This article is a bonus resource to the How to Read Your Annual Credit Report series.
When it comes to your credit report, you have the right to add a personal statement. This statement can be up to 100 words long and gives you the opportunity to explain information in your file.
You can address any aspect of your credit file, including multiple items. There are many possible uses for the 100-word statement:
- Explaining the reasons for a bankruptcy filing. Part of the process of recovering from bankruptcy should be to include a 100-word statement explaining your situation. If you can let creditors know that your bankruptcy resulted from a divorce, medical issue, or other unexpected tragedy, it may help you with some lenders and credit grantors down the road.
- Clarifying inaccuracies. If there is a mistake in your report that you are having trouble getting updated, you can set the record straight.
- Calling attention to a dispute. If an account you are disputing is listed by a creditor as past due or a collection agency is trying to make you pay an account that isn’t yours, the 100-word statement allows you to explain that you are disputing the debt while you are working to have it removed from your report.
- Adding information about negative items. If you have an account that has late or missed payments, you can explain why. It won’t help your score, but it might reassure an underwriter that you are not likely to default again in the future.
- Explaining a fraud alert more fully. If you are the victim of identity theft, a “fraud alert” will be placed on your file. The 100-word statement allows you to explain the situation more fully and point out which accounts were affected by the ID theft.
Please be aware that including a 100-word personal statement in your credit report won’t always help you. Many creditors simply don’t read them at all; some let computers evaluate credit reports for them. Since the personal statement cannot improve your credit score, it won’t have an impact in most cases.
Some lenders, however, will personally evaluate applicants, and they don’t limit themselves to just checking your credit score. In these cases, a well-written personal statement might help you get approval.
You should also consider the other readers besides creditors when drafting a 100-word statement. Potential landlords, insurers, and employers may access your report as well. The personal statement might not help you get credit, but it can assuage a potential employer who is reviewing your report before deciding to offer you a job. (And that means you should be careful about what personal information you include in your statement, as well as the tone and language of what you write.)
For more information about how to add a personal statement to your credit report, including sample 100-word statements, download our free Consumer Guide to Good Credit guide.