You messed up and now your business credit report won’t let you forget it. Maybe you were busy (or cash crunched) and paid a vendor late. Or you fell behind on your taxes and the IRS filed a tax lien. Or worse, you were sued and a judgment was filed against you.
Whatever the reason, a slip up like these can have a serious impact on your business credit reports and credit scores. You’re reminded of it when you apply for business credit, or other types of transactions that involve credit checks. You can’t shake it, and you’re left wondering, “When is it just going to go away?”
Unlike personal credit data, which follows strict time limits in terms of how long certain types of information can be reported (usually up to seven years), business credit report data has no such restrictions. Legally, information can— and may— be reported indefinitely on business credit reports.
Note, we’re not talking about mistakes in the form of erroneous information here. If you find errors on your credit reports, you can always contact the business credit agency and request that information be corrected or removed.
Here we try to help you understand how long certain types of information that may appear on your business credit reports may be reported.
Dun & Bradstreet
Dun & Bradstreet is vague about how long negative information may be reported and did not respond to our requests for more information for this story. Their website states:
“Currently Dun & Bradstreet retains up to 24 months of payment experiences in the trade repository. Dun & Bradstreet will use up to 874 payment experiences.”
That would seem to indicate that after 24 months payment information will not affect a business’s’ credit score, at least when a D&B PAYDEX score is concerned.
In addition, the websites states:
“…on an annual basis Dun & Bradstreet cleanses its database to remove the following filings:
- Suits and Judgments that have been inactive for 10 or more years
- Liens that have been inactive for 11 or more years of inactivity.”
That indicates that certain types of information— specifically lawsuits, judgments and liens— may be reported much longer than 24 months.
According to Equifax, when it comes to commercial credit reports information about accounts (tradelines) will be reported for up to 24 months, whether negative or not. Equifax notes that it does not report collection data from third parties, though an account itself could list that it is “in collection” status. Interestingly, though Equifax also states that information may impact the business credit score for up to five years. Here’s how they treat specific derogatories:
Bankruptcy: Generally reported for ten years from the filing date, though Chapter 12 and 13 cases are only reported for seven years from the filing date.
Collection accounts: Equifax does not report collection data from third parties, though an account itself could list that it is “in collection” status if the lender or vendor reports that. (The fact that an account is in collections may impact the credit score for up to five years.)
Judgments and liens: Generally reported for seven years from the filing date.
UCC Filings: Not reported by Equifax.
Experian is the most transparent about how long it reports information on its Intelliscore business credit reports. (Disclosure: Experian is an investor in, and partner of, Nav.)
Here’s how it is explained on its website:
“Dating data ensures that the information presented in a report is current enough to create an accurate picture of financial health.
- Trade data: 36 months
- Bankruptcies: nine years and nine months
- Judgments: six years and nine months
- Tax liens: six years and nine months
- Uniform Commercial Code filings: five years
- Collections: six years and nine months
- Bank, government and leasing data: 36 months”
According to LexisNexis, business data will be kept “forever.” But that doesn’t mean it will impact your credit scores forever. Depending on the scoring solution used, LexisNexis says it will only use data if it’s predictive; or in other words, helps a client make a decision, whether that’s for credit or other purposes.
What You Can Do
As you can see, there are significant differences in how long negative information may appear on your business credit reports. It’s crucial to review yours to make sure they are accurate and complete. Building (or rebuilding) strong business credit takes time, so you want to begin before you need it.