Credit Risk

How Equifax is Helping Consumers Maintain Credit Standing During COVID-19

How Equifax is Helping Consumers Maintain Credit Standing During COVID-19

April 06, 2020 | Rebecca Kritzman

COVID-19 Has Made Phone, Pay TV and Internet Service Important to Our Quality of Life

In the past, expenses such as wireless phones, landlines, internet and pay TV were largely viewed as leisure or discretionary items. But in a post-pandemic world, staying connected is increasingly important. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, 29% of Americans performed some degree of work at home. When the government issued mandatory shelter-in-place orders, this number skyrocketed—and so did communication usage:

  • A major wireless carrier reported that wireless minutes on April 1, 2020 increased 41% when compared to an average Wednesday. And calling minutes were up 57%.
  • VPN usage in the U.S. grew 53% between March 9 and March 15.
  • In Italy, where officials estimated the outbreak is two weeks ahead of the US, VPN shot up 112% during the same time period.
  • Pay TV news viewership nearly doubled during the outbreak, as people turn to TV for vital news on the virus, the economy, health information and work restrictions.
  • With school closings, online teaching has shifted from being a novelty to a necessity.

In this environment, staying connected is important for working, learning and living.

Equifax Eliminates Need for Hard Credit Inquiries When Opening Critical Communications Accounts

As shelter-in-place orders wane, some of the side effects may be with us for considerably longer. Among these:

  • Companies will redefine the future of work as they increasingly embrace telecommuting and remote work.
  • Spikes in online ordering, pick-up orders, streaming and downloading may linger and create an even greater dependence on wireless and online communication in daily life.
In anticipation of the long-term impact of this paradigm shift, Equifax is leading the way by eliminating the need for hard credit inquiries when opening phone service, wireless phone contracts, internet service and pay TV service accounts.

Hard Inquiries vs. Soft Inquiries

Wondering what this change means for credit reports? Generally, when consumers apply for a new credit or service account, the creditors and service providers check the consumer’s credit and a hard credit inquiry is recorded on the consumer’s credit file. They oftentimes use these ‘hard pulls’ as a factor in credit scores and could lower a credit score by a few points or more. However, soft credit inquiries are typically only visible to the consumer, and creditors do not use them to calculate credit scores.

Rebuilding Starts Now

The rebuilding that follows this pandemic may be quick or slow. Whatever course it takes, Equifax is taking steps to support consumers today and into the future.

Rebecca Kritzman

Rebecca Kritzman

Vice President, Risk Marketing Leader

Rebecca Kritzman leads USIS risk marketing at Equifax with an emphasis on creating marketing campaigns that empower U.S. businesses to better understand their customers. She also markets with an eye for accelerating and simplifying the credit decisioning process. Rebecca is a marketing industry veteran, having years of[...]