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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
Washington, D.C. 20549
____________________________________
FORM 10-K

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020 
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                          to 
Commission File Number 001-06605
____________________________________
EQUIFAX INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Georgia   58-0401110
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)   (I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

1550 Peachtree Street N.W. Atlanta Georgia 30309
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: 404-885-8000
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act: 
Title of each class Trading Symbol   Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $1.25 par value per share EFX   New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None.
____________________________________
Indicate by check mark if Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Exchange Act (“Act”).   Yes     No
Indicate by check mark if Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.   Yes   No
Indicate by check mark whether Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.          Yes     No
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes     No  
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filer Accelerated filer Non-accelerated filer  Smaller reporting company
  
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    YES     NO
As of June 30, 2020, the aggregate market value of Registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of Registrant was approximately $20,875,342,327 based on the closing sale price as reported on the New York Stock Exchange. At January 29, 2021, there were 121,788,082 shares of Registrant’s common stock outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of Registrant’s definitive proxy statement for its 2021 annual meeting of shareholders are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K.



TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
Page
2

1


PART I
 
ITEM 1.  BUSINESS
 
Overview
 
Equifax Inc. is a global data, analytics and technology company. We provide information solutions for businesses, governments and consumers, and we provide human resources business process outsourcing services for employers. We have a large and diversified group of clients, including financial institutions, corporations, government agencies and individuals. Our services are based on comprehensive databases of consumer and business information derived from numerous sources including credit, financial assets, telecommunications and utility payments, employment, income, demographic and marketing data. We use advanced statistical techniques, machine learning and proprietary software tools to analyze available data to create customized insights, decision-making solutions and processing services for our clients. We also provide information, technology and services to support debt collections and recovery management. Additionally, we are a leading provider of payroll-related and human resource management business process outsourcing services in the United States of America (“U.S.”). For consumers, we provide products and services to help people understand, manage and protect their personal information and make more informed financial decisions.
 
We currently operate in four global regions: North America (U.S. and Canada), Asia Pacific (Australia, New Zealand and India), Europe (the United Kingdom (“U.K.”), Spain and Portugal) and Latin America (Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay). We maintain support operations in the Republic of Ireland, Chile, Costa Rica and India. We also offer Equifax branded credit services in Russia through a joint venture, have investments in consumer and/or commercial credit information companies through joint ventures in Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates and have an investment in a consumer and commercial credit information company in Brazil.
 
Equifax was originally incorporated under the laws of the State of Georgia in 1913, and its predecessor company dates back to 1899. As used herein, the terms Equifax, the Company, we, our and us refer to Equifax Inc., a Georgia corporation, and its consolidated subsidiaries as a combined entity, except where it is clear that the terms mean only Equifax Inc.
 
We are organized and report our business results in four operating segments, as follows:
 
U.S. Information Solutions (“USIS”) provides consumer and commercial information solutions to businesses in the U.S. including online information, decisioning technology solutions, fraud and identity management services, analytical services, portfolio management services, mortgage reporting and marketing services.

Workforce Solutions provides services enabling customers to verify income and employment (Verification Services) of people in the U.S., as well as providing our employer customers with services that assist them in complying with and automating certain payroll-related and human resource management processes throughout the entire cycle of the employment relationship, including unemployment cost management, employee onboarding, tax credits and incentives, I-9 management and compliance, tax form management services and Affordable Care Act management services (Employer Services). Workforce Solutions recently established operations in Canada and Australia.

International provides products and services similar to those available in the USIS operating segment but with variations by geographic region. We also provide information, technology and services to support debt collections and recovery management. This operating segment is comprised of our Canada, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific business units.

Global Consumer Solutions provides products to consumers in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., enabling them to understand and monitor their credit and monitor and help protect their identity. We also sell consumer credit information to resellers who may combine our information with other information to provide direct-to-consumer monitoring, reports and scores.

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Our Business Strategy
 
Our vision is to be a trusted global leader in data, advanced analytics and technology that creates innovative solutions and insights for our customers. Our business strategy is driven by the following imperatives:

Lead our industry in data security. We are focused on being a leader in our industry in the effectiveness of our data and technology security practices. This includes building an Equifax culture that considers data and technology security, and more broadly risk management, as a primary requirement in all decisions. This also includes the extensive use of advanced data and technology security tools, techniques, services and processes in order to enhance our ability to protect the information with which we are entrusted from fraudulent access.

Transform our technology. We have undertaken a cloud data and technology transformation in order to rebuild our technology infrastructure, accelerate our migration to a public cloud environment, employ virtual private cloud deployment techniques, and rationalize and rebuild our application portfolio using cloud-native services. Our investment in cloud-native technology is enabling the creation of our single data fabric and implementation of best-in-class cloud-based tools and capabilities. Our goal is to leverage our cloud data and technology transformation to accelerate innovation and new product development; deliver market-leading capabilities to our customers; facilitate customer and partner implementation and integration; improve ease of consumer access to and interaction with Equifax; and strengthen system resiliency and uptime.

Lead in data and analytics, to develop unparalleled analytical insights leveraging Equifax’s unique data. We use proprietary advanced analytical platforms, including capabilities in machine learning and advanced visualization tools, to leverage our unique data to develop leading analytical insights that enhance the precision of our customers’ decisioning activities. As a part of the rebuilding of our technology infrastructure, we are also rebuilding our analytical platforms using cloud native services in a public cloud environment. We strive to continue to advance these capabilities through ongoing data monetization activities, the acquisition of distinctive and differentiated assets, and continued advancement of capabilities in artificial intelligence and machine learning. As part of our technology transformation, we are investing to simplify our customers’ access to our leading analytical platforms, in order to speed the development of unique insights and the conversion of these insights into new products and services consumable by our customers through our delivery platforms.

We offer a wide array of products, ranging from custom products for large clients, to software-as-a-service-based decisioning and data access technology platforms that are cost-effective for clients of all sizes. We also develop predictive scores and analytics, some of which leverage multiple data assets, to help clients acquire new customers and manage their existing customer relationships. We develop a broad array of industry, risk management, cross-sell and account acquisition models to enhance the precision of our clients’ decisioning activities. We also develop custom and generic solutions that enable customers to effectively manage their debt collection and recovery portfolios.

Improve the consumer user experience. Equifax understands the importance of providing consumers with user-friendly capabilities to see, understand and question their consumer credit file and information. As part of our technology transformation, we are rebuilding our digital and call center technology infrastructure to provide an experience focused on making consumers’ interactions with Equifax as effective and efficient as possible.

Foster a culture of customer centricity. We are focused on building a culture in which the customer is at the center of our decision processes and we exceed customer expectations by delivering solutions with speed, flexibility, stability and performance. Our focus on customer centricity will enable us to be more proactive in solving problems better and faster for customers while delivering enhanced operational readiness to provide a better customer experience.

Deliver growth while enhancing profitability and shareholder returns. We strive to accelerate innovation through expanded customer focus and collaboration. We intend to leverage our cloud native technology and unique data assets and capabilities, as well as customer expertise and customer data and technology assets, to help us jointly create high-value analytical products and services targeted at a broader range of customer needs. We seek to expand partnerships in order to further broaden the key customer domains and verticals that our products and services are able to serve.

We seek to increase our share of clients’ spend on information-related services through these new products and services, price our products and services in accordance with the value they represent to our customers, increase the
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range of current products and services utilized by our clients, and improve the quality and effectiveness of our support for both customers and consumers.

We believe there are opportunities to continue to expand in the U.S. and internationally, across the existing financial, mortgage, telecommunications, automotive, insurance, healthcare, government and other markets that we serve, as well as in new and emerging market segments. We continue to invest, including through acquisitions and partnerships, to expand our addressable markets and the data and capabilities we offer to solve customer challenges ranging from identity authentication to risk management.

We seek to enhance shareholder value through the disciplined execution of these imperatives and by positioning ourselves as a premier and trusted provider of high value information solutions.

Build a world-class Equifax team by investing in talent to drive our strategy and promote a culture of innovation. At Equifax, we are focused on nurturing our people by providing meaningful opportunities for career advancement and development, fostering an inclusive and diverse work environment, and promoting employee engagement and recognition. We regularly undertake talent initiatives to attract, develop and retain our top talent.

Markets and Clients
 
Our products and services serve clients across a wide range of verticals, including financial services, mortgage, government (state, federal and local), employers, consumer, commercial, telecommunications, retail, automotive, utilities, brokerage, healthcare and insurance. We also serve consumers directly. Our revenue streams are highly diversified with our largest client providing approximately 3% of total revenue. The following table summarizes the various end-user markets we serve:
EFX-20201231_G1.JPG
(1)The Mortgage vertical as a percentage of consolidated revenue increased to 32% in 2020 from 20% in 2019 due to the significant growth in U.S. mortgage volume.
(2)Predominantly sold to companies who serve the direct-to-consumer market and includes other small end user markets. Mortgage and auto resellers are excluded from this category as they are included within their respective categories above.
(3)Other includes revenue from other miscellaneous end-user markets.

We market our products and services primarily through our own direct sales organization that is structured around sales teams that focus on client segments typically aligned by vertical markets and geography. In the U.S., the vertical market sales teams for the Mortgage, Financial, Government and Automotive markets sell products from both the USIS and Workforce Solutions business units. Sales groups are based in field offices located throughout the U.S., including our headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and in the countries where we have operations. We also market our products and services through indirect channels, including alliance partners, joint ventures and other resellers. In addition, we sell through the internet.
 
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Revenue from international clients, including end users and resellers, amounted to 22% of our total revenue in 2020, 27% of our total revenue in 2019 and 29% of our total revenue in 2018.

Products and Services
 
Our products and services help our clients make more informed decisions with higher levels of confidence by leveraging a broad array of data assets. Analytics are used to derive insights from the data that are most relevant for the client’s decisioning needs. The data and insights are then processed through proprietary software and generally transmitted to the client’s operating system to execute the decision.
 
The following chart summarizes the key products and services offered by each of the business units within our segments:
USIS Workforce Solutions International
Online Information Solutions Financial Marketing Services Mortgage Services Verification Services Employer Services Europe Asia Pacific Latin America Canada Global Consumer Solutions
Online data X X X X X X X X
Portfolio management services X X X X X X X X
Analytical services X X X X X X X X X X
Technology services X X X X X X
Identity management and fraud X X X X X X X
Marketing services X X X X X
Direct-to-consumer credit monitoring X X
Employment and income verification services X X X
Business process outsourcing (BPO) X X X
Debt collection software, services and analytics X X X X
 
Each of our operating segments is described more fully below. For the operating revenue, operating income and total assets for each segment see Note 13 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this report.
 
USIS
 
USIS provides consumer and commercial information solutions to businesses in the U.S. through three product and service lines, as follows:

Online Information Solutions. Online Information Solutions’ products are derived from multiple large and comprehensive databases of consumer and commercial information that we maintain about individual consumers and businesses, including credit history, current credit status, payment history, address and other identity information. Our clients utilize the information and analytical insights we provide to make decisions for a broad range of financial and business purposes, such as whether, and on what terms, to approve auto loans or credit card applications, and whether to allow a consumer or a business to open a new utility or telephone account. In addition, this information is used by our clients for cross-selling additional products to existing customers, improving their underwriting and risk management decisions, and authenticating and verifying consumer and business identities. We also sell consumer and credit information to resellers who may combine our information with other information to provide services to the financial, mortgage, fraud and identity management, and other end-user markets. Our software platforms and analytical capabilities can integrate all types of information, including third-party and client information, to enhance the insights and decisioning process to help further mitigate the risk of granting credit, predict the risk of bankruptcy, indicate the applicant’s risk potential for account delinquency, ensure the identity of the consumer, and reduce exposure to fraud. These risk management services enable our clients to monitor risks and opportunities and proactively manage their portfolios.

Online Information Solutions’ clients access products through a full range of electronic distribution mechanisms, including direct real-time access which facilitates instant decisions. We also develop and host customized applications that enhance the decision-making process for our clients. These decisioning technology applications assist with a wide variety of decisioning activities, including determining pre-approved offers, cross-selling of various products, determining deposit amounts for telephone and utility companies, and verifying the identity of their customers. We have also compiled commercial databases regarding businesses in the U.S., which include loan, credit card, public records and leasing history data, trade
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accounts receivable performance, and Secretary of State and Securities and Exchange Commission registration information. We offer scoring and analytical services that provide additional information to help mitigate the credit risk assumed by our clients.

Mortgage Solutions. Our Mortgage Solutions products, offered in the U.S., consist of specialized credit reports that combine information from the three major consumer credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) into a single “merged” credit report in an online format, commonly referred to as a tri-merge report. Mortgage lenders use these tri-merge reports in making their mortgage underwriting decisions. Additionally, we offer services designed to alert lenders to changes in a consumer’s credit status during the underwriting period and securitized portfolio risk assessment services for evaluating inherent portfolio risk.
 
Financial Marketing Services. Our Financial Marketing Services products utilize consumer and commercial financial information enabling our clients to more effectively manage their marketing efforts, including targeting and segmentation, to identify and acquire new clients for their products and services; to develop portfolio strategies to minimize risk and maximize profitability; and to realize additional revenue from existing customers through more effective cross-selling of additional products and services. Our products are also utilized by customers to support digital identity verification and fraud detection and protection. These products utilize information derived from consumer and commercial information, including credit, income, asset, liquidity, net worth and spending activity, which also support many of our Online Information Solutions’ products. These data assets broaden the understanding of consumer and business financial potential and opportunity which can further drive high value decisioning and targeting solutions for our clients. We also provide account review services, which assist our clients in managing their existing customers and prescreen services that help our clients identify new opportunities with their customers. Clients for these products primarily include institutions in the banking, brokerage, retail, insurance and mortgage industries as well as companies primarily focused on digital and interactive marketing.

Workforce Solutions
 
Workforce Solutions operates in the U.S. through two business units:
 
Verification Services. Verification Services include employment and income verification services. Our online verification services enable third-party verifiers including various governmental agencies, mortgage originators, credit card and automotive lenders and pre-employment screeners to verify the employee’s employment status and income information. We also offer an offline manual verification service, which expands employment verification to locate data outside our existing automated database. We also offer various government direct data services, where we process tax forms on behalf of our customers with the applicable government agency.
 
Employer Services. These services are aimed at reducing the cost of the human resources function of businesses through a broad suite of services including assisting with employment tax matters designed to reduce the cost of unemployment claims through effective claims representation and management and efficient processing and to better manage the tax rate that employers are assessed for unemployment taxes; comprehensive services designed to research the availability of employment-related tax credits (e.g., federal work opportunity tax credits), and to process the necessary filings and assist the client in obtaining the tax credit; tax form management services (which include initial distribution, reissuance and correction of W-2 and 1095-C forms); paperless pay services that enable employees to electronically receive pay statement information as well as review and change direct deposit account or W-4 information; I-9 management services designed to help clients electronically comply with the immigration laws that require employers to complete an I-9 form for each new hire; and onboarding services using an online platform to complete the new hire process for employees of corporations and government agencies. In addition, we provide software and services to employers to assist in their compliance with the Affordable Care Act.

The Work Number® is our key repository of employment and income data serving our Verification Services and Employer Services business units. We rely on payroll data received from over one million organizations to regularly update the database. The updates occur as employers and other data contributors transmit data electronically to Equifax from their payroll systems. Employers provide this data to us so that we can handle verification requests on behalf of each employer. We use this data to provide automated employment and income verification services to verifiers, who are lenders, employers/background screeners, and government agencies.
 
The fees we charge for services in these two business units are generally on a per transaction basis. We have not experienced significant turnover in the employer contributors to the database because we generally do not charge them to add their employment data to The Work Number® database and the verification service we offer relieves them of the administrative burden and expense of responding to third-party employment verification requests while providing them with the assurance that the process is automated and not subject to human interpretation. The Work Number® database is over 460 million current and historic employment records at December 31, 2020.
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Workforce Solutions has established an income and employment verification service in Canada, known as Verification Exchange. Workforce Solutions is in the process of building a similar income and employment verification service business in Australia. At present, revenues from these services in Canada and Australia are insignificant.
  
International
 
The International operating segment includes our Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Canada business units. These business units offer products that are similar to those available in the USIS operating segment, but with variations by geographic region. In some jurisdictions, data sources tend to rely more heavily on government agencies than in the U.S. We also offer specialized services that help our customers better manage risk in their consumer portfolios. This operating segment’s products and services generate revenue in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Spain, the U.K. and Uruguay. We also maintain support operations in the Republic of Ireland, Chile, Costa Rica, and India. We offer consumer credit services in Russia through an investment in a joint venture, have investments in consumer and/or commercial credit information companies through joint ventures in Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, and have an investment in a consumer and commercial credit information company in Brazil. We also provide information, technology and services to support debt collections and recovery management in Asia Pacific, Europe, Canada and Latin America.
 
 Europe. Our Europe operation provides information solutions, fraud detection services, debt collection services and marketing products. Information solutions and fraud products are generated from information that we maintain and include credit reporting and scoring, asset information, risk management, identity management and authentication services and fraud detection and modeling services. These products are sold in the U.K. and Spain. Limited marketing products are available in the U.K. and, to a lesser extent, in Spain. We also provide information, technology and services to support debt collections and recovery management in the U.K. and Spain. In the U.K., this includes a contract to provide these services to the U.K. government.

Asia Pacific. Our Asia Pacific operation provides consumer and commercial information solutions products, marketing products, workforce solutions, and consumer credit protection products. We offer a full range of products, generated from credit records and other data, including credit reporting and scoring, decisioning technology, risk management, identity management, authentication and fraud detection services. Our consumer and commercial products are the primary source of revenue in each of the countries in which we operate and include credit reporting, decisioning tools and risk management services. We also provide information, technology and services to support debt collections and recovery management. Additionally, we provide a variety of consumer and commercial marketing products generated from information databases, including business profile analysis, business prospect lists and database management. The countries in which we operate include Australia, New Zealand and India, as well as through joint ventures in Russia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Latin America. Our Latin America operation provides consumer and commercial information solutions products, marketing products and consumer credit protection products. We offer a full range of products, generated from credit records that we maintain, including credit reporting and scoring, decisioning technology, risk management, identity management, authentication and fraud detection services. Our consumer products are the primary source of revenue in each of the countries in this region in which we operate, with the exception of Mexico where debt management services constitute the core of the business. We also offer various commercial products, which include credit reporting, decisioning tools and risk management services, in the countries we serve. We also provide information, technology and services to support debt collections and recovery management. Additionally, we provide a variety of consumer and commercial marketing products generated from our credit information databases, including business profile analysis, business prospect lists and database management. The countries in this region in which we operate include Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. We also have an investment in a consumer and commercial credit information company in Brazil.

Canada. Similar to the USIS business units, our Canada operation offers products derived from the credit information that we maintain about individual consumers and businesses. We offer many products in Canada, including credit reporting and scoring, consumer and commercial marketing, risk management, fraud detection and modeling services, identity management and authentication services, together with certain of our decisioning products that facilitate pre-approved offers of credit and automate a variety of credit decisions. We also provide information, technology and services to support debt collections and recovery management in Canada.

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Global Consumer Solutions
 
Our Global Consumer Solutions (“GCS”) products give consumers information to enable them to understand and monitor their credit and monitor and help protect their identity. Equifax products offer monitoring features for consumers who are concerned about identity theft, including credit report monitoring from all three credit bureaus, internet scanning, bank account monitoring and lost wallet support. Country specific versions of our products are available to consumers in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. primarily over the internet. Products may also be available indirectly through relationships with business partners who distribute our products or provide these services to their employees or customers. We also sell consumer credit information to resellers who may combine our information with other information to provide direct-to-consumer monitoring, reports and scores.

