Even with a credit freeze, crooks are finding ways to open mobile accounts in your name.
We’ve dealt with the subject of identity theft and credit freezes in previous newsletters. Some of you have taken the steps to freeze your credit so identity thieves can’t open new credit cards in your name. What about your mobile phone account? That’s protected by a credit freeze with the three big credit bureaus, right?
Crooks are finding new ways to open new mobile phone accounts using names of people who already froze their credit. That’s because mobile phone merchants don’t rely on the major credit bureaus. Instead, the mobile providers make their credit inquiries with the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange (NCTUE).
NCTUE is a “shadow” 4th credit bureau – a separate credit check system used by mobile phone companies, utilities, and cable providers. Unless you freeze with NCTUE, fraudsters may be able to sign up for service in your name even if you’ve frozen your credit with the Big 3. You must freeze your telecom credit with NCTUE if you want protection.
So far, so good, right? Well, there’s good news and bad news. First, the good news. NCTUE can freeze your mobile credit accounts. The bad news is that if you try to do it online, it’s a time-suck of gargantuan proportions! That’s because the program is handled by Equifax, one of the big three credit bureaus. Remember the now-infamous Equifax data breach? Between convoluted instructions and pages that show serious warnings on Google Chrome, the process can be quite frustrating.
Fortunately, you can do this easily with a phone call to NCTUE. Here's what you need to know in a nutshell:
To learn more, visit the NCTUE home page. But do yourself a favor: take our advice and get your telecom credit freeze by phone!
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Jensen Gelfond is the Founder of Asheville Digital Lifestyle. He helps people use their technology more effectively and joyfully.