Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at October 7th, 2017
When you are first starting out, even before you sell one product or service, your company exists, of course. Even if it’s just conceptual, there’s a company or a proto-company at least. But your small business hasn’t ‘arrived’ until it’s on Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax.
So, how do you determine if your company is in any of these credit reporting bureaus’ databases? Fortunately, that’s a simple matter.
For a Dun & Bradstreet company search, it is slightly tricky to find a business, just because the website does not spell that out completely and clearly. You navigate to here. Then you select Company Search in the upper right hand corner. A dark screen comes down with a straight line, a pull down for country, a pull down for state (which intelligently switches to province for Canada and then completely disappears for Mexico), a place to select whether or not you’re searching for your own business, and a Submit button.
I admit it took me a few tries before I realized the idea was to type on the horizontal line.
Note: if you search for more than one company, it can sometimes take a couple of tries before it clears the old name and/or state.
The search turned out to be well put together. I was about to locate a former employer from a good 30 years ago and I didn’t even have the correct company name anymore. However, once I went back to one name iteration just before the one I remembered, D & B could no longer find the company. Hence a company with several name changes might require a little Googling to get some business name choices.
Experian has an easy form which you fill out in order to see if your business is in their system, located here. For example, because I know Credit Suite is in Florida, I can search for Credit Suite in Florida. Adding the city (in this case, it’s Land O’ Lakes), was not necessary. Either way, I get the company on the first try. Easy as pie.
When I searched for that same former employer, I could not find them at all in the Experian business search database until I added the street address and the city name. I did not have to add the ZIP code. Much like with Dun & Bradstreet, the system at Experian was smart enough to match an older version of the name to the successor name. However it, too, did not match up to the oldest name I could remember for this particular company.
The Equifax form is a little bit more involved than the Experian form, but not by much. It is located here. In the case of Equifax, you can add street address and telephone number. However, just like with Experian, the only information you truly need is the company name and state. Equifax also offers a helpful search just under their identification number.
When looking for that same old employer, Equifax ran into the same issue, where there was one older name from about 22 years ago but not the one from 30 years ago.
Because all three credit reporting bureaus ended up (with some extra work on my part at the Equifax business search page) agreeing on having the 22 year old name but not the 30 year old one for this business, it is also possible that there was no credit history back three decades (this is an insurance company’s inside counsel law firm and not a typical small business; it’s possible their credit transactions were through the insurance company 30 years ago).
As you can see, the three credit reporting bureaus do not exactly, perfectly line up with one another. Hence it makes sense to not only check whether your small business is on all three of the credit reporting bureaus’ databases, it also makes sense to perform a more extensive search if you do not see it on the first shot. And then proactively add your small business if by then you cannot find it. And it also makes sense as to why credit scores can differ. This is because data sources differ. All this checking, by the way, took less than 15 minutes.