Update on Removing Your Name from Offers of Credit or Insurance and Access to Disclosure Report from NCTUE

Last week’s Privacy Tip touched a nerve with many readers, and I received numerous comments and thank you’s from loyal readers who, like me, also had no idea about NCTUE or that they could opt out of receiving all those pre-approval letters in the mail. It is amazing how so many of us, including those of us in the field, didn’t know about these rights.

The response prompted me to update everyone on what happened in the past week after I requested access to my report from the National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE) and tried to permanently opt out from receiving pre-approved offers of credit or insurance.

In response to these two tasks, I received two pieces of snail mail. The first was the disclosure report I requested from NCTUE. The report contained a lot of words to sift through, which prompted some empathy from me for non-lawyers trying to understand the message. Some interesting information it provided included that “The NCTUE is a national, member-owned consumer reporting agency comprised of cable, electricity/power, phone, gas, water and pay TV providers. These members, through its database, exchange information on new-connect requests, defaults account payment history and fraudulent account activity.” I never knew this organization existed in addition to the four consumer reporting agencies or that it had a database on all new-connect requests. It definitely keeps a low profile.

After lots of legalese, on page 3, the disclosure report begins. I was immediately very disturbed because at the top of the page it listed my name, full Social Security number, address and date of birth! I remind you that they sent this document to me in regular mail through the U. S. Postal Service, without even a passing attempt to send minimally necessary information to me and redact my highly sensitive information to protect my privacy! Why do they need to send my full Social Security number and date of birth? I already know it! And what about the fact that they disclosed my full Social Security number to all of their employees involved in processing my request? I was, and am still, appalled.

Needless to say, I am not happy. I am trying to protect my privacy and, in the process, NCTUE increased my risk because of its insecure practices.

For those of you who have been asking me to describe the contents of the disclosure report, it goes on to list my mobile telephone carrier, my monthly charges and payments for the past year for my mobile telephone, and an old cable account, including the monthly amounts paid and that there is a zero balance. This definitely was not worth the risk of NCTUE sending my full Social Security number through the regular mail. I am glad that I now know what is being disclosed for new-connect services, and I guess I am glad I can report to all of you that if you request your disclosure report, NCTUE will send your full Social Security number and date of birth through the unsecured mail.

The second task I performed last week was to request that I no longer receive pre-approval letters for credit or insurance. Although I requested by telephone last week that my name and address be permanently removed from receiving such offers, I received a letter from the OPT-OUT DEPARTMENT stating that my “telephone request to remove your name from lists for firm offers of credit or insurance has been processed. Your name will be removed for five years from the lists the consumer credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion, provide to businesses that send firm offers of credit or insurance. If you would like to remove your name permanently from the firm offer lists that these consumer credit reporting companies provide to businesses, you must submit a written request. To do so, please sign and date this form and return it to the address listed below.” Which I have done and it is back in snail mail to the OPT-OUT DEPARTMENT. Now the credit reporting agencies will not be able to include my name and address, (for which they get paid) to financial institutions or insurance companies. I will keep you posted on whether I receive less mail.

So—if you ask that your name be permanently deleted from lists provided by the credit reporting agencies to the firms they are selling your information to, you have to fill out another report and mail it back to them. The good news is that this piece of mail from the OPT-OUT DEPARTMENT didn’t include any personal information except name and mailing address.