NCOALink® FAQ

The following are frequently asked questions regarding NCOALink Processing. If you have questions, please email our NCOALink Technical Team at: ncoa@lortondata.com.

Why use the NCOALink service?

The NCOALink service helps you keep in contact with your customers. The national annual move rate is estimated at 17%. The value of NCOALink processing varies with how frequently you contact your customers, the type of customers you mail to, and what class of mail you use. 1. Class of Mail. There is a Move Update Requirement for First-Class™ mailers who want to receive postage discounts. Of the options to meet this requirement, the NCOALink service tends to be the most cost-effective. NCOALink service on your USPS Marketing MailTM mailing will reduce your wasted printing and postage costs as well maintain contact with your relocating customers. 2. In some cases your customers are specific to your products or services, such as hobby or career related mailings. In other cases, your customers are specific to geographic location, such as a hardware store or grocery store. If your customers are specific to your product or service, you can use NCOALink to help you determine if they have relocated. 3. How often are you in contact with your customers? If you sent out an endorsed mailing, a First-Class mailing, or have a regular calling schedule for your customers, you are likely to have fewer moves identified through NCOALink processing.


What is NCOALink processing?

The NCOALink product matches names and addresses on your mailing list to changes of address filed with the USPS® by relocating postal customers. When the name and address information on your mailing list matches the name and address information on the NCOALink file, a new address will be returned. NCOALink Full Service contains 48 months of permanent address changes and Limited Service contains 18 months of changes that are both updated weekly. The file is maintained by the U.S. Postal Service® and is licensed to vendors such as Lorton Data.

Is there a minimum record count for using NCOALink Processing services?

Yes, you have to have a minimum of 100 unique records for your file to be processed through NCOALink. This is a USPS NCOALink regulation. Please ensure that any file uploaded for processing contains at least 100 unique records.


What is the turn-around time for NCOALink processing?

Files with one million records or less and sent via A-Qua Mailer are typically returned within minutes. Files sent with a paper order form are typically returned the next business day. Please refer to our service timeframe schedule for more details. Complete paperwork and file must be received by 5 PM Central time. If sending files via other applications or if requiring same day turn-around, please call 651-203-8290 or click on the 'Live Support' button above.

 
What file types do you accept?

We can accept fixed field text files (with proper layout), ASCII delimited files (comma, tab or pipe) or dBASE files.


Is there anything I need to do with my data after NCOALink to meet Move Update compliance?

If we are updating your address lines with move data, there are two critical steps when you get your file back:

  1. Remove records marked as ‘moved without a forwarding address’, if you do not check the box to remove these records
  2. The contact and address information printed on your mail piece must be the same contact and address information output from NCOALink

Note: This does not apply if you use alternative or exceptional address formats.


What types of media do you accept?

We accept almost anything. For additional information about acceptable media, you can reference our media list.

How far back does NCOALink processing go?

Currently NCOALink Full Service licensees offer up to 48 months of permanent address changes that are updated weekly. Limited Service licensees offer up to 18 months of permanent address changes that are also updated weekly. The files are maintained by the U.S. Postal Service and are provided to a limited number of licensed vendors such as Lorton Data.

How often is the NCOALink database updated?

The NCOALink database is updated weekly and changes are kept in the file for four years.  Data from permanent change-of-address submissions from the entire country are collected at the USPS National Customer Support Center. The data is compiled, edit checks are performed, and data is distributed weekly to Full Service and Limited Service licensees, and monthly to End-user licensees. NCOALink licensees also receive a daily file of NCOALink matches that must suppressed from the USPS (typically corrections to already filed moves). Temporary moves are not carried on the NCOALink database.

What is the difference between your two output layout options - Output C and Output 500?

Output C will overwrite your original fields with change of address information if a move was identified. If no move was found, but the address was able to be ZIP + 4® coded, then the standardized information will be applied. Output 500 will append data to the end of your original set of data fields. The standardized information will follow your original input, and then the change of address information will follow that, giving a total record length of 500 (provided your input record length is under 200.). If your input record length is over 200, we will pad to the next one hundred and then append our information.

500 Example:  
Input: Output:
Lisa Smith
123 Main St
Anytown US 12345
Lisa Smith
123 Main St
Anytown US 12345

123 Main St E
Anytown US 12345-1234
FM 0997
(Family move effective September 1997)

PO Box 1234
New York NY 23456-7890

 

Output C Example:  
Input: Output:
Lisa Smith
123 Main St
Anytown US 12345
Lisa Smith
PO Box 1234
New York NY 23456-7890
FM 0997
(Family move effective September 1997

What is the NCOALink Processing Acknowledgment Form (PAF) and why is it needed?

