Bank Adviser Monthly Articles
July 2016
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Setting Up a Business Credit File
The first step to managing your business�s credit

Starting a new business is an exciting prospect and a constant learning experience, forcing you to rapidly tackle new challenges and master new skills. One of these new skills is managing your business�s credit, and the first step is to set up a business credit file.

Your business�s credit file will be maintained with the credit bureau Dun & Bradstreet, which functions similarly to the personal credit bureaus Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Just as you or a potential lender can use one of these credit bureaus to learn about your past financial activities and creditworthiness, your business credit file can be used by potential vendors, suppliers, business partners or customers to assess whether or not they feel your business is reliable and financially stable.

The first step you should take on your journey to building good business credit is to ensure that you don�t already have a business credit file, which may have been established if you applied for financing as a business entity. You can do this by calling 877-636-7137 to speak with a representative, or you can send a message through the D&B customer service contact form at

�If, when you call or visit the D&B website, you determine that you already have a business credit file, review it completely to understand what information it contains,� states the U.S. Small Business Administration. �Add or modify the information as necessary to ensure that those looking at your business credit (such as vendors, suppliers and financial institutions) are making decisions based on complete and accurate information.�

You can request a copy for review at

If you need to establish a business credit file, you first need to apply for a D-U-N-S number, which is a unique nine-digit identifying number that can be referenced by outside sources to connect them with your file. After you make your request, you should receive your number within 30 days. If you need to establish a credit file sooner than that, you can pay for expedited service, which takes five business days or less.

�If you want to bid on government proposals, you will need to get a D-U-N-S number for each physical location of your business,� states the D&B website. �You can get your D-U-N-S number expedited for free if you are required to register with the federal government for contracts or grants.�

You need the following information to register for a free D-U-N-S number:

  • Whether or not your business is home-based.

  • Your business�s legal name.

  • Your physical address.

  • The name and address of your business�s headquarters.

  • Any mailing address you have aside from the headquarters/physical address.

  • A telephone number.

  • A contact name and title.

  • The number of employees at your business�s physical location.

  • Any other name that your business uses, such as a �doing business as� or DBA name.

Once your credit file is set up, you can get started building a good credit history that testifies to your business�s creditworthiness and sets the stage for positive future financial opportunities.


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