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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!

480 Comments

  1. Katrina Carlson says:

    I got one too. I think it’s a scam and even if not, I’d be an idiot to provide my SSN, name and DOB to some unknown number or PO just because the letter is stamped with the Equifax logo. Anyone could do that.

    1. Katrina Carlson says:

      Oh, and also… Equifax has an online form for obtaining your credit report which is probably the channel most often used for such. So why wouldn’t they list a website option on the letter? I’m guessing it’s because that’s harder to produce and easier to track.

  2. BOL says:

    NCTUE was just sued for allegedly not removing false information from a NCTUE credit report. http://www.lawfirmnewswire.com/2017/01/national-consumer-telecom-and-utilities-exchange-inc-sued/

  3. Gabriele Radtke says:

    I got one just yesterday. Same thing at least 8 inquiries… Really, I pay my utilities including cable via monthly bank draft! No way are they getting my SSN or anything else for that matter

  4. Veloy Grimm says:

    Recvd letter today 10/27. Tried calling number on top of letter which asked for social security. Hung up and started looking at other items until I found your doc. From Iowa

  5. Teresa says:

    My letter is dated 1-17-2017 and has a Colorado address with a Arizona zip code. Either the post office or dmv or both are selling people’s information for these scammers to purchase. No legitimate agency is going to send a crappy vague letter that you write your SS and DOB and send to a PO BOX! People BEWARE this IS a scam to obtain your personal information. Do not respond, throw letter in the garbage!

  6. VJ says:

    I got a letter from DISH networks telling me that I didn’t qualify for their best deals because (among other reasons) the fact that I don’t have “enough information on balances reported in last 6 months on NCTUE.” The Better Business Bureau gives NCTUE a “B” rating and shows the HQ is in Atlanta (with a street address and a “drop” number– what does that tell you?). Sounds like a scam to me, even if it is a subsidiary of Experian.

    1. JMR says:

      Exactly same situation with me. My credit rating is 826, speaks for itself. All of my utility bills are paid in full automatically every month, never late.
      I wrote back today to DISH since my problem is with them. Will see what they say. Needless to say, I am miffed, although miffed is not the word I wanted to use.

  7. Dan says:

    I got one today dated 4-11-17. This has got to be a scam

  8. Jack says:

    I received my notice dated Nov 3, 2016. The letter now has a letterhead and “appears” legitimate iaw Colorado Revised § 12-14.3-104. However, since we always pay our utilities automatically and have never been late, I’ve been procrastinating on responding. Note also that the phone number in the mailing (866-349-5185) DOES NOT reflect the number (877-657-9006) in the NCTUE website. Based on this and the above reviews, I’m glad I did. Giving out my social security number and date of birth just seems begging for trouble.

  9. April says:

    I live in Colorado and received an identical letter from Equifax dated May 22, 2017. I think it’s the company trying to sell their products by scaring us. Unethical business practice if I am correct. I like ones up Equifax online and called that number (different from the number in the letter), and was prompted to a different website for my annual credit report. Definitely worth checking but not through these guys. I own my car, have automatic monthly repayment set up for my student loans, and I never keep a balance in my credit cards.

  10. Michael Scott says:

    Received one June 3 from Dish…I live in CA…and the letter appears as absolute nonsense. no explanation as to what NCTUE is or means….and at this point with my Equifax credit score of 825, I don’t care.

  11. jaarn says:

    From Minnesota and received this letter 3 days ago. I called Dish Customer Disservice and was told to go to the NCTUE website. No explanation. Dish has always been known fpr poor service but this bogus latter takes the cake.

  12. Debbie says:

    My daughter received the same letter today. She had never had a cellphone internet etc in her name. Scam!

  13. Ed says:

    I got this today. My FICO is above 800 and I pay ALL bills on time. I have never had Dish network so that cannot be the reason they got my name/address. I also have a fraud alert on my record (thanks, OMB) and have not had any credit inquiries either.

    I plan to take the letter to the post office tomorrow and file a formal complaint about mail fraud. I urge others to do the same.

  14. George Hart says:

    I live in South Carolina and received a letter that AT&T had filed a negative report on my phone service and not paying. However, the report from NCTUE told me to contact AT&T at a location that does not exist. All because I looked into Dish Network for service. I checked with AT&T and found that the info is not correct. Dish Network sent me the wrong agency to contact relative to this matter. Dish is as bad as NCTUE.

  15. Dennis says:

    I got this letter today and live in La PLata county in Colorado. I’m scrapping it after reading this. Thank you.

  16. Kathy says:

    I received a similar letter from DISH on August 8, 2017. States that I do not qualify for their best offer because according to NCTUE “number of NCTUE satisfactory occurrences reported in last 12 months” ( WHAT THE HECK DOES THAT MEAN?) “Average number of months since NCTUE connections” (HUH??). “No NCTUE accounts during the past 48 months” & finally “No recently reported NCTUE account”.
    Sooo as I understand it, because I’ve had no dealings with NCTUE DISH is denying me their best offer. I have an 819 FICO score, own my own home (no mortgage) own my own car (no car payments) & have no credit card debt because I pay off my credit cards every month.
    Reminds me of 4 years ago when Sears denied my credit card app. because I didn’t have any rent or mortgage payments, they assumed I was homeless!! I filed a complaint & they sent me a credit card but I’ve never used it because I was so disgusted with them.
    I just had DISH installed 2 weeks ago. But after this nonsense I’ll be looking for another TV service.

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