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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!

446 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?

  8. Glori says:

    Just got the same letter today.
    With 2 phone calls of a scam last week.
    WTF is going on.

  9. Dan L. Golden says:

    Just received this letter today 09/28/15. We live in Colorado. Had no idea what it was all about as our credit rating is “squeaky clean.” Plan to call the consumer fraud division of the local television stations and see if they have had any complaints. Will also contact the FTC.

  10. Thomas K. says:

    I also received a letter from NCTUE today (September 28), and it does have a letterhead. I have never heard of them before. I do live in Colorado, and along with the stuff the others reported it states “… within the last twelve months we have received at least one report that added negative information to your NCTUE file”. Again they want my Social Security number and date of birth, which I am not going to give them. Has anyone talked to the Better Business Bureau, or the FTC?

  11. karen says:

    I got this letter in the mail today 9/28/15 I live in Colorado also my credit is great so don’t know what the problem is looks to me like a scam I don’t give my SS out to anyone ever! Not doing anything about it as of yet been investigating it. Nothing so far but scams!! beware folks investigate things! Thank you

  12. Jerry says:

    Same letter dated September 18,2015. I got it on 28 September. They wanted my social security number, birthdate, and a signature, alarms started going off in my head. Are they stupid or do they just think we are? Here in Colorado.

  13. Henk says:

    Yes, I was dumb enough this morning to give out my SSN and DOB.
    The timing was awful, one of my sons had just moved to a different place, and knowing that credit agencies don’t really care, look for a name with a close match and just plop the negative report there, my assumption was that something happened because of my son moving.
    So I called a phone# that I found online (not from the letter) and was stupid enough to give the info. 30 seconds too late I all of a sudden though ‘scam?’ I put out a fraud alert on all three credit agencies, and talked to Equifax, and did a lot of reading on the web, but could not get an answer to one important question:
    Lots of talk on the web about this likely being a scam, but NOWHERE a confirmation that it IS a scam. Maybe it is just a badly run company (NCTUE). Thoughts?

    1. Even though it may be legitimate, NCTUE is poorly managed, and seems designed to raise people’s suspicions. Equifax could do a great deal to allay people’s fears, but have said almost nothing about why the letters are going out. Many think it’s mostly a marketing campaign. I’m honestly not sure. Nobody is sure.

      As to why people without credit problems are getting the letter, buried somewhere in the law is verbiage indicating that when a certain number of entities request credit info on an individual (even if that individual has no credit problems) the letter is sent. So it’s not just when a problem arises. Equifax doesn’t mention this when in fact it should be up there in lights, and they should be penalized heavily for this (seemingly calculated) omission.

      This doesn’t mean you should send in your information. It mostly means that Equifax can’t really be trusted. I certainly don’t trust them. I don’t advise that any of you trust them either.

      1. Henk says:

        Thank you Jeff for your confirmation. I’ll sleep much better tonight and I hope that I’ll never be this stupid again.
        It could have been much worse for me.
        (I’ll still keep my fraud alerts on for the next 90 days though).

        Henk.

  14. Tom says:

    I also received one of these letters on 9-28-15, and live in Colorado. thought it was fishy and am grateful to be able to check the internet to verify that. thanks to Jeff and all

  15. Steve says:

    My wife recieved the letter on September 28, dated September 18 as well. I went online this monring and found a different phone number to contact NCTUE and called. Spoke with an MSR in a call center and asked to speak to a supervisor, a Ms. Hoffman came on the line. I asked what this company does and she explained, sounded ligit, call center staff and the supervisor were not from a foreign nation. After her explaination, I told her that in today’s world it seams nearly impossible for a ligit company to be so naive to ask someone to write their social security number and date of birth on a piece of paper and mail it in.
    If NCTUE is a ligit company, they are poorly managed or as dumb as a box of rocks! Additionally, if Colorado placed a law on the books to have this company contact the consumer, they should have placed in the law language ensuring that a secure portal be used to obtain the report.

    1. Bingo. Many thanks for this report. Dumb as rocks is a good description of the whole business.

  16. Evie says:

    I live in Colorado and received it September 28 also, dated Sept 18. It looks suspicious to me and even though the CBS reporter said it was legit, I’m not going to give them any info. The stationery looks like a scam company — and even if legit, it does not give me confidence that it is a well run company. I don’t get why this has to be a subsidiary of Equifax, and if I did have a late payment with a cable company why wouldn’t it just show up on a regular credit report? Some of the info in this site (the reporter’s article?) mentioned that late payments to utilities may not (or do not) show up on an Equifax report. I’m puzzled on whether they do or not.

  17. Alex says:

    Got the letter today. I have a credit score of 822 as of this month… What’s interesting is the domain entry for NCTUE: http://whois.icann.org/en/lookup?name=nctue.com
    Way to go to sound legit.

  18. Pat Braun says:

    Thank-you all for the comments. I plan to ignore the letter as well.

