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Gathering Credit Information
on Foreign Applicants
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

International Credit Articles
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Information about international applicants
and customers can be difficult to get

Information about international applicants and customers can be difficult to get - at any price. U.S. credit managers will quickly learn that it is far more difficult to gather the same kind of information - or the same quality of information that is available about a customer or applicant in the United States.

Creditors may find that obtaining financial information from foreign customers is even more challenging. One of the best sources of information about doing business internationally is the FCIB.

The FCIB provides member companies with country risk reports, as well as a worldwide credit reporting service on individual companies. FCIB country reports identify, describe and quantify as many of the credit risks associated with doing business in a particular foreign country as possible. Country risk reports are for sale to members and non-members.

U.S. credit professionals may be surprised to find that foreign suppliers may be unwilling to share information in response to routine credit inquiries. In some countries, it is not common business practice to request or to respond to reference checks.

Another limitation associated with foreign trade references is the fact that the creditor has no way of knowing whether the party giving the trade reference is an impartial third party. For this reason, a creditor should specifically ask the debtor to provide a list of their U.S. trade references.

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