National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE) is a consortium of member companies from the telecommunications, utilities, and pay TV industries. A Board of Trustees and an executive director oversees operations of the Exchange and provides day-to-day administration. The board is comprised of member companies in these industries. NCTUE membership is governed by member agreements, operating guidelines, and bylaws.
Our mission is to serve as an FCRA-compliant credit reporting agency for the telecommunication, pay TV 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.
Equifax Information Services is the contracted supplier that manages the database on behalf of the members. The database does not include Equifax credit information, and Equifax is not a member of NCTUE.
Q. How can an NCTUE membership benefit my company?
A. With close to 500 million records in the database, NCTUE is the premier, industry-specific data source for accurately assessing new applicant risk. NCTUE allows members to screen new consumers for customer service applications and unpaid closed accounts to decrease write-offs and improve profitability.
By joining NCTUE, members can:
- Identify whether or not a new applicant has outstanding, unpaid balances resulting in unpaid closed accounts from other member companies
- Gain insight into fraudulent new applications containing duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers
- Access unique, industry-specific data sources to accurately determine deposits
- Access updated address information from other members to greatly improve skip tracing and collections results
- Receive management reports to view aging of unpaid closed accounts, payment profiles, account reviews, activity analysis and more
Although results vary, members have seen a significant lift in loss mitigation by joining NCTUE. Members also receive updates with new phone numbers and address information for a high percentage of their outstanding, unpaid closed accounts.
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
A new path to show creditworthiness
Watch the video to see how NCTUE operates.
Created more than 20 years ago, NCTUE was the nation’s first consumer credit database to specifically focus on the energy industry. Since then the consortium has strived to enhance our offerings, providing members with positive and negative data not typically found in traditional credit databases.
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.
When Good Customers Go Bad
An energy utility company and NCTUE member organization examined their annual write-offs over a ten-year period and discovered that 53% of all write-offs were from customers who terminated their service. After further examination, they discovered over 70% of these write-offs were current prior to the service termination and had never been in the collection cycle. Consequently, most of these self-terminating customers did not have a security deposit to offset the unpaid final bill.
The question quickly became: To where did these once good paying customers move?
This NCTUE member found that the NCTUE database provides stronger right-party contact information. They send data to NCTUE where it is matched to accounts contributed by its members. Once matched, the most current contact data in the exchange is returned in an electronic file. This file is downloaded into a process, which includes a series of internal collection steps:
- 1. Reminder letter
- 2. Outbound dialer call
- 3. Aggressive collection letter
By creating a new recovery stream, this additional skip-tracing technique played an important role in achieving record low write-offs for that year.
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.