Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is NCOALinkTM?
  2. How do I prepare for NCOALinkTM?
  3. How is NCOALinkTM different than NCOA?
  4. Why the change to NCOALinkTM?
  5. What NCOALinkTM licences are available?
  6. Why does the USPS® require a license?
  7. Why use NationalChangeofAddress.com for NCOALinkTM processing?
  8. What benefits will I realize from NCOALinkTM processing?
  9. What are the return-on-investment benefits of NCOALinkTM processing?
  10. What are NCOALinkTM Footnotes and what benefits do they provide?
  11. Why do I have to sign an NCOALinkTM Processing Ancknowledgement Form (PAF)?
  12. How often should I NCOALinkTM my database?
  13. I have a database with consumers and businesses – will NCOALinkTM help me?
  14. If a person moves several times, will I receive the current address?
  15. What does Address Standardization do?
  16. Whats the difference between NCOALinkTM and DSF2™?
  17. Whats the difference between NCOALinkTM and LACSLinkTM?
  18. How long does it take to run NCOALinkTM on my file?
  19. How often do I have to CASSTM my database?
  20. Is my file secure at NationalChangeofAddress.com?
  21. Will I still have undeliverable mail if I process NCOALinkTM on my file?
  22. Will NCOALinkTM validate name information as well as provide new move information on all the records in my database?
  23. Will NCOALinkTM correct spelling errors in my names and addresses?
  24. Will NCOALinkTM tell me if an address is deliverable?
  25. I processed my file through NCOALinkTM and have received returned mail pieces. Why didn’t NCOALinkTM catch these undeliverable addresses?
  26. Is there a difference in the NCOALinkTM process provided by each licensee?

1. What is NCOALinkTM?

 

NCOALinkTM is a secure dataset of approximately 160 million change-of-addresses going back 48 months that enable mailers to update mailing lists with new addresses from individuals, families and businesses that have moved.

 

The USPS® has introduced NCOALinkTM to replace NCOA and FASTforward® Mailing List Correction (MLC) services. Mailers were required by the USPS® to switch to the new NCOALinkTM technology instead of National Change of Address (NCOA) on October 1st 2004 or replace FASTforward® MLC by October 1st 2005.

 

2. How do I prepare for NCOALinkTM?

                                  

Read the Full Service Provider Required Text Document.

 

Complete and sign an NCOALinkTM Processing Acknowledgement Form (PAF) and fax it to Anchor at 631-293-4113.

 

The USPS® requires a new six digit field that must be entered in the “List Owner” area called “NAICS”. Please refer to the NAICS document listing the most commonly used SIC Codes or visit www.census.gov/epcd/naics02, or call Anchor to determine your specific NAICS Code.

 

Brokers/Agents and List Administrators must check the applicable box and also complete the bottom portion of the PAF in addition to the list owner completing and signing their portion of the PAF.

 

Make sure your layouts accept the NCOALinkTM layout. Sample Fixed Field, Comma Delimited and DBF output layouts and sample reports are available for your review.

 

3. How is NCOALinkTM different than NCOA?

 

Nixies (or “footnotes”) that offer information about name and address records that do not exactly match the USPS® change-of-address database, were previously only available with NCOA processing. With NCOALinkTM these “Footnotes” (no longer called Nixies) have different meanings. Testing indicates the actual number of input names coded with “Footnotes” as compared to “Nixie Option Codes” are greatly reduced with NCOALinkTM versus NCOA processing.

 

DPVTM (Delivery Point Validation) is now included as part of NCOALinkTM by Full Service Providers and DPVTM footnotes are part of the output.

 

NCOALinkTM will return the move effective date, the specific name and address utilized in the query that obtained the match, and the move type. The move type is determined by the interface based on the specific name inquiry utilized to obtain the match. Please note: The specific name utilized in the query maybe slightly different from the name supplied, i.e. Robert versus Bob. Please see the Full Service Provider Required Text Document for additional output details.

 

4. Why the change to NCOALinkTM?

 

NCOALinkTM provides improved technology to protect the privacy and security of name and address information entrusted to the USPS®.

 

With NCOALinkTM the USPS® hopes to increase the utilization of change-of-address (COA) information and reduce further the costs associated with handling Undeliverable-As-Addressed (UAA) mail.

