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Your article is right on target except for one point. FTC mandates that consumers mayget a free credit report once per year per bureau, and under certain other circumstances.But, there is no law that requires credit bureaus to provide a similar report tobusinesses.

So, if you want to find out what the big three (D&B, Experian, and Equifax) know aboutyour business, you have to pay for it. I believe all will provide a copy free if you havebeen denied credit on the basis of the credit report they supplied, but not if you'vebeen denied credit based upon what another has provided. And, in some cases, thesereports are difficult to obtain for free. All require you to submit a request on yourcompany letterhead and wait for it to come back in the mail. If you want it online, youhave to pay for it.

I should probably also mention that, as a business user of credit reports, it's NOT abad idea to monitor the business credit reports of my key customers and suppliers. I hada watch on a company called Kara Homes, who were building my parent's new house. I put iton because, when I was using smartbusinessreports.com (Experian), it was about the sameprice for a year of monitoring (which you can set to not auto-renew) and unlimitedreport access as it was to buy the report twice. Their report, when I first looked at it, was ok. They paid their bills on time and didn't have a lot of UCC filings or any taxliens. Unfortunately, about 3 months after my parents plunked down a $39K deposit, Kararan into financial difficulty and began to slow-pay (consistently paying more than 30days late). I got an alert and looked at the report, which was disturbing. I told myparents to see what they could do to cancel and get a refund, since their house hadn'tbeen started yet. They didn't. Two months later, I got another alert with a note thatthey were "seriously delinquent" and there was a tax lien. The report looked bad. If Iwas asked to extend Kara credit, I wouldn't even do COD based upon that report! Myparents didn't cancel, still. A month later, Kara declared bankruptcy. It looks like myparents are going to lose that entire deposit, and the house never completed.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Personal credit monitoring is definitely alwaysa rip-off. Business monitoring, used intelligently, is not.

Craig

Both business and personal credit reporting rely upon telling others what kind of risk you are. In that way, they're identical. But, there's a huge difference in how they're used.

Businesses typically don't buy their own report unless they're about to ask for a credit line. Once a business has an established credit line, the terms don't change (unlike credit card offers to consumers which can change the percentage rate if the consumer's score goes bad). But smart businessmen will always keep track of their biggest accounts, both on the buy and sell side, just to make sure their own business isn't injured through the fault of a supplier or major customer.

Case inpoint: Delphi hurt GM badly by declaring bankruptcy and disrupting the "supply chain". Kmart's bankruptcy put Fleming Foods, it's supermarket food supplier, out of business. So, in some circumstances and many industries, monitoring your own business credit is actually advisable, since it could cost you a contract.

My wife works for a contracting company. She says most of the government contracts have an out clause that says, basically, if your credit report shows a significant decline in your ability to pay your suppliers on time, you lose the contract.

Craig

 

The information on this site seems very straightforward and appears to be accurate. At the same time, even as you recommend against for-profit credit monitoring services for most consumers, you fail to disclose that you are an affiliate of at least one (TransUnion) and possibly of more.

Wouldn't such disclosure be the honest thing to do?

 

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Originally Published:  Thursday, August 17, 2006, 5:00 PM PT

Last Updated:  Friday, July 15, 2011, 11:40 PM PT

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