Thursday, October 25, 2012

EQUIFAX/NCTUE and the great fallacy of the credit reporting agency circus

CASE CLOSED. Success!

EQUIFAX/NCTUE and the Great Fallacy 
of the Credit Reporting Agency Circus

I have decided to create a new entry for EQUIFAX. This post grew out of my DirecTV post. I  am not going to repeat here what is in that post, so, if you want the detailed background material, I recommend that you start on that post and work your way forward to this post in order to more fully understand the situation.

Notwithstanding the above comment, I include here a very short summary for those not inclined to look at the details: I received a notice from DirecTV that the credit reporting agency that they use, NCTUE, was unable to locate a credit file on me and so, in effect, DirecTV was not really going to offer me servies like normal people. In other words, I was given a denial of service based upon the inability of NCTUE to locate my file.

After a lengthy interaction with both DirecTV and NCTUE, it was determined that the letter was sent to me by DirecTV in error and I was not denied any service based upon a bad or non existent credit report. Additionally, NCTUE, did not really lose my file, they are just incompetent, and couldn't access it in their own database. In the face of all this incompetence, I have requested to see the credit file on me that NCTUE has.  They also go by the names Exchange Service Center and Equifax.  Since Equifax is the most recognizable name I will use their name from now on and have started this post to deal with their incompetent handing of this matter. Only time will tell how really bad they are.  It is totally up to their performance.

At this point I have spent about 15 hours of my time trying to get a copy of my credit file.  After reporting twice to me that they could not locate any such file, they have subsequently located my file. They have attempted to mail it to me four distinct times. As of today we have the working hypothesis that they mailed it to the wrong address in spite of the thirteen times we have tried to verify the address that they allegedly sent it to.

I found this interesting blog on NCTUE that has background information on the organization should you be interested. Here is another interesting blog entry, and one more.

By way of background information, according to their website, "the National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE) is a consortium of over 60 member companies from the telecommunications, utilities and pay TV industries. The board is comprised of member companies in these industries. The exchange is managed by an executive director and a 12-member board of directors. NCTUE membership is governed by member agreements, operating guidelines and bylaws."


"Their mission is to serve as a Fair Credit Reporting Act compliant credit data exchange service for the telecommunication, payTV and utility industries by submitting industry-specific payment information to enable members of the exchange to better identify and manage financial risks and to better monitor customer relationships during the life of the service affiliation." 

The NCTUE "database contains information on over 325 million consumers.  NCTUE members are required to comply with FCRA requirements as data furnishers to a consumer reporting agency and as users of consumer reports, including adverse action notification requirements.  The NCTUE database does not include EQUIFAX credit information, and EQUIFAX is not a member of NCTUE."

They go on further to state, "In the late 1980s the business credit executives of long-distance carriers and the National Association of Credit Management Southwest (NACMSW) formed the National Telecommunications Credit Group...
During a February 1993 meeting, an informal committee was formed, made up of Credit Group members and a representative of NACMSW, to pursue the establishment of a national database to be owned and operated in accordance with guidelines set by the members.
The members of the committee requested approval from their legal departments to proceed with the establishment of a national database. Attorneys gave permission for the committee to proceed under the legal guidance of a senior attorney from AT&T and a senior attorney from MCI.
In October 1993, after numerous meetings and teleconferences, the National Telecommunications Data Exchange (NTDE), a non-profit corporation, was founded by AT&T, MCI, Sprint, Allnet, Business Telecom, Inc., Cable & Wireless, Inc., LDDS Metromedia, and Wiltel, Inc. A representative of NACMSW was chosen as executive director and vice president of NTDE.
In November 1993, NTDE started the process of interviewing potential vendors and developing the Request for Proposal to be sent to the vendors. The attorneys emphasized the importance of keeping NTDE independent from any vendor. At the same time, the attorneys started the process of obtaining approval from the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. Approval was obtained on March 8, 1994.
Equifax was selected to be the vendor, and NTDE and Equifax signed a contract on July 25, 1994. In August of 1995, after numerous meetings, teleconferences and extensive testing, the national database became active.
In 1996 telecommunications consumer executives, with the assistance of NACMSW, started the process of developing a national database of consumers who do not pay their local and long distance phone bills. The process followed very closely the process of the development of the NTDE database, with the exception of having to address the laws governing consumer credit and the utility regulations of the various states.
The National Consumer Telecommunications Data Exchange (NCTDE) was founded in 1997 by AT&T, Bellsouth, Citizens, Frontier, IXC, MCI, NYNEXLD, Sprint, and Worldcom. A representative of NACMSW was selected as executive director and vice president of NCTDE. In September 1997, the Department of Justice approved the creation of the database, and Equifax was selected as the vendor."

