Your credit report tells your financial story, and your credit score, most times, will have the final word. But what if the financial story that your credit report tells, is not the whole story?
I am reminded of a 2009 Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie where Adichie pointed out the dangers of a single story and how damaging it could be.
Likewise, if a creditor were to judge you by your single credit report story, it could mean the difference between getting approved for a loan or being denied. But what if you had the opportunity to tell your side of the story, to explain what happened?
Well, there is a way for you to do just that. There is a way for you to add another dimension to your credit report story, by telling your version of what happened. But, you will have to do it in 100 words or less for Transunion, and 400 words or less for Equifax.
Equifax and Transunion are the two leading credit reporting agencies in Canada and offer the consumer statement as a free service.
A consumer statement is a note you add to your credit report to explain a negative entry on your file. For instance, you may want to explain why you missed two credit card payments or why your mortgage payments are deferred.
There are three main advantages of having a consumer statement on your file:
- A written statement on your credit report helps to explain any negative entries.
- A written statement gives you a voice if you disagree with the results of a credit dispute.
- This proactive approach may be looked at favorably by lenders.
It should be pointed out though, that having a consumer statement on your file, doesn’t mean that the lender will read it. With automated loan applications being the norm these days, it may very well not even be taken into consideration. A good idea, if you know the loan officer, may be to pick up the phone or send an email to briefly explain your situation. Let them know that there is a consumer statement on your credit report which would explain the negative entry or situation on your report. Offer to give more details if required.
This might be a good time to place a consumer statement on your credit report if you have lost your job, had a reduction in pay, had to change your credit behavior due to the pandemic (E.g. increased credit activity or deferral payments) or if you were sick as a result of this Covid-19.
You can say something like this:
“Please be advised that the missed payment on my credit report is because I was temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am now back to working full-time hours and I have already started putting things in place to correct the situation.”
“Please be advised that this negative information on my credit report is because I was hospitalized as a result of Covid-19. As soon as I am better and back to work, I will try my best to fix the situation”
Please note that the consumer statement should be removed as soon as the situation is fixed or resolved. You will need to contact the agencies directly in order to have your consumer statement removed.
If you would like to add a consumer statement to your credit report you will need to send your written statement by mail or fax along with the following:
- Date of birth
- Phone number.
- Copies of two valid pieces of identification.
Equifax Canada Co Consumer Relations Department Box 190 Jean Talon Station Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2 By fax: (514) 355-8502
TransUnion Consumer Relations Department 3115 Harvester Road, Suite 201 Burlington ON L7N 3N8 To request a fax number: 1-800-663-9980