Seasonality
 
We experience seasonality in certain of our revenue streams. Revenue generated by the online consumer information services component of our USIS operating segment is typically the lowest during the first quarter, when consumer lending activity is at a seasonal low. Revenue generated from the Employer Services business unit within the Workforce Solutions operating segment is generally higher in the first quarter due primarily to the provision of Form W-2 and 1095-C services that occur in the first quarter each year. Revenue generated from our financial wealth asset products and data management services in our Financial Marketing Services business is generally higher in the fourth quarter each year due to the significant portion of our annual renewals and deliveries which occur in the fourth quarter of each year. Mortgage related revenue is generally higher in the second and third quarters of the year due to the increase in consumer home purchasing during the summer in the U.S.

Competition

The market for our products and services is highly competitive and is subject to constant change. Our competitors vary widely in size and in the nature of the products and services they offer. Sources of competition are numerous and include the following:

Competition for our credit information solutions and direct-to-consumer solutions products varies by both application and industry, but generally includes two global consumer credit reporting companies, Experian and TransUnion, both of which offer a product suite similar to our credit information solutions. In the U.S., LifeLock is a national provider of personal identity theft protection service. Also, there are competitors offering free credit scores including Credit Karma in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., ClearScore in the U.K., and Credit Simple and Credit Savvy in Australia. There are also a large number of competitors who offer competing products in specialized areas (such as fraud prevention, risk management and application processing and decisioning solutions) and software companies offering credit modeling services or analytical tools. Our differentiators include our unique data assets, decisioning technology and the features and functionality of our analytical capabilities. We emphasize our improved decision making and product quality while remaining competitive on price. We also compete with Fair Isaac Corporation with respect to certain of our analytical tools and solutions and LexisNexis in identity and fraud and other solutions.

Competition for our commercial solutions products primarily includes Experian, Dun & Bradstreet and Moody's, and providers of these services in the international markets we serve.

Competition in the Verification Services market includes employers who manage verifications in-house, lenders who obtain verifications directly from employers, and other online and offline verification companies, such as Corporate Cost Control, Thomas & Company and First Advantage. Competition in the Employer Services market is diverse and includes in-house management of such services or the outsourcing of one or more of such services to other third-party outsourced providers like Corporate Cost Control and Thomas & Company; human resources consulting firms such as Mercer and Towers Watson; human resources management services providers such as Oracle and Silk Road; payroll processors such as ADP, Paychex and Ceridian; accounting firms such as PwC and EY; and hundreds of smaller companies that provide one or multiple offerings that compete with our Employer Services business.

Competition for our debt collection and recovery management software, services and analytics is similar to the competition for our consumer credit information solutions. We believe that the breadth and depth of our data assets enable our clients to develop a more current and comprehensive view of consumers. In the category of platforms and analytics, we compete to some extent with entities that deploy collections platforms, account management systems or recovery solutions. 

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While we believe that none of our competitors offers the same mix of products and services as we do, certain competitors may have a larger share of particular geographic or product markets or operate in geographic areas where we do not currently have a presence.

We assess the principal competitive factors affecting our markets to include: our ability to protect information and systems; product attributes such as quality, depth, coverage, adaptability, scalability, interoperability, functionality and ease of use; product price; technical performance including system response time and availability; access to unique proprietary databases; quickness of response, flexibility and client services and support; effectiveness of sales and marketing efforts; existing market penetration; and new product innovation.

Technology and Intellectual Property
 
We generally seek protection under U.S. federal, state and foreign laws for strategic or financially important intellectual property developed in connection with our business. Certain intellectual property, where appropriate, is protected by filing for registration under applicable trademark and patent laws. We own a number of patents registered in the U.S. and in several foreign countries. We also have both registered and common law trademarks, service marks, logos and internet domain names in the U.S. and in many foreign countries, the most important of which are “Equifax,” “The Work Number,” “Interconnect,” “Equifax Ignite,” and variations thereof. These marks are used in connection with many of our product lines and services. We believe that, in the aggregate, the rights under our patents and trademarks are generally important to our operations and competitive position, but we do not regard any of our businesses as being dependent upon any single patent or group of patents. However, certain Company trademarks, which contribute to our identity and the recognition of our products and services, including but not limited to the “Equifax” trademark, are an integral part of our business, and their loss could have a significant negative impact on us. We also protect certain of our confidential intellectual property and technology with trade secret laws where applicable and through the use of nondisclosure agreements and other means of protecting and limiting access to and use of such information.
 
We license other companies to use certain data, software, and other technology and intellectual property rights we own or control, primarily as core components of our products and services, on terms that are consistent with customary industry standards and that are designed to protect our interest in our intellectual property. Other companies license us to use certain data, technology and other intellectual property rights they own or control. For example, we license credit-scoring algorithms and the right to sell credit scores derived from those algorithms from third parties for a fee. We do not hold any franchises or concessions that are material to our business or results of operations.
 
Governmental Regulation
 
We are subject to a number of U.S. federal, state, local and foreign laws and regulations that involve matters central to our business. These laws and regulations may involve consumer reporting, privacy, data protection, intellectual property, competition, consumer protection, anti-corruption, anti-bribery, anti-money laundering, employment, health, taxation or other subjects. In particular, we are subject to U.S. federal, state, local and foreign laws regarding the collection, protection, dissemination and use of personal information we have in our possession. Failure to satisfy those legal and regulatory requirements, or the adoption of new laws or regulations, could have a significant negative impact on our results of operations, financial condition or liquidity.
 
U.S. federal, state, local and foreign laws and regulations are evolving and can be subject to significant change, particularly given the recent change in U.S. presidential administrations and the new U.S. Congress. In addition, the application and interpretation of these laws and regulations are often uncertain. These laws are enforced by federal, state and local regulatory agencies in the jurisdictions where we operate, and in some instances also through private civil litigation. There are also a number of legislative proposals pending before the U.S. Congress, various state legislative bodies, and foreign governments concerning consumer and data protection that could particularly affect us.
 
Summary of U.S. Regulations Relating to Consumer and Data Protection
 
Our U.S. operations are subject to numerous laws and regulations governing the collection, protection and use of consumer credit and other information, and imposing sanctions for the misuse of such information or unauthorized access to data. Many of these provisions also affect our customers’ use of consumer credit or other data we furnish. Examples of the most significant U.S. laws include, but are not limited to, the following:
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Federal Laws and Regulation

FCRA. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) regulates consumer reporting agencies, including us, as well as data furnishers and users of consumer reports such as banks and other companies. FCRA provisions govern the accuracy, fairness and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies (“CRAs”) that engage in the practice of assembling or evaluating certain information relating to consumers for certain specified purposes. The FCRA limits the type of information that may be reported by CRAs, limits the distribution and use of consumer reports and establishes consumer rights to access, freeze and dispute information in their credit files. CRAs are required to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom the report relates and if a consumer disputes the accuracy of any information in the consumer’s file, to conduct a reasonable reinvestigation. CRAs are required to make available to consumers a free annual credit report and free credit freezes. The FCRA imposes many other requirements on CRAs, data furnishers and users of consumer report information. Violation of the FCRA can result in civil and criminal penalties. The FCRA contains an attorney fee shifting provision to provide an incentive for consumers to bring individual or class action lawsuits against a CRA for violations of the FCRA. Regulatory enforcement of the FCRA is under the purview of the United States Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), and state attorneys general, acting alone or in concert with one another.

Dodd-Frank Act. Title X of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) created the CFPB. The Dodd-Frank Act provides the CFPB with examination and supervisory authority over CRAs, including us. The Dodd-Frank Act prohibits unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices (“UDAAP”) with respect to consumer financial services practices and provides the CFPB with enforcement authority to enforce those provisions. Among other areas, the CFPB’s UDAAP authority extends to the security measures we employ to safeguard the personal data of consumers. Allegations that we failed to safeguard or handle such data in a compliant manner may subject us to CFPB enforcement action. The CFPB may pursue administrative proceedings or litigation to enforce the laws and rules subject to its jurisdiction. In these proceedings, the CFPB can obtain cease and desist orders, which can include orders for restitution to consumers or rescission of contracts, as well as other types of affirmative relief, and monetary penalties ranging from $5,000 per day for ordinary violations and up to $1 million per day for known violations. Also, the Dodd-Frank Act empowers state attorneys general and state regulators to bring civil actions in certain circumstances for the kind of cease and desist orders available to the CFPB (but not for civil penalties).

FTC Act. The Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”) prohibits unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices. Under the FTC Act, the FTC’s jurisdiction includes the ability to bring enforcement actions based on the security measures we employ to safeguard the personal data of consumers. Allegations that we failed to safeguard or handle such data in a reasonable manner may subject us to regulatory scrutiny or enforcement action. There is no private right of action under the FTC Act.

GLBA. The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, or Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”), regulates, among other things, the use of non-public personal information of consumers that is held by financial institutions, including us. We are subject to various GLBA provisions, including rules relating to the use or disclosure of the underlying data and rules relating to the physical, administrative and technological protection of non-public personal financial information. Breach of the GLBA can result in civil and/or criminal liability and sanctions by regulatory authorities. Regulatory enforcement of the GLBA is under the purview of the FTC, the CFPB, the federal prudential banking regulators, the SEC and state attorneys general, acting alone or in concert with each other.

CROA. The Credit Repair Organizations Act (“CROA”) regulates companies that claim to be able to assist consumers in improving their credit standing. There have been efforts to apply the CROA to credit monitoring services offered by CRAs and others. The CROA allows for a private right of action. Consumers can sue to recover the greater of the amount paid or actual damages, punitive damages, costs, and attorney’s fees for violations of the CROA.

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State Laws and Regulations Relating to Consumer and Data Protection
 
A number of states have enacted requirements similar to the federal FCRA. Some of these state laws impose additional, or more stringent, requirements than the FCRA, especially in connection with investigations and responses to reported inaccuracies in consumer reports. The FCRA preempts some of these state laws, but the scope of preemption continues to be defined by the courts. The state of Vermont is grandfathered under the original FCRA requirements and thus we are subject to additional requirements to comply with Vermont law.

All fifty states have adopted versions of data security breach laws that require notification to affected consumers and potentially regulators or law enforcement authorities in the event of a breach of personal information. A subset of these laws and other state laws require the implementation of data security measures as well. State attorneys general can enforce such state laws and can seek equitable as well as monetary remedies and in some cases private rights of action are permitted by such laws. 

The New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”) has enacted extensive regulatory requirements applicable to CRAs that require registration with that agency, prohibit unfair and deceptive consumer practices and require compliance with significant portions of the NYDFS cybersecurity rules.

We or certain of our operations are also subject to and affected by new and evolving state privacy and data security laws such as new data broker registration requirements in California and Vermont, and the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”). The CCPA became effective January 1, 2020 and imposes additional data privacy requirements on many businesses operating in the state, including, potentially, with respect to employee data in addition to consumer data. The CCPA expansively defines “personal information” and imposes new notice requirements relating to the collection, use and sharing of personal information. It provides consumers with extensive rights, including the right to access the categories and specific pieces of personal information businesses collect, the right to request businesses delete information, and the right to opt-out of “sales” of personal information with sales being defined under the CCPA to include monetary and non-monetary valuable consideration. The CCPA also contains a private right of action in the event that a business suffers a security breach that was due to unreasonable security measures. In November 2020, California voters passed the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”), which maintains the core framework but expands the requirements of the CCPA effective January 1, 2023. We may also become subject to and affected by new and proposed state privacy laws similar to the CCPA. A number of state legislatures, including New York and Washington, have introduced comprehensive data privacy legislation modeled after, and which contain certain elements of, the CCPA or the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which is an extremely broad privacy law. Additional state legislatures are expected to consider similar legislation in 2021. If enacted, such laws may contain variations and impose new compliance risks and obligations on the Company.

State banking and financial services regulatory agencies have asserted either express or implied authority under applicable state laws to examine us as a third-party service provider to financial institutions, and in certain cases to bring enforcement actions against us. Generally, such examinations, and related enforcement actions, are focused on assessing our safety and soundness in support of financial institutions we serve. In 2018, we entered into a consent order with certain state banking regulators in response to their multi-state review of our information security program. This consent order obligated us to, among other things, make certain changes to our corporate governance and information security practices.

We are also subject to federal and state laws that are generally applicable to any U.S. business with national or international operations, such as antitrust laws, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, state unfair or deceptive practices acts and various employment laws. We continuously monitor legislative and regulatory activities that involve credit reporting, data privacy, security and other relevant issues to identify issues in order to remain in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Consent Orders with the FTC, CFPB, MSAG Group and NYDFS

As part of the Consumer Settlement (as defined below), we entered into consent orders with the FTC, CFPB, MSAG Group (as defined below) and NYDFS pursuant to which we agreed to implement certain business practice commitments related to consumer assistance and our information security program, including third party assessments of our program. These business practice commitments are extensive and require a significant amount of attention from management.

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Summary of International Regulations Relating to Consumer and Data Protection
 
We are subject to various data protection, privacy and consumer credit laws and regulations in the foreign countries where we operate. Examples of the most significant of these laws include, but are not limited to, the following:

In the U.K., we are subject to a regulatory framework which provides for primary regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”). The FCA focuses on consumer protection, the integrity of the U.K. financial system, and effective competition in the interests of consumers. The FCA has significant powers, including the power to regulate conduct related to the marketing of financial products, to specify minimum standards and to place requirements on products, impose unlimited fines, and to investigate organizations and individuals. In addition, the FCA is able to ban financial products for up to a year while considering an indefinite ban; it has the power to instruct firms to immediately retract or modify promotions which it finds to be misleading, and to publish such decisions. Effective December 2019, the FCA framework under which we operate has included the “senior managers and certification regime” which among other things will allow the FCA to bring an enforcement action directly against designated personnel who do not take reasonable steps to avoid non-compliance. Our core credit reporting and debt collections services and recovery management businesses in the U.K. are subject to FCA supervision. In addition to regulation by the FCA, we are also subject to regulation by the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office, which focuses on upholding information rights in the public interest and the protection of data privacy for individuals.

In the U.K., we are subject to provisions that are broadly equivalent to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (described below). These equivalent provisions were adopted into U.K. laws following the end of the transition period that followed the U.K.’s exit from the EU

In Europe, we are subject to the EU's GDPR, which is an extremely broad and sweeping privacy law. The GDPR establishes multiple privacy and data protection requirements that are more specific and comprehensive than those of the U.S. and most other countries where Equifax operates. In addition, the GDPR includes data breach notification requirements and it establishes the ability of regulators to pursue substantial penalties for non-compliance.

In Canada, federal and provincial laws govern how we collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of our commercial activities. Federally, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by organizations in the private sector. It sets out specific obligations with respect to accountability and identifying purposes, consent, collection, use, disclosure, retention, accuracy, safeguards, personal data breach reporting, individual access and compliance. Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec privacy legislation sets out similar privacy laws and rules that apply to our Canadian business. The federal and provincial privacy regulators have powers of investigation and intervention, and provisions of Canadian law regarding civil liability apply in the event of unlawful processing which is prejudicial to the persons concerned. Canada also has specific credit reporting legislation that is regulated at a provincial level. At present, each province has credit reporting legislation, with the exception of the Territories (Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut). Generally speaking, the legislation regulates the contents of credit files, the length of time information can be included on a credit file and who can receive credit reports.

In Latin America, data protection and credit reporting laws and regulations vary considerably among Latin American countries. Some countries, such as El Salvador, Paraguay, Chile and Honduras, establish a constitutional right to privacy without general data protection standards or a data protection authority. These countries, however, have laws that govern the functioning of credit bureaus. Other countries, such as Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Costa Rica and most recently Brazil have enacted comprehensive data protection legislation similar to the EU's GDPR. The EU recognizes Argentina and Uruguay as having adequate levels of protection for personal data transfers and processing.

In Australia, we are subject to regulatory oversight by various agencies. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (“OAIC”) is the agency with direct responsibility for administering the Australian Privacy Principles (which relate to the collection, holding, use and disclosure of personal information) and Part IIIA of the Privacy Act 1988 (which regulates credit reporting). The OAIC can investigate a complaint, conduct its own investigations, resolve/make binding determinations and seek civil penalties. Our credit reporting business, Equifax Information Services and Solutions, is a member of an external dispute resolution scheme, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, which has been approved by the OAIC to handle privacy and credit reporting complaints and make binding determinations. The OAIC can register codes of practice under the Privacy Act
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1988, and has registered the Privacy (Credit Reporting) Code 2014. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) is the agency responsible for enforcing the Competition and Consumer Act of 2010 and related legislation concerning consumer protection and competition. The ACCC has the authority to use a range of actions to ensure compliance with the law, including investigative powers and the ability to seek penalties through litigation and other formal enforcement means. The Australian Retail Credit Association is a credit and credit reporting industry self-regulatory body, which administers principles and standards for the exchange of credit data between industry participants. Equifax Australasia Credit Ratings Pty Limited (formerly named Corporate Scorecard Pty Limited, one of our Australian subsidiaries) holds an Australia Financial Services License, which allows it to provide general advice to wholesale clients by issuing a credit rating, and has been approved in New Zealand as a rating agency by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand under section 86 of the Non-bank Deposit Takers Act of 2013 (NZ). The Australian Securities and Investments Commission regulates that business and has authority to investigate, prosecute, ban individuals, and to seek civil penalties. New federal legislation came into effect in February 2021 mandating the supply by large banks of comprehensive credit information to credit reporting bodies, including Equifax, imposing certain disclosure, storage and reporting obligations on the credit reporting bodies, requiring the provision by credit reporting bodies of free credit reports to consumers up to four times per year, permitting the reporting of financial hardship information within the credit reporting system and requiring the Attorney-General to review and report on the credit reporting system before October 1, 2024.

In New Zealand, the regulatory framework provides for primary regulation under the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (“NZ OPC”). The NZ OPC investigates complaints relating to the collection, use, holding and disclosure of personal information, both credit-related and non-credit related. The NZ OPC can make a finding that there has been an interference with privacy but cannot impose civil penalties. In extreme cases where there has been an interference with privacy, it can refer these cases to the Director of Human Rights for determination in the Human Rights Review Tribunal. The NZ OPC can issue practice codes under the Privacy Act 1993 and has issued and subsequently amended the Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2004. New Zealand passed a new Privacy Act in 2020 that significantly expanded its privacy law. A self-regulatory body, the Retail Credit Association of New Zealand addresses reciprocity of data issues relating to comprehensive credit reporting and data standards.

In India, various legislation including the Information Technology Act of 2000 and rules framed thereunder and the Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act of 2005 and rules and regulations framed thereunder, establishes a federal data protection framework. Entities that collect and maintain personal data and/or credit information must ensure that it is complete, accurate and safeguarded, and must adopt certain privacy principles with respect to collecting, processing, preserving, sharing and using such data and/or credit information. The Indian parliament is expected to pass legislation that would allow individuals to sue for damages in the case of a data breach, if the entity negligently failed to implement reasonable security practices and procedures to protect personal data and/or credit information and in December 2019 legislators introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill, which is expected to be considered in 2021 with amendments. This bill is expected to be enacted and eventually to impose additional privacy and data security requirements. Our Indian business is subject to regulation by the Reserve Bank of India, which is India’s central banking institution.

In Russia, credit reporting activities are governed by the Federal Law on Credit Histories No.218-fz, dated December 30, 2004. The law regulates the contents of credit files, who may submit data to a credit bureau and who can receive credit reports. Russia has also enacted a comprehensive data protection law that is similar to Europe’s approach and also has a data localization law. In December 2019, a law increasing the fines for infringing Russia data localization and data protection laws came into force and Russia recently expanded its data protection laws to provide individuals with new rights.

