Q. What are the requirements to becoming an NCTUE member company?
A. Membership in NCTUE is open to any telecommunications company (as defined by the Telecommunications Act of 1996) with residential accounts and any pay TV or utility company with consumer accounts.
Members include national, regional, and local companies that provide:
- Cable TV service
- Satellite TV service
- Electric service
- Gas service
- Home security service
- Internet service
- Local phone service
- Long distance phone service
- Water service
- Wireless phone service
- Wastewater service
Business credit executives of long-distance carriers and the National Association of Credit Management Southwest (NACM Southwest) formed the National Telecommunications Credit Group.
An informal committee was formed, made up of Credit Group members and a representative of NACM Southwest, to pursue the establishment of a national database to be owned and operated in accordance with guidelines set by the members.
After numerous meetings, the National Telecommunications Data Exchange (NTDE), a non-profit corporation, was founded by several leading service providers.
Telecommunications consumer executives, with the assistance of NACM Southwest, started the process of developing a national database of consumers to better monitor payment and service behaviors in the industry.
The National Consumer Telecommunications Data Exchange (NCTDE) was founded in 1997 by AT&T, Bellsouth, Citizens, Frontier, IXC, MCI, NYNEXLD, Sprint, and Worldcom. In September, the Department of Justice approved the creation of the database, and Equifax was selected as the vendor.
NCTDE and Equifax re-signed an agreement to manage the database and the US Department of Justice approved the combination of telecommunications and utilities providers in one exchange.
Pay TV providers were added to the by-laws in 2003, bringing the mix of data providers to its current state.
Equifax and the NCTUE established the NCTUE Plus database, which added member-provided tradeline-level account information to turn the existing “negative-only” repository into a more comprehensive tool for better decisioning.
Member Improves Collections Efforts
For this natural gas utility, as with other utilities, the collections function is important to the bottom line. Customer account collections including managing deposits to initiate service and recovering late payment write-offs is a tough function in the best of environments. In a tough economy, the job gets exponentially harder. Now more than ever, utility companies must have a deeper view of the customer to better determine an applicant’s credit worthiness and more tightly manage collections and account charge-offs.
This NCTUE member (a member since 2005) submits Unpaid Closed Accounts (UCA’s) and Customer Service Applications (CSA’s) to NCTUE and then receives matches on a daily basis. This enables their team to ensure there are no outstanding balances for new applicants and to use the data for skip tracing to enhance collections efforts. NCTUE provided this member immediate access to unique data on millions of consumers and the most up-to-date, right-party contact information available on delinquent debtors.
For some organizations, the obstacle to joining the exchange can be to assemble the internal resources needed to contribute data to the exchange. For members to receive data from NCTUE, they must contribute data to NCTUE. But members such as this organization are able to clearly view the value of NCTUE: the monthly average of debt identified and transferred outweighs the expense of membership by eight times.
During the period of March 2009 to February 2010, this member utilized the exchange during the opening of nearly $3 million in accounts and matched NCTUE data to 22% of those accounts. They went on to collect more than 21% against the matches, which netted a return to the bottom line of more than eight to one.