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A quick guide to understanding credit reports

A business credit report can be key to evaluating partners to avoid payment defaults, reduce exposure to bad debt, and maintain healthy cash flow, says Dun & Bradstreet.

To learn more about Dun & Bradstreet’s business credit reports, download the guide D&B Business Credit Reports: A Deep Dive Into Managing Risk and Making Better Credit Decisions. It’s an annotated sample business credit report that explains the key sections of a business credit report, what they mean, and why they matter.

Business credit reports allow you to quickly assess risk across an organisation, uncovering hidden dangers and potential hazards, meaning you can make smarter, faster credit decisions. Unlike consumer credit, there’s no one single “credit score” or ranking in business credit. Dun & Bradstreet’s comprehensive business credit reports contain more than just operational information, financial information and trade payment history. They consist of multiple types of credit scores that range from predictive (future) and performance-based (historical) to showcase a company’s reliability and financial stability.

Reading a business credit report allows you to assess risk across an organization to uncover hidden dangers and potential hazards and make more intelligent risk decisions. Anchored by the Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number, our comprehensive commercial credit reports contain insightful sections, including:

Company profile – Snapshot with address, incorporation information, industry classification, and ownership. This section provides an overview of a business’s size and scope, how it’s organised, and how it’s been managed.

Risk assessment – Here, you’ll find some of the most in-depth and beneficial intelligence for assessing risk and making business credit decisions. The Risk Assessment contains Dun & Bradstreet’s robust, proprietary, and reliable business credit scores and ratings, including our Failure Score and Delinquency Score.

Trade payments – We have the world’s largest commercial trade data network, with tens of thousands of companies around the world providing monthly accounts receivable (A/R) data through the Global Trade Exchange Program. Trade payments provide valuable insight to credit professionals because these records of payment behaviour offer objective evidence of how the company has paid other partners. Dun & Bradstreet collects data from more than 700 different lines of business, and some 99.55 of all trade in our database comes from companies and independent third parties – no self-references or trade from inside the corporate family.

Legal events – Understanding legal activity – insolvency events (such as administration, receivership and bankruptcy) court judgements, mortgages and charges, and other public filings – is also crucial in identifying credit risk. Dun & Bradstreet collects business-related insolvency information from various sources, including UK courts and Companies House, and each insolvency is investigated and confirmed by an analyst before being posted to a business credit report. Also, Dun & Bradstreet is one of the few providers to feature lawsuits in its commercial credit reports.

Corporate linkage – With 300 million records in the global database, Dun & Bradstreet’s corporate family trees provide a comprehensive view of the relationship between companies and their majority-owned subsidiaries and branch locations. Seeing a visual representation of a corporation’s different businesses and locations can help you assess a company’s size, understand its real estate footprint, identify potential conflicts of interests, and create more accurate reporting on large suppliers. Understanding company relationships and business hierarchy helps to better identify risk hotspots to ensure you can properly evaluate credit limits, prioritize collections, and recognize growth opportunities.

Why business credit reports are important

When it comes to business credit, making the right decision depends on having the right information. Consulting a business credit report is an important first step in evaluating partners to avoid payment defaults, reduce exposure to bad debt, and maintain healthy cash flow. Dun & Bradstreet’s business credit reports are trusted by thousands of companies – from small businesses to large global enterprises – to help them find truth and meaning from data.


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