or telecom (unless getting a phone upgrade from Verizon counts) and have not been turned down for credit during that time. I have a 724 credit score and have always paid my bills on time or early. This appears to be another way for Equifax to make money, as if they aren’t making enough already. Also a way for them to get more of your information.

  20. Ed Warrell says:

    I am in Colo and got same letter. Knew something was wrong as I have a FICO over 800 and never have had a dunning letter. Experian should be ashamed of themselves. Hopefully some action will be taken and we will all get letters that this was a “mistake”

  21. glen norby says:

    I’m in Co. for a short construction project. Never been a resident here, never hooked up utilities here. My home is near Seattle and likewise with all utilities. All my billing and this NCTUE letter go to my mailing address in Wa. The only tie I may have to this is I recently ( one month ago) started paying Co. state income tax!

  22. Jim says:

    I live in Colorado and got my letter today. I will not reply and I urge every one who gets this kind of letter to tear it up. Do not ever give anyone your SS#.

  23. Marcel says:

    Colorado Resident.
    I received a letter on 5/12/14 dated 5/8/14.
    It was worded exactly like your letter.
    I plan on contacting friends on local law enforcement
    and having them investigate.
    Mean while I will warn all my friends and
    family to beware of what is beginning to look
    more and more like a scam.

  24. Tony says:

    Colorado resident here also. Just received this letter today 05/12/2014. Never been late with payments and always kept good credit. My first thought when asked for my SS# was very suspicious, a phishing scam. Mine is hitting the shredder!

  25. Melissa says:

    I also received this letter on May 12th dated May 8th. when I looked it up online I found this blog with made me very suspicious of it, but then I also found a report from CBS Denver which says that this letter is legit. I am also a Verizon customer and called them, both people I talked to said that it sounded like a scam and that some company was just fishing for personal info. I ran a credit report and it was fine and said that there was no negative info on any of my accts as of today, but the letter also says that if you run a credit report though another agency that the NCTUE info will NOT show up on that credit report. I am confused on why credit reports would have different info? But the report by CBS Denver made me nervous too, stating that this was legit.

  26. Margie says:

    5/15/14 CO
    Received exact same letter.

  27. Holly says:

    Yup I just opened my letter dated may 8,2014. Not sending them my social thats for sure! how sketchy!!

    1. I too live in Colorado and I want to thank all you scam sleuths for doing what you are doing. I had the info filled out and almost ready to mail when I saw the email address that stated I could get the info online.
      I took a bad fall on black ice earlier this year and “might” have been a little late on one of my utility bills, other than that, no late pays. I thought it was re: that and I wanted to know which utility co. would report me after all the years I have been paying. I even wrote a note on the “notice” that I was extremely uncomfortable giving out my SS# to someone I knew nothing about. While trying to connect on their web site, I came across this one, so glad. A real Blessing.
      I too will report to AG and I think all of us should notify CBS for really poor reporting. Thanks y’all.

  28. Julene says:

    Today is 6/19/14 and I received the same letter with my college daughters name on it. She just graduated from a university in CO and the letter had been sent to her dorm address… An address from 3 years ago! It had been forwarded by the school I’m guessing to our home address in MO. Our letter was from Equifax though. Just going to rip it up! Glad I found your blog!

  29. Pat says:

    I just received the NCTUE letter today 7/19/14 and i too have a clean credit record with an excellent credit score. i have not had cable or a land phone in several years but do have a cell phone that is paid by autopay. The letter itself is on stock paper and no letter head. i am not giving anyone my social security number and my last credit report 6 wks ago was fine.

  30. Hunter says:

    I sent them a nice go F yourself response letter since I’m so really convinced they care about me and my credit! If you filled out the response form with your information then you are unfortunately out of touch with reality and I’m certain you will be in for a world of credit and financial pain. This reminds me of the emails from Africa saying a long lost relative left me millions but I have wire thousands of dollars to get the legal form to claim my lost inheritance.

  31. Jared Waterman says:

    Just got my letter dated 7/14/14
    Co Resident
    Same exact format, same information requested so I’ll give it to you guys here instead. SSN: 999-999-9999 and DOB: 01/01/1901

    Hahahaha.
    I called the number noting a recording explaining the “exchanges” collected information for decision making though never staTed it was the NCTUE. It then asked you to say, “INFO” or Press “8″ to get more information on your credit report and stated SSN and DOB would be required. Pressing and saying Info turned this into a “Loop recording” giving the same repeated statement and asking for INFO or press “8″. Total scam.. you guys enjoy my personal info above, just like they’ll get.

    As for CBS report, I just lambasted them on their Facebook page for shotty journalism, and asked them to revoke their 3/2014 article.
    9News ALWAYS tells consumers NEVER to give out personal information by phone, letter, email, or website. Just DON”T DO IT

  32. Carolyn Watkins says:

    I rec’d my NCTUE letter yesterday, Sat 7/19/14. Found it interesting as I live full time in a motorhome. I’m currently in an RV park in Colorado with each site having an address. I recently changed the physical location of my satellite service (Direct TV) to Colorado and this is the only change I’ve made. All of my bills, correspondence, etc. go to an address out of state. Checked my credit report several weeks ago and everything was as it should be. Wasn’t going to respond, but did a search anyways and glad this came up. I will be calling Direct TV.

  33. Julie says:

    I got mine dated July 14, 2014 and just called Equifax. They said NCTUE is not related in any way to them. I also ran my credit report from Annualcreditreport.com and it was clean (as I knew if would be). I will also be writing to CBS 4!

  34. Laurie S says:

    I am a CO resident. All bills paid by autopay. Excellent credit rating. My letter dated July 14, 2014 claims “…at least one report that added negative information to your NCTUE file.” Unbelievable crap that gets pulled on consumers. Shame on Equifax if they are involved with NCTUE. I will report to AG office.

  35. Dan says:

    My wife and I received a letter from the NCTUE in June 2014. Very weak attempt at trying to look official – the wording and grammar were sophomoric, the link to Equifax Services didn’t seem quite correct and the whole credit card logo for what they accept for a payment they don’t list makes all add up to no good. The website has a professional look to it but with the constant vague referrals and pitch for social security number and birthdate for any information or communication other than with an automated robot on the phone it seems rather dicey. Given that we have had telephone and cable service for over 50 years without late or missing monthly payments it didn’t add up. The only concern at first was that someone had tried to steal our identity and use it to open up services under our names illegally but we also have passwords and such on all of our cable and telephone accounts so that didn’t figure either. Me thinks it is just another well resourced scam – that our Equifax itself has hit another all time low.

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