NCTUE claims that "The Exchange Service Center is a third-party contractor of NCTUE and provides services to consumers on behalf of NCTUE." I translate this to mean that EQUIFAX has set up a subsidiary unit named Exchange Service Center to further obfuscate the whole situation.

My personal experience in dealing with these people is that they use the names EQUIFAX, NCTUE, and Exchange Service Center interchangeably.  So much for the hype about the separation of NCTUE and EQUIFAX.



Right now I am waiting until Halloween to try to receive my credit file after doing so five times.


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

10/30/12
Halloween came early this year.  The NCTUE (EQUIFAX) credit file arrived today based upon my fifth request.
Now, to the interesting contents of this report.

The first thing I noted is that they have my address wrong.   I attempted to correct it, but they will only do that if I mail in a copy of my driver's licence and my social security card and give them my phone number, all sent via FAX.  I do not have a FAX machine. I disputed the address and declined to send in my driver's license, etc..
I pointed out to the customer service representative that the address on all my accounts shows as the correct address, but that is not good enough for them.

Next, I noted that they show no inquiry into my credit file from DirecTV.  This is very strange, since it was DircecTV's inquiry for my credit file from them that started this whole incident. They say they cannot deal with this and that I must speak with DirecTV about it.

Next, on my cell phone bill they show incorrect billing and payment history numbers (not off by much, but still off) for just the last three months. I have had this account for nearly 10 years.  Why would only the last three months be in error?

My AT&T telephone account shows no balance amount or payment amount for Dec. 2010 and Jan. 2011 and yet shows account status of 0-30 and 30-60 days overdue respectively. I disputed this.

An old AT&T account shows "account closed/ unpaid final bill". I disputed the unpaid final bill item on two grounds. First, it is not true, I had paid the final bill, and second, if it were true, and it isn't, it is over 7 years old and should not be on my report because the information is too old.

They now have 30 days to research my disputed items and get back to me. I asked specifically how they would communicate with me. They said they would mail it to me at the address the companies use and not the address they have in my file there.  Interesting!
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11/1/12

I received a letter today from NCTUE with regard to my request to have my address changed:

                              Exchange Service Center  NCTUE
                              PO Box 105398
                              Atlanta, GA 30348-5398


October 29, 2012

Dear Consumer:

We have received your request concerning your telecom and utilities exchange data report.

However, the information you provided does not match your information currently in the data report.  Therefore, to protect your service history information, we must ask for some additional information in order to verify your identification and address.

A copy of one item in EACH of the categories below is needed in order to verify your identification and address.  The item you choose in the identification category SHOULD contain your Social Security number, and the item you choose in the address category SHOULD contain your current mailing address of:

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Identification                                                 Address
*US Social Security Card                             *Driver's license
*Pay stub with US SS#                                *Rental lease agreement/house deed
*W2 form                                                     *Pay stub with address
*State or other government                         *Utility bill (gas, electric, water, cable,
  issued ID card                                             residential telephone bills)

To ensure that your request is processed without delay, please enlarge photocopies of any items that contain small print (e.g. driver's license, W2 forms, etc.).  To avoid additional delays, keep in mind that if photocopies are not legible or contain highlighting, they may cause us to ask that you resubmit your request with more legible documents.

These are the reasons for which a data report can be provided at no charge, if you don't meet the criteria below, there may be a charge.

If you have been denied service, credit or another credit-based benefit due to information on your data report within the last 60 days, you are entitled by las to a free copy of your data report.

If you have recently placed an initial 90 day fraud alert on your data report, you may receive a free data report.

If you have recently place an extended seven-year alert, you may receive two free data reports within 12 months.

You are entitled to one free data report during any 12 month period regardless of your state of residence if you are:
 Unemployed and intend to apply for employment in the next 60 days
 Receiving public welfare assistance
 Believe you are a victim of fraud
 Receive a risk based pricing notice

In the event you request the Exchange Risk Score, the charge is $7.95.

