One action that businesses can take to improve their creditworthiness and track their business credit is by applying for a D-U-N-S number. Created by Dun & Bradstreet, the D-U-N-S number is a major factor that lenders and vendors use when assessing a business.
Here we explain what a D-U-N-S number is, we offer three reasons why you need one, and show you how to apply for one.
What Is a DUNS Number?
Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) is one of the main business credit agencies, alongside Experian, and Equifax. In addition to compiling business credit reports, D&B offers a ton of tools and resources for small businesses from small business planning, to finance analytics, to sales and marketing assistance.
One of their most influential products is the D-U-N-S number.
The D-U-N-S number, which stands for data universal numbering system, is an identification number that is unique for each business. Think of a D-U-N-S number like an EIN; it verifies your business identity to the rest of the world. It identifies your business as being the authentic owner of the credit profile that is publicly available, thus making it more difficult for someone to steal your business identity.
Why Do You Need A DUNS Number?
Having a D-U-N-S number provides several benefits to you as a business owner. Here are three reasons why your business needs a D-U-N-S number.
1. A DUNS Number Allows You To Verify Your Business Identity
As previously mentioned, a D-U-N-S number enables you to take control of your business credit profile and ensure that no one is operating under your business name. Just like identify theft wreaks havoc on individuals' lives, business identity theft or impersonation can seriously hinder your business.
To be clear, having a D-U-N-S number does not safeguard you against business identity theft or impersonation. It identifies your business with a unique number and separates it from any potential imposters.
Requesting a D-U-N-S number is another way to claim and verify your business credit profile so someone else can't and it enables you to set up a Live Business Identity with D&B so you can monitor it for any malfeasance.
2. Having a DUNS Number Can Increase Your Business Creditworthiness
Many lenders request your D-U-N-S number during the application process because your D-U-N-S number leads them directly to your Live Business Identity. Your Live Business Identity contains your business and personal information.
It allows lenders to verify your business and base their credit decision largely on your business credit profile and less on your personal credit profile. Having a D-U-N-S number accompanied by a strong business credit history will increase your creditworthiness.
If you decide to partner with another business, you can provide them with your D-U-N-S number. Again, this makes your business more credible because they will see your business credit history and verify that your business is legitimate.
Similarly, you can request the D-U-N-S number of a potential partner company and look up their profile to determine whether or not that business is trustworthy.
3. Some Small Business Grants Require a DUNS Number
Applying for small business grants can be time-consuming and difficult. Some companies and organizations request your D-U-N-S number as part of the grant application. It can take 30 business days (up to 6 weeks) for Dun and Bradstreet to process your request.
This delay may cause you to miss the grant application deadline. It's better to have a D-U-N-S number already so you can apply for the grant right away. Not every grant requires you to submit a D-U-N-S number, but some do.
How Do You Apply for a DUNS Number?
Applying for a D-U-N-S number is simple, straightforward, and free – for the basic package. Head over to Dun and Bradstreet to begin the application process. You will be asked a series of questions about yourself and your business.
If you have an LLC or Corporation, you will need to put down the names of all the members and shareholders and the ownership percentage each has in the company. There are three different packages to choose from when you request a D-U-N-S number. The free package includes a D-U-N-S number and CreditSignal, which send you alerts each time your score changes.
The next package is $299 and guarantees your D-U-N-S within 5 business days. It also includes a basic credit file that can boost your credibility and open more favorable loan terms (depending on your business history).
The third package is $999 and includes a full credit file and a business page listed with D&B so you can promote your business on their site.
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