The Role of Credit Reporting Agencies

What Are Credit Reporting Agencies?

Credit Reporting AgenciesCredit reporting agencies are private companies that collect and sell credit information. There are a number of such agencies that do this for commercial credit purposes, such as a Dun & Bradstreet among others. Each agency maintains a large database of business information that it uses to compile actionable reports for creditors. Creditors around the world rely on these reports to provide the information they need to evaluate requests for business credit.

The range of services provided varies from agency to agency. Some, like Dun & Bradstreet, offer everything from risk management tools to credit monitoring solutions that help fulfill the wide range of business information needs that banks, companies, governments, and investors encounter.

Services Provided by Credit Reporting Agencies

The primary function of credit reporting agencies is to provide reports on the creditworthiness of small businesses. These reports vary in scope and price depending on the type and quantity of reports ordered. If you are an “enterprise-level” creditor that needs to retrieve such reports regularly, you can typically receive discounts for bulk reports or subscriptions to such services.

Before you request a report, be sure to evaluate the potential benefits versus the costs. Risk management is certainly a critical need for most creditors–and it can save you from entering into an arrangement that may ultimately stick you with the bill. However, not all businesses need an exhaustive report on a client’s credit history. It may behoove you to order a less expensive (and less comprehensive) report if the risk is already negligible due to the size of the contract in consideration.

Credit Building Through Agencies

The other equally critical function of an agency is to collect business information. Most business credit reporting is voluntary. There are no government policies regarding business credit reporting, so the onus is on agencies and small businesses to collect, provide, and regulate business credit information.

That makes registering with a credit reporting agency one of the most important steps that a business can take toward building creditworthiness. Dun & Bradstreet, for example, allows free registration and submission of financial information. Doing so (and doing so regularly) can help improve your credit scores and reports–thereby increasing the chances that your business can obtain credit and financing.



After graduating with a B.A. from Occidental College, Ben Wills worked for several political non-profits on economic policy, government transparency, and public accountability issues.