Please refer to the chart below to determine your current fee for the telecom and utilities exchange data report.

[Chart Omitted]

If you are entitled to a free data report but you included payment in the form of a personal check, it has been shredded for your protection.  If you included a money order, it is being returned to you in a separate mailing.

Please include correct payment with the new request and make check payable to: Exchange Service Center.
Please submit the requested information and this letter to the address below.

Exchange Service Center - NCTUE
P.O. Box 105161
Atlanta, GA 30346-5161

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to assist you.

Exchange Service Center - NCTUE


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
XXXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXXX



November 1, 2012

Exchange Service Center
PO Box 105161
Atlanta, GA 30348-5398

Re: Your letter of  October 29, 2012 (attached)

Gentlemen:

I am in receipt of your letter dated October 29, 2012 (attached). Please change the address in my file to the address indicated above.

In accordance with your request, please also find a photocopy of my Social Security Card and this month’s utility bill from Time Warner Cable showing my mailing address as indicated above.

Sincerely,


XXXXXXXXXXXX



encl: Social Security Card, Time Warner Cable bill (Nov. 1, 2012),
        Letter from NCTUE of October 29, 2012

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
11/28/12
It has been very quiet. No correspondence from NCTUE as of this date.

*************************************************************************************

11/29/12, 12:13pm, call duration 28 minutes
I have called NCTUE/EQUIFAX about their non response.
They have claimed that they did not receive my correspondence of 11/1/12 and have consequently not changed my address.
They claim that all the other errors that I reported have been corrected.
I have requested a corrected copy of my credit file. They will send it within 10 business days.
After almost 30 minutes they have now found my correspondence of Nov. 1, requesting that my address be corrected. They will update the address and include that in the report that they will be sending me. I have been told that I will receive this within 10 business days. That should be around Dec. 13. We will see what happens

*******************************************************************************


12/13/12 8:00am call duration 8 minutes
After going through the third degree on verifying who I was and using the confirmation number supplied, it was determined that I was talking to EQUIFAX and not NCTUE in spite of the recorded introductory message saying that it was EQUIFAX/NCTUE that I was calling. The claim is that NCTUE is another company and they gave me another telephone number, different from the one on the NCTUE letter I received. What idiots.

12/13/12 8:13am duration 8 minutes 
This time the claim is the last time they sent out my credit file was on Oct. 26. not on Nov. 29 as I was informed. Again, I was told that they would send it out within 48 hours and that it will take from 7 to 10 business days for me to receive it. I asked if I would have it by 1/3/13 and they confirmed that that was a good date to expect it by. Also, I confirmed that they were sending it to the correct address by asking them what address they were going to send it to. It was correct.


****************************************************************
December 17, 2012

Today, I received a letter from NCTUE with my "updated" credit file. First, note that they sent it to the wrong address. That appears to be the only problem

Below is the text of my response to them.

********************************************************************
December 18, 2012

Exchange Service Center
PO Box 105398
Atlanta, GA 30348-5398

Re: Your letter of  December 13, 2012
      Confirmation #xxxxxxxxxxx



Gentlemen:

I am in receipt of your letter dated December 13, 2012, which was in response to my request to have certain disputed information changed in my credit file. In part, I had requested that my address reflect my true mailing address. I note that your letter, in spite of multiple previous reassurances that the matter had been corrected, came addressed to the incorrect address. Even your previous correspondence was, at least, correctly addressed. Once again I ask that you please change the address in my file to the correct address indicated above.  I have gone to great lengths to have these addresses corrected because we have had so much difficulty getting mail delivered by the US Postal Service when it is not addressed with the simple and single word change that I have requested, especially from NCTUE.   AT&T, apparently the only member of your service, uses the correct address for billing purposes. Your intransigence on this matter is only a further indication that the data you supply to your member(s) is very unreliable at best.

I find it curious that you only have three of my AT&T accounts reporting into your system. I also find it curious that you do not have my DirecTV account in your system, since it was they who initiated the inquiry that has resulted in all this brouhaha over the information in my previously reported “non-existent” file.

