Dun & Bradstreet
Complaints about Dun & Bradstreet
There are many complaints about Dun & Bradstreet on the Internet from business owners.
Does Dun and Bradstreet call your business “High Risk?”
Some business owners have complained that Dun & Bradstreet is running a scheme that has extortionate qualities. It goes something like this: D&B rates a business as “high risk.” The business owner, concerned about the possible negative impact this will have, considers doing anything, including paying D&B to change this negative rating. At least one business owner has complained that D&B’s reasons for the so-called “high risk” rating were unfair, arbitrary, and intentionally vague and indecipherable. In other words, the owner didn’t understand what the cause of the supposed problem was, so he was left with the choice of doing nothing, or paying the business that was causing the problem — Dun and Bradstreet. He complained of losing a large number of accounts because of an unfair “high risk” rating that had no verifiable basis in fact. He, complained that his once thriving business was now suffering because Dun and Bradstreet had labelled it “high risk,” for no good reason. He was irate about this unfair situation over which did not cause, and had no way of fixing, short of rewarding Dun and Bradstreet financially for harming him financially, a step he was unwilling to take.
An operator of a small nonprofit reported last week that Dun and Bradstreet was reporting negative information about the organization she started, with multiple DUNS numbers, and would not give any explanation for the reputation-damaging rating or the multiple DUNS numbers. She was frustrated and angry.
These situations seem similar to one reported in the Wall Street Journal article entitled Small Businesses Seethe at Credit Service Using Dun & Bradstreet Name – Some Entrepreneurs Say They Were Misled by Sales Pitches
“…The credit rating for her firm, The Good Search LLC, had changed to “high risk” because she wasn’t tapping many sources of credit, the salesman told her. That poor score could scare off her prospective lenders, suppliers and clients, he warned. But she might be able to improve her rating—if she paid for a yearlong program that promises to let small-business owners monitor and build their business credit. Anxious to rectify the problem, she said she spent $948 on the credit-management service, CreditBuilder, from the company, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. Today, Ms. Bradford, who works from her Westport, Conn., home, believes she was misled by the pitch….”
Information about Dun and Bradstreet
- Official name: The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation
- Stock symbol: DNB (New York Stock Exchange)
- Website: http://www.dnb.com/
- Telephone: (866) 273-4625
- CEO: Ms. Sara Mathew, Total Annual Compensation: $825.0K
- Founded: 1841
- Offices: D&B is a company doing business in the State of Illinois with two of its primary locations at 55 Shuman Blvd. Ste 1000, Naperville, IL 60563, and 20 S Clark St. #2100, Chicago, IL 60603.
Recent Litigation against Dun & Bradstreet
The TCPA Class Action
Nicholas Martin v. Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. and Convergys Customer Management Group, Inc., No. 12 CV 215 (USDC N.D. IL.)
“On January 11, 2012, Nicholas Martin filed suit against Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. and Convergys Customer Management Group, Inc. (“Convergys”) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The complaint alleges that Defendants violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) (47 U.S.C. §227) because Convergys placed a telephone call to Plaintiff’s cell phone using an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) and because Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. authorized the telephone call. The TCPA generally prohibits the use of an ATDS to place a call to a cell phone for nonemergency purposes and without the prior express consent of the called party. The TCPA provides for statutory damages of $500 per violation, which may be trebled to $1,500 per violation at the discretion of the court if the plaintiff proves the defendant willfully violated the Act. Plaintiff sought to bring this action as a class action on behalf of all persons who Defendants called on their cell phone using an ATDS, where the Defendants obtained the cell phone number from some source other than directly from the called party, during the period January 11, 2010, to the present. Both Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. and Convergys answered the complaint on March 2, 2012. The matter has settled in principle. The proposed settlement agreement will be subject to approval by the Court.” Source: Dun & Bradstreet Corporation Quarterly Report
The “Bait and Switch” Class Action
On December, 12, 2012, the Class Action Complaint Complaint [PDF] was filed to commence O&R Construction, LLC v. Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corporation et al.
Excerpts from the complaint:
- “This is a class action brought on behalf of thousands of small businesses who have been unfairlyand unlawfully deceived, misled and cheated by DBCC, as well as D&B. Defendants employ deceptive marketing to sell credit monitoring products under the name “CreditBuilder,” misrepresenting the nature, need and value of the products. Further, the CreditBuilder products do not perform as promised by Dun & Bradstreet.
- Defendants’ aggressive marketing campaign features high-pressure sales tactics, including misleading form letters, e-mails and sales call scripts, which falsely claim that there are problems on a small business’s credit report with Dun & Bradstreet, which the CreditBuilder products can remedy.
