Sorry about the length of the post…the details are important.
No second hand information here. This just happened to me and I have all of the follow-up details provided in this post.
Who should be concerned? Everyone…but specifically high risk people are:
-Ever evicted or had a dispute with landlord?
-Ever late with your utility bill payments?
-Victims of identity theft.
-Ever had a roommate? (College students pay attention here)
-Legally changed your name?
-Ever have a utility or service disconnected?
Ok…here goes. Because of the strain that my business is under, things have been very tight for my family. I saw the electric was going to be a
tough one this month so I did what you are supposed to do. I got online and accessed my account and applied for an extension. It was granted
immediately and it asked me to pay approx. half of the bill now and gave me another week to pay the rest. No problem. It is important to note that I
have a security deposit with the electric company which is the equivalent to over 3 months of normal service for me. I was only a few days late to
begin with. Well…there’s this neat little clause at the bottom of the online form that states that failure to make your next payment could result
in an interruption of services.
Well…I goofed. I forget about the second payment and a representative knocked on my door today to inform me that if I couldn’t make the payment
in cash NOW, he would have to shut off my electric service. Yeah, that’s right---Cash! I explained that I could just go in and get on the computer
and pay with a credit card and I would do it right away. He politely said no and disconnected my service. Mind you, I have three kids and a
refrigerator full of food that could potentially spoil. The kids were at school and I didn’t want them to experience this so I called the power
company right away to report my payment and have them come and turn my power back on. I was told that a reconnect could take 24-48 hours! It is 90
degrees here today and the same weather for tomorrow. My groceries would never last…not to mention the other inconveniences---no hot water, no
internet, no lights, etc.
Before this disconnect guy could even get out of my neighborhood I had the bill paid (by the way, it was less than $60.00). I was F****ing pissed.
Well, I took matters into my own hands and went outside and reconnected my service. The bill was paid and I wasn’t going to go without. This gets
better by the minute. About an hour later my power was off again! I ran outside and found the utility company disconnecting me again! I asked the
worker what he was doing and he politely explained that he was investigating “tampering”. I told he needed not investigate any more. I told him
that I reconnected it and I shared my story with him.
While I was telling him the story he reconnected the power and shared some very interesting information with me.
Directly from this man’s mouth came evidence of some of the most disgusting business practices I have ever heard. I was told that even though I had
over 500 dollars in security with them that I was ordered as a “high risk customer”. I was labeled to be disco’d for any delinquency over 50
dollars!!! I flipped out. “Why am I high risk?” I asked. He stated that there was info in “the database” that suggested it.
Datbase?...what database? Well according to him there is a national utilities database. Now get this…there is a database for utilities companies,
telecommunications companies, and paid TV companies that shares their customers’ information. It doesn’t stop there though, this same information
can and will effect you if you ever have your services disconnected for nonpayment. Here is how it works: Let’s say that you don’t pay your
electric bill and they shut you off for nonpayment. You finally make your payment and wait for the reconnect. The reconnect never comes, so you call
to find out what the hold up is. The person on the other end of the line tells you that you need to pay your cable TV bill from 2004 in a state that
is different from the one you currently reside in. WTF?!?!?!?! This database not only shares delinquency information with other service providers
that are unrelated but also acts as a collection enforcement and mediation link between their customer service department and another entirely
different company (service provider). This absolutely blows my mind. I almost didn’t believe it. BUT here’s the proof:
Now get this. This organization is allowed to act as a collection representative for unrelated companies through a membership proxy. Do you want to
guess who is NOT a member BUT is hired to handle this database activity? You probably guessed it…Equifax! This is total BS. It states that
Equifax does not share its personal credit information with the members of NCTUE.
So here is another scenario:
You’re in college and you and four of your roommates decide to rent a house. You split up the utilities responsibility and after graduation, you
all go your separate ways. You are now married and with kids in a house in another state. Times get tough. You miss a payment on your electric
bill. Your service gets turned off and they refuse to reconnect you due to the fact that you have a ten year old previous balance with another
utility company in another state that shares no piece of the same corporate veil. No reconnect until you pay this old bill. The bonus is you find
out later that after you moved, one of your roommates stayed behind and re-established service in your name for awhile and then skipped town. No
judge, no jury, no chance to prove your case. You and your family will now go without power until you pay the $1,000 cable TV bill your roommate from
10 years ago illegally ran up.
Snippet from their website: www.nctue.com...
The National Consumer Telecommunications Data Exchange (NCTDE) was founded in 1997 by AT&T, Bellsouth, Citizens, Frontier, IXC, MCI, NYNEXLD, Sprint,
and Worldcom. A representative of NACMSW was selected as executive director and vice president of NCTDE. The Justice Department in September 1997
approved the creation of the database and Equifax was selected as vendor.