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If you’re a small business owner, you have two credit scores. There’s your personal credit score, and then there is your business credit score. A business credit score is a reflection of the creditworthiness of your business.
It’s possible to have a good personal credit score and a bad business credit score, or vice versa. In order to find out your business credit score, you will need to pay a credit bureau to produce a business credit report.
A credit report is a profile of your business’s trustworthiness as it pertains to lenders, with the highlight being your business credit score (often, but not always, a number between 1-100). When a credit bureau produces a credit report on your business, they consider an array of factors, including your business’s payment history, credit utilization ratio, length of credit history and company information, as well as risk factors in your industry.
The upshot is the better your business credit score, the more likely you will be able to secure financial opportunities for your business, such as acquiring a business loan or securing a line of credit, on favorable terms.
There isn't one standard business credit score. Multiple agencies offer different business credit scores, including Equifax, Dun & Bradstreet and Experian, and each will calculate your score differently.
Therefore, before you give Equifax money to produce your business credit report, you should understand how they do their analysis and score businesses. Here is everything you need to know about Equifax business credit reports.
What is an Equifax business credit report?
An Equifax business credit report contains a variety of information about a business, including:
Company information includes your business name, phone numbers, addresses and alternate business names (DBAs). You will also find a Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code, and owner and guarantor names. Other things you might find include sales information, number of employees and a corporate family tree, which may include other related businesses.
Business loans or lines of credit from banks or credit unions are part of your credit data. Equipment leases, business credit cards and other credit accounts are also included.
It is worth mentioning that Equifax is a Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE) certified vendor, which means it can obtain information from the SBFE and sell that information in reports. The SBFE is a non-profit trade association that aggregates payment data from small businesses across the United States.
Public record information in your Equifax business credit report includes your business registration information, as well as liens, judgments, Uniform Commercial Code filings (UCC filings) and bankruptcies reported against your business.
Your payment history shows how many days it takes you to pay back suppliers. The amount of time you take to pay back your debts is also compared to averages in your industry to determine your expediency.
Your financial information reflects bank balances, returned checks, assets, real estate properties and inventory and sales.
This is a unique identification number Equifax assigns to all businesses.
What is factored into an Equifax business credit report?
Equifax will take all of the aforementioned information and evaluate it in the following ways:
When looking at your payment history, Equifax will consider any outstanding balances you have with vendors or creditors, such as days past due and your business’s worst delinquencies over the past two years. This also includes non-financial transactions. A good score is contingent on your business paying back all its debts in a timely fashion.
When Equifax looks at your business’s credit history, they will consider how long your oldest financial account has been open. The longer your account has been open, the better, as this reflects a longer credit history.
Other factors include credit inquiries and credit utilization. Having a lot of credit inquiries throughout your business’s history could be a red flag. As far as credit utilization, Equifax looks for no more than 30% to 40% at any given time ($40,000 in use on a $100,000 line of credit).
If there is negative information about your business on the public record, this will have an adverse effect on your credit score. This includes judgments against your business, credit liens and bankruptcies. If your business has experienced any of these things, Equifax will also factor in recency to determine how severe of an impact these events will have.
Firmographics are the demographics of your business, such as company size, age and industry. Equifax will compare your business’s firmographics to those of your competitors and also to larger trends in your industry. When it comes to firmographics, older and larger businesses tend to score higher.
Breakdown of scores
These evaluations produce a set of scores. While most credit bureaus will provide you with a single credit score between 1–100, an Equifax business credit report provides you with three different scores: Payment Index, Business Credit Risk Score and Business Failure Score.
Payment index score
Your payment index score is your typical credit score. This is a number between 1–100 with 1 being the worst score and 100 being the best score. The number is based on your business’s payment history. If you pay your bills on time, your score will be between 90 and 100. If you have even one bill that is between 1 and 30 days past due, your score could drop to between 80 and 89.
Having bills 31 to 69 days past due will drop your score between 60 and 79. A score between 40 and 59 reflects bills that are 61 to 90 days past due, and a score between 20 and 39 is for bills that are 91 to 120 days past due. If you have bills later than that, you can expect a score between 1 and 19.
Credit risk score
Equifax business credit risk scores range from 101 to 992, with a higher score correlating to lower risk. This score aims to help lenders answer the following questions: Will I be paid? When will I be paid? Is my customer facing financial difficulty? How much credit should I extend?
In general, a score over 556 is considered good while a score of 0 indicates bankruptcy.
Failure risk score
Your Equifax business failure risk score is a number between 1,000 and 1,610, with a lower score indicating a higher risk of your business ceasing operations within the next 12 months. This score is determined using commercial demographic data, credit and payment information and company legal records.
How to get an Equifax business credit report
To get an Equifax business credit report, simply visit its website and purchase a single report for $99.95. You can also purchase a pack of five credit reports for $399.95. Equifax also offers credit monitoring services for $16.95 per month.
It’s worth noting that Equifax is the most expensive of the three major credit bureaus. Dun & Bradstreet charges $61.99 for a business credit report and Experian charges $39.95.
Why you would want an Equifax business credit report
Part of the reason you want an Equifax business credit report is the same reason you would want any business credit report: to gain a better understanding of your business’s financial health and appeal to potential lenders and investors.
But an Equifax business credit report has the added benefit of providing credit risk and business failure risk scores, which you don’t get with the other credit bureaus. These scores may not be particularly helpful to a small business but can provide valuable insight to lenders. In addition, these scores can come in handy if you are considering buying out a competitor in your industry or merging with another business.
What to do if there is an error on your report
When you get your business credit report, it is important you review it carefully for errors. Even the smallest mistake can have a huge impact on your overall score.
The first thing to do if you spot an error is to ensure you aren’t responsible for it. Providing consistent information to the credit bureau (i.e. having your name spelled the same way throughout) can help ensure you don’t cause any mistakes on your credit report. If you see that your report doesn’t reflect all your credit accounts, you may need to reach out to your creditors and ask them to supply your information to the credit bureau, as some are not required to do so.
For all mistakes, you will want to contact Equifax directly via the customer support hotline or online dispute center. You will also want to contact the organization that supplied the information to Equifax. Both are obligated to provide correct information under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Equifax aims to resolve all disputed claims within 30 days of the dispute being initiated. When you initiate a dispute, Equifax will prompt you to submit a Research Request form via the Member Center of your account. Upon receiving the completed Research Request form, Equifax will forward a request for verification to the reporting entity. After completion of the verification process, Equifax will notify you in writing of the results.
Additionally, only information contained in the Public Records and Credit Data sections of the report may be changed as a result of a dispute. For other sections, your business may provide a statement of explanation and further documentation to be reviewed.
When you initiate a dispute, be sure to clearly identify the disputed item on your report, provide facts and information that prove an error was made, and request deletion or correction. Equifax also notes that if you find an error on their report, you may want to try getting your credit report from a different bureau to see if the issue persists elsewhere.
Using Equifax to grow your business
Equifax offers one of the best credit reporting options on the market for small businesses. If the score isn’t quite what you’d hoped it would be, read our guide on how to improve your business credit score. If Equifax gives you a strong score, it opens your business up to a myriad of financial opportunities. Furthermore, if you have a strong business credit score, you probably have a good idea of what you need to do to make the most of those opportunities and continue growing your business.
This article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.