There’s nothing worse than finding inaccurate information on your credit report, especially if it’s dragging your credit score down. Fortunately, you can challenge inaccurate items with a 609 dispute letter.
A 609 letter is a method of requesting the removal of negative information (even if it’s accurate) from your credit report, thanks to the legal specifications of section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
If you’re looking to improve your credit score, it can be tempting to look for a quick fix in the form of a 609 letter—but does it really work? Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Section 609?
Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) outlines a consumer’s right to order copies of their credit report and the information that appears on it. Section 609 doesn’t explicitly discuss your right to dispute inaccurate information, but it does assert your right to a copy of all the information in your credit file.
Under section 609, you have the right to request:
- All of the information in your consumer credit files.
- The source of that information.
- Each prospective employer that has accessed your credit report within the past two years (unless it was to complete an investigation).
- Businesses that have made soft inquiries within the past year.
Contrary to what some might think, section 609 does not:
- Require credit bureaus to provide proof of your accounts.
The FCRA gives you the right to dispute information you believe to be incorrect or unverifiable.
Credit reporting agencies are responsible for removing any disputed information that can’t be verified or confirmed. They’re also obligated to provide a description of the dispute process if you request it in writing. If the information is found to be accurate, the bureaus aren’t required to remove it.
How Does a 609 Letter Work?
A 609 letter is based on the credit bureaus’ responsibility to report only information that is verified. The theory behind the 609 letter is that asking your creditors to produce hard-to-find information—such as the original signed copy of your credit application—would make it difficult to verify a disputed item.
Under the rights afforded to you by the FCRA, a 609 letter may help you remove erroneous or unsubstantiated information in your credit report. The downside is that if the furnisher does successfully verify its accuracy, the information can be added back to your file.
Of course, you’re still obligated to repay any legitimate debts, even if the credit bureaus delete the information from your file.
If the information is true and correct, chances are that it will remain on your credit report. However, you can write to the credit bureau and request disclosure of information under section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Do 609 Credit Repair Dispute Letters really work?
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get a negative item removed using any form of dispute.
But consumers seem to have a great deal of luck with 609 letters as part of their credit repair process, which could be because many creditors take information online without providing all the proper paperwork and disclosures they’re supposed to.
Most of them know you could use this loophole later, but they probably just figure the time and hassle they’re saving themselves is worth the risk.
If you’ve been working on repairing your credit and boosting your credit score and your standard disputes haven’t been working, a 609 letter may be just the solution you need.
Or if you just have one or two stubborn items that you can’t get removed, it can be the best thing to try.
609 Sample Letter Everything You’ll Need
The 609 letter is similar to a debt verification letter you would send to a third-party collector when trying to validate the legitimacy of a balance due, which is your right under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The 609 letter, however, is based on Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law that regulates the credit reporting agencies.
As per the FCRA, only accurate and timely information may be listed on your credit report. Section 609 of the FCRA gives you the right to see what the furnisher (such as a lender, collector, or court) sent to the credit reporting agency as evidence that the information is correct. But the information needs to be verifiable, so if it’s not, it should be removed from your credit report.
Some people and companies sell 609 sample letter templates to worried consumers, but there is no reason to spend any money. There is nothing proprietary about the format or wording, although it should be carefully written and requires quite a bit of your own documentation.
To write a well-crafted 609 letter, first gather the following documents and make four copies of each:
- Credit report with the account in question circled and/or highlighted
- Birth certificate
- Social Security card
- Passport (if you have one) — the page showing your photo and the number
- Driver’s license or state-issued identification card
- Tax document that shows your SSN
- Either a rental agreement or mortgage contract with your name and address
- Utility bills with your name and address
Free 609 Sample Letter Template
Dear Credit Bureau (Experian, TransUnion or Equifax),
I am exercising my right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Section 609, to request information regarding an item that is listed on my consumer credit report.
[List account names and account numbers]
As per section 609, I am entitled to see the source of the information, which is the original contract that contains my signature.
As proof of my identity, I have included copies of my birth certificate, Social Security card, passport, driver’s license, W-2, rental agreement and a cell phone bill. I have also included a copy of my credit report with the account I am requesting to have verified circled and highlighted.
If you are unable to verify the account with the original contract, the information should be removed from my credit report within 30 days.
[Address, Social Security Number, Date of Birth]
4 tips for writing and sending your 609 Credit Repair Dispute Letter
- Send your 609 letter certified mail. This way, you can track the letter to make sure the credit bureau receives it.
- Be clear. You must clearly state your request. You want them to verify your information under Section 609 and remove the item from your credit report if they can’t.
- Include your identifying information. As you can see from the letter template, we recommend you just list that info right under your full legal name for quick reference. Some people feel uncomfortable putting this in a letter, but it’s the only way for the credit bureaus to accurately identify you.
- Clearly list the credit items in question. It’s a good idea to list the items you want to be verified on your credit report prominently in the 609 letter rather than just including them in a paragraph.
Where to Send Your 609 Letter
Send your 609 letter to each of the credit reporting agencies that are listing the account you need verified:
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Do not just pop your letters in the corner mailbox — these are important letters, and you’ll want to be sure they arrive. Go to the post office and send them via certified mail, return receipt requested. Sending them from the U.S. Post Office this way will cost under $8 per letter, so it’s a pretty minor investment.
609 Credit Repair Dispute Letter Alternatives
There are other options besides a 609 dispute letter to improve your credit score. One of the best ways to repair a low credit score is to practice good financial habits on an ongoing basis, such as paying bills on time, paying off debt and paying credit card bills in full each month.
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