  19. laurence says:

    I got the letter too what should I do ? laurence

  20. Alex says:

    Okay, in addition to my post from yesterday: I was curious, so called them up, refused very firmly to give any info beyond what they already had (my name & address). They said a copy of the report will be mailed to me within 48 hours and gave me a ref # in case I want to call back. I also explained in detail how they are doing a terrible job trying to sound legit.

    I think it could still be useful (just out of curiosity) to request that report, if you’re in CO and it’s free. Just do NOT give away any info (SSN, DOB, etc). I’ll try to update if there’s anything else of interest.

  21. Linda says:

    I am a Colorado resident, and I also received this same letter, dated 9/18/15. I had never heard of this company, and I am never late with any of my bills, much utility payments. I called the number, which was answered by a robot, as Jeff had pointed out. When the robo-message stated I would have to enter my SSN, I immediately hung up and decided this was a scam. I did some more searching on Google, and thankfully came across Jeff’s article. Even if this letter is a poor marketing tool on behalf of Equifax, as Jeff suggested, I will be reporting this to the CO Attorney General’s office. Shame on Equifax for being involved with this company.

  22. LuvDubai says:

    Regarding NCTUE…here’s what happened to me. I rec’d my annual free Equifax Credit Report in mail today. I thought “I wonder what cost is for my credit score ONLY.” So, on very first page last paragraph in bold there is the number
    1-877-SCORE-11. I dialed the number, entered my security info to into phone as requested so the system could identify me. My options INCLUDED an Equifax Risk Score or Equifax Risk Score/National Consumer Telecom & Utility Exchange Combo Report (NCTUE). Then it said “to hear a description of each press 4? So, of course Im REALLY wanting to know WTH NCTUE is. It gave a detailed description. I wasn’t surprised of what the description entailed. I then went online and searched “NCTUE.” There was a number for me to request a free report of data that has been collected about me that’s been exchanged among businesses I’ve had accounts with that don’t necessarily report to the Credit Bureaus. I dialed the number on their website. Yes, it sounded like a robot lol. I thought I have security freezes etc., and everything is locked down so I want to see what add’l info has been exchanged about me that I didnt know about. Also, they are affiliated w/ Equifax so WTH. I enter a little security info on phone, similiar to as if I was calling Equifax. Yes, the system recognized me with what little info I entered on phone. My NCTUE collected data and their risk score will be coming in mail to my P.O. Box. So, don’t be alarmed guys, It’s kind of like the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). In short, CLUE is info that homeowners never know is collected/exchanged secretly about their property. Things you’d be surprised were shared, just like NCTUE now. And, from what I’ve researched, FICO will include NCTUE data as part of FICO scoring in future. I live in NC, and haven’t gotten any unprofessional looking letters yet. So, relax everyone…..they already have your data. To me, it seems their data matches Equifax in part. They just don’t have your complete credit report. Just get your free report from them and see what they have rec’d about you. You MAY even be able to Opt-Out of this data exchange. Sorry so long, but hope it helped many who are alarmed.

  23. LuvDubai says:

    I cant wait until this NCTUE report arrives in mail. Im not worried that it could be anything bad. I’m sure it would’ve appeared on at least 1 of my 3 REAL credit reports over the last 20 yrs IF any business wasn’t paid. Im just curious. It’s just crazy how so much of our business is just out there. I wish somebody would send me a letter, whether it looks professional or not wanting my info. “Sure, no prob…better yet I send copy of social, drivers license, passport, global entry card, 3 samples of my signature, and cc of credit cards so you know it’s really me.” LOL!

    1. If you get the time when the report arrives, I think all of us would like to know whether the NCTUE report contains any incorrect information, or is just blank, or whatever. We don’t need details on your personal situation; what I’d like to know is if there’s anything useful about the report. Many thanks for checking in! –Jeff Duntemann

  24. Dane says:

    I just got the letter today. I found your post by searching the po box. Now it says its from Equifax. Nothing inaccurate about my name but exact same letter different 800 number. Did not call, simply shredded and threw away. New 800 number is 18002161035

  25. Jeff says:

    Received same 12/12/2015 in CO. I inadvertently dropped it in the round file. My credit is great and don’t care if in the off chance my wife was late paying a cable/ phone bill. Stuff happens and if they wish to discontinue our account i will be grateful.

  26. Jill Gonzalez says:

    I just got the letter in the mail. I regularly check my credit score on credit karma, and my fico on one of my cc websites. I was genuinely concerned, as my score is great! Have any of you requested the report, or had any interaction with them? Think I’m just going to throw this away..

  27. Ashton says:

    I just moved to Colorado not even three months ago and they are telling me, from what I have researched, that I owe someone else in another state for bills? I want to know how this company got my address because I do not have anything new hitting my credit as I get the FICO credit score. Also, I don’t pay my internet/cable/home phone bill. I only pay my cell phone which hence has been caught up, long before I moved to Colorado. Why would they be hitting my credit now?
    I think it is a scam and I did not provide any information. I will not be responding but only keeping a close eye.

