Part of our series on Security for Medium Businesses.
Did you know that your business has a profile and credit history? Just like your personal credit score, it lets other businesses make judgements about you, including the rates you get on business loans and if they even do business with you.
While many data brokerages are keen to get into this game, the dominant player for decades has been Dun & Bradstreet (commonly D&B). They compile deep profiles of companies in the US using public government filings and commercial data sources. You can find whether a company is owned by another, whether they have outstanding debts, and lawsuits. They also helpfully rate companies across several factors.
Because the consumer data brokers have had little incentive to spend money to correct individual issues, many countries has passed laws guaranteeing consumers’ rights to protect themselves. Unlike the consumer space, business credit data is unregulated, so if D&B gets it wrong and does not answer their phone, there is little you can do to set your record straight.
How this affects your fraud risk
Just like a personal identity, people can commit fraud by impersonating your business. They can take out loans, buy goods on your behalf, and trade on your good name. Just like in personal identity fraud, creditors will come to you when they disappear in the night. If you refuse to pay for their loss, it can show up as a black mark on your report at D&B. You lose both ways: either pay or spend the time to fix someone else’s decision to fall for a scam. By leveraging D&B’s record about you, people can defraud you without your involvement.
While you cannot stop other businesses from defrauding each other, you can get in front of the damage before it affects decisions about you.
Everything you can do to manage this problem starts with a single step: register your business with D&B. To help you, they need to verify that you actually represent your business. Once you register, you can see your report and scores, correct issues, and even set up alerts for potential indicators of fraud. Once done, there is no need to spend more time on it—the alerts will tell you about problems so you can quickly fix them.
Compared to many of their smaller competitors, D&B invests a lot toward the accuracy of its data. Part of that investment is a good set of ways to fix your record and manage your credit risk.
D&B’s market dominance and reputation for accuracy means that it is the only record worth managing. Even if a customer or lender uses a competitor’s report, a clean D&B report should eliminate their concerns.
Some Treasury Management services may include these protections as part of a larger fraud prevention package. If you use such a service from your bank, check with them before registering with D&B.
Scammers can cause extra havoc if they register your business before you do. For instance, they could change company details to enable fraud or delay your attempts to register later. Like any registration, D&B’s process will never detect all fraud.
Registering with D&B and setting up alerts is easy and helps protect you from fraud outside your control. For many businesses, it only takes an initial investment of several hours and provides ongoing protection and benefit.