A small business owner might not always receive payment for services rendered or products sold. After a certain amount of time, uncollected payments or accounts receivable become bad debt. Reporting a bad debt to the bureaus might encourage a debtor to pay the amount owed in order to resolve the outstanding delinquency that appears on his credit report. A company isn't required to report bad debts to the credit bureau. If you would like to do so, however, keep in mind that reporting to the bureaus isn't free. The bureaus bill you for this service. You will also be required to have the appropriate software necessary to electronically submit data to the bureaus. Before your business can report a debt, you must become a client of the bureau and follow its credit-reporting guidelines.

Contact the credit bureaus directly. The three main credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. The phone number for each bureau is located on its website.

Request an application for new members. You will have to complete an application to begin the process.

Read the documentation received from the bureau. Each bureau has its own requirements for establishing new business accounts.

Examine the costs, fees and time commitment to determine if reporting delinquent debtors is cost effective for your business. If the cost of reporting the unpaid debts to the bureaus exceeds the amount of unpaid debt you're likely to recover, such an arrangement might not make sense. This is especially true if you're not planning to report large amounts of debt on a regular basis. If you run up against a lot of bad debts, however, it might be worth your while to report them to the bureaus. Keep in mind that you can choose to report to only one bureau, all of them, or none of them.

Complete the application and submit it to the bureaus if you determine you'd like your business to become a customer. Some bureaus, like Experian, permit you to complete the application online.

Call the bureau after your application is submitted to check on the status of your application. The bureau will be able to tell you how long the approval process will take and when to expect a decision on your application.

Follow the setup instructions given to you by the credit bureau once you're approved. The bureau has business representatives on staff who will guide you through the process of installing the software necessary to begin submitting bad debts.


If your business doesn't plan to report many accounts, consider hiring a collection agency to collect the debt on your behalf. The agency can report the debt to the bureau instead and alleviate the need for you to establish such a service yourself.


Any credit reports made to the credit bureau about a consumer must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Only accurate data on a debtor may be reported.