by Matt Douglas

If you have ever tried to dispute items on your credit report, you may have received a response from the credit bureaus stating they performed their “investigation.” The bureaus may also tell you that they “verified” whatever item you disputed. This means that negative item will remain on your credit report.

Credit bureaus always respond to disputes with a letter where they inform you that you have the right to attach a 100-word statement to your report. Often, people believe this is a good opportunity to explain away their negative information or argue their case.

It may be difficult to resist the urge to proclaim your innocence by way of a consumer statement. You may feel the need to explain that the bad credit simply was not your fault or beyond your control.

However, do not be misled by the “opportunity” to add a consumer statement to your credit report.

It may look like the credit bureaus are doing you a favor by adding your consumer statement. However, it is really just another technique the credit bureaus use against you.

Let’s assume that you were to attach a statement like this: “I was only late on my credit cards because I was laid off from work. Once I found another job I caught up on all my bills and have never been late since.”

Losing her job due to no fault of her own seems like a rotten reason to give her bad credit.

Credit bureaus really could care less that your inability to pay your bills was due to no fault of your own. They see things in black and white. You either paid your bills on time (according to the creditor) or you did not pay your bills on time.

Her inability to make payments is seen as a sign of weakness and/or irresponsibility. They believe that she should have emergency money to pay bills during times of emergency.

Attaching a 100-word statement is really bad for three additional reasons: (1) Such a statement confirms that Yes – you really were late on those payments. (2) The credit bureaus will ignore any future disputes you mail because you already admitted fault. (3) Should you apply for new credit in the future; every creditor will see your candid admission that you are not able to pay your bills during times of emergency – and therefore a bad credit risk. As you can see, attaching a 100-word written statement to your credit report could possibly be the worst step you can take. In fact, it is only an option because it was part of the original Fair Credit Reporting Act enacted in the 1970’s. Thirty years ago bankers actually manually reviewed credit applications and read those statements personally.

In today’s digital world most applications are reviewed electronically. Thus, such a statement only serves as another way for the credit bureaus to ignore your credit report dispute.

In sum, ignore the temptation to tell your side of the story. Resist the urge to “justify” your being late on that credit card bill or car payment. Steer clear of adding the deadly 100-word consumer statement.

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