Summary of Regulations Affecting our Employer Services Business
 
The Employer Services business unit within our Workforce Solutions business segment helps employers comply with various regulatory frameworks applicable to employers in the United States. As a result, changes to those regulatory frameworks could impact the services we provide. For instance, if the federal government or a state government mandates the use of E-Verify, our I-9 service may be impacted if the federal government changes the requirements for individuals to work in the United States. The Unemployment Cost Management service could be impacted if a state government changes the requirements for employers to process and/or protest unemployment claims. The Tax Management Services business within our Employer Services business is potentially impacted by changes in renewal or non-renewal of U.S. federal and state tax laws or interpretations, for example, those pertaining to work opportunity tax credits and unemployment compensation claims.
 
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Human Resources
 
Our People

Equifax employed approximately 11,400 employees in 22 countries as of December 31, 2020. Our global employee base consisted of approximately 2,100 employees in our USIS business unit, 2,700 employees in our Workforce Solutions business unit, 3,900 employees in our International business unit, 500 employees in our Global Consumer Solutions business unit, and 2,200 employees in our corporate Centers of Excellence. In 2020, we hired over 2,300 new employees and promoted approximately 1,100 employees as we continue to grow and transform our businesses around the world.

Inclusion and Diversity

We continue to make positive strides in support of our inclusion and diversity strategy. As a visible commitment to inclusion and diversity, in 2020, we established our first Chief Talent and Diversity Officer title. This key leadership position reports directly to our Chief Human Resources Officer and is responsible for activating our talent strategy with a focus on furthering an inclusive and diverse workforce and culture. We are advancing this strategy through deepening our commitment to employee affinity networks around the world, open dialogues to enhance understanding and mutual listening, on-going I&D focused training, and cultural heritage celebrations.

We’ve consistently improved enterprise-wide trends around representation and promotions for both women and employees of diverse ethnic backgrounds, and pride ourselves on promoting and hiring highly-qualified candidates who enhance our culture, add diverse perspectives, and deliver on our business strategy. Women and leaders of diverse ethnic backgrounds make up over half of Equifax’s senior leadership team, including three of the four business unit leaders. Consistent with our commitment to diversity, we recently implemented the requirement for diverse candidate slates for all higher level management roles.

Workforce Health and Safety

In fiscal year 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on our people. The safety and wellbeing of our employees remains paramount, and we took several actions to best serve our employees. These included:

ensured that no employees lost their roles or experienced furloughs due to COVID by actively shifting employees to other roles to protect full employment;
transitioned all non-essential employees to work from home early in the pandemic;
established rigorous social distancing, sanitization and restricted occupancy requirements for all worksites;
extended extra paid time off when person or family member under their care contracted COVID;
provided all employees globally an extra day of paid time off to support mental health and well-being; and
provided nearly 4,000 employees around the world who are not bonus eligible a special employee appreciation bonus.

See “Recent Events and Company Outlook” included in Item 7., “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” for additional detail regarding the impact of COVID-19 on our company.

2017 Cybersecurity Incident

In 2017, we experienced a cybersecurity incident following a criminal attack on our systems that involved the theft of certain personally identifiable information of U.S., Canadian and U.K. consumers. Criminals exploited a software vulnerability in a U.S. website application to gain unauthorized access to our network. In March 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security distributed a notice concerning the software vulnerability. We undertook efforts to identify and remediate vulnerable systems; however, the vulnerability in the website application that was exploited was not identified by our security processes. We discovered unusual network activity in late-July 2017 and upon discovery promptly investigated the activity. Once the activity was identified as potential unauthorized access, we acted to stop the intrusion and engaged a leading, independent cybersecurity firm to conduct a forensic investigation to determine the scope of the unauthorized access, including the specific information impacted. Based on our forensic investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May 2017 through July 2017. No evidence was found that the Company’s core consumer, employment and income, or commercial reporting databases were accessed. On February 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that four members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army were indicted on criminal charges for their involvement in the 2017 cybersecurity incident.

The Company has taken actions to provide consumers with tools to protect their credit data. Immediately following the announcement of the 2017 cybersecurity incident, the Company devoted substantial resources to notify people of the incident
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and to provide free services to assist people in monitoring their credit and identity information. Since then, the Company has been focused on implementing significant improvements to its data security systems, technology platforms and risk management processes, in an effort to underpin its business strategy.

Forward-Looking Statements
 
This report contains information that may constitute “forward-looking statements.” Generally, the words “believe,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “project,” “will,” “may” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements, which generally are not historical in nature. All statements that address operating performance, events or developments that we expect or anticipate will occur in the future, including statements relating to future operating results, the 2017 cybersecurity incident, improvements in our information technology and data security infrastructure, including as a part of our cloud data and technology transformation, our strategy, our ability to mitigate or manage disruptions posed by COVID-19, the impact of COVID-19 and changes in U.S. and worldwide economic conditions that materially impact consumer spending, consumer debt and employment and the demand for Equifax's products and services, our culture, our ability to innovate, the market acceptance of new products and services and similar statements about our business plans are forward-looking statements. Management believes that these forward-looking statements are reasonable as and when made. However, forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the Company’s historical experience and our present expectations or projections, including without limitation our expectations regarding the Company’s outlook, long-term organic and inorganic growth, and customer acceptance of our business solutions referenced above under “Item 1. Business” and below in “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation Business Overview.” These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those described below in “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” and elsewhere in this report and those described from time to time in our future reports filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). As a result of such risks and uncertainties, we urge you not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date when made. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.
 
Available Information
 
Detailed information about us is contained in our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and other reports, and amendments to those reports, that we file with, or furnish to, the SEC. These reports are available free of charge at our website, www.equifax.com, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such reports with or furnish such reports to the SEC. However, our website and any contents thereof should not be considered to be incorporated by reference into this document. We will furnish copies of such reports free of charge upon written request to Equifax Inc., Attn: Office of Corporate Secretary, P.O. Box 4081, Atlanta, Georgia, 30302. These reports are also available at www.sec.gov.

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

All of the risks and uncertainties described below and the other information included in this Form 10-K should be considered and read carefully. The risks described below are not the only ones facing us. The occurrence of any of the following risks or additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently believe to be immaterial could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. This Form 10-K also contains forward-looking statements and estimates that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements as a result of specific factors, including the risks and uncertainties described below.

Technology and Data Security Risks

Security breaches and other disruptions to our information technology infrastructure could compromise Company, consumer and customer information, interfere with our operations, cause us to incur significant costs for remediation and enhancement of our IT systems and expose us to legal liability, all of which could have a substantial negative impact on our business and reputation.

We are a global data, analytics and technology company. In the ordinary course of business, we collect, process, transmit and store sensitive data, including intellectual property, proprietary business information and personally identifiable information of consumers, employees and strategic partners. The secure operation of our information technology networks and systems, and of the processing and maintenance of this information, is critical to our business operations and strategy. Because our products and services involve the storage and transmission of personal information of consumers, we will routinely be the
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target of attempted cyber and other security threats by outside third parties, including technically sophisticated and well-resourced bad actors attempting to access or steal the data we store. Insider or employee cyber and security threats are also a significant concern for all companies, including ours. Despite our substantial investment in physical and technological security measures, employee training and contractual precautions, our information technology networks and infrastructure (or those of our third-party vendors and other service providers) are potentially vulnerable to unauthorized access to data or breaches of confidential information due to criminal conduct, attacks by hackers, employee or insider malfeasance and/or human error.

The techniques used to obtain unauthorized access, disable or degrade service or sabotage systems are constantly evolving and often are not recognized until launched against a target, or even some time after. We may be unable to anticipate these techniques, implement adequate preventative measures or remediate any intrusion on a timely or effective basis even if our security measures are appropriate, reasonable, and/or comply with applicable legal requirements. Certain efforts may be state-sponsored and supported by significant financial and technological resources, making them even more sophisticated and difficult to detect. Further, we are in the process of transforming our applications and infrastructure technologies, and this transition to cloud-based technologies may expose us to additional cyber threats as we migrate our data from our legacy systems to cloud-based solutions hosted by third parties. Although we have developed systems and processes that are designed to protect our data and customer data and to prevent data loss and other security breaches, and expect to continue to expend significant additional resources to bolster these protections, these security measures cannot provide absolute security.

In 2017, we experienced a cybersecurity incident following a criminal attack on our systems that involved the theft of personally identifiable information of U.S., Canadian and U.K. consumers. If we experience additional breaches of our security measures, including from incidents that we fail to detect for a period of time, sensitive data may be accessed, stolen, disclosed or lost. Any such access, disclosure or other loss of information could subject us to significant litigation, regulatory fines or penalties, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our cash flows, competitive position, financial condition or results of operations. We cannot ensure that our insurance policies in the future will be adequate to cover losses from any future security breaches. For example, our $125.0 million cybersecurity insurance policy was not adequate to cover the losses we have incurred to date from the 2017 cybersecurity incident.

Security breaches and the adverse publicity that may follow could also have a negative impact on our reputation and our relationship with our customers. For example, our reputation with consumers and other stakeholders and our customer relationships were damaged following the 2017 cybersecurity incident, resulting in a negative impact on our revenue. If we experience another material cybersecurity incident or are otherwise unable to demonstrate the security of our systems and the data we maintain and retain the trust of our customers, consumers and data suppliers, we could experience a substantial negative impact on our business.

If we fail to achieve and maintain key industry or technical certifications, our customers and business partners may stop doing business with us and we may not be able to win new business, which would negatively affect our revenue.

We are required by customers and business partners to obtain various industry or technical certifications. Such certifications are critical to our business because certain of our current and potential customers and the contracts governing certain customer relationships, as well as certain of our data suppliers, require us to maintain them as a requirement of doing business. For example, as a result of the 2017 cybersecurity incident, we lost certain key certifications which caused certain customers and business partners to stop or pause doing business with us and temporarily limited our ability to win new business. We had to spend significant resources on remediation activities in order to obtain these key re-certifications. If we fail to achieve or maintain key industry or technical certifications as a result of another cybersecurity incident or for other reasons, customers and business partners may stop doing business with us and we may not be able to win new business, which would negatively affect our revenue.

Strategy and Market Demand Risks

Our business has been and will continue to be negatively impacted by the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

We face various risks related to health epidemics, pandemics and similar outbreaks, including the global outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic and the mitigation efforts by governments to attempt to control its spread have adversely impacted the global economy, leading to reduced consumer spending and lending activities and disruptions and volatility in the global capital markets. Our customers, and therefore our business and revenues, are sensitive to negative changes in general economic conditions. We experienced significant revenue declines in several of our markets as a result of COVID-19. We expect that the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operating revenue will continue until health and economic conditions improve.

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We continue to work with our stakeholders (including customers, employees, consumers, suppliers, business partners and local communities) to responsibly address this global pandemic. We will continue to monitor the situation and assess possible implications to our business and our stakeholders and will take appropriate actions in an effort to mitigate adverse consequences. We cannot assure you that we will be successful in any such mitigation efforts. The extent to which the coronavirus will continue to negatively impact our operations will depend on future developments which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, including the duration of the outbreak, new information which may emerge concerning the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, outbreaks occurring at any of our facilities, the actions taken to control the spread of COVID-19 or treat its impact, and changes in worldwide and U.S. economic conditions. Further deteriorations in economic conditions, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise, could lead to a further or prolonged decline in demand for our products and services and negatively impact our business. It may also impact financial markets and corporate credit markets which could adversely impact our access to financing or the terms of any such financing. We cannot at this time predict the extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic impact, but it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows. To the extent the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects our business and financial results, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks described in this “Item 1A. Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, such as our need to generate sufficient cash flows to service our indebtedness and our ability to protect our information technology networks and infrastructure from unauthorized access, misuse, malware, phishing and other events that could have a security impact as a result of our remote working environment or otherwise.

The failure to realize the anticipated benefits of our technology transformation strategy could adversely impact our business and financial results.

We expect our technology transformation strategy, including our transition to cloud-based technologies, will significantly increase our efficiency and productivity, the functionality of our products and services, as well as decrease the cost of our overall systems infrastructure, all of which we expect will drive growth and have a positive effect on our business, competitive position and results of operations. This initiative is a major undertaking as we replace many of our previous operating systems with cloud-based systems. This complex, multifaceted and extensive initiative is expensive and may cause material unanticipated problems and expenses. If our new systems do not operate as expected, or the data we transition to the cloud changes in a material way, we may have to incur significant additional costs to make modifications and could lose customers as a result. Moreover, we may experience issues with customer migration, as many of our customers may not migrate to cloud-based technologies on a timely basis or at all or may choose not to utilize our products and services during and after our transition to cloud-based technologies.

We cannot assure you that our technology transformation strategy will be beneficial to the extent, or within the timeframes, expected, or that the estimated efficiency, cost savings and other improvements will be realized as anticipated or at all. Market acceptance of cloud-based offerings is affected by a variety of factors, including information security, reliability, performance, the sufficiency of technological infrastructure to support our products and services in certain geographies, customer and data provider concerns with entrusting a third party to store and manage its data as well as the customer’s ability to access this data once a contract has expired, and consumer concerns regarding data privacy and the enactment of laws or regulations that restrict our ability to provide such services to customers. If we are unable to correctly respond to these issues, we may experience business disruptions, damage to our reputation, negative publicity, diminished customer trust and relationships and other adverse effects on our business. Even if the anticipated benefits and savings are substantially realized, there may be consequences, internal control issues or business impacts that were not expected. Our transition and migration to cloud-based technologies may increase our risk of liability and cause us to incur significant technical, legal or other costs.

The loss of access to credit, employment, financial and other data from external sources could harm our ability to provide our products and services.

We rely extensively upon data from external sources to maintain our proprietary and non-proprietary databases, including data received from customers, strategic partners and various government and public record sources. This data includes the widespread and voluntary contribution of credit data from most lenders in the U.S and many other markets as well as the contribution of data under proprietary contractual agreements, such as employers’ contribution of employment and income data to The Work Number® and telecommunications, cable and utility companies’ contribution of payment and fraud data to the National Cable, Telecommunications and Utility Exchange. For a variety of reasons, including concerns of data furnishers arising out of the 2017 cybersecurity incident, legislatively or judicially imposed restrictions on use, additional security breaches or competitive reasons, our data sources could withdraw, delay receipt of or increase the cost of their data provided to us. Where we currently have exclusive use of data, the providers of the data sources could elect to make the information available to competitors. We also compete with several of our third-party data suppliers. If a substantial number of data sources or certain key data sources were to withdraw or be unable to provide their data, if we were to lose access to data
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due to government regulation, if we lose exclusive right to the use of data, or if the collection, disclosure or use of data becomes uneconomical, our ability to provide products and services to our clients could be adversely affected, which could result in decreased revenue, net income and earnings per share and reputational loss. There can be no assurance that we would be able to obtain data from alternative sources if our current sources become unavailable.

Negative changes in general economic conditions, including interest rates, unemployment rates, income, home prices, investment values and consumer confidence, could adversely affect us.

Our customers, and therefore our business and revenues, are sensitive to negative changes in general economic conditions, including the demand and availability of affordable credit and capital, the level and volatility of interest rates, inflation, employment levels, consumer confidence and housing demand, both inside and outside the United States. Business customers use our credit information and related analytical services and data to process applications for new credit cards, automobile loans, home and equity loans and other consumer loans, and to manage their existing credit relationships. Demand for our services tends to be correlated to general levels of economic activity and to consumer credit activity, which can be impacted by changes in interest rates. Banks’ and other lenders’ willingness to extend credit are adversely affected by elevated consumer delinquency and loan losses in a weak economy. Consumer demand for credit (i.e., rates of spending and levels of indebtedness) also tends to grow more slowly or decline during periods of economic contraction or slow economic growth.

Our customer base suffers when financial markets experience volatility, illiquidity and disruption and the potential for increased and continuing disruptions going forward presents considerable risks to our business and revenue. High or rising rates of unemployment and interest, declines in income, home prices or investment values, lower consumer confidence and reduced access to credit adversely affect demand for many of our products and services, and consequently our revenue and results of operations, as consumers may postpone or reduce their spending and use of credit, and lenders may reduce the amount of credit offered or available.

Our markets are highly competitive and new product introductions and pricing strategies being offered by our competitors could decrease our sales and market share or require us to enhance our products and services or reduce our prices in a manner that reduces our revenue and operating margins.

We operate in a number of geographic, product and service markets that are highly competitive. Competitors may develop products and services that are superior to or that achieve greater market acceptance than our products and services. New competitors may choose to enter and compete in our markets, or existing competitors may choose to introduce new products and enter markets that we serve and that they do not currently serve. The size of our competitors varies across market segments, as do the resources we have allocated to the segments we target. Therefore, some of our competitors may have significantly greater financial, technical, marketing or other resources than we do in one or more of our market segments, or overall. As a result, our competitors may be in a position to respond more quickly than we can to new or emerging technologies and changes in customer requirements, or may devote greater resources than we can to the development, enhancement, promotion, sale and support of products and services, or some of our customers may develop products of their own that replace the products they currently purchase from us, which would result in lower revenue. In addition, many of our competitors have extensive consumer relationships, including relationships with our current and potential customers. Moreover, new competitors or alliances among our competitors may emerge and potentially reduce our market share, revenue or margins.

We also sell our information to competing firms, and buy information from certain of our competitors, in order to sell “tri-bureau” and other products, most notably into the U.S. mortgage market. Changes in prices between competitors for this information and/or changes in the design or sale of tri-bureau versus single or dual bureau product offerings may affect our revenue or profitability.

Some of our competitors may choose to sell products that compete with ours at lower prices by accepting lower margins and profitability, or may be able to sell products competitive to ours at lower prices, individually or as a part of integrated suites, given proprietary ownership of data, technological superiority or economies of scale. Price reductions by our competitors could negatively impact our revenue and operating margins and results of operations and could also harm our ability to obtain new customers on favorable terms. Historically, certain of our key products have experienced declines in per unit pricing due to competitive factors and customer demand. Since a significant portion of our operating expenses is relatively fixed in nature due to sales, information technology and development and other costs, if we were unable to respond quickly enough to changes in competition or customer demand, we could experience further reductions in our operating margins.

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If our relationships with key customers are materially diminished or terminated, our business could suffer.

We have long-standing relationships with a number of our customers, many of whom could unilaterally terminate their relationship with us or materially reduce the amount of business they conduct with us at any time. Many of our material customer agreements can be terminated by the customer for convenience on advance written notice, which provides our customers with the opportunity to renegotiate their contracts with us or to award more business to our competitors. There is no guarantee that we will be able to retain or renew existing agreements, maintain relationships with any of our customers or business partners on acceptable terms or at all, or collect amounts owed to us from insolvent customers or business partners. The loss of one or more of our major customers or business partners could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

If we do not introduce successful new products, services and analytical capabilities in a timely manner, or if the market does not adopt our new services, our competitiveness and operating results will suffer.

We generally sell our products in industries that are characterized by rapid technological changes, frequent new product and service introductions and changing industry standards. In addition, certain of the markets in which we operate are seasonal and cyclical. Without the timely introduction of new products, services and enhancements, our products and services will become technologically or commercially obsolete over time, in which case our revenue and operating results would suffer. The success of our new products and services will depend on several factors, including our ability to properly identify customer needs; innovate and develop new technologies, services and applications; successfully commercialize new technologies in a timely manner; produce and deliver our products in sufficient volumes on time; differentiate our offerings from competitor offerings; price our products competitively; anticipate our competitors’ development of new products, services or technological innovations; and control product quality in our product development process. Our resources have to be committed to any new products and services before knowing whether the market will adopt the new offerings. In addition, our management is and will continue to be intensely focused on enhancing our security measures and our technology transformation and may not be able to devote as much time or resources to new product development, which could cause us to be less competitive as compared to our peers, lose out on new revenue opportunities and have an adverse effect on our growth and our business.