As I indicated in my correspondence to you on September 5, 2012, I have no fewer than twelve utility, telecommunications, cable, etc. accounts with major national companies, and, yet, the only one’s that seem to be tracked by NCTUE seem to be some of the AT&T accounts.  I would think that your members might be greatly dissatisfied with the paucity and incompleteness of the meaningful information that you are really providing to them.

Sincerely,


XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

encl: Research Request Form (NCTUE)

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

1/2/13
Note to self: I called NCTUE today to follow up on my letter to them of 12/18/12. I spent another 17 minutes trying to see if they have my address correct, since I have not gotten a response to my letter. They claim that they have no record of having received a letter from me. I attempted to deal with the same issue on the phone. They denied that they have the wrong address for me and that they sent the last letter to me to the wrong address. They are going to send me a copy of my credit file showing the address as it appears on my file which they claim is the correct address. I should have this letter from them by 1/15/13

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


1/8/13
Today I have received a letter from NCTUE dated 12/31/12 addressed to the wrong address that I am trying to have them correct

December 31, 2012

Dear Consumer:
We have received your request concerning your telecom and utilities exchange data report.
However, our records indicated that a free copy of your disclosure report already has been sent to you.
These are the reasons for which a data report can be provided at no charge, if you don't meet the criteria below, there may be a charge.
If you have been denied service, credit or another credit-based benefit due to information on your data report within the last 60 days, you are entitled by law to a free copy of your data report.
If you have recently placed an initial 90-day fraud alert on your data report, you may receive a free data report.
If you have recently placed an extended seven-year alert, you may receive two free data reports within 12 months.
You are entitled to one free data report during any 12-month period regardless of your state of residence if you are :
-Unemployed and intend to apply for employment in the next 60 days
-Receiving public welfare assistance
-Believe you are a victim of fraud
-Receive a risk based pricing notice
In the event you request the Exchange Risk Score, the charge is $7.95.
Please refer to the chart below to determine your current fee for the telecom and utilities exchange data report.
[Chart omitted]
If you are entitled to a free data report but you included payment in the form of a personal check, it has been shredded for your protection.  If you included a money order, it is being returned to you in a separate mailing.
Please include correct payment with the new request and make check payable to: Exchange Service Center.
Please submit the requested information and this letter to the address below.
Exchange Service Center - NCTUE
PO Box 105161
Atlanta, GA 30348-5161

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to assist you.
Exchange Service Center - NCTUE

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
1/8/13 Notes to self regarding NCTUE letter of 12/31/12
First, I note that the date of this letter is three days before my last call to NCTUE wherein they told me that they would be sending me a copy of my corrected credit file. I am going to wait until 1/15/13 as they suggested in that telephone call before proceeding.
Next, I note that while the address on the envelope is to the correct address, the inner address is the incorrect address.

*********************************************
1/23/13
Okay, I am finally getting back to this open item.  It is clear that NCTUE has no intention of meeting there obligation here, or, for that matter, keeping their word that they would send me a corrected credit file. I will now address another letter to them to try to resolve this matter. I will post it below.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

January 24, 2013

Exchange Service Center
PO Box 105398
Atlanta, GA 30348-5398

Re: Your letter of  December 31, 2012
      Confirmation #XXXXXXXXXX


Gentlemen:

I am in receipt of your letter dated December 31, 2012, which was in response to my request of December 19, 2012 to have certain disputed information changed in my credit file. You will note that in my letter of December 19, 2012 I indicated that in part, I had requested that my address reflect my true mailing address.

I note that your letter, in spite of multiple previous reassurances that the matter had been corrected, came addressed incorrectly. Even your previous correspondence was, at least, correctly addressed. Once again I ask that you please change the address in my file to the correct address indicated above.  I have gone to great lengths to have these addresses corrected because we have had so much difficulty getting mail delivered by the US Postal Service when it is not addressed correctly, especially mail from NCTUE.   AT&T, apparently the only member of your service, uses the correct address for billing purposes on all four of my accounts with them. Your intransigence on this matter is only a further indication that the data you supply to your member(s) is very unreliable at best.

I find it curious that you only have three of my AT&T accounts reporting into your system. I also find it curious that you do not have my DirecTV account in your system, since it was they who initiated the inquiry that has resulted in all this brouhaha over the information in my previously reported “non-existent” file.

