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How business credit inquiries impact scores

Small business owners are sometimes reluctant to open new accounts with suppliers or apply for business funding because they are concerned about how those inquiries can impact their scores and ratings. Little do they realize that inquiries may actually prove beneficial when working to build or boost credibility.

D&B defines inquiries as requests received from companies, agencies or other sources to access your business credit file, broken down by industry and the depth of the data requested, and then segmented into a specific time frame, usually a 12-24 month span.

Any time your business applies for credit or opens a new vendor account, there is a high probability that the creditor or supplier will check your business credit report. If your company has established a credit profile with one or more of the major corporate credit bureaus, an inquiry will be generated.

Unlike personal credit reporting which allows you to see the name of the company pulling your credit report, corporate credit bureaus track and identify these inquiries by industry, and they are not required to release the name of the requester to you.

For the most part, inquiries are a normal part of doing business and help validate your business information, strengths, needs, and viability. Inquiries tell D&B that other companies are viewing your report and are interested in doing business with you or extending your company credit. If the information you provided during the new account creation or application matches what's already in the credit profile, it verifies existing data is still up-to-date and may add to your creditworthiness.

Some inquiries, especially those that are trade-based, may bring a slight positive boost to your company's ratings. These inquiries tell D&B that you get your materials, services, products, and supplies from a variety of resources, meaning that your success or failure is less dependent on just one supplier.

However, excessive inquiries over a very brief time, or those coming from specific industries that are finance-based, may signify your company could be the victim of identity theft, is seeking risky or fraudulent credit, or is suddenly experiencing financial distress. If these inquiries become suspect, D&B may raise your risk ratings, downgrade your creditworthiness, or issue "information alerts" to your existing or potential creditors.

Normal and infrequent inquiries won't impact your business credit scores and ratings the same way inquiries on your pe