The PAF is a requirement of the U.S. Postal Service. It is to ensure that NCOALink is used only for the purposes of mailing. All NCOALink vendors are required to have a completed and signed PAF provided by the list owner. In no case may a broker, agent or third party sign as the list owner. Mailing lists cannot be processed until we receive a completed and signed PAF.


How will I know when my NCOALink
processing file is ready?

If you have requested that we send your file back to you via email, we will send you an email with the attached zip file and fax you the password. If you have requested the file be put to our ftp site, then you will receive a fax with the file name and password as well as where to find your file on our ftp site.


What are LACSLink®
& NES?

LACSLink: Address conversions that are a result of the Emergency 911 system implementation and typically involve the changing of rural route and highway contract addresses to city style addresses. During this process you will also find renumbering and renaming of existing city style addresses. No move has taken place; this is only an address conversion. The LACSLink database is separate from the NCOALink database. NES - Nixie Elimination Service: A proprietary service that applies footnotes indicating why a NCOALink match could not be made to the input address. The footnotes help you analyze your records to determine the need for additional action such as a special mailing, special handling or elimination from the list. E.g. NES footnote “B” indicates a potential move; NES footnote “G”, indicates an individual move, first names do not match.


What is the difference between Standard and Individual matching logic?

Standard Matching Logic: Most commonly requested. For family moves, matching is based on last name and address. For individual moves, matching is based on name prefix, first name, middle name, last name, name suffix and address. Individual Matching Logic: All moves are treated as individual moves. Regardless of the move type – family or individual, the matching is based on name prefix, first name, middle name, last name, name suffix and address. In a family move, the person who is on your list must be the person who filed the change of address; otherwise you will not get the match. This option will cause you to miss some good moves. It is a more strict approach to matching. Typically used for financial statements, tax information, and voter registration files.

 
What data do I need to supply to Lorton Data for NCOALink processing?

To process your file through the NCOALink service, you must provide a personal or company name, address, city, state, and ZIP Code™. If you have additional fields that is okay; they will be returned to you unaltered. Many people provide a unique record identifier so it is easier to match the updated file back into their system.


What is AAC, Apt Append & COA +?

AAC - Advanced Address Correction: AAC is utilized to repair or replace incorrect or missing address components for those addresses not ZIP + 4 coded during CASS™ processing. Name and address information is compared to Experian’s proprietary data. When a match to a more correct or complete address is made, the address from Experian data is utilized to correct or repair the incoming address. Tests have indicated a 14% lift in NCOALink matches. Apartment Append: Apartment Append looks for CASS footnotes indicating missing or incorrect apartment numbers, then using Experian’s proprietary data, attempts to assign or correct the apartment number. Tests indicate a 10% lift in NCOALink matching with valid secondary information. COA+ - Change of Address Plus: COA+ utilizes Experian’s proprietary data of moves reported by sources other than the USPS. COA+ uses a looser matching logic than NCOALink, but it is still a tight individual match. In addition to NCOALink matches, it is not uncommon to see another 1-3% of the input records match to COA+.

For NCOALink processing, what are the optional additional reports?

The list of NCOALink matches report provides a listing of your old address printed on the left side of the sheet and the new address, NES footnotes or Nixie explanation provided on the right side of the sheet. The list of NCOALink matches & ZIP + 4 non-matches report provides the above information plus those addresses that could not be ZIP + 4 coded. * These reports can be sent electronically or on paper.


What percent of matching should I expect?

It is difficult to predict a match rate until there is some history to the list processed. Several factors must be taken into account when looking at match rates; they include: - How was the data gathered? i.e. contest, important document; over the phone; etc. This can indicate how complete and accurate the data may be provided. - Was the data entered from a handwritten or typed sheet? There can be difficulties reading handwriting or there is a chance of typing errors. - How old is the data? Whether the data was provided within the past few months or years can make a difference. - How often is the list updated? What methods of updating are used? If little or no updating has been done you will see that in your results. - Who is the audience? Younger people tend to move more often and may not file a change of address; older people tend to move less often; businesses move less frequently than people. * A common range of matching is approximately 4 – 6 %.


Is Lorton Data an NCOALink licensed vendor?

Yes, Lorton Data is an NCOALink Full Service Licensed vendor.