 

5. What NCOALinkTM licenses are available?

 

Three different NCOALinkTM licenses are available: Full Service Providers, Limited Service Providers and End User Mailers. Each requires a distinct certified software interface available through a USPS® certified NCOALinkTM Interface Software Developer/Distributor like Anchor Software LLC, or mailers can build and certify their own NCOALinkTM Software Interface.

 

Full Service Providers started using NCOALinkTM 48 months of COA data starting on October 1st 2004. Limited Service Providers and End User Mailers started using 18 months of COA data on October 1st 2004

 

6. Why does the USPS® require a license?

 

The USPS® wants to ensure that the use of their intellectual property is limited to its intended purpose. NCOALinkTM by its design is secure and cannot be used to data mine address information. It provides an enforcement mechanism with the flexibility needed to use NCOALinkTM in the marketplace.

 

7. Why use NationalChangeofAddress.com for NCOALinkTM processing?

 

All NCOALinkTM processing is performed for NationalChangeofAddress.com by a non-exclusive licensee that has processed billions of records over the past two decades as an NCOA vendor and is now a USPS® certified NCOALinkTM Full Service Provider, Interface Developer and Interface Distributor. Their experience and our dedicated staff have the programming skills to ensure your mailing lists are always in compliance with USPS® requirements.

 

The NCOALinkTM Full Service Provider database we use provides mailers with more change-of-address moves and uses 48 months of up-to-date address information, versus the “Limited Service Provider” database that provides only 18 months of address information. We recommend processing through the 48 month option to provide mailers more change-of-address moves.

 

We offer additional address hygiene services including:

 

Licensed by the USPS®:

-          Locatable Address Conversion System (LACSLinkTM):        

-          DSF2TM (Delivery Sequence File Second Generation)

 

Anchor Proprietary Processes:

-          Apartment+

-          Deceased Processing

-          Direct Marketing Association – Do Not Mail

-          Several Other Services

The Postal Service has introduced — LACSLinkTM — for updating addresses after Enhanced 911 (E-911) conversions take place. It features the USPS-developed “LINK” technology that maintains the privacy and security of data while allowing mailers easy access to it. The Postal Service is required LACSLinkTM to be incorporated into all Coding Accuracy Support System software effective July 31, 2005.

8.       What benefits will I realize by processing my file through NCOALinkTM?

Mailers using NCOALinkTM will save thousands of dollars that would have been spent on wasted materials and postage that result from undelivered as addressed mail. The NCOALinkTM System makes available current change of address information that will reduce undeliverable mail. Addressing errors are identified and corrected before the mail enters the United States Postal Service®. Mailers will also receive a quicker response to an offer since it will go directly to the new address in the case of a move. Cash flow will also improve as a direct result of reaching a customer who has moved. In addition valuable customer names that would have been lost will be updated so that communication can continue.

The NCOALinkTM process at Anchor:

9.       What is the return on investment (ROI) benefit of NCOALinkTM?

Use of the United States Postal Service® National Change of Address (NCOALinkTM) program reduces costs of labor, postage and materials. Unfortunately this is news to some companies and senior managers who have yet to realize the ROI benefits of this worthy program. Presented herein are two reference tools you can share with clients and prospects: a Return on Investment Guide and a Case History.

ROI Guide

The United States Postal Service® has stated that the average NCOALinkTM match rate is approximately 4.1%. That translates to 41,000 move changes for a 1,000,000 record file. The match rate not only includes recognized address changes but also closed PO Boxes, foreign moves and moves with no forwarding address. When associated postage and material costs related to these factors are recognized as well as non ZIP + 4® coded addresses, one begins to conceptualize the value of this service.

Rule of Thumb
Following are average percentages of key NCOALinkTM elements:

Item

Percent

1 mm Record File

Move changes

4.1%

41,000 records

ZIP + 4® improvement

1.0%

10,000 records

Total affected records

5.1%

51,000 records

The next process applies dollar values to these change dynamics. Two points regarding the figures used below. First, we have used a typical automated discount for First-Class Mail® and Standard Mail™ A class discount letter rates in the example. (See the Domestic Mail Manual R100 and R600.) Also, the $0.05 material amount may be conservative for both mail classes.

