Equifax Inc. said banks will soon have access to a credit risk tool that evaluates the payment histories of consumers for whom Equifax has little or no credit data.

For now the Atlanta-based information services company will market Thin Rank to telephone and utility companies. The product was unveiled Monday at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association Wireless 2000 conference in New Orleans.

"There is work going on that will apply to banks," said Equifax spokesman Dave Mooney.

Equifax said consumers with scant credit data are generally lumped together as poor credit risks. In fact, some may be creditworthy. Thin Rank segments such people into higher- and lower-risk groups.

"Thin Rank fills the industry's need for a tool that can properly assess risk without using credit data" and "opens additional markets for our customers," said David Gary, Equifax senior vice president.

For example, the product classifies some people as customers who never pay. This information helps companies determine the service, deposit size, and identification a customer requires.

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