- The defendants sell small businesses expensive products that purport to improve their credit ratings and correct problems on their reports: CreditBuilder for $799/year, CreditBuilder Plus for $1099 /year and CreditBuilder Premium for $1599/year (collectively, the “CreditBuilder products”). The CreditBuilder products do not improve credit ratings as claimed. In fact, defendants conceal material information about the limitations of the products; and, in any event, the products do not provide the value Dun & Bradstreet claims, or the benefits for which small businesses purchase the products.”
- Defendants have entered agreements, schemed and conspired, using the overwhelming market power of D&B, to manipulate the relevant credit reporting market in an anticompetitive manner. Defendants use exclusionary and predatory practices to monopolize the small business credit reporting and monitoring market in order to force sales of the CreditBuilder products…”
- Defendants unfairly leverage Dun & Bradstreet’s unique position in the minds ofsmall businesses to sell the CreditBuilder products. DBCC claims it “provides the only real solution available to companies looking to monitor and impact their business credit profile.” According toDBCC, “perhaps most important, CreditBuilder gives companies the ability to add favorable credit references to their files to enhance credit scores and ratings.” In fact, DBCC trains its sales agents to present CreditBuilder products as those a small business “can’t live without.” Further, DBCC represents to small businesses the following: At D&B Credibility Corp., we make over . million updates to our database on a daily basis. It could be major transactions like paying vendors or making lease or mortgage payments, but it could also be seemingly smaller transactions like equipment leasing, advertising, shipping packages or underwriting insurance. With all this information flooding into D&B, it’s critical that you keep on top of your profile and credit score to help ensure you keep your reputation solid as you forge the relationships and partnerships that will enable your business to grow profitably.
- As a result, small businesses are misled into believing that defendants will maintain daily updates on their credit profile and only accurate and up to date information when in reality defendants fail to maintain accurate and updated information on small businesses. At bottom, defendants lead businesses to believe that, unless they purchase the CreditBuilder products, they will not be able to properly monitor, verify or improve their D&Bratings, thereby running the risk that they will not be able to obtain credit, loans or contracts.
- Since small businesses rely on their Dun & Bradstreet credit profiles to secure new business and to apply for loans or credit, defendants essentially hold the target customer’s credit rating hostage unless the small business buys a CreditBuilder product.
- Defendants try to capitalize on the importance ofD&B-issued DUNS numbers when soliciting customers for CreditBuilder products. D&B provides DBCC a roster of DUNS numbers, which form a roster of target customers for sales agents (“sales queues”). By referencing a business’s DUNS number, defendants mislead the target customer to believe that the CreditBuilder products are necessary to monitor, verify and dispute items on their Dun & Bradstreet business credit profile.
- Defendants routinely stress the importance of a DUNS number and mislead customers into believing that they can obtain a DUNS number by purchasing a CreditBuilder product. In truth, DUNS numbers are automatically generated by D&B prior to any solicitation of the customer. Defendants also mislead customers by referencing D&B’ s propriety ratings when marketing the CreditBuilder products DBCC will issue “credit alerts” to target customers, claiming that one of their D&B ratings should cause the customer a concern which only CreditBuilder products can remedy.
- After bringing the weight of the Dun & Bradstreet name to bear upon target customers, the defendants employ other unlawful and deceptive sales tactics to instill fear in the minds of target customers. As set forth below, defendants issue uniform solicitations which falsely A DUNS number is “a unique nine-digit identification sequence used by the world’s most influential standards setting organizations and recognized, recommended, and often required by global corporations, governments, industry, and trade associations.” DUNS numbers are identifiers similar to a federal tax ID number, but DUNS numbers are only distributed by D&B. When applying for credit, loans or government bids, businesses are asked to provide their DUNS number. Vendors use a company’s DUNS number to pull information on the business, including its financial and credit risks.
- D&B uses several ratings relevant to extensions of credit: (i) a PA YDEX® Score, which is a predictive indicator for paying bills on time; (ii) the Financial Stress Score, which is an indicator of financial stress to the business in the next months; (iii) the Credit Limit Recommendation, which provides guidelines for extending business credit; and (iv) an overall D&B Rating, which addresses the overall assessment of a business. claim that: (a) “inquiries” have been made about the target customer’s credit; (b) the target customer has an “incomplete” credit profile with D&B; and/or (c) the target customer has a Supplier Evaluation Risk (“SER”) rating of”High Risk of Financial Stress.” Each of these claims causes a small business owner reasonable and understandable concern, especially coming from Dun & Bradstreet. In the end, defendants strong-arm thousands of small businesses into purchasing CreditBuilder products each year by falsely claiming that the products will solve the “problem” or dramatically improve the customer’s credit profile.