Whether you want to check a company's credit report or your own, there are several resources you can use for this purpose. Dun & Bradstreet, Experian SmartBusinessReports and Equifax are just a few to mention. Some of these services are free of charge and involve no paperwork, while others require a company's name, tax ID number, contact details and more. As a business owner, you can verify the credit reports of your suppliers, partners and clients to determine whether they can meet their contractual obligations.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Most times, you won't need your tax ID number or that of another company to get a business credit report. The major credit bureaus, such as Experian and Equifax, only require the company's name and address to provide this information.
Importance of Business Credit Reports
Did you know that about 20% of small business loans are denied due to poor credit? Business credit reports affect a company's ability to take out loans, form partnerships and qualify for grants. Lenders use your credit score to determine whether or not you can pay off debt and manage your finances. Furthermore, your suppliers and potential partners may check your credit score before doing business with you.
As an entrepreneur, it's important to check your business credit report regularly. Likewise, you should check those of the companies you're planning to work with to confirm they are in good financial standing and can pay for products or services. At the same time, you need to maintain and improve your business credit score so that you can qualify for loans lines of credit, get better interest rates and attract investors.
Several agencies are available to calculate business credit. Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, Moody's and Standard & Poor's conduct credit assessments and evaluations for companies and government entities alike. Some credit bureaus, such as Dun & Bradstreet, provide business owners with free credit reports. Beware, though, that your credit report may not include a credit score; to see this number, you either need to pay extra or build your credit score if you don't have one.
Is a Tax ID Required?
Most credit bureaus don't require a tax ID number to provide you with a free business credit report. However, you do need an employer identification number (EIN) to open a business bank account, apply for a loan or obtain a line of credit. If you want to be granted access to a complete credit report, you may have to submit a tax ID number.
Experian, for example, features an online search tool on its website. To get a credit report on your business or check another company, you need to enter the company's name, city, state and country. Wait to be redirected to the next page where you can see a list of businesses that match the information provided. Choose one and click Proceed. Next, choose a payment plan based on your needs.
Business customers are tracked by their EIN, name and address, but most credit agencies only need a company's name and location to generate business credit reports. Unlike personal credit scores, which are private, business credit scores are available to the public. Therefore, you can easily look up a company's credit score online.
How to Find Credit Reports
Some credit bureaus provide this information for free, while others require a subscription or a flat fee. Annualcreditreport.com is one of the few free services available, so it's worth checking it out. All you need to do is to fill out an online form, select a business credit report from Experian, Equifax, TransUnion or all three credit bureaus, and then answer a few more questions. When completing the application form, you may provide either your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Another option is to request your business credit report directly from any of the major credit agencies. Equifax, for example, charges $99.95 for a single credit report and $399.95 for five reports. If you want to look up a company, fill out the application form with its business name, address or Equifax ID. Click Search, register for an account and choose a payment plan.
Other similar services include Business Credit Reports, Inc., Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number Lookup, Credit.net and Scorely. The last two offer a free trial. If you are satisfied with their services, you can sign up for a membership plan for full reporting. A credit report typically includes the company's credit score, bankruptcies and liens, number of employees, number of years in business, recommended credit limit and other relevant details.
- Small Business Administration: 10 Stats That Explain Why Business Credit Is Important for Small Business
- Investopedia: Credit Rating
- Experian: Business Credit Report
- Credit Karma: Credit Karma Guide to Business Credit Scores
- Annual Credit Report: 3 Steps to Your Free Credit Reports
- Equifax: Business Credit Report for Small Business
- Dun & Bradstreet: D-U-N-S Number Lookup
- Small Business Administration: What Makes Up a Small Business Credit Report?
- Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Credit Reporting Act," Pages 10-22. Accessed Oct. 20, 2020.
- Experian. "Intelliscore PlusSM." Accessed Oct. 21, 2020.
- Dun & Bradstreet. "Changes to a Business’s PAYDEX® Score." Accessed Oct. 20, 2020.
- Duns & Bradstreet. "Dun & Bradstreet D‑U‑N‑S® Number." Accessed Oct. 20, 2020.
- Experian and Dun & Bradstreet should be the first two business credit reports you attempt to access.
- If you have many business relationships but not many businesses reporting your good credit each month, consider opening accounts with businesses that will report to Dun & Bradstreet and Experian.
Andra Picincu is a digital marketing consultant with over 10 years of experience. She works closely with small businesses and large organizations alike to help them grow and increase brand awareness. She holds a BA in Marketing and International Business and a BA in Psychology. Over the past decade, she has turned her passion for marketing and writing into a successful business with an international audience. Current and former clients include The HOTH, Bisnode Sverige, Nutracelle, CLICK - The Coffee Lover's Protein Drink, InstaCuppa, Marketgoo, GoHarvey, Internet Brands, and more. In her daily life, Ms. Picincu provides digital marketing consulting and copywriting services. Her goal is to help businesses understand and reach their target audience in new, creative ways.