From the May 1999 issue of Startups

CreditFYI is a new Internet service aimed at helping entrepreneurs make faster and better-informed decisions about granting customers credit (www.creditfyi.com). Enter a potential customer's name, address and a credit number, and out pops a complete credit profile, with a Net Earnings' credit risk rating.

For less than $15, the service is considerably cheaper than some of the more traditional credit evaluation services and probably just as comprehensive, considering the data is provided by Experian, a small-business risk assessment expert that maintains credit information on millions of U.S. small businesses.

"Currently, small businesses are forced to rely on lengthy business credit reports, pursue trade references or use pure guesswork when deciding whether to extend credit," says Latimer Asch, vice president of commercial products at Fair, Isaac and Co. Inc., a partner in the service.

The service doesn't make credit decisions for you. Instead, it provides an assessment of the relative credit risk that a business extending credit should consider, including factors such as a customer's prior credit relationships and risk profile. It's up to you to give the final thumbs up or down.

Kurt Samson is a freelance business writer and public relations consultant in Annapolis, Maryland.