What Is a Consumer Statement and Should I Have One?
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Navigating unexpected financial challenges during the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a tough task, and you may be worried about the impact a job loss or income reduction will have on your ability to pay bills. You’re right to be concerned — not paying your bills can have an adverse impact on your credit standing — but adding a consumer statement to your Equifax credit report can help provide current and future lenders with an explanation of your situation.
What is a consumer statement?
A consumer statement is a brief free-form statement that you can add to your credit reports explaining your circumstances, free of charge. The length of this statement depends on the credit reporting agency, and with Equifax you can add a statement of up to 800 characters.
After you’ve written and placed your consumer statement, it will remain on your Equifax credit report until you remove it, and lenders and creditors can see it each time they access your credit history. If you’d like to take your consumer statement off your Equifax credit report, you can do so at any time, and lenders and creditors will no longer be able to access it.
Why should I add a consumer statement?
Depending on your situation, there are a couple of reasons you might want to add a consumer statement to your Equifax credit report.
The first reason is an unsuccessful attempt to dispute information on your Equifax credit report. If you’ve found a piece of information you believe is inaccurate, you should file a dispute with proper documentation to Equifax. To learn more about the steps in that process, read about how to file a dispute.
After you’ve filed a dispute, Equifax will either accept the dispute and revise your Equifax credit report with updated information, or reject it if the information is found to be correct. If your dispute is denied, you might want to give current and future lenders and creditors an explanation about that particular account through a consumer statement on your Equifax credit report.
The second reason you may want to add a consumer statement applies more broadly. If you’ve missed or delayed debt payments, a consumer statement can help to provide valuable context about your situation to lenders and creditors.
For instance, if missed or late payments have been added to your credit reports because of a layoff or income reduction due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you may want to add a consumer statement.
What should I write in my consumer statement?
There’s no one-size-fits-all suggestion for how to best represent yourself in a consumer statement, but here are a couple of samples to help you better understand what an appropriate consumer statement could look like:
- “Be advised that the negative accounts on my credit report are related to the Covid-19 pandemic. I intend to make these up as soon as I can find a job.”
- “I was laid off and unemployed between May and December 2019. Once re-employed, I paid off all delinquencies and began making the regular payments.”
Your consumer statement may give anyone pulling your credit reports context for your financial hardship and help to demonstrate that your delayed or late payments had a cause outside of your control.
It’s important to understand that a consumer statement won’t change accurately reported information on your credit reports and is unlikely to impact your credit scores. However, a consumer statement may provide lenders and creditors with a fuller picture of your credit standing and help them better evaluate your creditworthiness.
How do I add a consumer statement?
You can add a consumer statement to your Equifax credit report by following these steps:
Send your written statement by mail to Equifax, along with your name, address, date of birth and phone number. You will also need to provide photocopies of two valid pieces of identification. If you have the Equifax Unique Number from your credit report, that is also helpful.
Equifax Canada Co.
Consumer Relations Department
Box 190 Jean Talon Station
Please note that you will need to contact TransUnion of Canada, Inc. directly to dispute errors found on your TransUnion Canada credit report or to add a consumer statement.