From the February 2007 issue of Entrepreneur

Ever been burned by a vendor who went bust just before your crucial selling season? Or by a client who pulled a disappearing act while in arrears? Or maybe you were one of an increasing number of small businesses hit by business identify theft.

Those are just the kinds of situations Experian's new subscription-based credit monitoring plan hopes to prevent, says Craig Whitney, a senior director in Experian's Business Information Solutions group.

"Credit Insure is a monitoring service that gives you unlimited access to your company's credit report and those of companies you do business with," he explains. A fee of $12.95 per month, or $99 annually, for each company monitored gives you access to an easy-to-read dashboard displaying the companies' current credit score, as well as how that score has changed over the past three months.

What's more, subscribers can also set up triggers to alert them via e-mail of any significant changes that may affect their company's credit status, such as inquiries, late trade payments, or events like liens, judgments or bankruptcies. "We anticipate that most businesses using the service [will] monitor themselves," says Whitney, who notes that prices for an individual credit report range from $24.95 to $49.95. "But it's also useful for key suppliers or customers. When you see payment trends starting to slip, you know not to count on them or to be pro-active in managing that relationship."

Jennifer Pellet is a freelance writer specializing in business and finance.