Updated: Jan 26
Two business-owners walk into a bank…
It may sound like the beginning of an old joke, but it is no laughing matter. A downturn in the economy means that banks, creditors, and lenders are going to be even more guarded when it comes to who gets their money. They have to determine which business brings the least amount of risk. In every aspect of the corporate credit world, it is going to be survival of the fittest.
Before you begin to apply for the most basic business credit accounts, you need to focus on the same information your potential creditors are focused on ~ the corporate credit file. With funding possibilities dwindling on a daily basis, you will need to first determine if you have a corporate credit file, and then check to see what information is already in that file.
Believe it or not, most small businesses already have an existing credit profile even though they never knew it. Information is gathered by the commercial bureaus much like it is from personal credit agencies, behind the scenes. When creditors report on your business, the bureaus will oftentimes create a profile for that information to flow into even before you request one. Dun & Bradstreet has created millions of files on companies without their knowledge or consent, all based upon data that has been provided by creditors, lenders, retailers, and vendors, as well as local, state, and federal authorities.
It takes about two minutes to do a simple free check to see if D&B already has a file with information about your business. It may not sound like much, but we have seen this little two-minute miracle really turn things around for some small business owners.
Follow these simple instructions:
Go to www.dnb.com
Search for your company
If you see your company name in the list to the right, you already have a D&B report and there is information about your company that is being reported. If you click on your company name, you will be able to see what base-information D&B has about your business. If you want to see a free copy of that report or update information about your company, you will need to complete the registration process. There is no charge to view your file or update your company information on D&B's website.
If you do not see your company name in the list to the right, D&B does not have a report prepared for your company. Anyone else who is looking for information about your company is not finding you either, which makes it appear that your company has never paid a bill and no one has ever extended you credit. Requesting a DUNS number and D&B credit file created is free of charge and generally takes three days to three weeks. Once the file has been created, you will be able to access the file and track any changes occurring within the file.
If you haven't already, you will need to register to use the DUNS Manager portal. To do this, you'll need to use your personal data to validate your identity, including your home address as it appears on your current driver's license, and the business name, address, and phone currently listed in the existing D&B report (yes, even if it is incorrect).
ONE TIP: If you are a Government contractor, you can call into the D&B's Federal Registrations Support department to update details in your file, but you should ALSO complete this registration process so you can have access to the DUNS Manager and free CreditSignal report.
As you navigate through the site, be sure that you complete all aspects of the update process by filling in any empty blanks and providing legitimate, verifiable information.
If the D&B update agent who is assigned your case has any questions, they will call you for clarification. Be sure that you take any calls from D&B and answer the questions truthfully. If D&B's agent can't reach you for clarification, they may email you a request to provide clarification. If you fail to respond quickly, they may not complete your request and this could delay the update process. (If you are contacted by a D&B sales rep who attempts to sell you a service as a way to speed up this process — BE ADVISED — you are NOT REQUIRED to pay for ANY service as a way to update your D&B file.)
DUNS Manager does not provide scores, ratings, or colorful charts filled with analytical data, but you will be able to update the file to ensure the most accurate information is available to those making a determination about your company’s creditworthiness. To see scores and ratings, you will need to purchase a full copy of your report from D&B.
LESSON: Please feel free to reach out to us directly if you have any questions or need assistance. We’ll be glad to provide any assistance we can to get you access to your business credit profile.