NEW YORK - J.P. Morgan & Co., which this year created a $1 billion incubator fund for Internet start-ups, has joined three other companies to invest a total of $15 million in the credit-checking service., a closely held company in Burlingame, Calif., was started in 1996 by Bank of Montreal. It targets 7,000 small and midsize banks and more than 5,000 U.S. credit unions that cannot afford to develop an automated credit-checking system. Companies using the software pay a licensing fee.

New York-based J.P. Morgan will own 9% of the company for its $10 million investment. Bank of Montreal, which last year brought in as an equal partner American Management Systems Inc., a Fairfield, Va., technology consulting firm, reduces its stake to 36%, from 40%. American Management will also own 36%.

Trans Union LLC, one of three U.S. credit-reporting agencies, is the fourth investor.

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