The demand for some of our products and services may be negatively impacted to the extent the availability of free or less expensive consumer information increases.

Public or commercial sources of free or relatively inexpensive consumer credit, credit score and other information have become increasingly available, particularly through the internet, and this trend is expected to continue. In addition, governmental agencies in particular have increased the amount of information to which they provide free public access and these or other sources of free or relatively inexpensive consumer information from competitors or other commercial sources may reduce demand for our services, particularly in our USIS and Global Consumer Solutions business units. Recently, there also has been an increase in companies offering free or low-cost direct-to-consumer credit services (such as credit scores, reports and monitoring) as part of alternative business models that use such services as a means to introduce consumers to other products and services. To the extent that our customers choose not to obtain services from us and instead rely on information obtained at no cost or relatively inexpensively from these other sources, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.

We rely, in part, on acquisitions, joint ventures and other alliances to grow our business and expand our geographic reach. The acquisition, integration or divestiture of businesses by us may not produce the expected financial, operating results or IT and data security profile we expect. In addition, if we are unable to make acquisitions or successfully develop and maintain joint ventures and other alliances, our growth may be adversely impacted.

Historically, we have relied, in part, on acquisitions, joint ventures and other alliances to grow our business. Any acquisitions we do complete may not be on favorable terms, may involve greater-than-expected liabilities and expenses, potential impairments of tangible and intangible assets or significant write-offs and the expected benefits, synergies and growth from these initiatives may not materialize as planned. We may have difficulty assimilating new businesses and their products, services, technologies, IT systems and personnel into our operations. IT and data security profiles of acquired companies may not meet our technological standards and may take longer to integrate and remediate than planned. This may result in significantly greater transaction, remediation and integration costs for future acquisitions than we have experienced historically, or it could mean that we will not pursue certain acquisitions where the costs of integration and remediation are too significant. We may also have difficulty integrating and operating businesses in countries and geographies where we do not currently have a significant presence, and acquisitions of businesses having a significant presence outside of the U.S. will increase our exposure to risks of conducting operations in international markets. These difficulties could disrupt our ongoing business,
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distract our management and workforce, increase our expenses and adversely affect our operating results and financial condition.

Despite our past experience, opportunities to grow our business through acquisitions, joint ventures and other alliances may not be available to us in the future. In addition, our focus on data security and our technology transformation strategy, including our migration to cloud-based technologies may limit our ability to identify and complete acquisitions as we will have less time and resources to devote to identifying suitable acquisition candidates and our technological criteria and standards for acquisition candidates may increase.

If our government contracts are terminated, if we are suspended from government work, or if our ability to compete for new contracts is adversely affected, our business could suffer.

We derive a portion of our revenue from direct and indirect sales to U.S., state and local governments and their respective agencies. Such contracts are subject to various procurement laws and regulations, and contract provisions relating to their formation, administration and performance. Failure to comply with these laws, regulations or provisions in our government contracts could result in the imposition of various civil and criminal penalties, termination of contracts, forfeiture of profits, suspension of payments or suspension of future government contracting. A number of our federal government contracts have received enhanced scrutiny and media attention due to the sensitive nature of the data we handle and due to the importance of the government programs we support. If we experience another material cybersecurity incident, if public scrutiny and pressure related to government services we support turns negative or if we experience uptime issues or performance problems, our ability to maintain existing or acquire new government contracts may be substantially impacted.

Also, the government programs to which we provide services, or which are the bases of compliance services we provide non-governmental clients, including, in particular, the employer requirements under the Affordable Care Act, may be terminated or substantially altered by the government and our services would no longer be needed. If our government contracts are terminated, if we are suspended from government work, if the services we provide are no longer needed due to government program change or termination, or if our ability to compete for new contracts is adversely affected, our business could suffer.

Operational Risks

Our technology transformation strategy places a significant strain on our management, operational, financial and other limited resources.

As part of our technology transformation strategy, we are transitioning and migrating our data systems from traditional data centers to cloud-based platforms. This initiative places significant strain on our management, personnel, operations, systems, technical performance and financial resources and internal financial control and reporting function. In addition, many of our existing personnel do not have experience with native cloud-based technologies and, as a result, we have and will continue to hire personnel with such experience. This effort has been, and will continue to be, time consuming and costly. Our technology transformation strategy requires management time and resources to educate employees and implement new ways of conducting business. The dedication of resources to our technology transformation strategy and cloud-based technologies limits the resources we have available to devote to other initiatives or growth opportunities, or to invest in the maintenance of our existing internal systems. We cannot guarantee that our strategy is the right one or that investments in alternative technologies or other initiatives would not be a better use of our limited resources.

Additionally, as a result of our cloud migration efforts in connection with our technology transformation strategy, we may experience a loss of continuity, loss of accumulated knowledge or loss of efficiency during transitional periods. Reorganization and transition can require a significant amount of management and other employees’ time and focus, which may divert attention from operating activities and growing our business. If we fail to achieve some or all of the expected benefits of these activities, it could have a material adverse effect on our competitive position, business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Our transition to cloud-based technologies could expose us to operational disruptions.

We rely on the efficient and uninterrupted operation of complex information technology systems and networks, some of which are managed internally within the Company and some of which are outsourced to third parties. As part of our technology transformation strategy, we are upgrading a significant portion of the information technology systems used to operate our business and replacing them with cloud-based solutions. This transition will require substantial changes to our software and network infrastructure, which could lead to system interruptions, affect our data systems and further expose us to
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operational disruptions, and cause us to lose customers, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

Upon implementation of the new cloud-based solutions, much of our information technology systems will consist of outsourced, cloud-based infrastructure, platform and software-as-a-service solutions not under our direct management or control. Any disruption to either the outsourced systems or the communication links between us and the outsourced supplier could negatively affect our ability to operate our data systems and could impair our ability to provide services to our customers. We may incur additional costs to remedy the damages caused by these disruptions.

If our systems do not meet customer requirements for response time or high availability, or we experience system constraints or failures, or our customers do not migrate to the cloud or modify and/or upgrade their systems to accept new releases of our products and services, our services to our customers could be delayed or interrupted, which could result in lost revenues or customers, lower margins, service level penalties or other harm to our business and reputation.

Our customers expect high system availability and response time performance, as well as a very high degree of system resilience. We depend on reliable, stable, efficient and uninterrupted operation of our technology network, systems, and data centers to provide service to our customers. Many of the services and systems upon which we rely have been outsourced to third parties. In addition, many of our revenue streams are dependent on links to third party telecommunications providers. These systems and operations, and the personnel that support, service and operate these systems, could be exposed to interruption, damage or destruction from power loss, telecommunication failures, computer viruses, denial-of-service or other cyber attacks, employee or insider malfeasance, human error, fire, natural disasters, war, terrorist acts or civil unrest. We may not have sufficient disaster recovery or redundant operations in place to cover a loss or failure of systems or telecommunications links in a timely manner.

In addition, as part of our technology transformation, we are seeking to migrate our customers from traditional data platforms to cloud-based products and services. Many of our customers may not migrate to cloud-based technologies on a timely basis or at all, or may choose not to utilize our products and services during and after our transition to cloud-based technologies. If our customers’ timelines prevent them from migrating to cloud-based technologies quickly enough, they will remain on our legacy infrastructure, which could expose them to system availability and response time performance issues.

Any significant system interruption or series of minor interruptions could result in the loss of customers and/or lost revenues, lower margins, service level penalties or other significant harm to our business or reputation.

Dependence on outsourcing certain portions of our operations may adversely affect our ability to bring products to market and damage our reputation. Dependence on outsourced information technology and other administrative functions may impair our ability to operate effectively.

As part of our technology transformation, we have outsourced various components of our application development, information technology, operational support and administrative functions and will continue to evaluate additional outsourcing. If our outsourcing vendors fail to perform their obligations in a timely manner or at satisfactory quality levels including with respect to data and system security, or increase prices for their services to unreasonable levels, our ability to bring products to market and support our customers and our reputation could suffer. Any failure to perform on the part of these third-party providers could impair our ability to operate effectively and could result in lower future revenue, unrealized efficiencies and adversely impact our results of operations and our financial condition. Some of our outsourcing takes place in developing countries and, as a result, may be subject to geopolitical uncertainty.

Our business will suffer if we are not able to retain and hire key personnel.

Our future success, including our ability to implement our technology transformation strategy, depends partly on the continued service of our key development, sales, marketing, executive and administrative personnel. Additionally, increased retention risk exists in certain key areas of our operations, such as IT and data security, which require specialized skills, such as migrating legacy computer systems to the cloud, data security expertise and analytical modeling. If we fail to retain and hire a sufficient number of these personnel, we will not be able to maintain or expand our business. As part of our technology transformation strategy, we have hired or contracted with a significant number of new employees and contract workers. Hiring, on-boarding training, motivating, retaining and managing employees with the skills required is time-consuming and expensive. There is intense competition for certain highly technical specialties in geographic areas where we continue to recruit, and it may become more difficult to retain our key employees. If we are not able to hire sufficient employees to support our technology transformation, or to train, motivate, retain and manage the employees we do hire, it could have a material adverse effect on our business operations or financial results.
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Global Operational Risks

Economic, political and other risks associated with international sales and operations could adversely affect our results of operations.

Sales outside the U.S. comprised 22% of our total revenue in 2020. As a result, our business is subject to various risks associated with doing business internationally and these risks may differ in each jurisdiction we operate depending on the particular product or service we offer in the jurisdiction. In addition, many of our employees, suppliers, job functions and facilities are located outside the U.S. Accordingly, our future results could be harmed by a variety of factors including:

changes in specific country or region political, economic or other conditions;
trade protection measures;
data privacy and consumer protection laws and regulations;
difficulty in staffing and managing widespread operations;
differing labor, intellectual property protection and technology standards and regulations;
business licensing requirements or other requirements relating to making foreign direct investments, which could increase our cost of doing business in certain jurisdictions, prevent us from entering certain markets, increase our operating costs or lead to penalties or restrictions;
difficulties associated with repatriating cash generated or held abroad in a tax-efficient manner;
implementation of exchange controls;
geopolitical instability, including terrorism and war;
foreign currency changes;
increased travel, infrastructure, legal and compliance costs of multiple international locations;
foreign laws and regulatory requirements;
terrorist activity, natural disasters, pandemics and other catastrophic events;
restrictions on the import and export of technologies;
difficulties in enforcing contracts and collecting accounts receivable;
longer payment cycles;
failure to meet quality standards for outsourced work;
unfavorable tax rules;
the presence and acceptance of varying level of business corruption in international markets; and
varying business practices in foreign countries.

We earn revenue, pay expenses, own assets and incur liabilities in countries using currencies other than the U.S. dollar, including among others the British pound, the Australian dollar, the Canadian dollar, the Argentine peso, the Chilean peso, the Euro, the New Zealand dollar, the Costa Rican colon, the Singapore dollar, the Brazilian real, the Russian ruble and the Indian rupee. Because our consolidated financial statements are presented in U.S. dollars, we must translate revenue, income and expenses, as well as assets and liabilities, into U.S. dollars at exchange rates in effect during or at the end of each reporting period. Therefore, increases or decreases in the value of the U.S. dollar against major currencies will affect our operating revenues, operating income and the value of balance sheet items denominated in foreign currencies. We generally do not mitigate the risks associated with fluctuating exchange rates, although we may from time to time through forward contracts or other derivative instruments hedge a portion of our translational foreign currency exposure or exchange rate risks associated with material transactions which are denominated in a foreign currency. The use of such hedging activities may not offset any or more than a portion of the adverse financial effects of unfavorable movements in foreign exchange rates over the limited time the hedges are in place. Accordingly, fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, particularly the strengthening of the U.S. dollar against major currencies, may materially affect our consolidated financial results.

Compliance with applicable U.S. and foreign laws and regulations, such as anti-corruption laws, tax laws, foreign exchange controls and restrictions on repatriation of earnings or other similar restraints, data privacy requirements, labor laws and anti-competition relations increases the cost of doing business in foreign jurisdictions. Although we have implemented policies and procedures to comply with these laws and regulations, a violation by our employees, contractors or agents could nevertheless occur.

The U.K.’s departure from the EU could adversely affect us.

We are subject to risks and uncertainties associated with the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU (referred to as “Brexit”), including implications for the free flow of labor and goods in the U.K. and the EU and other financial, legal, tax and trade implications. Brexit could cause disruptions to and create uncertainty surrounding our business in the U.K., including affecting
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our relationships with our existing and future customers, suppliers and employees, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial results and operations.

Legal and Regulatory Risks

As part of a global settlement, we entered into agreements with various parties to settle the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation and certain federal and state government investigations arising out of the 2017 cybersecurity incident. If we are unable to comply with our obligations under these agreements, if the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation settlement is not upheld on appeal, or if other lawsuits or investigations are filed or commenced, it could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.

In July 2019, the Company entered into multiple agreements that resolve the U.S. consolidated consumer class action cases, captioned In re: Equifax, Inc. Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, MDL No. 2800 (Consumer Cases) (the “U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation”), and the investigations of the FTC, the CFPB, the Attorneys General of 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico (the “MSAG Group”) and the NYDFS (collectively, the “Consumer Settlement”) relating to the 2017 cybersecurity incident. On January 13, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (the “Court”) entered an order granting final approval of the settlement in connection with the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation, from which several objectors have appealed. Until the appeals are finally adjudicated or dismissed and the settlement becomes final in accordance with its terms, we can provide no assurance that the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation will be resolved as contemplated by the settlement agreement. If the Court’s order approving the settlement agreement was overturned by an appellate court and not cured in accordance with the terms of the consent orders with the FTC and CFPB, the consent orders with the FTC, CFPB and MSAG Group would remain in place and the Consumer Restitution Fund (as defined below) would be administered by the FTC. In that event, there is a risk that we would not be able to settle the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation on acceptable terms or at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.

In addition to the monetary payments and consumer redress, we also agreed as part of the Consumer Settlement to implement certain business practice commitments related to consumer assistance and our information security program, including third party assessments of our program. These business practice commitments are extensive and require a significant amount of attention from management. To the extent we are unable to comply or we are viewed as not being in compliance with these business practice commitments or other requirements of a relevant order, we could face an enforcement action or contempt proceeding that could potentially result in fines, penalties and new business practice commitments, which, depending on the amount and type, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.

In addition, other lawsuits and investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident are still outstanding and additional lawsuits or investigations may be filed, commenced or issued. The resolution of these additional matters may result in damages, costs, fines or penalties, which, depending on the amount, could be material to the Company’s consolidated financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows in future periods. Any future losses we incur as a result of the incident will not be covered by insurance.

We and our customers are subject to various current laws and governmental regulations, and could be affected by new and evolving consumer privacy and cybersecurity or other data-related laws or regulations, compliance with which may cause us to incur significant expenses and change our business practices, and if we fail to maintain satisfactory compliance with certain laws and regulations, we could be subject to civil or criminal penalties.

We are subject to a number of U.S. federal, state, local and foreign laws and regulations relating to consumer privacy, cybersecurity, data and financial protection. See “Item 1. Business—Governmental Regulation” in this Form 10-K for a summary of the U.S. and foreign consumer and data protection laws and regulations to which we are subject. These regulations are complex, change frequently, have tended to become more stringent over time, and are subject to administrative interpretation and judicial construction in ways that could harm our business. In addition, new laws and regulations at the state and federal level are enacted or considered frequently. Examples of such new and evolving laws and regulations include amendments to the FCRA requiring the provision of free credit freezes to consumers, cybersecurity and other requirements promulgated by the New York Department of Financial Services, the CCPA which took effect on January 1, 2020, the California data broker registration requirements that took effect on January 31, 2020, and the CPRA taking effect on January 1, 2023. Furthermore, we expect there to be an increased focus on laws and regulations related to our business, including by the new U.S. presidential administration and the new U.S. Congress, because of the great public concern in the U.S. with regard to the operation of credit reporting agencies, as well as the collection, use, accuracy, correction and sharing of personal information. We also use algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning in our business processes. There are a number of legislative proposals pending before the U.S. Congress, various state legislative bodies and foreign governments concerning privacy or cybersecurity that could affect us. The Canadian government has initiated a review of consumer privacy laws, and
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several U.S. states have introduced varying comprehensive privacy laws modeled to some degree on the CCPA and/or the GDPR. Compliance with multiple state laws containing varying requirements could be complicated and costly. In Europe, although the GDPR already includes certain provisions relating to the automated processing of personal data, there has also been discussion of new legislative proposals to regulate business use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies which, if enacted, could impose new legal requirements addressing among other issues, privacy, discrimination and human rights. The specifics of such legislation and the number of jurisdictions that will introduce legislation in this area remain unclear at this time. In addition, a growing number of legislative and regulatory bodies have adopted consumer notification and other requirements in the event that consumer information is accessed or acquired by unauthorized persons and additional regulations regarding the use, access, accuracy and security of such data are possible. In the U.S., state laws provide for disparate notification regimes, all of which we are subject to. Further, any perception that our practices or products are an invasion of privacy, whether or not consistent with current or future regulations and industry practices, may subject us to public criticism, private class actions, reputational harm, or claims by regulators, which could disrupt our business and expose us to increased liability.

We devote substantial compliance, legal and operational business resources to strive for compliance with applicable regulations and requirements. In the future, we may be subject to significant additional expense related to compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including new laws and evolving interpretations that are difficult to predict, and to investigate, defend or remedy actual or alleged violations. Additionally, we cooperate with CFPB supervisory examinations and respond to other state, federal and foreign government examinations of or inquiries into our business practices. The enactment of new laws and how they are interpreted could impact our business. In particular, legislative activity in the privacy area may result in new laws that are applicable to us and that may hinder our business, for example, by restricting use or sharing of consumer data, including for marketing or advertising or limiting the use of, or otherwise regulating artificial intelligence and machine learning, including the use of algorithms and automated processing in ways that could materially affect our business, or which may lead to significant increases in the cost of compliance. Any failure by us to comply with, or remedy any violations of, applicable laws and regulations, could result in new costs for our operations, the curtailment of certain of our operations, the imposition of fines and penalties, liability to private plaintiffs as a result of individual or class action litigation, restrictions on the operation of our business and reputational harm. It is difficult to predict the impact on our business if we were subject to allegations of having violated existing laws. For example, in Europe, the GDPR, which includes extensive regulations for certain security incidents, could result in fines of up to four percent of annual worldwide “turnover” (a measure similar to revenues in the U.S.). In addition, because many of our products are regulated or sold to customers in various industries, we must comply with additional regulations in marketing our products. Moreover, our compliance with privacy laws and regulations and our reputation depend in part on customers’ adherence to privacy laws and regulations and their use of our services in ways consistent with consumer expectations and regulatory requirements. We cannot predict the ultimate impact on our business of new or proposed rules, supervisory examinations or government investigations or enforcement actions.

The following legal and regulatory developments also could have a substantial negative impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations:

amendment, enactment or interpretation of laws and regulations that restrict the access and use of personal information and reduce the availability or effectiveness of our solutions or the supply of data available to customers;
changes in cultural and consumer attitudes in favor of further restrictions on information collection and sharing, which may lead to regulations that prevent full utilization of our solutions;
failure of data suppliers or customers to comply with laws or regulations, where mutual compliance is required;
failure of our solutions to comply with current laws and regulations; and
failure of our solutions to adapt to changes in the regulatory environment in an efficient, cost effective manner.

