COVID-19 & Credit
Help to navigate financially in a global pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought much uncertainty to our daily lives. It has changed the way we work, go to school, and socialise. The health of our families and communities are a priority for Equifax, as well as helping consumers understand and manage their credit profiles. For many people COVID-19 has meant a change to their employment, income or business and this has put pressure on the ability to make ends meet and repay financial commitments.
At Equifax, we have data and information that can help. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions:
The first thing you should do is to contact your lender and find out what your options are. Many lenders have hardship provisions in place and are offering ‘payment deferrals’ for a set period. As many contact centres have been inundated with calls, a good starting point is to check your lenders’ website for more information as most have specific COVID-19 support sections.
The four big banks have support packages for both consumers and businesses to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic:
There is also the ability to take a 6 month mortgage payment deferral. See www.covid19.govt.nz
The impact of COVID-19 on an individual’s credit report and score depends on the way information is reported by credit providers to Equifax and other credit reporting bodies.
Loan repayments are reflected in consumers’ credit reports as part of the repayment history information (RHI). If repayments are made on time each month this is reflected in a credit report and considered as part of an Equifax Score. Making repayments on time each month has a positive impact but several missed repayments can negatively impact your Equifax credit score. In the event a person has arranged a mortgage deferral, this will not impact a person’s credit score. During the deferral period no payments are due, so the repayments will be treated as being up to date, as long as the repayments were up to date before the deferral period began.
Equifax has put together these tips to help consumers manage their credit report during this time:
- If you are experiencing financial hardship contact your lenders and credit providers. Find out what your options are if you are unable to pay on time, or the full amount due, and ask if there is any assistance available.
- Pay what you can. To avoid having late payments show up on your credit reports, try to make at least the minimum payment on accounts, or pay any amount you and the lender or creditor agree upon.
- Stay up-to-date with your credit report. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report. https://www.mycreditfile.co.nz/
No, in New Zealand, we do not have the ability to add a file note to a credit report, except where the note is in relation to a request for a correction that has not been made.
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Your questions answered - the impact of COVID-19 on your credit file
At Equifax we have had a number of queries from customers asking how the current situation will impact their credit report and score, especially if they are struggling to pay bills on time.