If you have negative information on your credit report, such as late payments or a bankruptcy, it can negatively impact your credit score. Lenders use your credit report to gauge your riskiness as a borrower, and it can be frustrating if you’re turned down for credit because of this negative information.
In these situations, you may desperately want to explain yourself to the lender—and you have the right to do so.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have the right to attach a personal statement to your credit report. It isn’t much (just 100 words, or 200 words in the state of Maine), and it has no numerical value in the formula that generates your credit score.
However, a personal statement allows you to explain the circumstances behind the negative information or to dispute information you feel is incorrect although a creditor has verified it as correct. This statement will be included each time your credit file is accessed. You can add a statement to your credit report by sending your statement in writing to the address below.
Here are four things to remember when adding a personal statement to any of your three credit reports:
1. Be succinct.
You don’t have many words with which to work, so be clear and use specific dates, names, and supporting evidence if at all possible. The statement gives you the opportunity to give the facts surrounding the situation to potential lenders or creditors.
For example, if you’ve been a victim of identity theft and have disputed fraudulent charges, but an investigation does not resolve your dispute, a personal statement can help explain the situation.
2. Don’t make excuses.
A personal statement doesn’t carry enough weight to counter a lengthy series of credit problems. When written as an excuse (“I forgot to mail a check,” for example), a personal statement can be interpreted as an admission of having poor money management skills rather than as an explanation of a one-time event.
3. Your statement may not sway lenders.
Because personal statements aren’t factored into your credit score, they may not influence whether a lender grants you credit.
However, if you take the time to write a thoughtful and specific statement, it might demonstrate to the lender that you’re educated about your rights, take your credit score seriously, and are proactive about your finances.
4. Remove the statement when the information is deleted.
After your creditors stop reporting the information to which the statement refers, you may want to remove the statement from your credit report. If you don’t, it may alert lenders to credit issues you had in the past that you have since resolved.
To remove a consumer statement from your Equifax Credit Report, send your removal request in writing to:
Equifax Consumer Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
You can visit the TransUnion and Experian websites for more information on removing consumer statements from your credit files with those credit reporting agencies.
If you choose to add a personal statement to your report, it’s important to remember that it comes with no guarantee that creditors will read what you have written. But 100 words are better than nothing, and it may be worth considering what writing a statement might accomplish.
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