Just when I thought I had frozen all of my credit, and was doing everything I can to protect myself from identity theft and fraud, I find out today about another one from KrebsOnSecurity.
I am pretty knowledgeable on the subject matter of credit freezes, and have been an advocate of placing a credit freeze on accounts to protect oneself from identity theft and fraud for a long time. Yet, even I had no idea that the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange (NCTUE), or nctue.com existed. What is this you ask? Apparently, it is the organization that utilities and mobile telephone providers contact to pull consumers’ credit for issuing new utility and mobile telephone accounts. Apparently they don’t reach out to the known credit reporting agencies, which is what many of us assumed. This is why some individuals who have frozen their credit with the four credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis—may still become victims when thieves open new mobile telephone accounts in their name because their credit hasn’t been frozen by NCTUE. If an identity thief has your name, address and Social Security number (all of which was compromised in recent breaches), then s/he can open a new mobile telephone account in your name, change the address on the account, and you wouldn’t know it has been opened.
There is supposedly a way to freeze your credit with NCTUE so if mobile telephone providers are not using the traditional way to pull your credit, but instead are using NCTUE, they won’t be able to pull your credit to open a new account. I tried this afternoon to freeze my credit account with NCTUE, but the online site was inoperable. The same thing happened to Brian Krebs.
I tried to call NCTUE to freeze my credit (1-866-349-5355), but the process was so difficult, and the options were so hard to follow, that I gave up and will try again tomorrow.
When I called the number provided by Krebs to get access to my information (1-866-349-5185) and provided my Social Security number and the numbers in my street address, I had the option of getting a “telecom or utilities data report” from “the exchange.” The automated voice rattled off a request confirmation number that is ten digits long and although they never said so, I feel like I should keep it in a safe place. I don’t know what is going to be contained in this telecom or utilities data report from the NCTUE Exchange, but when I get it, I will let you know. I am still going to try to freeze my credit with NCTUE, as it is worrisome that mobile telephone accounts can be opened without our knowledge despite the fact that we have frozen our credit accounts with the credit reporting agencies.
Finally, I opted out of receiving pre-approved credit offers by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). Note that you can opt out for 5 years or forever. I opted for forever. I really don’t need or want all of that junk mail anyway. It’s too bad that it takes so much time and effort to opt out of receiving pre-approved credit offers when you didn’t want them in the first place. Although it was a lot of work tonight, I will sleep better knowing that I took several more steps to protect myself.
If you have placed credit freezes on your credit accounts, be aware that this is another one to address to protect yourself from identity theft. Thanks to Brian Krebs for bringing this to our attention.