In the world of finance and economics, a letter of explanation is a formal letter to a financial institution that gives specific details regarding an incident or circumstance that is outside the normally accepted scope of business. In some circumstances, the letter of explanation is given directly to the major credit reporting bureaus to be given out with a person's credit report any time one is requested.
A letter of explanation can be expected any time a prospective borrower is applying for a large sum of credit, such as a mortgage, and the lending institution recognizes the presence of defaulted or late payments on the purchaser's credit report. The purpose of the letter is to give specific details explaining the individual circumstances of the default and offers an opportunity to mitigate its impact on the applicant's chances for approval. A letter of explanation cannot be expected to salvage a history of bad credit but can offset the presence of a questionable section of history. The letter should use the standard business letter format, give specific details and be free of spelling and grammatical errors.
A letter of explanation is also the term used for a letter written by a job seeker to a prospective employer explaining the presence of a past criminal conviction.