These laws and regulations (as well as actions that may be taken by legislatures and regulatory bodies in other countries) and the consequences of any violation could limit our ability to pursue business opportunities we might otherwise consider engaging in, impose additional costs on us, result in significant loss of revenue, result in significant restitution and fines, impact the value of assets we hold, or otherwise adversely affect our business.

The CFPB has supervisory and examination authority over our business and may initiate enforcement actions with regard to our compliance with federal consumer financial laws.

The CFPB, which was established under the Dodd-Frank Act and commenced operations in July 2011, has broad authority over our business. This includes authority to issue regulations under federal consumer financial protection laws, such as under FCRA and other laws applicable to us and our financial customers. The CFPB is authorized to prevent “unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices” through its regulatory, supervisory and enforcement authority.

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In 2012, credit reporting companies like us became subject to a federal supervision program for the first time under the CFPB’s authority to supervise and examine certain non-depository institutions that are “larger participants” of the consumer credit reporting market. The CFPB conducts examinations and investigations, and may issue subpoenas and bring civil actions in federal court for violations of the federal consumer financial laws including FCRA. In these proceedings, the CFPB can seek relief that includes: rescission or reformation of contracts, restitution, disgorgement of profits, payment of damages, limits on activities and civil money penalties of up to $1.0 million per day for known violations. The CFPB conducts periodic examinations of us and the consumer credit reporting industry, which could result in new regulations or enforcement actions or proceedings. Actions by the CFPB could result in requirements to alter or cease offering affected products and services, making them less attractive and restricting our ability to offer them.

Although we have committed resources to enhancing our compliance programs, actions by the CFPB or other regulators against us could result in reputational harm. Our compliance costs and legal and regulatory exposure could increase materially if the CFPB or other regulators enact new regulations, change regulations that were previously adopted, modify through supervision or enforcement past regulatory guidance, or interpret existing regulations in a manner different or stricter than have been previously interpreted.

Regulatory oversight of our contractual relationships with certain of our customers may adversely affect our business.

The federal banking agencies, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the CFPB, as well as many state banking agencies have issued guidance to insured depository institutions and other providers of financial services on assessing and managing risks associated with third-party relationships, which include all business arrangements between a financial services provider and another entity, by contract or otherwise, and generally requires banks and financial services providers to exercise comprehensive oversight throughout each phase of a bank or financial service provider’s business arrangement with third-party service providers, and instructs banks and financial service providers to adopt risk management processes commensurate with the level of risk and complexity of their third-party relationships. This guidance requires more rigorous oversight of third-party relationships that involve certain “critical activities.” In light of this guidance, our existing or potential bank and financial services customers subject to this guidance may continue to revise their third-party risk management policies and processes and the terms on which they do business with us, which may adversely affect our relationship with such customers. In 2018, we entered into a consent order with certain state banking regulators in response to their multi-state review of our information security program. This consent order obligates us to, among other things, make certain changes to our corporate governance and information security practices. If we are unable or otherwise fail to comply with this consent order, our ability to do business with financial institutions in those states could be impaired. It is possible that the consent order or other actions resulting from examinations by federal or state banking regulators could lead to adverse changes in our customer relationships.

We are regularly involved in claims, suits, government investigations, supervisory examinations and other proceedings that may result in adverse outcomes.

We are regularly involved in claims, suits, government investigations, supervisory examinations and regulatory proceedings arising from the ordinary course of our business, including actions with respect to consumer protection and data protection, including purported class action lawsuits. Such claims, suits, government investigations and proceedings are inherently uncertain and their results cannot be predicted with certainty. Regardless of their outcome, such legal proceedings can have an adverse impact on us because of legal costs, diversion of management and other personnel, and other factors. In addition, it is possible that a resolution of one or more such proceedings could result in reputational harm, liability, penalties or sanctions, as well as judgments, consent decrees or orders preventing us from offering certain features, functionalities, products or services, or requiring a change in our business practices, products or technologies, which could in the future materially and adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition. The FCRA contains an attorney fee shifting provision that provides an incentive for consumers to bring individual and class action lawsuits against a CRA for violation of the FCRA, and the number of consumer lawsuits (both individual and class action) against us alleging a violation of the FCRA and our resulting costs associated with resolving these lawsuits have increased substantially over the past several years.

Third parties may claim that we are infringing on their intellectual property and we could suffer significant litigation or licensing expenses or be prevented from selling products or services.

There has been substantial litigation in the U.S. regarding intellectual property rights in the information technology industry. From time to time, third parties may make claims that one or more of our products or services infringe their intellectual property rights. We analyze and take action in response to each such claim on a case by case basis. A dispute or litigation regarding patents or other intellectual property can be costly and time-consuming due to the complexity of our technology and the inherent uncertainty of intellectual property litigation, could divert our management and key personnel from
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our business operations, and we may not prevail. A claim of intellectual property infringement could force us to enter into a costly or restrictive license agreement, which might not be available under acceptable terms or at all, or could subject us to significant damages or to an injunction against development and sale of certain of our products or services. Our intellectual property portfolio may not be useful in asserting a counterclaim, or providing commercial leverage for negotiating a license, in response to a claim of intellectual property infringement. In certain of our businesses we rely on third-party intellectual property licenses and we cannot ensure that these licenses will be available to us in the future on favorable terms or at all. Although our policy is to obtain licenses or other rights where necessary, we cannot provide assurance that we have obtained all required licenses or rights.

Third parties may misappropriate or infringe on our intellectual property and we may suffer competitive injury or expend significant resources enforcing our rights.

Our success increasingly depends on our proprietary technology and its ability to differentiate us from our competitors. We rely on various intellectual property rights, including patents, copyrights, database rights, trademarks and trade secrets, as well as contract restrictions, confidentiality provisions and licensing arrangements, to establish and protect our proprietary rights. The extent to which such rights can be protected varies in different jurisdictions. If we do not protect and enforce our intellectual property rights successfully, our competitive position may suffer which could harm our operating results. Our pending patent and trademark applications may not be allowed or competitors may challenge the validity or scope of our intellectual property rights. In addition, our patents, copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property rights may not provide us a significant competitive advantage.

We may need to devote significant resources to monitoring our intellectual property rights and we may or may not be able to detect misappropriation or infringement by third parties. Our competitive position may be harmed if we cannot detect misappropriation or infringement and enforce our intellectual property rights quickly or at all. In some circumstances, enforcement may not be available to us because a third party has a dominant intellectual property position or for other business reasons. In addition, competitors might avoid infringement by designing around our intellectual property rights or by developing non-infringing competing technologies. Intellectual property rights and our ability to enforce them may be unavailable or limited in some countries, which could make it easier for competitors to capture market share and could result in lost revenue.

Financial Market Risks

Our retirement and post-retirement pension plans are subject to financial market risks that could adversely affect our future results of operations and cash flows.

We have significant retirement and post-retirement pension plan assets and obligations. The performance of the financial markets and interest rates impact our plan expenses and funding obligations. Significant decreases in interest rates, decreases in the fair value of plan assets and investment losses on plan assets will increase our funding obligations, and adversely impact our results of operations and cash flows.

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
 
None.
 
ITEM 2. PROPERTIES
 
Our executive offices are located at 1550 Peachtree Street, N.W., Atlanta, Georgia. Our other properties are geographically distributed to meet sales and operating requirements worldwide. We consider these properties to be both suitable and adequate to meet our current operating requirements. We ordinarily lease office space for conducting our business and are obligated under approximately 60 leases and other rental arrangements for our field locations. We owned 5 office buildings at December 31, 2020, including our executive offices, one campus which houses our Alpharetta, Georgia technology center, a building utilized by our Workforce Solutions operations located in St. Louis, Missouri, as well as two buildings utilized by our Latin America operations.
 
For additional information regarding our obligations under leases, see Note 6 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this Form 10-K. We believe that suitable additional space will be available to accommodate our future needs.

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ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
 
Litigation and Investigations related to the 2017 Cybersecurity Incident 

In fiscal 2017, we experienced a cybersecurity incident following a criminal attack on our systems that involved the theft of certain personally identifiable information of U.S., Canadian and U.K. consumers. Following the 2017 cybersecurity incident, hundreds of class actions and other lawsuits were filed against us typically alleging harm from the incident and seeking various remedies, including monetary and injunctive relief. We were also subject to investigations and inquiries by federal, state and foreign governmental agencies and officials regarding the 2017 cybersecurity incident and related matters. Most of these lawsuits and government investigations have concluded or been resolved, including pursuant to the settlement agreements described below, while others remain ongoing. The Company’s participation in these settlements does not constitute an admission by the Company of any fault or liability, and the Company does not admit fault or liability.

Consumer Settlement

On July 19, 2019 and July 22, 2019, we entered into multiple agreements that resolve the U.S. consolidated consumer class action cases, captioned In re: Equifax, Inc. Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, MDL No. 2800 (the “U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation”), and the investigations of the FTC, the CFPB, the Attorneys General of 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico (the "MSAG Group") and the NYDFS (collectively, the “Consumer Settlement”). Under the terms of the Consumer Settlement, the Company will contribute $380.5 million to a non-reversionary settlement fund (the “Consumer Restitution Fund”) to provide restitution for U.S. consumers identified by the Company whose personal information was compromised as a result of the 2017 cybersecurity incident as well as to pay reasonable attorneys’ fees and reasonable costs and expenses for the plaintiffs’ counsel in the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation (not to exceed $80.5 million), settlement administration costs and notice costs. The Company has agreed to contribute up to an additional $125.0 million to the Consumer Restitution Fund to cover certain unreimbursed costs and expenditures incurred by affected U.S. consumers in the event the $380.5 million in the Consumer Restitution Fund is exhausted. The Company also agreed to various business practice commitments related to consumer assistance and its information security program, including conducting third party assessments of its information security program.

On January 13, 2020, the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. District Court overseeing centralized pre-trial proceedings for the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation and numerous other federal court actions relating to the 2017 cybersecurity incident (the “MDL Court”), entered an order granting final approval of the settlement in connection with the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation. The MDL Court entered an amended order granting final approval of the settlement on March 17, 2020. Several objectors have appealed the final approval order. Until the appeals are finally adjudicated or dismissed and the settlement becomes final in accordance with its terms, we can provide no assurance that the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation will be resolved as contemplated by the settlement agreement. If the Court’s order approving the settlement agreement was overturned by an appellate court and not cured in accordance with the terms of the consent orders with the FTC and CFPB, the consent orders with the FTC, CFPB and MSAG Group would remain in place and the Consumer Restitution Fund would be administered by the FTC. In that event, there is a risk that we would not be able to settle the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation on acceptable terms or at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.

Other Settlements

Financial Institutions MDL Class Action. On May 15, 2020, the Company entered into a settlement agreement to resolve the consolidated financial institutions class action cases pending before the MDL Court (the “Financial Institutions MDL Litigation”). Under the settlement, the Company agreed to pay for valid claims submitted by class members up to a maximum amount, reasonable settlement administration and notice costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses. The Company also agreed to adopt and/or maintain certain business practices related to its information security program. The court granted final approval of the settlement on October 22, 2020.

Other Matters

We face other lawsuits and government investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident that have not yet been concluded or resolved. These ongoing matters may result in judgments, fines or penalties, settlements or other relief. We dispute the allegations in the remaining lawsuits and intend to defend against such claims. Set forth below are descriptions of the main categories of these matters.

Georgia State Court Consumer Class Actions. Four putative class actions arising from the 2017 cybersecurity incident were filed against us in Fulton County Superior Court and Fulton County State Court in Georgia based on similar allegations
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and theories as alleged in the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation and seek monetary damages, injunctive relief and other related relief on behalf of Georgia citizens. These cases were transferred to a single judge in the Fulton County Business Court and three of the cases were consolidated into a single action. On July 27, 2018, the Fulton County Business Court granted the Company’s motion to stay the remaining single case, and on August 17, 2018, the Fulton County Business Court granted the Company’s motion to stay the consolidated case. These cases remain stayed pending final resolution of the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation.

Canadian Class Actions. Five putative Canadian class actions, four of which are on behalf of a national class of approximately 19,000 Canadian consumers, are pending against us in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. Each of the proposed Canadian class actions asserts a number of common law and statutory claims seeking monetary damages and other related relief in connection with the 2017 cybersecurity incident. In addition to seeking class certification on behalf of the approximately 19,000 Canadian consumers whose personal information was allegedly impacted by the 2017 cybersecurity incident, in some cases, plaintiffs also seek class certification on behalf of a larger group of Canadian consumers who had contracts for subscription products with Equifax around the time of the incident or earlier and were not impacted by the incident.

On December 13, 2019, the court in Ontario granted certification of a nationwide class that includes all impacted Canadians as well as Canadians who had subscription products with Equifax between March 7, 2017 and July 30, 2017 who were not impacted by the incident. Our motion for leave to appeal this decision was granted in part, and our appeal is now pending. All remaining purported class actions are at preliminary stages or stayed.

Government Investigations. We have cooperated with federal, state and foreign governmental agencies and officials investigating or otherwise seeking information, testimony and/or documents, regarding the 2017 cybersecurity incident and related matters. Except as described below, these investigations have been resolved as discussed in prior filings or there has been no further activity.

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) opened an enforcement investigation against our U.K. subsidiary, Equifax Limited, in October 2017. The investigation by the FCA has involved a number of information requirements and interviews. We continue to respond to the information requirements and are cooperating with the investigation.

Other

Equifax has been named as a defendant in various other legal actions, including administrative claims, regulatory matters, government investigations, class actions and other litigation arising in connection with our business. Some of the legal actions include claims for substantial compensatory or punitive damages or claims for indeterminate amounts of damages. We believe we have defenses to and, where appropriate, will contest, many of these matters. Given the number of these matters, some are likely to result in adverse judgments, penalties, injunctions, fines or other relief. We may explore potential settlements before a case is taken through trial because of the uncertainty and risks inherent in the litigation process.
 
For information regarding our accounting for legal contingencies, see Note 6 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this report.

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
 
Not applicable.

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PART II
 
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR THE REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
 
Equifax’s common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “EFX.” As of January 29, 2021, Equifax had approximately 2,948 holders of record; however, Equifax believes the number of beneficial owners of common stock exceeds this number.
 
Shareholder Return Performance Graph
 
The graph below compares Equifax’s five-year cumulative total shareholder return with that of the Standard & Poor’s Composite Stock Index (S&P 500) and a peer group index, the S&P 500 Banks Index (Industry Group). The graph assumes that the value of the investment in our Common Stock and each index was $100 on the last trading day of 2015 and that all quarterly dividends were reinvested without commissions. Our past performance may not be indicative of future performance.

COMPARATIVE FIVE-YEAR CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN AMONG EQUIFAX INC., S&P 500 INDEX, AND S&P 500 BANKS INDEX (INDUSTRY GROUP)
EFX-20201231_G2.JPG
Fiscal Year Ended December 31,
Initial 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Equifax Inc. 100.00  112.99  114.06  91.28  139.04  193.26 
S&P 500 Index 100.00  117.81  143.52  137.23  180.44  213.64 
S&P 500 Banks Index (Industry Group) 100.00  140.74  172.48  144.12  202.69  174.81 


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The table below contains information with respect to purchases made by or on behalf of Equifax of its common stock during the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2020:
 
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Period
Total Number of Shares Purchased (1)
Average Price Paid Per Share (2)
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly-Announced Plans or Programs
Maximum Number (or Approximate Dollar Value) of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs (3)
October 1 - October 31, 2020 1,261  $ —  —  $ 590,092,166 
November 1 - November 30, 2020 3,659  $ —  —  $ 590,092,166 
December 1 - December 31, 2020 7,439  $ —  —  $ 590,092,166 
Total 12,359  $ —  —  $ 590,092,166 

(1)    The total number of shares purchased includes, if applicable: (a) shares purchased pursuant to our publicly-announced share repurchase program, or Program; and (b) shares surrendered, or deemed surrendered, in satisfaction of the exercise price and/or to satisfy tax withholding obligations in connection with the exercise of employee stock options and vesting of restricted stock, totaling 1,261 share for the month of October 2020, 3,659 shares for the month of November 2020 and 7,439 shares for the month of December 2020.

(2)    Average price paid per share for shares purchased as part of our Program (includes brokerage commissions).

(3)    We did not repurchase any common shares during the twelve months ended December 31, 2020. At December 31, 2020, the amount authorized for future share repurchases under the Program was $590.1 million.

Information relating to compensation plans under which the Company’s equity securities are authorized for issuance will be included in the section captioned “Equity Compensation Plan Information” in our 2021 Proxy Statement and is incorporated herein by reference.
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ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
 
The table below summarizes our selected historical financial information for each of the last five years. The summary of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019, and 2018, and the balance sheet data as of December 31, 2020 and 2019, have been derived from our audited Consolidated Financial Statements included in this report. All periods presented in this table have been revised for the pension accounting change discussed in Note 1 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this report. The historical selected financial information may not be indicative of our future performance and should be read in conjunction with the information contained in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, and the Consolidated Financial Statements and the accompanying Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report.
 
Twelve Months Ended
December 31,
2020 (1) (3) (4)
2019 (1) (2) (3) (4)
2018 (1) (3) (4)
2017 (1) (3) (5)
2016 (1) (6)
(In millions, except per share data)
Summary of Operations:
Operating revenue $ 4,127.5  $ 3,507.6  $ 3,412.1  $ 3,362.2  $ 3,144.9 
Operating expenses 3,450.9  3,843.0  2,964.1  2,530.5  2,319.8 
Operating income (loss) 676.6  (335.4) 448.0  831.7  825.1 
Consolidated income (loss) from continuing operations 526.2  (378.1) 317.0  606.8  475.1 
Net income (loss) attributable to Equifax $ 520.1  $ (384.1) $ 310.5  $ 596.1  $ 468.8 
Dividends paid to Equifax shareholders $ 189.5  $ 188.7  $ 187.9  $ 187.4  $ 157.6 
Diluted earnings per share
Net income (loss) attributable to Equifax $ 4.24  $ (3.15) $ 2.56  $ 4.90  $ 3.87 
Cash dividends declared per share $ 1.56  $ 1.56  $ 1.56  $ 1.56  $ 1.32 
Weighted-average shares outstanding (diluted) 122.8  122.0  121.4  121.5  121.1 

As of December 31,
2020 (1) (4)
2019 (1) (2) (4)
2018 (1) (4)
2017 (1) (5)
2016 (1) (6)
(In millions)
Balance Sheet Data:
Total assets $ 9,611.8  $ 7,909.0  $ 7,153.2  $ 7,233.4  $ 6,664.0 
Short-term debt and current maturities 1,101.1  3.1  4.9  965.3  585.4 
Long-term debt, net of current portion 3,277.3  3,379.5  2,630.6  1,739.0  2,086.8 
Total debt, net 4,378.4  3,382.6  2,635.5  2,704.3  2,672.2 
Total equity 3,210.3  2,622.9  3,155.7  3,239.0  2,721.3 
 
(1)The selected financial data above reflects the change in accounting method for recognizing actuarial gains and losses and expected returns on plan assets for our defined benefit pension and postretirement benefit plans. Under the accounting method change, remeasurement of projected benefit obligation and plan assets are immediately recognized in earnings through net periodic benefit cost within Other Income (Expense) on the Consolidated Statements of Income (Loss), This change in accounting was applied retrospectively to all of the prior periods. For additional information, see Note 1 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report.

