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Consumer Reporting Letter Causes Confusion, Concern

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(Credit: CBS)

(Credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) Federal and Colorado law requires that consumer reporting agencies notify you if you get negative information on your credit report. Several CBS4 viewers got a letter in the mail saying they’d gotten negative information on their credit report. When they noticed that the letter asked for a Social Security number and a date of birth, they thought maybe it was a scam.

“I read it, and read it, and read it … and it really bothered me,” said Patricia Barela Rivera, a recipient of the letter.

The letter is from the National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange, or NCTUE. It states that in the last 12 months it has received at least one report that added negative information to the recipient’s data report.

“At first there was a fear because it asked, it talked about my credit report,” Barela Rivera explained.

At the bottom of the letter there is a form to fill out to get a free credit report. It asks for your Social Security number and date of birth. This is what made most people suspicious.

“There’s something wrong, something doesn’t feel right,” Barela Rivera said.

The NCTUE is a legitimate company that collects data from various utility companies, including phone, utility, and cable records. The NCTUE database is managed by Equifax, which is one of the three top credit reporting agencies. That means that NCTUE does fall under Federal law.

“Do they come under the Fair Credit Reporting Act? The answer is since they’re an auxiliary of Equifax, yes they do,” said Cary Johnson, Crime Prevention Director for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.

But the letter raised from red flags even for Johnson.

“The letter seems to have come to an awful lot of folks at the same time, and for me, quite frankly, that’s inexplicable,” Johnson told CBS4.

Federal law entitles every person to three free credit reports every year. Johnson recommends getting one free report from each of the credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, at different times of the year.

“Get your credit report. If there truly has been negative information, find the company that entered that information and deal with them directly,” Johnson explained.

Equifax wants to make clear:

Getting a copy of a report from annualcreditreport.com will contain different information that does not include the NCTUE information – so advising people of that will give them the wrong impression they are complaining about.

Equifax says the reason consumers should be concerned is in the future, they may be denied credit from any NCTUE member company.  By getting a copy of their report, they will have an opportunity to dispute any inaccurate information and be aware of activity on their behalf.

Late Friday, March 16th we were told that initial mailings did not include NCTUE branding, which caused some consumers to question the authenticity of the notifications.  All mailings beginning on Monday, March 19, will clearly show NCTUE branding as well as more detailed information within the letter regarding the NCTUE.

Additional Resources:

To get your free credit reports, go to annualcreditreport.com. Make sure you get that exact Web site. There are several similar sites that charge for your credit report and automatically sign you up for a credit monitoring service.

The Jefferson County District Attorney’s office put together this guide: Steps to Print a Credit Report.

After the CBS4 story aired, Equifax sent this response:

- As one of the nation’s premier providers of identity theft protection products and a top national credit reporting agency, Equifax is advising Colorado consumers that the letter being received or sent to 80,000 residents of the State of Colorado from NCTUE is for their benefit to request a complimentary copy of their report.

- Colorado state law requires credit reporting agencies to notify any Colorado consumer that they are eligible for a free disclosure copy of their credit report if they had received eight credit inquiries and/or had negative information added to their file in the past 12 months.

-The National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange, Inc. (NCTUE) is a member-owned database through which its member companies exchange source-anonymous information on new connect requests, payment history, and historical account status and/or fraudulent telecommunications/utility, or pay TV accounts.  The Exchange limits the use of the database to these type applications, specifically prohibiting accessing it for other purposes including marketing.  Membership is available to the nation’s leading cable, electricity/power, phone, gas, water and Internet services.

-The NCTUE database is housed and managed by Equifax Information Services, LLC.  It does not include Equifax credit information and Equifax is not a member of NCTUE nor does it own any aspect of NCTUE.

- NCTUE is a consumer reporting agency (CRA) and complies with Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements.

- The NCTUE database consists of more than 150 million files.

- The NCTUE letter asks consumers to request a copy of their NCTUE credit report by filling in the information requested at the bottom of the letter or by calling the toll-free number listed. Consumers may then dispute any negative or incorrect information in their report.

- Consumers can contact the NCTUE. The instructions and process for doing so are on the NCTUE website at www.nctue.com. In addition, they can write or call for more information at:

Exchange Service Center – NCTUE

PO Box 105161

Atlanta, GA 30348

Phone: 866-349-5185.

Email:  nctue@equifax.com

RELATED: More Reports By 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks

- Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith

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