 

Cost Savings Benefit #1 - First Class Mail

8,200

Address changes over a year old*

x $0.36

$0.31 discounted postage rate + $0.05 materials

$2,952.00

Savings realized from this aspect of service


Cost Savings Benefit #1 - Standard Mail™ A Letter Mail

41,000

Address changes

x $0.26

$0.21 discounted postage rate + $0.05 materials

$10,660.00

Savings realized from this aspect of service

Cost Savings Benefit #2 - First & Standard Mail™ A Class Mail

10,000

ZIP + 4® improved records

x $0.07

Postage discount

$700.00

Savings realized from this aspect of service

Summary of Examples:

First Class

Item

Standard Mail™

$3,652.00

Gross savings

$11,360.00

$1,250.00

Less NCOALinkTM processing service fee of $1.25/M

$1,250.00

$2,402.00

Net savings

$10,110.00

Cost Saving Benefits:


Case Study
This study is presented as an example of the savings potential to small file owners that use Standard Mail™ A class mail, in this case an owner with 82,153 records.

Item

%

Records

Unit Savings

Move address changes

4.49%

3,688

$0.26

ZIP + 4® improvement

1.00%

821

$0.07

 

Client Savings

Move address changes and closed boxes, etc. @ $0.26 ea.

$ 958.88

Postal savings on ZIP + 4® records @ $0.07 ea.

$ 57.47

Less cost of service

$ 300.00

Net savings

$ 716.35

10. What are NCOALinkTM Footnotes and what benefits do they provide?

An NCOALinkTM Footnote is a record that is close, but does not meet the United States Postal Service® standards for matching to the NCOALinkTM Database and does not receive a forwarding address. It is flagged as a possible move. A new address can not be provided, however Footnotes are appended to the record to allow the mailer to make a mail/ no mail decision. NCOALinkTM Footnotes typically identifies 40% to 70% additional names as possible moves over those found with the more restrictive matching rules required for providing a new address Option added to NCOALinkTM processing can result in additional savings and sales.

11. Why do I have to sign an NCOALinkTM Processing Acknowledgement Form (PAF)?

The United States Postal Service® requires this acknowledgement form. The form states" the sole purpose of the NCOALinkTM service is to provide a mailing list correction service for a list that will be used for the preparation of a mailing". If you do not have a PAF on file with NationalChangeofAddress.com, please fax us a signed PAF at the time of placing your order. Per United States Postal Service® regulations, a mailing list owner's PAF will remain in effect for one year from the date of signing. For each subsequent year a new form must be signed and returned to us as soon as possible.

We suggest that you download an NCOALinkTM  Processing Acknowledgement Form (PAF), print, sign and fax it to us at (631) 293-9757 You are under no obligation to place an order with us. However, we will have the form on file in case you decide to place an order and send us your file for processing.

12. How often should I NCOALinkTM my Database?

To qualify for postage discounts of up to six cents for first class mailing, you are required to update your files every six months. In addition, you also benefit from the improved deliverability that results from NCOALinkTM While it is generally recommended that you perform NCOALinkTM processing prior to each mailing, many companies update their database or mail file every 3 to 6 months. You should calculate the savings gained each time you mail to your list. This is done by multiplying the number of addresses that the NCOALinkTM process corrects by the cost of your mailing piece. Since the cost to NCOALinkTM your file is almost always less than the cost incurred from having undeliverable pieces (and subsequently not reaching your clients or prospects), it often makes economic sense to NCOALinkTM your list prior to each mailing.

13. I have a database with consumers and businesses - will NCOALinkTM help me?

Yes, the NCOALinkTM file is comprised of approximately 40% family moves, 54% individual moves and 6% business moves. It almost always makes sense to NCOALinkTM your file whether it is comprised of consumer, business, or both types of addresses. In the case of business moves, the whole company must move, not just an individual.

14. If a person moves several times, will I receive the current address?

When possible, postal customers who move multiple times within the life of a COA in NCOALinkTM and have notified the United States Postal Service® are linked to ensure the latest address is furnished when an NCOALinkTM match is attained.

15. What does address standardization do?

16. What's the difference between NCOALinkTM and DSF2™?

NCOALinkTM is a process that matches a file of names and addresses to the United States Postal Service® licensed NCOALinkTM database comprised of 160+ million records of individual, family and business moves. DSF2™ is a United States Postal Service® licensed database that improves delivery of your mailing by examining address data and comparing it to the DSF2™ database that contains each of the 145+ million delivery points. DSF2™ confirms the existence of the address, provides delivery type, business versus residential, and provides a Pseudo Sequence Number to qualify for walk sequence postal presort discounts. DSF2™ detects potentially undeliverable addresses for reasons other than Change of Address.