(2)During the year ended December 31, 2019, the Company recorded $800.9 million of losses, net of insurance recoveries, associated with certain legal proceedings and government investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident, exclusive of our legal professional services expenses. For additional information, see Note 6 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report.
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(3)During the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, the Company recorded $365.0 million, $337.3 million, and $326.2 million, respectively, of pre-tax expenses, net of cybersecurity insurance recoveries, for costs related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident. Costs related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident are defined as incremental costs to transform our information technology infrastructure and data security; legal fees and professional services costs to investigate the 2017 cybersecurity incident and respond to legal, government and regulatory claims; as well as costs to provide free credit monitoring product and related support to consumers. For additional information, see Note 6 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this report.

(4)During the fourth quarter of 2020, first quarter of 2019 and fourth quarter of 2018, we recorded $31.9 million ($24.3 million, net of tax), $11.5 million ($8.8 million, net of tax) and $46.1 million ($35.0 million, net of tax) of restructuring charges, respectively. All restructuring charges were recorded in selling, general, and administrative expenses in our Consolidated Statements of Income (Loss). These restructuring charges primarily relate to a reduction in headcount to support the Company’s strategic objectives and increase the integration of our global operations. For additional information, see Note 11 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this report.

(5)The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“Tax Act”) significantly revised U.S. tax law. The legislation positively impacted the Company’s ongoing effective tax rate due to the reduction of the U.S. federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. The Tax Act made major changes to the U.S. international tax system. As a result of the Tax Act, the Company recorded adjustments totaling a net tax benefit of $48.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2017 to provisionally account for the estimated impact. Refer to Note 7 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Form 10-K for additional information. We also prospectively applied the provisions of ASU 2016-09 “Compensation - Stock Compensation (Topic 718),” related to the recognition of windfall tax benefits in the Consolidated Statement of Income which resulted in the recognition of $26.7 million of tax benefits for the year ended December 31, 2017.

(6)In the first quarter of 2016, we completed the acquisition of 100% of the ordinary voting shares of Veda Group Limited (“Veda”) for cash consideration plus debt assumed of approximately $1.9 billion. For the year ended December 31, 2016, we recorded $40.2 million ($28.2 million, net of tax) for Veda acquisition related amounts.
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ITEM 7.  MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
As used herein, the terms Equifax, the Company, we, our and us refer to Equifax Inc., a Georgia corporation, and its consolidated subsidiaries as a combined entity, except where it is clear that the terms mean only Equifax Inc.
 
All references to earnings per share data in Management’s Discussion and Analysis, or MD&A, are to diluted earnings per share, or EPS, unless otherwise noted. Diluted EPS is calculated to reflect the potential dilution that would occur if stock options or other contracts to issue common stock were exercised and resulted in additional common shares outstanding.
 
BUSINESS OVERVIEW
 
Equifax Inc. is a global data, analytics and technology company. We provide information solutions and human resources business process outsourcing services for businesses, governments and consumers. We have a large and diversified group of clients, including financial institutions, corporations, governments and individuals. Our services are based on comprehensive databases of consumer and business information derived from numerous sources including credit, financial assets, telecommunications and utility payments, employment, income, demographic and marketing data. We use advanced statistical techniques, machine learning and proprietary software tools to analyze available data to create customized insights, decision-making solutions and processing services for our clients. We also provide information, technology and services to support debt collections and recovery management. Additionally, we are a leading provider of payroll-related and human resource management business process outsourcing services in the United States of America, or U.S. For consumers, we provide products and services to help people understand, manage and protect their personal information and make more informed financial decisions.
 
We currently operate in four global regions: North America (U.S. and Canada), Asia Pacific (Australia, New Zealand and India), Europe (the United Kingdom, or U.K., Spain and Portugal) and Latin America (Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay). We maintain support operations in the Republic of Ireland, Chile, Costa Rica and India. We also offer Equifax branded credit services in Russia through a joint venture, have investments in consumer and/or commercial credit information companies through joint ventures in Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates and have an investment in a consumer and commercial credit information company in Brazil.

Recent Events and Company Outlook

As further described above, we operate in the United States, which represented 78% of our revenue in 2020, and internationally in 24 countries. Our products and services span a wide variety of vertical markets including financial services, mortgage, federal, state and local governments, automotive, telecommunications and many others.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization designated the novel coronavirus disease (“COVID-19”) as a global pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 and related actions to attempt to control its spread began to impact our consolidated operating results in March 2020. The impact on the operating results in each country in which we operate differed based on the conditions and the vertical markets we serve in that country. In the United States, consolidated revenue grew in each calendar quarter of 2020, compared to 2019, reflecting very strong mortgage market related revenue in both USIS and Workforce Solutions, and, to a lesser degree, higher revenue growth in our Workforce Solutions unemployment claims management business. However, in the U.S., we experienced year-over-year revenue declines in most other vertical markets including commercial, financial services and telecommunications. Internationally, all countries in which we operate experienced revenue declines, across most vertical markets. The year-over-year reductions in countries and vertical markets referenced were most pronounced in the second quarter and improved during the third and fourth quarters. Although some countries continue to show year-over-year declines, performance in the fourth quarter of 2020 has improved from the levels seen in the third quarter and several vertical markets and countries have reported year over year growth as market conditions improve. We are unable to determine the severity or duration of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Equifax or how the impact on the individual markets in the countries we serve will change with time. Although consolidated revenue has grown during 2020 when compared to 2019, due to the uncertain effects on the global economy caused by the impact of COVID-19, the impact on our future results of operations related to the COVID-19 pandemic are unclear.

We expect that the global COVID-19 pandemic will continue to impact our business and results of operations. While the COVID-19 pandemic affects the countries in which we operate, our critical priorities are:

(i)the health and safety of our employees and their families;
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(ii)providing support to consumers;
(iii)helping our customers execute their changing business plans by providing innovative solutions combining our unique data assets and leading analytical and technology capabilities; and
(iv)executing on our cloud technology, data and security transformation per our previously stated plans.
In the first quarter of 2020, we executed on our business continuity plans and formed a crisis management team to address the challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In March and April 2020, our employees worked from home in each country where we operate, with only essential employees in customer support and data center operations working on site at our facilities. Beginning in May, in jurisdictions where local restrictions implemented to prevent the further spread of the virus were lifted, our employees began to return to their assigned offices, with limits placed on the number of employees on site at one time. For employees working at our offices and facilities, we have instituted social distancing protocols, increased the level of cleaning and sanitizing in those facilities and undertaken other actions to make these sites safer. We have also substantially reduced employee travel to only essential business needs. As part of our business continuity plans, we are generally following the requirements and protocols published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, and state and local governments. If public health authorities dictate further measures to limit further spread of the virus, we may need to reinstate our business continuity plans in certain countries or regions in which we operate. As of the date of this filing, we do not believe our work from home and return to office protocol have materially adversely impacted our internal controls, financial reporting systems or our operations.
Our data and analytics, product and sales teams are focused on how to refine existing products and services, as well as generate new products and services, to meet the changing needs of our customers in this environment. Our technology teams continue to execute on our cloud technology, data and security transformation, including the continued migration of our technology to cloud native environments. To date, the change to our working environment has not caused material disruptions in the execution of these plans.
As a response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have implemented plans to manage our costs. We have significantly limited the addition of new employees and third party contracted services, eliminated all travel except where necessary to meet customer or regulatory needs, and acted to limit discretionary spending. Recovery of the global economy from the COVID-19 induced recession remains uncertain and may require several years to return to economic levels experienced prior to the pandemic and may affect certain markets or regions we serve differently. Any future asset impairment charges, increase in allowance for doubtful accounts, or restructuring charges could be more likely and will be dependent on the severity and duration of this crisis.
At December 31, 2020, we had approximately $1.7 billion in cash and $1.1 billion available to borrow under our revolving credit facility that matures in September 2023. In the second quarter of 2020, we amended our revolving credit facility to increase the maximum leverage ratio through 2021 to provide us with additional financial flexibility.
In light of the evolving health, social, economic and business environment, governmental regulations or mandates, and business disruptions that could occur, the potential impact that COVID-19 could have on our financial condition and operating results remains highly uncertain.
For more information, see “Item 1A. Risk Factors—Our business has been and will continue to be negatively impacted by the recent COVID-19 outbreak,” in this Form 10-K.

2017 Cybersecurity Incident

In 2017, we experienced a cybersecurity incident following a criminal attack on our systems that involved the theft of certain personally identifiable information of U.S., Canadian and U.K. consumers. Criminals exploited a software vulnerability in a U.S. website application to gain unauthorized access to our network. In March 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security distributed a notice concerning the software vulnerability. We undertook efforts to identify and remediate vulnerable systems; however, the vulnerability in the website application that was exploited was not identified by our security processes. We discovered unusual network activity in late-July 2017 and upon discovery promptly investigated the activity. Once the activity was identified as potential unauthorized access, we acted to stop the intrusion and engaged a leading, independent cybersecurity firm to conduct a forensic investigation to determine the scope of the unauthorized access, including the specific information impacted. Based on our forensic investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May 2017 through July 2017. No evidence was found that the Company’s core consumer, employment and income, or commercial reporting databases were accessed. On February 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that four members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army were indicted on criminal charges for their involvement in the 2017 cybersecurity incident.
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Product Liability.  As a result of the 2017 cybersecurity incident, we offered TrustedID® Premier, a credit file monitoring and identity theft protection product, for free to all eligible U.S. consumers who signed up through January 31, 2018. In late 2018, the Company extended the free credit monitoring services for an additional twelve months for eligible consumers impacted by the 2017 cybersecurity incident by providing them the opportunity to enroll in Experian® IDNotify™ at no cost. We also provided free credit reports and scores, credit monitoring and identity theft protection for twenty four months to impacted consumers in Canada and the U.K. We have recorded the expenses necessary to provide this service to those who signed up. The remaining product liability balance at December 31, 2020 and 2019 was not material to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Litigation, Claims and Government Investigations.  As a result of the 2017 cybersecurity incident, we were subject to a significant number of proceedings and investigations as described in Part I, “Item 3. Legal Proceedings” in this Form 10-K. We did not record any settlement expenses related to the resolution of these proceedings and investigations for the twelve months ended December 31, 2020. We recorded expenses, net of insurance recoveries, of $800.9 million in other current liabilities and selling, general, and administrative expenses in our Consolidated Balance Sheets and Statements of Income (Loss), respectively, as of and for the twelve months ended December 31, 2019, exclusive of our legal and professional services expenses and net of insurance recoveries. The amount accrued represents our best estimate of the liability related to these matters. The Company will continue to evaluate information as it becomes known and adjust accruals for new information and further developments in accordance with ASC 450-20-25.

Future Costs.  We are currently executing substantial initiatives in security and consumer support, and a company-wide transformation of our technology infrastructure, which we refer to as our technology transformation, and incurred substantial increased expenses and capital expenditures in 2018, 2019 and 2020 related to these initiatives. We expect to continue to incur additional expenses and capital expenditures in 2021 related to these initiatives, although at reduced levels as those incurred in 2020.

We incurred significant legal and professional services expenses in 2019 related to the lawsuits, claims and government investigations to which we were a party in 2019, and expect to continue to incur these expenses until all matters are fully resolved. However, as expected, the level of legal and professional service expenses related to these matters was significantly lower in 2020 due to the settlement of all of the significant matters in the U.S.

We will recognize the expenses and capital expenditures referenced herein as they are incurred.

Insurance Coverage.  At the time of the 2017 cybersecurity incident, we had $125.0 million of cybersecurity insurance coverage, above a $7.5 million deductible, to limit our exposure to losses such as those related to this incident. Since the announcement of the 2017 cybersecurity incident in September 2017, we have received the maximum reimbursement under the insurance policy of $125.0 million. We also maintained a directors and officers insurance policy of which we have recorded our estimated maximum recoveries as of December 31, 2020.

Segment and Geographic Information
 
Segments. The USIS segment consists of three service lines: Online Information Solutions, Mortgage Solutions, and Financial Marketing Services. Online Information Solutions and Mortgage Solutions revenue is principally transaction-based and is derived from our sales of products such as consumer and commercial credit reporting and scoring, identity management, fraud detection and modeling services. USIS also markets certain decisioning software services which facilitate and automate a variety of consumer and commercial credit-oriented decisions. Financial Marketing Services revenue is principally project and subscription based and is derived from our sales of batch credit and consumer wealth information such as those that assist clients in acquiring new customers, cross-selling to existing customers and managing portfolio risk.

The Workforce Solutions segment consists of the Verification Services and Employer Services business lines. Verification Services revenue is transaction-based and is derived primarily from employment and income verification. Employer Services revenue is derived from our provision of certain human resources business process outsourcing services that include both transaction and subscription based product offerings. These services include unemployment claims management, employment-based tax credit services and other complementary employment-based transaction services.
 
The International segment consists of Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Canada. Canada’s services are similar to our USIS offerings. Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America are made up of varying mixes of service lines that are generally consistent with those in our USIS reportable segment. We also provide information and technology services to support lenders and other creditors in the collections and recovery management process.
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Global Consumer Solutions revenue is both transaction and subscription based and is derived from the sale of credit monitoring and identity theft protection products, which we deliver electronically to consumers primarily via the internet in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. We also sell consumer and credit information to resellers who combine our information with other information to provide direct-to-consumer monitoring, reports and scores.

Geographic Information. We currently have operations in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Spain, the U.K., Uruguay and the U.S. We also offer Equifax branded credit services in Russia through a joint venture, have investments in consumer and/or commercial credit information companies through joint ventures in Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates and have an investment in a consumer and commercial credit information company in Brazil. Approximately 78% and 73% our revenue was generated in the U.S. during the twelve months ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively.
 
Key Performance Indicators.  Management focuses on a variety of key indicators to monitor operating and financial performance. These performance indicators include measurements of operating revenue, change in operating revenue, operating income, operating margin, net income, diluted earnings per share, cash provided by operating activities and capital expenditures. Key performance indicators for the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, which reflect the change in accounting principle related to the change in accounting method for our pension and other benefits plans (see Note 1), include the following: 
Key Performance Indicators
Twelve Months Ended
December 31,
2020 2019 2018
(In millions, except per share data)
Operating revenue $ 4,127.5  $ 3,507.6  $ 3,412.1 
Operating revenue change 18  % % %
Operating income (loss) $ 676.6  $ (335.4) $ 448.0 
Operating margin 16.4  % (9.6) % 13.1  %
Net income (loss) attributable to Equifax $ 520.1  $ (384.1) $ 310.5 
Diluted earnings per share $ 4.24  $ (3.15) $ 2.56 
Cash provided by operating activities $ 946.2  $ 313.8  $ 672.2 
Capital expenditures* $ (430.7) $ (375.9) $ (368.1)
*Amounts above include accruals for capital expenditures.

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RESULTS OF OPERATIONS —
TWELVE MONTHS ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2020, 2019 AND 2018
 
In the fourth quarter of 2020 we voluntarily changed our accounting principle for recognizing actuarial gains and losses and expected returns on plan assets for our defined benefit pension and postretirement benefit plans. We have applied the change in accounting principle retrospectively to all periods covered in this Report, with the amounts below reflecting this change. Refer to Note 1 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this report for additional information.

Consolidated Financial Results
 
Operating Revenue
Twelve Months Ended December 31, Change
2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
Operating Revenue 2020 2019 2018 $ % $ %
(In millions)
U.S. Information Solutions $ 1,482.5  $ 1,277.4  $ 1,247.3  $ 205.1  16  % $ 30.1  %
Workforce Solutions 1,437.9  949.7  826.8  488.2  51  % 122.9  15  %
International 862.1  920.6  966.2  (58.5) (6) % (45.6) (5) %
Global Consumer Solutions 345.0  359.9  371.8  (14.9) (4) % (11.9) (3) %
Consolidated operating revenue $ 4,127.5  $ 3,507.6  $ 3,412.1  $ 619.9  18  % $ 95.5  %
 
Revenue for 2020 increased by 18% compared to 2019. The growth was driven by our Workforce Solutions and USIS segments, primarily due to strong U.S. mortgage volume as well as growth in our Workforce Solutions unemployment claims business. This growth was partially offset by declines beginning in the second half of March 2020 across International and Global Consumer Solutions segments due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The effect of foreign exchange rates reduced revenue by $24.5 million, or 1%, in 2020 compared to 2019.

Revenue for 2019 increased by 3% compared to 2018. The growth was driven by our Workforce Solutions and USIS segments which was partially offset by declines in International and Global Consumer Solutions. Workforce Solutions saw strong growth driven by Verification Services. USIS growth was primarily driven by increases in core credit decisioning volumes and revenue from acquisitions. International had local currency growth across Latin America and Canada. The effect of foreign exchange rates reduced revenue by $74.7 million, or 2%, in 2019 compared to 2018. Global Consumer Solutions revenue decreased primarily due to decreases in consumer direct revenue in the U.S. and the U.K.

Operating Expenses
  Twelve Months Ended
December 31,
Change
  2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
Operating Expenses 2020 2019 2018 $ % $ %
  (In millions)
Consolidated cost of services $ 1,737.4  $ 1,521.7  $ 1,440.4  $ 215.7  14  % $ 81.3  %
Consolidated selling, general and administrative expenses 1,322.5  1,990.2  1,213.3  (667.7) (34) % 776.9  64  %
Consolidated depreciation and amortization expense 391.0  331.1  310.4  59.9  18  % 20.7  %
Consolidated operating expenses $ 3,450.9  $ 3,843.0  $ 2,964.1  $ (392.1) (10) % $ 878.9  30  %
 
Cost of Services.  Cost of services increased $215.7 million in 2020 compared to 2019. The increase is due to increased royalty and production costs, as well as incremental technology and data security costs related to our ongoing technology transformation. The effect of changes in foreign exchange rates reduced cost of services by $10.4 million.
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Cost of services increased $81.3 million in 2019 compared to 2018. The increase was due to increased royalty and technology costs. We also incurred increased incremental technology and data security costs of $20.3 million in 2019. These increased technology and security costs predominantly reflect the investments we are making in our technology transformation, which include costs for enhanced data security. The effect of changes in foreign exchange rates reduced cost of services by $33.2 million.

Selling, General and Administrative Expenses.  Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased $667.7 million in 2020 compared to 2019. The decrease in 2020 is primarily due to losses, net of insurance recoveries, of $800.9 million associated with certain legal proceedings and government investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident that were recorded in 2019 but did not recur in 2020, partially offset by increased people costs and a restructuring charge taken in the fourth quarter of 2020. The impact of changes in foreign currency exchange rates decreased our selling, general and administrative expenses by $10.2 million.

Selling, general and administrative expenses increased $776.9 million in 2019 as compared to 2018. The increase in 2019 is primarily due to losses, net of insurance recoveries, of $800.9 million associated with certain legal proceedings and government investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident. The impact of changes in foreign currency exchange rates decreased our selling, general and administrative expenses by $24.4 million.
 
Depreciation and Amortization.  Depreciation and amortization expense for 2020 and 2019 increased by $59.9 million and $20.7 million, respectively. The increase is due to amortization of capitalized internal-use software and systems costs and depreciation of production equipment.
 