  28. J. Brown says:

    I just received the same letter — Dated December 11, 2015. I will not be responding. Thank you for this post. Big scam.

  29. Fred says:

    I am in Colorado, also received the letter dated December 11, 2015, and will not be replying. I have good credit history, and this is either a scam or a very dirty business practice on the part of Equifax. Thanks to everyone for sharing.

  30. Jess says:

    I live in Colorado and got this letter on 12/11/15 like many have mentioned. The odd thing is all the utility/telecom/cable bills are in my husband’s name and have been for years with the exception of Comcast that was cancelled and paid in full back in early September. My husband didn’t get a letter, my credit score is great, and I have proof that I owe nothing. I am definitely going to get a free credit report to double check from a known secure agency, but I don’t plan on wasting my time with this letter.

    1. Ved says:

      I got this letter on 12/11/15 too and I am sure none of my bills were late by even a single day. This seems fruad to me and I am not going to bother about this letter..

  31. Sally Kocialski says:

    I got one of these as well 12/11/15. I’m one of those people who is always ontop of my bills on time. The first odd thing is it was sent to my parents address and I never lived at the their house (our used it as a home address. I tried every # from their site with nothing. I then contacted Equifax, they said they had no knowledge of this company.

  32. Kiki says:

    I just received one of these letters on Jan. 8, 2016 and I live in Colorado.
    My credit rating is absolutely impeccable and I figured the minute I saw they wanted my SSN and birthdate that it was probably a scam. I have my credit watched daily. If Equifax has anything to do with this I think they should not be allowed to be a credit reporting agency any longer. Obviously, they don’t think much about protecting people’s credit.

  33. Lintot says:

    I just signed up for DISH and got a NCTUE letter in Louisiana. The gist of the letter is that I did not “qualify for our best offer due to..Number of opened accounts or Number of NCTUE satisfactory occurrenced reported in the last 12 months or Average number of months since NCTUE connections or Number of NCTUE accounts connected in the last 12 months.” and they gave me Equifax info. It’s all B.S. I, too have excellent credit and just changed TV service for the first time in 30 years. The fact that Dish is headquartered in Colorado is interesting. This scam letter is just another reason to watch them closely.

  34. Sandy says:

    I just got this letter today (3rd May 2016). I used to work for a utility and had never heard of this company. Like many others who have posted, my credit score is high (837 last month per Discover) and I carefully stay on top of my bills. I just moved to Colorado several weeks ago, and all my old bills are in boxes, so finding all my receipts to verify the information is in error would be a huge investment of time which I don’t have.

    The letter I received is on the thinnest of copier paper, not bond, but has letterhead-style layout, with a logo at the upper-right and in the upper-left a return address (“NCTUE/PO Box 105161/Atlanta, GA 30348). The letter alleges that NCTUE has received “at least one report that added negative information to [my] file.”

    The final paragraph of the letter states: “NCTUE is managed by Equifax Information Services but the Exchange does not include Equifax credit information nor is Equifax a member (owner) of it.” The letter cntains no human’s signature, but merely closes with typeface: “Sincerely,/Exchange Service Center”.

    As others have noted, the letter contains my correctly-spelled name and my current address; and it demands my SSN and signature. All the information anyone would need to initiate identity theft. Very bad form.

    One person had earlier posted that she was going to report this to the Colorado Attorney General. I hope she did, and I would like to read her results from that contact. I’m considering contacting a lawyer and initiating a class-action lawsuit against NCTUE for needlessly exposing Colorado residents to identity theft due to their stupid (or maliciously designed) procedures.

    1. Kelly says:

      I got this exact same letter today to parentheses (May 3, 2016). Sounds like such a scam and makes me so uncomfortable! Let me know if you get that class action lawsuit up and running.

  35. Brian says:

    I just got the same letter. I live in Colorado and as many people have said it makes me a little nervous.

  36. Deanna says:

    Yep. . So Grateful for This Site.. Thank You! I have a head injury and nearly believed I had messed up somehow.. These are Evil people…

  37. Mark says:

    Got the familar letter from NCTUE. I have had runs ins with dish and sprint customer service lately over slamming charges and slow accounting credits. Might be a good idea to support state legistlation to regulate these agencies and practices so they improve their customer service pratices. Or better yet. Drop their services completely.

  38. Jo Guerra says:

    Just received mine and I actually called Equifax customer service. They said they have nothing to do with them. I found a public relations article on The Street that says they are connected. But anyone can post press releases I have called the Attorney General’s office to inquire and will do a complaint. There are a lot of complaints on the BBB website. http://www.bbb.org/atlanta/business-reviews/credit-reporting-agencies/national-consumer-telecom-and-utilities-exchange-in-atlanta-ga-27424469/complaints This is extremely confusing.

  39. Monkey Brown says:

    It’s 2016, I live in Colorado, and I got the same letter too. It’s a good thing I Googled the address before just sending my information.

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