Staying Connected and Engaged in Times of Deep Uncertainty
The COVID-19 pandemic has U.S. workers and consumers feeling isolated and anxious. Their top concern is physical health—their own and their families’—but they’re also worried and uncertain about their finances, according to an April 2020 Experian consumer survey, COVID and Consumer Confidence.
The Experian survey paints a stark picture of Americans’ financial uncertainty amid the pandemic—and suggests opportunities for forging stronger connections with customers and employees by offering resources to help that can keep them connected and engaged
Concerns Over Cash and Credit
Many consumers worry staying employed and maintaining income, savings, and hard-earned credit. COVID-19 related concerns include:
- 78% of respondents say household income has suffered under the pandemic
- 38% lack confidence they’ll be able to pay their monthly bills—or are sure they won’t be able to pay them.
- 57% are concerned about their ability to pay their credit card bills
Significant numbers of respondents also have anxiety around credit issues:
- 47% are worried about their credit
- 42% are concerned about their ability to use credit to get things they want during the crisis
Fear of Fraud
On top of distress over financial concerns, consumers are also nervous about exposure to scams and fraud related to COVID-19. As lock downs and social distancing measures spark greater reliance on digital commerce and communications, consumers worry their personal data is more vulnerable at this critical time with respondents to the Experian survey reporting:
- 33% are doing more online shopping than they did before the rise of COVID-19
- 75% are concerned about COVID-19-related frauds and scams
- 29% are very worried about their personal information including account numbers, Social Security numbers, and credit card data could be stolen
Respondents also say they are likely to be extra careful to confirm the legitimacy of phone calls, letters, and emails over the next few months, and many also plan to keep a close eye on their credit:
- 44% plan to review credit reports regularly
- 20% plan to subscribe to a credit monitoring or identity protection service
Concerns over cyber crime are warranted, according to the FBI. As of April 21, 2020, the bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center had reviewed more than 3,600 complaints related to COVID-19 scams, including fraudulent charity drives and websites advertising phony vaccines and cures1. The FBI also warned that traditional email and text message scams have also incorporated pandemic themes, using the outbreak as a tactic to reroute bill payments and funds transfers to thieves’ accounts.
Businesses Should Offer Resources
This time of need and uncertainty creates a unique opportunity to reach out to customers and employees in their isolation with an offer of tools they can use to help manage and protect their credit and safeguard their identities and personal data.
Experian Credit Education can empower consumers to take control of their personal credit, with solutions including:
- Credit scores with personalized tips for improving credit scores, based on individual credit histories
- Credit score simulator, to help users compare the potential credit-score impacts of allocating payments, opening new accounts, and other credit decisions
- The Experian Education Center, a deep library of consumer-credit information, including tips and explanations of techniques for improving credit scores
Comprehensive credit monitoring and identity-protection solutions from Experian can be offered as a solutions to address customer and employee anxiety over cyber crime and build lasting loyalty.
Experian Identity Protection and Credit Monitoring solutions can alert users of potential fraud when it occurs with:
- Real-Time Credit Alerts, which monitors a user’s Experian credit file for hard inquiries and alerts them in real-time if they occur
- CyberAgent®, Experian’s exclusive technology that scours websites, blogs, bulletin boards, peer-to-peer sharing networks and IRC chat rooms to identify the illegal trading and selling of personal information
- Social Security NumberTrace provides customers with a report of all names, aliases, and addresses associated with a customer’s Social Security number, and notifies them if a new one is added
Reaching out to customers with offers of financial protection and empowerment in these troubled times can provide them with much-needed confidence and control over their financial futures, and it can build goodwill for you that will last long after this crisis passes. Download our COVID-19 Field Guide for the latest strategies to stay connected and engaged with your customers and employees during uncertain times.
1 Department of Justice, Press Release, April 2020
2 FBI, Public Service Announcement, April 2020