Make certain that your credit application gives you permission to contact references, if not, modify your application to give you permission.
Here are three important questions to ask each credit reference on the application:
1) How recent was your latest transaction with this firm?
If it wasn’t within the last 4 months, the information may not be of great value because your customer’s financial position may have changed materially.
2) Are you related to the prospect in any way?
This may be difficult to assess, since people may lie. Use your instincts to decide how accurate the answer is and whether to probe further.
3) Would you consider this firm a good, slow, or bad payer?
Talking to a few references now can save you months of stonewalling down the road.