Updated: Mar 26, 2020
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the current COVID-19 virus, D&B is short-staffed and has disabled the DUNSmanager capability to dispute slow payments online. Please go to our DIY Training Base to see instructions for disputing slow payments once that service becomes active again.
Do you have slow payments or bad debts showing up on your business credit report? If so, you aren't alone. Even the most conscientious business owner is going to make a mistake at some point. But that doesn't mean you have to live with it or suffer the consequences that are sure to follow.
Perhaps you've put off paying an invoice and then suddenly realized it's gone past due. Or you mailed the payment but it arrived at the vendor after the due date. Or maybe you never received the invoice at all and now you're getting a late notice. That can be such a horrible feeling, especially when you've worked so hard to build a perfect credit report.
Millions of small businesses don't even know they have a slow payment in their D&B report until their scores have already started to drop or they've lost a valuable contract or vendor. But there are a couple of creative ways to fix these black marks that can actually not just reverse the negative effects, but also boost your score to an even higher level than it was before the dirty deed ever happened.
Even one payment made beyond the due date can wreak havoc on your scores and ratings, but even more so if it is left unresolved or you become a repeat offender. But it's rare that you'll stop doing business with a supplier just because you paid them slow once. And, unless you have truly left that debt hanging in the breeze, most suppliers are not going to cut off your credit line. They want you back. They just want to make sure you're going to pay your bill on-time. (They have bills to pay, too, ya' know... ) In most cases, suppliers are forgiving and are willing to work with you and within their system to turn things around.
The trick to changing the payment history in your credit report, though, is to use the commercial credit bureau's own standard reporting policies and practices against them and to your favor. It's easier than you think, and — in most cases — will boost your scores and ratings, reduce your credit risk, and re-initiate a whole new round of creditors who will come looking at you as a prospective new customer.
If you have a slow payment or bad debt reporting on your D&B file, or you've tried disputing a derogatory mark in the past and failed, you should check out these:
DISPUTE GUIDELINES (and other creative strategies)
Get free access to your business credit report
Register for the free DUNSmanager® service
Identify which payment(s) are reflecting as "slow"
Focus on the date in the left-hand column first
Payments drop off the report automatically around the 24-28 month mark.
If a slow payment is due to drop off soon, leave it. If you launch a dispute and it fails, you risk restarting the two-year expiration clock.
If the slow payment has a date within 1-2 months, you should dispute it
What happens when you launch a slow payment dispute:
In most cases, the offending slow payment will get immediately removed from the file for at least 30 days without D&B even contacting the supplier.
You will receive an email confirming the removal
You will need to check back 30 days later to see if the transaction has been re-reported by the supplier as a part of their normal monthly reporting process.
If it doesn't return, check back in 60 days just to make sure
What to do if a slow payment returns to your file:
If it returned using the same date as before, it has been confirmed as accurate
If it returns using a newer, more current date, it returned as part of a scheduled reporting process. You can launch another dispute, but I recommend, instead, that you read below for ways to reverse the negative payment when you can't get a payment removed from the file.
If you choose to re-launch the dispute, understand that you may need to do this multiple times before you can ask D&B to manually verify the payment is associated to your company and that it was, indeed, paid slow. This is called a formal "block payment request" and it is a last-ditch effort.
LET ME BE CLEAR!! I do not recommend launching a formal block payment request unless you are absolutely, without-a-doubt, 110%, swear-on-your-dogs-grave positive this payment is not associated to your company, because...
If a block request comes back as verified, you can never dispute the slow payment again, and — believe it or not — you may want to hang onto that option in case you need it later.
What to do if you can't get a slow payment removed:
OPTION ONE: Re-order from the same supplier, but this time, be sure to either pre-pay the transaction or pay the invoice at least 15 days before the due date.
Since most suppliers only report to D&B about the "most recent transaction", the new purchase and payment will be your most recent transaction, and you can make it a positive one.
You will know when the new transaction has successfully posted to your file because the percentage slow will be cut in half. Instead of 100% slow, it will reflect as 50% within terms and 50% slow.
You can now re-launch your dispute.
The slow payment should come off the file and, when it reports next month, should report your most recent transaction as being paid 100% in the Within Terms column.
OPTION TWO: Out-weigh the negative payment with multiple positive transactions with other vendors. You can do this by:
Opening new accounts with other suppliers who auto-report to D&B, taking extra care that you either pre-pay for your purchase or mail your payment 15 days before the due date.
Manually submitting a list of all your vendors, suppliers, and creditors (even one-time purchases where you receive a receipt that had your business name on it) so D&B can verify you have made payments to other companies that are always paid on time. This requires that you purchase at least one month of D&B's monthly Creditbuilder service.
OPTION THREE: Give me a call and let me see if there is anything I can do to help.
I previously worked for D&B, so I understand how payments get posted to the file and can dispel some of the myths you may have heard in the past.
Sometimes, all it takes is a keen eye and attention to specific details to figure out what the problem is.
I have a long list of suppliers who are proven auto-reporters to D&B (and other commercial credit bureaus)
I also maintain an extensive list of suppliers previous clients have used in the past who meet D&B's guidelines and are qualified to report. This means I can identify the vendors and suppliers who will meet your specific purchasing needs, and you can be confident they are qualified to help boost your company's credibility.
In most instances, you can usually use the above methods to successfully get that slow payment removed, reversed, or out-weighed very quickly, and that puts your business back on track to being creditworthy again.
If you run into a snag or need any assistance, I'm always ready to help. Simply click here to book a free consultation, or just give me a call at 800-918-7505 (ext 2 reaches me directly).