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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!

500 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.

      1. mary says:

        Same here. We had cable but they wouldn’t put it in our new house. so signed up for dish what a mistake. today they were working on putting cable on the street. So far dish is high priced for a few reruns. Every time someone calls to check your rating the rating drops.

        1. CST says:

          I got one from Dish today (9-11-17) and I am in California. Same thing, I just checked my credit monitoring and no derogs, yet this letter says I did not qualify for our best offer. I called Dish and they cannot explain the letter.

    2. CH says:

      I just got one from Dish today also saying I did not qualify for their best offer. No recently reported satisfactory account, No NCTUE accounts during the past 48 months! I have good credit rating also!!! Had to look up NCTUE to see what the hell it was!!! I just left DirectTV after being a customer for over 20 years because of the cost and by switching to Dish, it would save me over $500 so I changed. Now I get this crap!!! In the country, satellite is the only option! Now I’m locked into a contract for 2 years and if Dish is doing this, would DirecTV take me back or not? It’s a bunch of BS as far as I’m concerned!!!

      1. Willetta says:

        Me to. Tried to get the internet service added to my DISH TV a d got this same letter and was advised to try Hughes Net. It all sound fishy to me since my credit rating is excellent and I don’t owe anybody anything. I just wish cable was available where I live.

      2. donna says:

        glad i searched nctue and found this site! i got the same letter today, just had dish installed a month ago (when we moved to the country) as well as hughes.net internet, which they work with somehow. hopefully the letter is just a scam and wont change my monthly bill. if my bill changes i will contact dish about this bait and switch, as well as giving them horrible reviews wherever i can. i was going to call the number on the letter, but now i wont unless it matches other dish customer service numbers i can find. if it is legit, it looks like they are similar to other credit grantors (even tho they are not really extending credit) in that if you do not have an established recent history (in this case with other telecom providers) they will not give you a good rate. my last account was in my deceased father’s name and i just kept paying it until we moved. before that our cable was in my partner’s name, so nothing would show up for me for quite some time. I am hoping that it is just a scam and will not affect my tv rate.

        1. Jack says:

          We live in Texas and just had Fish installed and received same letter. It does seem fishy as we felt like we received good deal from Dish. I am not going farther with this.

  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.

    1. Robert D says:

      I got the same letter from Dish with a Colorado address on August 21 with the same verbiage about NCTUE. I live in Washington state and have a credit score over 810 so the claims they are making are silly.

  17. Brent says:

    I agree. Mine is dated 8/7/17. My score is 800 as well. BS. Mine lists all as Kathy. Seems like a scam to me

  18. Vern R says:

    The one thing this letter requests is a signature. Oh, yeah. Equifax has already allowed most of your important financial information go to the dogs but now you can add your actual signature to that pile. Like Equifax this ‘arm’ of theirs is faulty and potentially a scam.

  19. Warren L says:

    Received very same letter today in Ohio. Had Dish installed over a month ago. No issues with our credit. Odd thing about letter was the Heading both from Dish in Littleton, CO and the NCTUE in Atlanta but the envelope had a Berea Ohio postmark. This screams of fraud with red and orange flashing lights.

  20. Ione says:

    2/23/18 Independence, VA
    I received same letter, exactly same, but I checked the Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 800-685-1111 in reverse phone lookup and it shows it belongs to Bay Credit Union , 601 N Highway 231 Panama City Fla 32405…If this mean anything.
    Going to write back to DISH @ , Littleton, Co (Certified Mai lRR), tell them to straight this out, because thats where the complaints originated. If not, hold them responsible for any discrepancies on this NCTUE report. Because after my 2 yr agreement is up, I’m going back to DirectTV.

  21. Ricki Stroud says:

    Got the same letter today. I notice the other comments were dated 2012. So they’re still at it, 6 years later. We are purchasing a home so just received all our credit reports. Glad I investigated further. I was just getting ready to call them. It was the same address you mentioned. Thank you for the heads up.

  22. Richard says:

    Received a letter yesterday, sounds like the same type others have been receiving since 2012. We established service with DISH in April 2018.

    Thanks to your info, the letter goes in the shredder.

  23. Fran Schneider says:

    These are now being sent in July 2018

  24. Tyler says:

    Just got my letter June 2018 going into the trash, reported to GA BBB they said they have an ‘F’ rating and several complaints. They should be banned from using USPS, that is mail fraud… I am in Colorado.

  25. Charlie says:

    Got one also, August 3 2018. Residence of Colorado

  26. Mark says:

    Just received the same letter yesterday 8/4/2018 and didn’t know who these people are. Just opened a dish account 3 months ago after dumping ATT bundle which included wireless hot spot, phone and DTV. ATT sold me the bundle knowing full well that I wouldn’t get wireless service due to my proximity to a U.S. Air Force bombing range… Will be contacting Dish on 8/6/2018 to raise some hell…

  27. KH says:

    I live in CO and have received two of these letters within the past month.

  28. Jean says:

    I just got what appears to be the same letter from DISH. Called them to find out what in the hell NCTUE is and they couldn’t explain it. Tried calling Equifax, at their suggestion, to find out what it means, but could not speak to anyone there. Called back DISH, same thing, no satisfaction. My credit rating is excellent, so I can not figure out what “best offer” I could not qualify for…..! I, too, have always paid my utility bills on time, no problems with my credit, etc. I’m beginning to think this is all a bunch of garbage and I will ignore any future letters from them. I get my credit score monthly on my Discover card bill,so I know there’s no problem with it.

  29. Lisa Mentzer says:

    We just got Dish a few months ago, and received the letter yesterday. I engaged Dish and they didn’t know what it was, but said they were sorry we didn’t qualify for the low rate. We have excellent credit so didn’t make sense. Dish told me to contact the reseller we ordered Dish from, that it was their decision. We contacted them today and they said it was a giant scam, and our account is in good standing and that we aren’t getting charged more. Seems someone should go after whoever is sending these. Also seems Dishnetwork should school their employees to tell people it’s a scam. Here I go….

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