We get this question on the Small Business Matters blog quite often — “My customer hasn’t paid me, can I report them to Experian?” We thought this was an excellent question. So we’ve invited Robbin Miske-Palmer from our Data Sourcing team to explain how that works, and what you can do as a business owner to give your customers the credit they deserve. Here’s our interview:
Gary: And so Robin could you tell us a little bit about what you do here at Experian?
Robbin: I’m in the data sourcing department and one of our main objectives is to help businesses onboard to Experian, to be able to report their data, their business data to Experian.
Gary: One of the questions I wanted to ask you and what we get asked about a lot on our blog and on social media, is from small business owners related to reporting customers who do not pay to the credit bureau. And, one to one, I think there may be some misconceptions about how Experian handles that, and I was wondering if you had any feedback on that question that we could help them with.
Robbin: Absolutely. So typically, we’ll be contacted by a business looking to report just one particular tradeline. But for reporting business data to Experian, it is a full file reporting. And what that means is that you report on all of your accounts. So, with those good accounts, you report those, delinquent, slow pay. And the reason that you do that versus one particular account is that all of your businesses get the advantage of being reported.
Robbin: So, if you are a small business, having your vendors report on you does affect your credit report. So, if you’re paying as agreed, we want to certainly get that information on the credit report, so you can help those businesses that you work with. And, if you have to look at your slow-paying customers, you certainly want to be able to catch them sooner than later. So being able to report that full file, once they become delinquent you have that opportunity to speak with them and get them back on track since this is going to be something that’s shared with the credit bureau.
Gary: So, if they’re reporting in an automatic way, let’s say on a monthly basis to Experian, that transaction that shows the original invoice going out and the fact that it’s 90 days or 60 days past due, that’s automatically being reflected then in the data. Am I right?
Gary: And if the business owner at that point they want to get paid is it then up to commercial collections to go out and get that payment made?
Robbin: They can certainly use those services, and Experian does accept collections data as well as trade data, but they also have the opportunity to discuss with their clients to say, “Hey, we do report this information to Experian, we want to be good stewards of your information, make sure that information gets to the credit report.”.
Gary: What I got from your last statement was that with the full file reporting, that you know there are positives and negatives too for the business owner. The customers of your business are getting the credit that they deserve, right? Because you know, if they’re paying you on time that’s then being reflected in their business credit score.
Robbin: Absolutely, and it’s a benefit to the vendor to report that information because as their customers grow, and are able to access, you know, trade or other means of credit, they’re able to grow. So, you certainly want to encourage their growth so that they can spend more with your vendor.
Gary: Okay. Excellent. So now, if I’m a business owner, and I have not been reporting to Experian as yet, but I want to. What’s their course of action, how do they start?
Robbin: It’s free to report business data to Experian, but we do have some guidelines that we have to meet. So, they do have to be a customer of Experian, which means there’s an application and an agreement that must be signed. It is a monthly data reporting of that full file. You must be able to commit to sending that data to us in an encrypted fashion. And we have the tools already built to be able to do that. We just need your commitment that you’re going to send the layout, format, and file, once a month. That layout format stays the same each month. Certainly, you’re going to be adding customers, or somebody gets to a final status like they have paid in full, or they’re no longer a customer you can report them through that final status, but it should be a monthly reporting that comes to us every month the format and layout stays the same.
Gary: Excellent. Well, I want to thank you very much for taking time out today to talk to us about this Robbin and look forward to another opportunity to chat about data with you.
Getting Started Reporting to Experian
Reporting your customer’s business data is free but does require credentialing (Membership) approval. Companies looking to report on other businesses can visit our website at https://www.experian.com/datareportingbusiness for further information. Please have ready the following information when you contact Experian – legal company name, business phone number, company address, contact email address, and estimate on the number of businesses to be reported.