17. What's the difference between NCOALinkTM and LACS?

NCOALinkTM is a process that matches a file of names and addresses to the United States Postal Service® licensed NCOALinkTM database comprised of 160+ million records of individual, family and business moves. The LACS (Locatable Address Conversion System) is a United States Postal Service® licensed database. As of September 22nd 2004 the LACS database contains approximately 5.3 million records that enables you to update your mailing lists when addresses have been converted by local authorities, i.e. renumbering of houses or addresses converted from rural style to city style addresses, usually as a result of a 911 conversion.

18. How long does it take to run NCOALinkTM on my file?

You must submit your file for NCOALinkTM processing with a NCOALinkTM Proccessing Acknowledgement Form. You select from four different SERVICE LEVELS: Priority Service, Next Business Day A.M. Service, Next Business Day P.M. Service and 3 Business Day Service. Please contact us for custom processing for larger volumes or if these service levels do not meet your needs. The United States Postal Service® requires that processing be completed within 7 days of receipt of your files for processing.

19. How often do I have to CASS certify my database?

If you are bar-coding your mail, the requirement is every 3 months, all input addresses are standardized and CASS™ (Coding Accuracy Support System) Certified and ZIP + 4® /DPC processed.

20. Is my file secure at NationalChangeofAddress.com?

Yes, we have taken every precaution to make sure your file is secure throughout the NCOALinkTM process. Your file is processed in a United States Postal Service® approved secure facility. We send your file back to you, encrypted using SSL software and ZIP pass-worded.

NationalChangeofAddress.com respects your right to privacy and follows the guidelines set forth by the Direct Marketing Association. We will not sell, rent, exchange or release any of the information you submit on this web site, without your permission.

21. Will I still have undeliverable mail if I process NCOALinkTM on my file?

It is estimated that only 66.9% of mail is deliverable as addressed. The remaining percentage has some form of addressing deficiency which could affect deliverability. Endorsed mail and First Class mail can be forwarded or returned to the mailer, Standard Mail™ A class is normally discarded. NCOALinkTM will reduce the amount of undeliverable mail by Address Standardization and ZIP™ Correction as well as Move Update, but will not completely eliminate undeliverable mail. Some examples of returned mail NCOALinkTM not corrected are:

22. Will NCOALinkTM validate name information as well as provide new move information on all the records in my database?

No, NCOALinkTM processing does not validate name and address information on your database. The NCOALinkTM database contains Change-of-Address information only. If a person or company files a change of address with the United States Postal Service® the information is maintained on the NCOALinkTM database for 48 months. If a person or company does not file a change of address and the carrier does not file a "Moved – Left No Address" it does not appear on the NCOALinkTM database. Additional reasons a person/company would not be maintained on the NCOALinkTM database are:

23. Will NCOALinkTM correct Spelling Errors in my names and addresses?

NCOALinkTM will not correct spelling errors in your names or addresses. Address Standardization will standardize your addresses to postal regulations and may also correct some street name misspellings. DSF2™ also has the ability to correct misspelled street names.

24. Will NCOALinkTM tell me if an address is deliverable?

NCOALinkTM will give you move update information and usually provides a ZIP + 4®. DSF2™ determines the deliverability of address records. ZIP + 4® validates addresses based on valid house number ranges but not the actual number. DSF2™ validates based on exact house number and apartment number.

25. I processed my file through NCOALinkTM and have received returned mail pieces. Why didn't NCOALinkTM catch these undeliverable addresses?

It is estimated that only 66.9% of mail is deliverable as addressed. The remaining percentage has some form of addressing deficiency which could affect deliverability. Endorsed mail and First-Class Mail® can be forwarded or returned to the mailer. Standard Mail™ (Third Class) is discarded. NCOALinkTM will reduce the amount of undeliverable mail through Address Standardization and ZIP™ Correction as well as through running Move Update, but will not eliminate it. Some examples of returned mail NCOALinkTM will not correct are: Forwarding Order Expired, No Such Number, Address Unknown, Moved – Left No Address. See DSF2™ for additional information on undeliverable mail.

26. Is there a difference in the NCOALinkTM process provided by each licensee?

Each NCOALinkTM licensee, including our licensee, is tested and audited and their processing approved by the United States Postal Service® and all licensees must use USPS® CASS™ certified address matching software in the process.

                                                                                   

 

NCOALinkTM Processing is performed by a non-exclusive licensee of the United States Postal Service®.