As I indicated in my correspondence to you on September 5, 2012, I have no fewer than twelve utility, telecommunications, cable, etc. accounts with major national companies, and, yet, the only one’s that seem to be tracked by NCTUE seem to be some, but not all, of the AT&T accounts.  I would think that your members might be greatly dissatisfied with the paucity and incompleteness of the meaningful (or meaningless) information that you are really providing to them.

Please correct the information in my credit file and then provide me with a corrected copy of my credit file when you have corrected the information in it.  You should also note that in your letter of December 31, 2012, you seem to think that I should have to pay for this report. I might note that I have multiple justifications to insist that I receive a corrected credit file, which I have never received, at no charge whatsoever:

Firstly, I have only this month had my credit checked by AT&T for a new account. Consequently, I am entitled to a copy of my credit file on that basis alone.

Next, until you provide me with a correct credit file I have no way of determining if the credit file is correct. Under provision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act you are required to provide that report at no charge to me.

If you want to dispute that the credit file is incorrect, then I demand that you add a statement from me in my credit file that the address is incorrect in the file and indicate the address above as the correct address.

Please comply with your responsibilities under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and subsequent legislation.

Sincerely,

XXXXXXXXXXXX


encl: My Letter of December 18, 2012
       Your Letter of December 31, 2012


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
1/22/13
National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange, Inc.

Dear XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

On behalf of the Exchange, the Exchange Service Center has contacted each source directly, and our investigation is now completed. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact the source of that information directly.

Result of Your Investigation (For your security, the last 4 digits of your account number(s) have been replaced by *).

>>>> We have researched the information you have disputed. Account # XXXXXXXXXXX THE DISPUTED ADDRESS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS ACCOUNT HAS BEEN UPDATED. If you have additional questions about this item please contact: AT&T, PO Box 80517 Charleston SC 29416 800 288 2020.

If you have any additional questions regarding the information provided to NCTUE by the source of any information, please contact the source of that information directly. You may contact us regarding the specific information contained in this letter by writing to us at

Exchange Service Center - NCTUE
PO Box 105398
Atlanta, GA 30348-5398
]Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you.

Exchange Service Center - NCTUE


Attachment: My credit report

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I note two things.

First, they have addressed the letter to me correctly and the mailing address is now correct on the report.
Congratulations NCTUE. However, I now note that the addresses reported as part of the report reported by AT&T are incorrect. I have today communicated with AT&T and they have assured me that the mailing address on my four accounts are correct. I do not know what to make of this.

I think this is CASE CLOSED.

I guess it was not quite closed. Today I received yet another letter from NCTUE. The text follows.


January 29, 2013

Dear Consumer:
We have received your request concerning your telecom and utilities exchange data report.
However, our records indicated that a free copy of your disclosure report already has been sent to you.
These are the reasons for which a data report can be provided at no charge, if you don't meet the criteria below, there may be a charge.
If you have been denied service, credit or another credit-based benefit due to information on your data report within the last 60 days, you are entitled by law to a free copy of your data report.
If you have recently placed an initial 90-day fraud alert on your data report, you may receive a free data report.
If you have recently placed an extended seven-year alert, you may receive two free data reports within 12 months.
You are entitled to one free data report during any 12-month period regardless of your state of residence if you are :
-Unemployed and intend to apply for employment in the next 60 days
-Receiving public welfare assistance
-Believe you are a victim of fraud
-Receive a risk based pricing notice
In the event you request the Exchange Risk Score, the charge is $7.95.
Please refer to the chart below to determine your current fee for the telecom and utilities exchange data report.
[Chart omitted]
If you are entitled to a free data report but you included payment in the form of a personal check, it has been shredded for your protection.  If you included a money order, it is being returned to you in a separate mailing.
Please include correct payment with the new request and make check payable to: Exchange Service Center.
Please submit the requested information and this letter to the address below.
Exchange Service Center - NCTUE
PO Box 105161
Atlanta, GA 30348-5161

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to assist you.
Exchange Service Center - NCTUE

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
There they go again repeating themselves.

I think this is a wrap.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I couldn't help but notice some parallels to your odyssey and a lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court against NCTUE. http://www.lawfirmnewswire.com/2017/01/national-consumer-telecom-and-utilities-exchange-inc-sued/

    ReplyDelete