How to Add a Statement to Your Credit Reports

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There's a lot riding on your credit report. Lenders in particular are very interested in what your credit reports say about your past history with money and credit. Unfortunately, your personal history may be a little more complicated than your credit report makes it seem, especially when it comes to missed payments and delinquent accounts.

If your request to remove an erroneous item on your credit report is denied after going through the dispute process, Section 611b of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) entitles you to add a statement (100 words or less) to your file giving your version of the dispute. The credit bureau must normally include a summary of your statement in future reports.

If you’re thinking of telling your side of the story, here are the steps to follow:

Assess the damage

Make sure you have seen recent versions of your credit reports from all three bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to determine where the offending information appears. The three bureaus are separate companies and may contain slightly different information.

You can obtain free copies of your credit reports annually by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com

Go through the dispute process first

Make sure you have gone through the formal dispute process before adding a statement to your file(s). If you've submitted a dispute, have you waited long enough for the process to work? Adding a consumer statement should be your last resort. 

Determine if it’s worth it

While adding a statement may make a difference in some rare circumstances, don’t overestimate its influence. In fact, it will most likely go unread.

Today, most lending decisions are not made by an individual—they're made by a "credit scoring" system. A credit score is basically a statistical formula creditors use to determine your creditworthiness and adding a statement does not improve your credit score. In other words, the effort may not yield much return.  

Write your statement

Be honest and concise. For example, if you're divorced and have a defaulted loan on your credit report that was supposed to be paid by your spouse, briefly describe the situation along with any facts that support your claim that the problem was not your fault.

Be sure to stick to the facts; your credit report is not a good place to bash an ex. In fact, it's very important that you choose your words carefully because they cannot be edited or deleted. 

Submit your statement

You can submit your statement to the credit bureaus by mail or online. Check each bureaus’ website for specific instructions: Equifax.com, Experian.com, and TransUnion.com.

Looking for help understanding your credit report? Our nonprofit credit experts can help you uncover the factors impacting your score and creating a plan to strengthen your credit history.

Tagged in Understanding your credit report, Build your credit score, Financial scams

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

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