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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!

405 Comments

  1. Alex says:

    I just received the same letter and am definitely sure that this must be a scam. It stated that I had negative activity with some utility bill. I have closed all of my utility accounts in U.S. over 5 years ago and so it is impossible for any activity (unless the identity frod guy provided them with his address) Also they misspelled my name, which tells me that it is not a reliable company. I urge people to not take any action and deal with the real providers of utilities if the problem arose.

    1. R Bolz says:

      6/17/15 – I just got the same letter on Monday. Yes, I live in Colorado. Just so happens I got my complete reports from all 3 major credit bureaus in the past month – no negatives on anything – nothing ever late except one item regarding a home equity pymt with my bank which was understood would be a little late that one month. We’re talking “0” neg. back to 2002! The letter was infuriating to me considering how seriously I take my financial responsibilities and with all the scams that are going on. It also happens that on Monday I had signed up and attended a class on fraud prevention and the elderly, sponsored by US Bank. I took the letter with me, their senior investigator read it, never heard of NCTUE and said “don’t respond.” What I DID do was call the FTC fraud hotline, read letter to them and answered their questions for a complaint! Maybe everyone getting such a letter should “flood” the FTC with complaints instead of NCTUE website! Just a thought ~ R. in Colorado

  2. Mary says:

    6/17/2015 I received the same letter on Monday as well. I also live in Colorado and have never heard of NCTUE. Certainly smells like a scam to me. Interesting that their website is not available. I hope the FTC is on to them. Never give out your SSN! Most of us are not that foolish these days. I’m sure my bills are paid and my credit is very good but some folks could get tricked by this letter so always beware! And it’s probably not a bad idea to get some inexpensive identity theft insurance just in case …
    M. in Colorado

  3. Amy says:

    I live in Colorado and received one of these as well (dated June 8 2015). I will not be responding to the letter. Thank you for creating this post.

  4. Kevin says:

    I received this identical letter earlier this week (mid June 2015) and although I have never had an issue with any bill (utility or otherwise) I called all my billing companies to confirm. Result is zero issues on all my accounts and all are in “good standing.” In calling them their request for copies of my social security card and state license were obvious red flags. Also note all my utility companies advised they do not use any third party companies unless the account is well overdue and delinquent; just more proof to support my conclusion that this is a complete SCAM! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

    Thank you for article.

  5. Donna says:

    Received the same letter. Checked into and found it not reliable. Did not send any information. Live in Colorado.

  6. Deb says:

    I also received this letter dated June 8, 2015 and I live in Colorado. Won’t be responding either. Good to know that others are having the same reaction to it as I did but I am dismayed that your original blog is from March 2012 and we are still receiving these letters!

  7. Emme says:

    I live in California and just received this letter in response to my inquiring about one of AT&T’s services which I DID NOT. It stated it’s a “comparative analyses of repayment histories of large numbers of customers”. Later it mentions “a % of satisfactory to total NCTUE accounts reported in the last six months.” I looked up NCTUE to find out what it was. They refer me to “Exhange Service Center” in Atlanta for more info. Is this another organization that can mis-report ratings? Anyone get a response from the FTC?

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