Before doing business with another company as a lender or supplier, it's smart to do some research into its financial health. Just as credit companies TransUnion and Equifax provide reports on personal credit scores, Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) gathers information to report on the status of businesses. A detailed D&B report on a business can cost up to $189, but you can get some information for free.
Dun & Bradstreet is a New Jersey-based company that began in 1841 as the Mercantile Agency. Its sole purpose was to provide business information to customers to assist them in their decision-making. Credit reporting became important work, and the company employed four future presidents in that role: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland and William McKinley.
The Mercantile Agency became R. G. Dun and Company when leadership changed. In 1933, the company merged with its main competitor, The Bradstreet Companies. In 1963, Dun & Bradstreet introduced the Data Universal Numbering System (D-U-N-S) to identify businesses numerically for data processing purposes in the age of computers. Dun & Bradstreet is now considered the gold standard of business credit reporting.
Dun and Bradstreet's analytics capabilities have become increasingly sophisticated with the advancement of technology.
Get a Dun & Bradstreet report free on any business (including your own) that has a D-U-N-S number. The free report includes risk factors, credit scores and ratings, and third-party web information. You're allowed one free report with the online Dun & Bradstreet number lookup feature. After that, you have to pay for additional reports.
Use a free 7-day trial of D&B's CreditBuilder to access to your company's D&B report, verify your company information, monitor credit changes in real time, and track the number of inquiries into your business's credit status.
Visit Dun & Bradstreet's website for information on getting your free report. You initiate the process by phoning (844) 281-3009, filling out a form on the website, or participating in a web-based live chat.
Dun & Bradstreet offers three levels of reporting if you want more information on a company than is provided by a free report. Here are your options:
- Credit Evaluator Plus ($61 per report) offers 24/7 online access to the report, risk assessment factors, payment history, credit limit recommendation, company standing compared to industry medians and company profile.
- Business Information Report Snapshot ($139 per report) includes all of the above, plus composition credit appraisal, delinquency predictor score, the financial instability of business partners, financial statements and overall risk assessment.
- Business Information Report on Demand ($189 per report) contains all of the above, plus real-time credit monitoring and business event notifications including suits, judgments and liens.
For $799, you can purchase Credit Reporter Plus, which gives you reports on five different companies. You get everything that's in the Business Information Report on Demand except the report on the financial instability of business partners.
It pays to periodically check the credit scores and business rating of your company, but you need your own unique D-U-N-S number to do so. You also need a D-U-N-S if you want to be eligible for contracts with the U.S. Government, become a vendor, or apply for federal grants.
Getting a 9-digit D-U-N-S is free, so stay away from organizations offering to get you a D-U-N-S for a fee. Register on the Dun & Bradstreet website or call the toll-free number to start. You need all of the following information to obtain a D-U-N-S:
- Name of organization
- Address of organization
- Name of the chief executive officer (CEO) or organization owner
- Legal structure of the organization (sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, for example)
- Year the organization started
- Primary type of business
- Total number of employees (both full-time and part-time)
The application process is quick. You may obtain the D-U-N-S the same day you apply, although processing can take up to two business days.