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Voice of the Consumer: What looks like a scam may not be

By: Betty Sexton, KKTV
January 20, 2016
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photo - Betty Sexton
Betty Sexton 

A lot of you have called and emailed me about a notice you received from a group called National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange.

I want to thank Ann for asking me to dig deeper into this. The letter says there's negative information on your credit report and you can find out about it by contacting the agency. You're supposed to call, email or write the agency and give a representative your Social Security number and date of birth.

It sounds like a scam, right? Well, it isn't.

NCTUE is a consumer reporting agency governed by federal law, and an affiliate of Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies.

The difference between NCTUE and Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian is that it is a member-owned database that deals specifically with information on cable, Internet, phone, and utility records. Companies that are members exchange information. So if you've had billing issues in the last 12 months with a phone, cable, Internet, gas, or electric company, that information can be shared among NCTUE members.

You may think it's not important, but if you ignore the notice you could be denied credit from a company that is a NCTUE member. The information from NCTUE will not show up on a credit report from Experian, TransUnion or Equifax because those agencies don't look at late or missed payments from a cable, Internet, or electric company.

The reason NCTUE sends out these letters is because Colorado law requires it. The Colorado Consumer Credit Reporting Act forces companies to send out letters to residents when it has received eight credit inquiries about them or has received a report that would add negative information to their file. Colorado law requires those companies to give you a copy of your file for free.

A customer service rep with NCTUE said thousands of letters went out to Colorado consumers. She also said, "Whenever there's negative information for the Colorado consumers we are sending letters to those consumers to check out their credit report with us."

After you receive information from NCTUE, you can dispute what's negative or incorrect. The agency's database contains more than 150 million files, a company representative said.

If you received one of these notices, thought it was a scam and threw it away, don't worry. To follow up all you have to do is call the customer service number, 866-349-5185, email the agency, or send them a letter. It should include your Social Security number and date of birth. It's all right to share those personal details because the agency has them, and that's the only way to learn where you stand. It's a good idea to check your credit once a year. To do that, go to annualcreditreport.com.

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Contact Betty Sexton at bsexton@kktv.com or 578-0000

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