There are several reasons why you may wish to report to a credit bureau. If you are a landlord or you extend credit as a businessperson, reporting delinquent tenants and customers helps protect other creditors, plus it strengthens your legal position in the event court action becomes necessary. This is equally true of businesses you extend credit to, although you use a different credit reporting agency than you do for individuals. As an individual, you may find it necessary to report to a credit bureau in the event of fraud or identity theft.
Report identity theft or fraud using the toll free reporting numbers for Equifax (800-525-6285), Experian (888-397-3742) and TransUnion (800-680-7289). Be sure to report all of the information you have on the fraudulent transaction(s) to all three companies. If you only report to one, the others won’t have any way of knowing some of the information they have about you is false.
Open an account with each of the three credit reporting agencies (see Resources) if you extend credit to any of your customers/tenants as part of running a business. This has a number of benefits. Your account enables you to check the credit rating of people before you extend credit. Even though it costs a little more, it’s best to have an account with each credit bureau, since they each keep their own records. You are also in a stronger legal position if your report is on file with all three.
Report any delinquencies to the credit bureaus. All three companies provide easy-to-use online forms. You will need the person’s name, social security number, last known address, and (if possible) place of employment. You’ll also be asked to enter the details of the debt or transaction you are reporting (amount, date, due date, and what was bought or what services were rendered).
Report businesses and check business credit ratings with Dun & Bradstreet (see Resources). This is the major credit reporting agency for businesses and has the same function that the consumer credit bureaus have with respect to individuals. You must have an account. Once you open an account, you can report businesses that don’t pay their bills and check business credit ratings.
Vendors that offer to do your credit reporting for you really aren’t a very good deal. Most charge almost as much (and sometimes more) than you pay for accounts at all three credit reporting agencies—and you still have to enter all the same information online, so you really don’t gain anything by using a middleman.