Equifax says it will work with lenders, creditors to help reduce the impact of the coronavirus crisis on U.S. credit reports

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Equifax will work with consumers and businesses to help mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their credit scores, the company said Tuesday.

Equifax EFX, +8.64% said that it’s working with policy makers, including Congress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA), among others, to ensure lenders and creditors help make this happen. “These are uncharted waters for everyone around the world,” said Mark Begor, chief executive of Equifax.

As the coronavirus pandemic grips the United States, the situation is looking bleak for Americans’ wallets. Jobless claims in the U.S. have surged to a 2½-year high as businesses have had to shutter during the outbreak and lay off workers. And based on Google GOOGL, +7.20% searches at least, the worst could be yet to come.

“Consumers and businesses who are, or may be, impacted by COVID-19 are encouraged to contact their lenders and creditors directly to discuss their options,” Equifax said in a statement. “Equifax is engaged with many lenders, telecom and utility providers who are offering a variety of options to help people through forbearance and modified payment plans.”

MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto

‘These are uncharted waters for everyone around the world,’ said Equifax CEO Mark Begor.

Some banks, including Chase JPM, +11.89% , Citibank CITI, +13.13% and Bank of America BAC, +16.32% , have already said they will suspend the reporting of late payments to the major credit bureaus — Experian EXPN, +12.33% TransUnion TRU, +9.21% along with Equifax — due the unprecedented nature of this global health crisis and the impact on businesses.

Fannie Mae FNMA, +18.75%, Freddie Mac FMCC, +15.00%  and Federal Housing Administration have instructed mortgage servicers to offer borrowers facing financial hardship with options. Mortgage borrowers can request a forbearance plan, which would reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he wants to have the U.S. economy “opened up” by Easter, laying out an aggressive timetable even as the number of coronavirus cases increases. “I would love to have the country opened up, and rarin’ to go, by Easter,” which is April 12, he said in a Fox News event broadcast from the White House.

The Dow Jones Industrial Index DJIA, +11.37%  recorded its best percentage gain since 1933 on renewed hope that Congress will reach agreement on a roughly $2 trillion package to rescue the economy from effects of the pandemic.

Andrew Keshner and Jacob Passy contributed to this report.