Operating Income and Operating Margin
Twelve Months Ended
December 31,
Change
Operating Income (Loss) and Operating Margin 2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
2020 2019 2018 $ % $ %
(In millions)
Consolidated operating revenue $ 4,127.5  $ 3,507.6  $ 3,412.1  $ 619.9  18  % $ 95.5  %
Consolidated operating expenses 3,450.9  3,843.0  2,964.1  (392.1) (10) % 878.9  30  %
Consolidated operating income (loss) $ 676.6  $ (335.4) $ 448.0  $ 1,012.0  302  % $ (783.4) (175) %
Consolidated operating margin 16.4  % (9.6) % 13.1  %   26.0  pts (22.7) pts
 
Total company operating margin increased in 2020 versus 2019, primarily due to increased revenue in 2020 and losses, net of insurance recoveries in 2019, of $800.9 million associated with certain legal proceedings and government investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident which are reflected in selling, general, and administrative expenses in our Consolidated Statements of Income (Loss), that did not recur in 2020.

Total company operating margin decreased in 2019 versus 2018, primarily due to the aforementioned losses, net of insurance recoveries, of $800.9 million associated with certain legal proceedings and government investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident which are reflected in selling, general, and administrative expenses in our Consolidated Statements of Income (Loss).

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Interest Expense and Other Income (Expense), net
  Twelve Months Ended
December 31,
Change
  2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
Consolidated Interest and Other Income (Expense), net 2020 2019 2018 $ % $ %
  (In millions)
Consolidated interest expense $ (141.6) $ (111.7) $ (103.5) $ (29.9) 27  % $ (8.2) %
Consolidated other income, net 150.2  33.3  25.9  116.9  351  % 7.4  29  %
Average cost of debt 3.5  % 3.8  % 3.8  %        
Total consolidated debt, net, at year end $ 4,378.4  $ 3,382.6  $ 2,635.5  $ 995.8  29  % $ 747.1  28  %
 
Interest expense increased in 2020, when compared to 2019, due to the issuance of $1.0 billion in senior notes in April 2020 and $750.0 million senior notes issued in November 2019. This increase was partially offset by interest related to outstanding Commercial Paper and Receivables Funding Facility balances in 2019.

Interest expense increased in 2019, when compared to 2018, due to an increase in our overall debt outstanding during the year due to borrowings on our Receivables Facility and under our commercial paper program. These borrowings were paid down with the proceeds from the issuance of the $750.0 million Senior Notes in November 2019.

The increase in other income, net in 2020 is primarily due to gains recorded related to the fair value adjustment of our investment in Brazil of $116.6 million due to its initial public offering in the third quarter of 2020, as well as the $32.9 million gain recorded related to a fair value adjustment of the equity investment in India, for which we completed the acquisition of the remaining shareholder interest in the first quarter of 2020. This was partially offset by the $32.2 million mark-to-market fair value adjustment of pension assets which resulted in a loss during the fourth quarter of 2020.

The increase in other income, net in 2019 is primarily due to higher earnings on certain equity method investments and partially offset by an increased loss related to the foreign exchange impact of remeasuring the peso denominated monetary assets and liabilities as a result of Argentina becoming a highly inflationary economy for accounting purposes starting in July 2018.

Income Taxes
  Twelve Months Ended
December 31,
Change
  2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
Provision for Income Taxes 2020 2019 2018 $ % $ %
  (In millions)
Consolidated (provision for) benefit from income taxes $ (159.0) $ 35.7  $ (53.4) $ (194.7) 545  % $ 89.1  (167) %
Effective income tax rate 23.2  % 8.6  % 14.4  %        
 
Our effective tax rate was 23.2% for 2020, up from 8.6% for the same period in 2019. Our effective tax rate is higher for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to 2019 due to the operating loss of the Company in 2019 and permanent tax differences resulting from certain non-deductible amounts related to the accrual for losses associated with certain legal proceedings and government investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident.
 
Our effective tax rate was 8.6% for 2019, down from 14.4% for the same period in 2018. Our effective tax rate is lower for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to 2018 due to the operating loss of the Company in 2019 and permanent tax differences resulting from certain non-deductible amounts related to the accrual for losses associated with certain legal proceedings and government investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident.

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Net Income (Loss)
  Twelve Months Ended
December 31,
Change
  2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
Net Income (Loss) 2020 2019 2018 $ % $ %
  (In millions, except per share amounts)
Consolidated operating income (loss) $ 676.6  $ (335.4) $ 448.0  $ 1,012.0  (302) % $ (783.4) (175) %
Consolidated other income (expense), net 8.6  (78.4) (77.6) 87.0  (111) % (0.8) %
Consolidated (provision for) benefit from income taxes (159.0) 35.7  (53.4) (194.7) (545) % 89.1  (167) %
Consolidated net income (loss) 526.2  (378.1) 317.0  904.3  (239) % (695.1) (219) %
Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests (6.1) (6.0) (6.5) (0.1) 2  % 0.5  (8) %
Net income (loss) attributable to Equifax $ 520.1  $ (384.1) $ 310.5  $ 904.2  (235) % $ (694.6) (224) %
Diluted earnings per share:              
Net income (loss) attributable to Equifax $ 4.24  $ (3.15) $ 2.56  $ 7.39  (235) % $ (5.71) (223) %
Weighted-average shares used in computing diluted earnings per share 122.8  122.0  121.4         
 
Consolidated net income (loss) increased by $904.3 million in 2020 compared to 2019 due to increased revenue, the 2019 accrual for losses associated with certain legal proceedings and investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident that did not recur in 2020 and an increase in Other Income resulting from the fair value adjustments of the Brazil and India investments. The current year increase is partially offset by higher tax expense, people costs, royalty costs, technology costs, depreciation of capitalized projects and interest expense.

Consolidated net income (loss) decreased by $695.1 million in 2019 compared to 2018 due to decreased operating income primarily driven by losses, net of insurance recoveries, associated with certain legal proceedings and government investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident of $800.9 million.

Segment Financial Results
 
U.S. Information Solutions
Twelve Months Ended December 31, Change
U.S. Information Solutions 2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
2020 2019 2018 $ % $ %
(In millions)
Operating revenue:
Online Information Solutions $ 1,067.7  $ 924.1  $ 877.5  $ 143.6  16  % $ 46.6  %
Mortgage Solutions 199.8  136.9  153.6  62.9  46  % (16.7) (11) %
Financial Marketing Services 215.0  216.4  216.2  (1.4) (1) % 0.2  —  %
Total operating revenue $ 1,482.5  $ 1,277.4  $ 1,247.3  $ 205.1  16  % $ 30.1  %
% of consolidated revenue 36  % 37  % 37  %
Total operating income $ 463.9  $ 423.4  $ 441.7  $ 40.5  10  % $ (18.3) (4) %
Operating margin 31.3  % 33.1  % 35.4  % (1.8) pts (2.3) pts
 
U.S. Information Solutions revenue increased 16% in 2020 compared to 2019 due to improvements in our core credit decisioning services and mortgage solutions volumes related to the strength of the U.S. mortgage market in 2020.
 
U.S. Information Solutions revenue increased 2% in 2019 compared to 2018 due to increases in our core credit decisioning services volumes and revenue from acquisitions, partially offset by $20.0 million in settlements with commercial customers and declines in Mortgage Solutions.
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Online Information Solutions.  Revenue for 2020 increased 16% compared to 2019, due to improved core credit decisioning services volumes related to improvements in the U.S. mortgage market and a $15.0 million settlement with a commercial customer which negatively impacted revenue for 2019. This is partially offset by a reduction in non-mortgage online revenue due to the economic impact of COVID-19, which began in the latter half of March 2020.

Revenue for 2019 increased 5% compared to 2018, due to increases in core credit decisioning services volumes, revenue from acquisitions and our identity and fraud solutions business. These increases were partially offset by a $15.0 million settlement with a commercial customer.
 
Mortgage Solutions.  Revenue increased 46% in 2020 compared to 2019 due to increased mortgage market transaction volumes.

Revenue decreased 11% in 2019 compared to 2018, primarily due to channel shift between our Mortgage Solutions and Online Information Solutions businesses, partially offset by an increase in mortgage market transaction volumes.
 
Financial Marketing Services. Revenue decreased 1% in 2020 compared to 2019 due the economic impact of COVID-19 on project related revenue. 2019 revenue was negatively impacted by a $5.0 million settlement with a commercial customer.

Revenue remained flat in 2019 compared to 2018 due to an increase in project related revenue, offset by a $5.0 million settlement with a commercial customer.

U.S. Information Solutions Operating Margin.  USIS operating margin decreased to 31.3% in 2020 compared to 33.1% in 2019, due to increased royalty, people, technology and depreciation costs, as well as incremental technology and data security costs associated with our ongoing technology transformation, partially offset by the increase in revenue. USIS operating margin decreased to 33.1% in 2019 compared to 35.4% in 2018, primarily due to increases in royalties, technology, data security and people costs and settlements with commercial customers. These increases were partially offset by the public records litigation settlement of $18.5 million in 2018 that did not recur in 2019.

Workforce Solutions
Twelve Months Ended
December 31,
Change
2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
Workforce Solutions 2020 2019 2018 $ % $ %
  (In millions)
Operating Revenue:              
Verification Services $ 1,103.2  $ 700.1  $ 567.0  $ 403.1  58  % $ 133.1  23  %
Employer Services 334.7  249.6  259.8  85.1  34  % (10.2) (4) %
Total operating revenue $ 1,437.9  $ 949.7  $ 826.8  $ 488.2  51  % $ 122.9  15  %
% of consolidated revenue 35  % 27  % 24  %        
Total operating income $ 700.7  $ 389.7  $ 332.7  $ 311.0  80  % $ 57.0  17  %
Operating margin 48.7  % 41.0  % 40.2  %   7.7  pts   0.8  pts
 
Workforce Solutions revenue increased by 51% in 2020 compared to 2019 due to strong growth in both Verification Services and Employer Services. Verification Services growth was due to strong growth in mortgage related revenue. Employer Services growth was due to growth in unemployment claims management revenue.

Workforce Solutions revenue increased by 15% in 2019 compared to 2018 due to strong growth in Verification Services. This was partially offset by decreased revenue in Employer Services, due to reductions in revenue from tax management services and our Affordable Care Act compliance services.

Verification Services.  Revenue increased 58% in 2020 compared to 2019, due to strong growth in the mortgage vertical and continued addition of new records to The Work Number database. Revenue from the commercial non-mortgage verticals of Verification Services have experienced declines versus 2019 due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

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Revenue increased 23% in 2019 compared to 2018, due to strong growth in mortgage, government, financial, healthcare and talent solutions verticals, and continued addition of new records to The Work Number database.
 
Employer Services.  Revenue increased 34% in 2020 compared to 2019 due to increases in our unemployment claims management services as U.S. unemployment claims increased substantially due to the economic impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. economy. This was partially offset principally by declines in our tax management services and Affordable Care Act compliance services.

Revenue decreased 4% in 2019 compared to 2018 due to declines in our tax management services and Affordable Care Act compliance services. These declines were partially offset by revenue from acquisitions.
 
Workforce Solutions Operating Margin.  Operating margin increased to 48.7% in 2020 compared to 41.0% in 2019 primarily due to the increase in revenue, partially offset by increases in royalty, people, technology and depreciation costs, as well as incremental technology and data security costs associated with ongoing technology transformation. Operating margin increased to 41.0% in 2019 compared to 40.2% in 2018 primarily due to the increase in revenue.

International 
Twelve Months Ended December 31, Change
2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
International 2020 2019 2018 $ % $ %
(In millions)
Operating revenue:
Asia Pacific $ 296.5  $ 300.1  $ 325.6  $ (3.6) (1) % $ (25.5) (8) %
Europe 255.7  275.6  287.3  (19.9) (7) % (11.7) (4) %
Latin America 160.3  190.5  206.6  (30.2) (16) % (16.1) (8) %
Canada 149.6  154.4  146.7  (4.8) (3) % 7.7  %
Total operating revenue $ 862.1  $ 920.6  $ 966.2  $ (58.5) (6) % $ (45.6) (5) %
% of consolidated revenue 21  % 26  % 28  %
Total operating income $ 66.7  $ 96.1  $ 108.6  $ (29.4) (31) % $ (12.5) (11) %
Operating margin 7.7  % 10.4  % 11.2  % (2.7) pts (0.8) pts
 
International revenue decreased by 6% in 2020 as compared to 2019. Local currency revenue decreased 4% in 2020, driven by declines across all geographies due to the negative impacts of COVID-19 on transaction volumes beginning in the second half of March. Local currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar negatively impacted revenue by $24.4 million, or 2%.

International revenue decreased by 5% in 2019 as compared to 2018. Local currency revenue growth for 2019 was 3%, driven by growth in the Latin America and Canada regions. Local currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar negatively impacted revenue by $73.1 million, or 8%.
 
Asia Pacific. Local currency revenue decreased 1% in 2020 as compared to 2019 due to decreases in our consumer and commercial businesses, marketing services and personal solutions related revenue, primarily driven by the economic recession in Australia and New Zealand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, partly offset by operations in India, an increase in offline transactions within recovery management and stronger online ID Validation. Local currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar did not have a significant impact in 2020. Reported revenue also decreased 1% in 2020 as compared to 2019.

Local currency revenue decreased 1% in 2019 as compared to 2018 primarily driven by weak consumer and commercial lending markets in Australia resulting in declines in consumer lending and direct-to-consumer related revenue. Local currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar negatively impacted revenue by $21.5 million, or 7%, in 2019. Reported revenue decreased 8% in 2019 as compared to 2018.

Europe.  Local currency revenue decreased 8% in 2020 as compared to 2019 due to declines in the U.K. and Spain consumer and commercial businesses and debt services brought on by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local economies. Local currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar positively impacted revenue by $3.0 million, or 1%, for 2020. Reported revenue decreased 7% in 2020 as compared to 2019.
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Local currency revenue was flat in 2019 as compared to 2018 primarily due to growth in credit operations revenue in U.K. and Spain offset by a decline in our debt management services. Local currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar negatively impacted revenue by $12.9 million, or 4%, for 2019. Reported revenue decreased 4% in 2019 as compared to 2018.

Latin America. Local currency revenue decreased 3% in 2020 as compared to 2019 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which negatively impacted consumer credit operations in all Latin America countries in which Equifax operates. Local currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar negatively impacted revenue by $24.1 million, or 13%, in 2020, primarily from Argentina and Chile. Reported revenue decreased 16% in 2020 as compared to 2019.

Local currency revenue increased 9% in 2019 as compared to 2018 driven by core growth primarily in Argentina, Chile and Ecuador. Local currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar negatively impacted revenue by $35.0 million, or 17%, in 2019, primarily from Argentina and Chile. Reported revenue decreased 8% in 2019 as compared to 2018.
 
Canada.  Local currency revenue decreased 2% in 2020 as compared to 2019 primarily due to declines in consumer and commercial online volumes and offline analytics revenue, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Local currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar negatively impacted revenue by $1.3 million, or 1%, in 2020. Reported revenue decreased 3% in 2020 as compared to 2019.

Local currency revenue increased 8% in 2019 as compared to 2018 primarily due to broad based revenue growth including growth from acquisitions. Local currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar negatively impacted revenue by $3.7 million, or 3%, in 2019. Reported revenue increased 5% in 2019 as compared to 2018.

International Operating Margin.  Operating margin decreased to 7.7% in 2020 as compared to 10.4% in 2019. The reduced margin is due to the negative effects of COVID-19 on revenue, as well as an increase in depreciation and incremental technology costs related to the ongoing technology transformation, partially offset by reduced operating costs from discretionary expense control across the regions in 2020. Operating margin decreased to 10.4% in 2019 as compared to 11.2% in 2018. The reduced margin is due to increased incremental technology and data security costs, production costs and negative impacts from foreign currency exchange rates.
 
Global Consumer Solutions
Twelve Months Ended December 31, Change
Global Consumer Solutions 2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
2020 2019 2018 $ % $ %
(In millions)
Total operating revenue $ 345.0  $ 359.9  $ 371.8  $ (14.9) (4) % $ (11.9) (3) %
% of consolidated revenue 8  % 10  % 11  %
Total operating income $ 37.0  $ 48.4  $ 68.6  $ (11.4) (24) % $ (20.2) (29) %
Operating margin 10.7  % 13.4  % 18.4  % (2.7) pts (5.0) pts

Revenue decreased 4% for 2020 in reported and local currency revenue, as compared to 2019. The decrease in revenue is primarily driven by declines in North America partner revenue, partially offset by increases in event based business, benefits revenue and direct to consumer business due to strong consumer subscription performance in Canada.

Operating margin decreased in 2020 to 10.7% compared to 13.4% in 2019, due to increased customer support and marketing costs, partially offset by lower royalty costs due to lower revenue.

Revenue decreased 3% for 2019 in reported and local currency revenue, as compared to 2018. The decrease in revenue is primarily due to a decrease in our consumer direct revenue in the U.S. as we ceased advertising our consumer paid products in the U.S. in September 2017 following the 2017 cybersecurity incident. We resumed advertising our U.S. consumer paid products in the fourth quarter of 2018. These decreases were partially offset by an increase in our partner revenue. Local currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar negatively impacted revenue in Canada and the U.K. by $1.6 million for 2019.

Operating margin decreased in 2019 to 13.4% compared to 18.4% in 2018, due to the decreased revenue and an increase in advertising and production costs which were partially offset by decreased people costs.
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General Corporate Expense
  Twelve Months Ended
December 31,
Change
  2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
General Corporate Expense 2020 2019 2018 $ % $ %
  (In millions)
General corporate expense $ 591.7  $ 1,293.0  $ 503.6  $ (701.3) (54) % $ 789.4  157  %
 
Our general corporate expenses are unallocated costs that are incurred at the corporate level and include those expenses impacted by corporate direction, including shared services, technology, administrative, legal, restructuring, and the portion of management incentive compensation determined by total company-wide performance.

General corporate expense decreased $701.3 million in 2020. The decrease in 2020 as compared to 2019 is due to the legal accruals for losses associated with certain legal proceedings and investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident of $800.9 million that were recorded in 2019 and did not recur in 2020 and lower technology costs, partially offset by increased people costs and a restructuring charge taken in the fourth quarter of 2020. The restructuring charge in the fourth quarter of 2020 resulted from our continuing efforts to realign our internal resources to support our strategic objectives.

General corporate expense increased $789.4 million in 2019 due to the aforementioned losses associated with the 2017 cybersecurity incident.
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LIQUIDITY AND FINANCIAL CONDITION
 
Management assesses liquidity in terms of our ability to generate cash to fund operating, investing and financing activities. We continue to generate substantial cash from operating activities, remain in a strong financial position, and manage our capital structure to meet short- and long-term objectives including reinvestment in existing businesses and strategic acquisitions.
 
Sources and Uses of Cash
 
Funds generated by operating activities, our Revolver and related commercial paper program, more fully described below, are our most significant sources of liquidity. In April 2020, we issued $1.0 billion aggregate principal amount of senior notes. The net proceeds of the sale of the notes were used to repay borrowings under our Receivables Facility and Revolver, while the remaining funds are intended for general corporate purposes. At December 31, 2020, we had $1.7 billion in cash balances, as well as $1.1 billion available to borrow under our Revolver.

The Company has and expects to make payments to resolve certain legal proceedings and investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident, described more fully in “Item 3. Legal Proceedings” in this Form 10-K. Through 2020, the Company made payments of $439.3 million for legal settlements related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident. The remaining $346.7 million to be paid to the Consumer Restitution Fund will be made after a final adjudication affirming the U.S. Consumer MDL Litigation Settlement or dismissal of the pending appeals. Although we expect this payment and the remaining settlement payments to be made in 2021, we can give no assurance that these payments will occur in 2021 due to pending approvals or appeals. As a result of the possible payments that could be made in 2021 related to the losses associated with certain legal proceedings and government investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident and other requirements, funds generated by operating activities may not be sufficient to fund working capital and other cash requirements, including for acquisitions and share repurchases, throughout 2021. Our plan is to finance the payments with existing cash balances and borrowing capacity, as necessary.

