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Greetings to you all... In good spirit, I just wanted to share something with everyone that may be helpful. Many business owners (myself included) are pretty upset at the way our business credit (or lack of) is being reported to D&B, Experian Commercial, and Equifax Small Business. Some of you have encouraged others to have a financial sheet containing information about your bank and trade references, which is nothing short of a great idea. With nearly every credit application I submit, I also contact an underwriter directly (get their FULL NAME & title) and send them a Company Snapshot (on my company's official letterhead, of course) that I update monthly giving them a snapshot of 1) my company's identifying information, e.g. IRS Tax ID, DUNS #, my Insurance agency/policy #, my Experian & Equifax file #'s; 2) my bank contact info & account #'s / end-of-month balances; and 3) my tradelines' contact info & account #'s / end-of-month balances. With the bank and tradeline info, I have complete addresses, phone #'s (including fax #'s), and the dates I opened the accounts. Certainly some of your wouldn't want to give anyone all that information, but in my experience, underwriters may ask for it anyways. But having all that information organized into a single document is something EVERY business owner should do, regardless of whether or not they choose to submit any portion or all of it to an underwriter. It also saves on time for many non-traditional creditors by having all the pertinent information in a single place. Another thing I've done is created a Credit Inquiry form (again on Company Letterhead). Using the fax #'s from my Company Snapshot, I send my tradelines an inquiry similar to the one below approximately 2 calendar weeks after I electronically pay my invoices: ---------------------------------------- <Insert Creditor/Vendor's Contact Info> Dear Creditor: Thank you for your recent fulfillment of an order for <your company name and maybe a summary>. Our relationship with your company with respect to the handling of our credit is vital in how vendors are chosen for the long-term. In order for us to place our next order, please reply to this brief inquiry with regard to the following information: <Your Tax ID>: xx-xxxxxxx Account/Customer #: <Your Account # w/that Vendor> Credit Limit / Terms: What is <your company name>'s Credit Limit (if applicable)? US$ What are <your company name>'s Credit Terms? Invoice Details:<You fill this section out> Invoice #: Invoice Date: Invoice Amount: US$ Payment Details: Payment Issued (Date): <Date you sent your payment> Payment Received (Date): Credit Reporting: Has (or will) the payment for the above referenced invoice been reported to Dun & Bradstreet (Your D-U-N-S #) ? If Yes, please give the date this was (or will be) reported: If No, please give a reason: Has (or will) the payment for the above referenced invoice been reported to Equifax Business, SBFE, or SBX (Your File #) ? If Yes, please give the date this was (or will be) reported: If No, please give a reason: Has (or will) the payment for the above referenced invoice been reported to Experian Commercial (Your File #) ? If Yes, please give the date this was (or will be) reported: If No, please give a reason: Please remit this inquiry via e-mail, fax, or postal mail immediately to: <Your Company's Contact Information> Your response is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your cooperation and dedication to continuing our business relationship. ---------------------------------------- A form like this will help both you and your vendor be diligent in making sure your credit is handled with care, especially if they want you to continue to be their customer. Anyone who can be diligent enough to invoice you for payment of their goods and services should be expected to be just as diligent when you ask them how they've handled the posting and reporting of that payment. If you don't get a response (or question the response you received), get on the phone and find out what's going on. I hope this information helps some of you. DON'T BE DISCOURAGED!!! We all know how (in)competent the Business CRA's are. Do your part to make sure those you do business with are doing THEIR part. And as always, THANK YOU TO THE ENTIRE CB FAMILY!!!
Now this makes me wonder - should we as small businesses look into approaching D&B to start CHANGING THEIR POLICIES? I know that may be an entirely different thread, but looking at all the concerns posted on CB and other forums, I'm almost wondering if there are any advocacy groups that are looking into D&B's policies. Personally, I'm thinking about writing to Congress into ratifying the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") to apply with business CRAs. It's nearly impossible to work through disputes with Experian and D&B, and I'm sure many agree that needs to change. Now I see why Equifax is going this different route - there's even speculation that they will have a way for businesses to obtain their business credit report electronically, just as we can as consumers. I know CB has been working diligently on developing lists of which CRAs lendors & vendors report. We've got to figure out how to encourage vendors to cooperate with Equifax's Business arm for reporting, especially those (many) of us that DO have bank tradelines and credit cards. Evidentally, D&B is watching SBFE, because one of their own reps reported to the June issue of American Banker that banks ARE reporting to D&B's database. Maybe that means we need to push our banks to not only continue the growth of the SBFE, but to help businesses push change D&B's policies. I know it seems far fetched, but I've seen the baby Bell's de-monopolized over policies. Considering my company centers around business development and consulting, I would be more than happy to take a lead (or if such already exists, participate) in developing the advocacy needed to institute laws that make CRA's institute more positive practices. Tell me what you all think...
Hello everyone - this is my first contribution to the CB family. I first wanted to give everyone contributing at CB my upmost gratitude and respect for maintaining such an invaluable resource of information that EVERYONE needs to have. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! I wanted to give the Businesses some interesting information I've been researching for the past 2 months. I'm sure a few of you know about Equifax ramping up their infrastructure to host business credit reporting. They're approaching it a very unique way - by providing a data infrastructure for some smaller member-driven organizations as a conduit to report tradeline payment history. More information on this is available at Equifax's Small Business Solutions Site. You can also call Equifax Small Business Center at +1 (800) 727-8495 and request a free copy of your Business Credit Report. When they ask who referred you, just say your bank (in my case, Wells Fargo). Speaking of Wells Fargo ("WF"; this goes for other banks too), if you are a customer like myself, and have a Business Credit Card or Line of Credit, your tradelines are being reported onto Equifax's Business credit reporting infrastructure through an organization called the Small Business Financial Exchange ("SBFE"). They are a member-driven CRA that is primarily supported directly by banks / financial institutions. It is very possible that your bank, whether or not it's WF, may be reporting your business credit through SBFE. SBFE is lining itself to be a competitor to both Experian and D&B, but they are still very small and unknown. Unfortunately, SBFE cannot release information on who their members are, because they were very strict in insuring their data couldn't be used for marketing purposes (which I can appreciate). So I suggest everyone ask their banks / financial institutions that you may have established credit relationships if they are a member of the SBFE. It seems to me the banks / financial institutions would lean more towards reporting credit through SBFE (since it's essentially "by banks, for banks") than reporting to Experian / D&B. I thought I was going to become an ex-WF customer because I thought my flawless credit history with them wasn't helping me "build credit," but after doing my due diligence, I'm ok knowing that they're reporting to a CRA, even if that CRA is young. I just hope that Equifax, SBFE, and the Small Business Exchange ("SBX") can attract more vendors and lendors to jump on board and report. It's difficult enough for many (myself included) to get lendors and vendors to cooperate and report our GOOD payment histories with Experian and D&B, but I wanted to give everyone some information that I hope is useful in knowing that there are alternatives on the horizon. One more thing - work with your banker, and make sure they are advised! I hate the fact that I may have to get D&B's CreditBuilder to get my good credit history from WF to show up, BUT working directly with my banker definitely saves D&B from having to go through all the loops to possibly not be allowed access to my payment history. Good Biz Credit Hunting Everybody!