Fund Transfer Limitations.  The ability of certain of our subsidiaries and associated companies to transfer funds to the U.S may be limited, in some cases, by certain restrictions imposed by foreign governments. These restrictions do not, individually or in the aggregate, materially limit our ability to service our indebtedness, meet our current obligations or pay dividends. As of December 31, 2020, we held $259.6 million of cash in our foreign subsidiaries.

Information about our cash flows, by category, is presented in the Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows. The following table summarizes our cash flows for the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018:
Twelve Months Ended December 31, Change
Net cash provided by (used in): 2020 2019 2018 2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
(In millions)
Operating activities $ 946.2  $ 313.8  $ 672.2  $ 632.4  $ (358.4)
Investing activities $ (492.7) $ (697.5) $ (461.5) $ 204.8  $ (236.0)
Financing activities $ 810.8  $ 557.9  $ (311.0) $ 252.9  $ 868.9 
 
Operating Activities
 
Cash provided by operating activities for 2020 increased by $632.4 million compared to 2019. The increase in cash from operations is due to increased net income in 2020 and additional payments made in 2019 associated with certain legal proceedings and investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident.

Cash provided by operating activities for 2019 decreased by $358.4 million compared to 2018. The decrease is due to partial payment of the losses associated with certain legal proceedings and investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident as well as having received $110.0 million in insurance proceeds in 2018.
 
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Investing Activities
Twelve Months Ended December 31, Change
Net cash used in: 2020 2019 2018 2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
(In millions)
Capital expenditures* $ (421.3) $ (399.6) $ (321.9) $ (21.7) $ (77.7)
*Amounts above are total cash outflows for capital expenditures.

Our capital expenditures are used for developing, enhancing and deploying new and existing software in support of our expanding product set, replacing or adding equipment, updating systems for regulatory compliance, licensing of standard software applications, investing in system reliability, security and disaster recovery enhancements, and updating or expanding our office facilities.

Capital expenditures increased in 2020 and 2019 from 2019 and 2018, respectively, due to our ongoing technology transformation.

Acquisitions, Divestitures and Investments
Twelve Months Ended December 31, Change
Net cash used in: 2020 2019 2018 2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
(In millions)
Acquisitions, net of cash acquired $ (61.4) $ (272.9) $ (138.3) $ 211.5  $ (134.6)
Cash received from sale of asset $   $ —  $ 5.6  $   $ (5.6)
Investment in unconsolidated affiliates, net $ (10.0) $ (25.0) $ (6.9) $ 15.0  $ (18.1)
 
2020 Acquisitions and Investments. During 2020, we acquired the remaining interest in our India joint venture in our International operating segment and completed an additional acquisition in our USIS operating segment.

2019 Acquisitions and Investments. During 2019, we completed the acquisition of PayNet in our USIS and International operating segments and completed additional acquisitions in our Workforce Solutions segment.

2018 Acquisitions and Investments. During 2018, we completed acquisitions in our Workforce Solutions and International segments as well as DataX Ltd. in the third quarter of 2018 in our USIS segment.

For additional information about our acquisitions, see Note 3 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this report.

Financing Activities
Twelve Months Ended December 31, Change
Net cash provided by (used in): 2020 2019 2018 2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
(In millions)
Net short-term repayments $ (0.7) $ (1.8) $ (959.2) $ 1.1  $ 957.4 
Payments on long-term debt $ (125.0) $ (250.0) $ (100.0) $ 125.0  $ (150.0)
Proceeds from issuance of long-term debt $ 1,123.3  $ 998.3  $ 994.5  $ 125.0  $ 3.8 
 
Borrowing and Repayment Activity.  Net short-term repayments primarily represent repayments or borrowings of outstanding amounts under our commercial paper (“CP”) program. We primarily borrow under our CP program as needed and as availability allows.
 
The decrease in net short-term repayments in 2020, 2019 and 2018 primarily relates to the net repayments of our CP notes.

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In April 2020, we issued $400.0 million aggregate principal amount of 2.6% five-year Senior Notes due 2025 (the "2025 Notes") and $600.0 million aggregate principal amount of 3.1% ten-year Senior Notes due 2030 (the "2030 Notes") in an underwritten public offering. Interest on the 2025 Notes accrues at a rate of 2.6% per year and is payable semi-annually in arrears on June 15 and December 15 of each year. Interest on the 2030 Notes accrues at a rate of 3.1% per year and is payable semi-annually in arrears on May 15 and November 15 of each year. The net proceeds of the sale of the notes were used to repay borrowings under our Receivables Facility and Revolver, while the remaining funds are intended for general corporate purposes, which may include the repayment of a portion of the 2021 debt maturities.

In November 2019, we issued $750.0 million aggregate principal amount of 2.6% five-year Senior Notes due 2024 (the “2024 Notes”) in an underwritten public offering. Interest on the 2024 Notes accrue at a rate of 2.6% per year and will be payable semi-annually in arrears on June 1 and December 1 of each year. The net proceeds of the sale of the notes were used to repay borrowings under our Receivables Facility and our CP program and for general corporate purposes.

In May 2018, we issued $300.0 million aggregate principal amount of 3.6% Senior Notes due 2021 (the “2021 Notes”), $400.0 million aggregate principal amount of 3.95% Senior Notes due 2023 (the “2023 Notes”), and $300.0 million aggregate principal amount Floating Rate Notes due 2021 (the “Floating Rate Notes”) in an underwritten public offering. The net proceeds of the sale of the notes were used to repay borrowings under our Revolver, our prior $800.0 million three-year delayed draw term loan facility (“Term Loan”) and our CP program.    

Payments on long-term debt in 2020 and 2019 reflect payments on our Receivable Facility using proceeds from the issuance of the senior notes. Payments on long-term debt in 2018 reflect $100.0 million of payments on the Revolver using proceeds from the issuance of 3.60%, Floating Rate and 3.95% senior notes in 2018.

Credit Facility Availability.  In September 2018, the Company entered into the $1.1 billion five-year unsecured revolving credit facility with a group of financial institutions, which will mature in September 2023 (the “Revolver”). The Revolver replaced the Company’s previous $900.0 million unsecured revolving credit facility that was scheduled to mature in November 2020. Borrowings under the Revolver may be used for general corporate purposes, including working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions and share repurchase programs. The Revolver has an accordion feature that allows us to request an increase in the total commitment to $1.6 billion. The Revolver includes an option to request a maximum of two one-year extensions of the maturity date, any time after the first anniversary of the Revolver closing. We believe we are currently in compliance with all representations and warranties necessary as a condition for borrowing under the Revolver, but we cannot assure that we will be able to comply with all such conditions for borrowing in the future. Availability of the Revolver is reduced by the outstanding principal balance of our commercial paper notes and by any letters of credit issued under the facility. On April 10, 2020, we amended our existing revolving credit facility to increase the maximum leverage ratio to provide additional financial flexibility as described further below.

Our $1.1 billion CP program has been established to allow for borrowing through the private placement of CP with maturities ranging from overnight to 397 days. We may use the proceeds of CP for general corporate purposes. The CP program is supported by our Revolver and the total amount of CP which may be issued is reduced by the amount of any outstanding borrowings under our Revolver and by any letters of credit issued under the facility.
 
At December 31, 2020, the Company had no borrowings outstanding of CP, $0.7 million of letters of credit outstanding and no borrowings outstanding under the Revolver. At December 31, 2020, a total of $1.10 billion was available under the Revolver.
 
At December 31, 2020, approximately 93% of our debt was fixed rate and 7% was variable rate. Our variable-rate debt consists of the Floating Rate Notes. The interest rate resets periodically, based on the terms of the respective financing arrangement. At December 31, 2020, the interest rate on our variable-rate debt was 1.1%.

In November 2020, we terminated our $225.0 million receivables funding facility (the “Receivables Facility”).

Debt Covenants.  A downgrade in credit ratings would increase the cost of borrowings under our CP program and Revolver, and could limit or, in the case of a significant downgrade, preclude our ability to issue CP. The outstanding indentures and comparable instruments contain customary covenants including, for example, limits on mortgages, liens and sale/leaseback transactions.
On April 10, 2020, we amended our existing revolving credit facility to increase the maximum leverage ratio to provide additional financial flexibility. The amendment increases the maximum leverage ratio, defined as consolidated funded debt divided by consolidated EBITDA for the preceding four quarters, to (i) 4.5 to 1.0 for fiscal quarters ending on June 30,
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2020 through and including September 30, 2021 and (ii) 4.0 to 1.0 for the fiscal quarter ending on December 31, 2021. The maximum leverage ratio will return to 3.5 to 1.0 beginning with the fiscal quarter ending March 31, 2022 and thereafter. Beginning January 1, 2021, we may also elect to increase the maximum leverage ratio by 0.5 to 1.0 (not to exceed 4.5 to 1.0) in connection with certain material acquisitions if we satisfy certain requirements. The amendment also (i) permits cash in excess of $200 million to be netted against debt in the calculation of the leverage ratio through September 30, 2021, subject to certain restrictions and (ii) extends the add-back of certain expenses related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident to the definition of Consolidated EBITDA through December 31, 2021.
None of these covenants are considered restrictive to our operations and, as of December 31, 2020, the Company was in compliance with all of our debt covenants.
 The Company does not have any credit rating triggers that would accelerate the maturity of a material amount of the outstanding debt; however, our 2.3% senior notes due 2021, 3.6% senior notes due 2021, floating rate notes due 2021, 3.3% senior notes due 2022, 3.95% senior notes due 2023, 2.6% senior notes due 2024, 2.6% senior notes due 2025, 3.25% senior notes due 2026, 3.1% senior notes due 2030 and 7.0% senior notes due 2037 (together, the “Senior Notes”) contain change in control provisions. If the Company experiences a change of control or publicly announces the Company’s intention to effect a change of control and the rating on the Senior Notes is lowered by Standard & Poor’s (“S&P”) and Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) below an investment grade rating within 60 days of such change of control or notice thereof, then the Company will be required to offer to repurchase the Senior Notes at a price equal to 101% of the aggregate principal amount of the Senior Notes plus accrued and unpaid interest.
 Credit Ratings.  Credit ratings reflect an independent agency’s judgment on the likelihood that a borrower will repay a debt obligation at maturity. The ratings reflect many considerations, such as the nature of the borrower’s industry and its competitive position, the size of the company, its liquidity and access to capital and the sensitivity of a company’s cash flows to changes in the economy. The two largest rating agencies, S&P and Moody’s, use alphanumeric codes to designate their ratings. The highest quality rating for long-term credit obligations is AAA and Aaa for S&P and Moody’s, respectively. A security rating is not a recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities and may be subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the assigning rating agency.
 Long-term ratings of BBB- and Baa3 or better by S&P and Moody’s, respectively, reflect ratings on debt obligations that fall within a band of credit quality considered to be “investment grade.” At December 31, 2020, the long-term ratings for our obligations were BBB with a negative outlook for S&P and Baa2 with a stable outlook for Moody’s. A downgrade in our credit rating would increase the cost of borrowings under our CP program and Revolver, and could limit, or in the case of a significant downgrade, preclude our ability to issue CP. If our credit ratings were to decline to lower levels, we could experience increases in the interest cost for any new debt. In addition, the market’s demand for, and thus our ability to readily issue, new debt could become further affected by the economic and credit market environment. These ratings are subject to change as events and circumstances change.
 For additional information about our debt, including the terms of our financing arrangements, basis for variable interest rates and debt covenants, see Note 5 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this report.

Equity Transactions
Twelve Months Ended December 31, Change
Net cash provided by (used in): 2020 2019 2018 2020 vs. 2019 2019 vs. 2018
(In millions)
Dividends paid to Equifax shareholders $ (189.5) $ (188.7) $ (187.9) $ (0.8) $ (0.8)
Dividends paid to noncontrolling interests $ (4.6) $ (6.6) $ (10.3) $ 2.0  $ 3.7 
Proceeds from exercise of stock options and employee stock purchase plan $ 41.7  $ 22.3  $ 11.8  $ 19.4  $ 10.5 
Purchase of redeemable noncontrolling interests $ (9.0) $ —  $ (30.9) $ (9.0) $ 30.9 
 
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Sources and uses of cash related to equity during the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 were as follows:
 
We did not repurchase any shares from public market transactions in 2020, 2019 or 2018. As of December 31, 2020, under the existing board authorization, the Company is approved for additional stock repurchases of $590.1 million.

During the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, we paid cash dividends to Equifax shareholders of $189.5 million, $188.7 million and $187.9 million, respectively, at $1.56 per share for 2020, 2019 and 2018.

We anticipate continuing the payment of quarterly cash dividends. The actual amount of such dividends is subject to declaration by our Board of Directors and will depend upon future earnings, results of operations, capital requirements, our financial condition and other relevant factors. There can be no assurance that the Company will continue to pay quarterly cash dividends at current levels or at all.

Contractual Obligations and Commercial Commitments
 
The following table summarizes our significant contractual obligations and commitments as of December 31, 2020. The table excludes commitments that are contingent based on events or factors uncertain at this time. Some of the excluded commitments are discussed below the footnotes to the table.
Payments due by
Total Less than 1 year 1 to 3 years 3 to 5 years Thereafter
(In millions)
Debt (including capitalized lease obligation) (1)
$ 4,402.2  $ 1,101.1  $ 901.1  $ 1,150.0  $ 1,250.0 
Operating leases (2)
116.7  26.3  46.4  24.8  19.2 
Data processing, outsourcing agreements and other purchase obligations (3)
343.8  136.9  137.4  61.8  7.7 
Other long-term liabilities (4) (5)
164.8  12.5  27.4  22.1  102.8 
Interest payments (6)
789.5  129.5  206.1  145.9  308.0 
  $ 5,817.0  $ 1,406.3  $ 1,318.4  $ 1,404.6  $ 1,687.7 

(1)The amounts are gross of unamortized discounts totaling $23.8 million at December 31, 2020. Total debt on our Consolidated Balance Sheets is net of the unamortized discounts and fair value adjustments. There were no fair value adjustments to our debt at December 31, 2020.

(2)Our operating lease obligations principally involve office space and equipment.

(3)These agreements primarily represent our minimum contractual obligations for services that we outsource associated with our computer data processing operations and related functions, and certain administrative functions. These agreements expire between 2021 and 2027.

(4)These long-term liabilities primarily relate to obligations associated with certain pension, postretirement and other compensation-related plans, some of which are discounted in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP. We made certain assumptions about the timing of such future payments. In the table above, we have not included amounts related to future pension plan obligations, as such required funding amounts beyond 2020 have not been deemed necessary due to our current expectations regarding future plan asset performance.

(5)This table excludes $27.1 million of unrecognized tax benefits, including interest and penalties, as we cannot make a reasonably reliable estimate of the period of cash settlement with the respective taxing authorities.

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(6)For future interest payments on variable-rate debt, which bears a rate equal to three-month LIBOR on the interest determination date plus 0.87% per annum, we used the variable rate in effect at December 31, 2020 to calculate these payments. Our outstanding variable rate debt at December 31, 2020 consisted of the Floating Rate Notes. The variable rate at December 31, 2020 was 1.1%. Future interest payments may be different depending on future borrowing activity and interest rates.

Off-Balance Sheet Transactions
 
We do not engage in off-balance sheet financing activities.
 
Pursuant to the terms of certain industrial revenue bonds, we have transferred title to certain of our fixed assets with total costs of $156.4 million as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 to a local governmental authority in the U.S. to receive a property tax abatement related to economic development. The title to these assets will revert back to us upon retirement or cancellation of the applicable bonds. These fixed assets are still recognized on the Company’s Consolidated Balance Sheets as all risks and rewards related to the assets remain with the Company.
 
Letters of Credit and Guarantees
 
We will from time to time issue standby letters of credit, performance or surety bonds or other guarantees in the normal course of business. The aggregate notional amount of all performance and surety bonds and standby letters of credit was not material at December 31, 2020, and generally have a remaining maturity of one year or less. Guarantees are issued from time to time to support the needs of our operating units. The maximum potential future payments we could be required to make under the guarantees is not material at December 31, 2020.
 
Benefit Plans
 
We sponsor a qualified defined benefit retirement plan, the U.S. Retirement Income Plan (“USRIP”), that covers approximately 10% of current U.S. salaried employees who were hired on or before June 30, 2007, the last date on which an individual could be hired and enter the plan before the USRIP was closed to new participation at December 31, 2008. This plan also covers retirees as well as certain terminated but vested individuals not yet in retirement status. We also sponsor a retirement plan with both defined benefit and defined contribution components that cover most salaried and hourly employees in Canada, the Canadian Retirement Income Plan (“CRIP”); the defined benefit component was also closed to new hires on October 1, 2011.

During the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, we made no voluntary contributions to the USRIP or to the CRIP. During the twelve months ended December 31, 2019, we made no voluntary contributions to the USRIP and made contributions of $0.2 million to the CRIP. At December 31, 2020, the USRIP met or exceeded ERISA’s minimum funding requirements. In the future, we will make minimum funding contributions as required and may make discretionary contributions, depending on certain circumstances, including market conditions and liquidity needs. We believe additional funding contributions, if any, would not prevent us from continuing to meet our liquidity needs, which are primarily funded from cash flows generated by operating activities, available cash and cash equivalents, and our credit facilities.
 
For our non-U.S., tax-qualified retirement plans, we fund an amount sufficient to meet minimum funding requirements but no more than allowed as a tax deduction pursuant to applicable tax regulations. For the non-qualified supplemental retirement plans, we fund the benefits as they are paid to retired participants, but accrue the associated expense and liabilities in accordance with GAAP.
 
For additional information about our benefit plans including the change in accounting method adopted in 2020, see Notes 1 and 9 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this report.

Effects of Inflation and Changes in Foreign Currency Exchange Rates
 
Equifax’s operating results are not materially affected by inflation, although inflation may result in increases in the Company’s expenses, which may not be readily recoverable in the price of services offered. To the extent inflation results in rising interest rates and has other adverse effects upon the securities markets and upon the value of financial instruments, it may adversely affect the Company’s financial position and profitability.
 
A portion of the Company’s business is conducted in currencies other than the U.S. dollar and changes in foreign exchange rates relative to the U.S. dollar can therefore affect the value of non-U.S. dollar net assets, revenues and expenses.
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Potential exposures as a result of these fluctuations in currencies are closely monitored. We generally do not mitigate the risks associated with fluctuating exchange rates, although we may from time to time through forward contracts or other derivative instruments hedge a portion of our translational foreign currency exposure or exchange rate risks associated with material transactions which are denominated in a foreign currency.

RECENT ACCOUNTING PRONOUNCEMENTS
 
For information about new accounting pronouncements and the potential impact on our Consolidated Financial Statements, see Note 1 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of this report.
 
APPLICATION OF CRITICAL ACCOUNTING POLICIES AND ESTIMATES
 
The Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements are prepared in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP. This requires our management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, revenues and expenses and related disclosures of contingent assets and liabilities in our Consolidated Financial Statements and the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements. The following accounting policies involve critical accounting estimates because they are particularly dependent on estimates and assumptions made by management about matters that are uncertain at the time the accounting estimates are made. In addition, while we have used our best estimates based on facts and circumstances available to us at the time, different estimates reasonably could have been used in the current period, or changes in