A 609 dispute letter is generally considered to be a legally valid credit repair strategy forcing credit reporting bureaus to remove certain negative information from credit reports. It is a formal way of verifying unsubstantiated or erroneous items on the credit report. The credit bureaus created 609 dispute letters as a first step to protect consumers by challenging false negative credit claims.
What Is FCRA Section 609?
Consumer’s right to obtain copies of their credit information and report is outlined in Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Although this section doesn’t explicitly discuss a consumer’s right to dispute erroneous or inaccurate information, it asserts a consumer’s right to acquire a copy of the information included in the credit file.
Section 609 doesn’t include any significant language for disputing any credit reports or false negative items. Instead, the FCRA has memorialized consumers’ right to dispute any information in the credit reports in section 611 of the statute. For convenience, the industry coined the term ‘609 letters’ to describe the dispute letters.
Under Section 609, You Have The Right To Request 4 Items
Section 609 asserts your right to obtain a copy of the information in your credit file. This request is made to credit bureaus and involves the following:
Source of the gathered information
Information of any person that accessed your credit report in the past two years. Information on entities that accessed the credit reports to complete an investigation is not divulged under section 609.
Any business that made soft inquiries in the past one year
What Does Section 609 Not Give You The Right To Do?
The FCRA has not made it mandatory for credit bureaus to provide the proof of your credit accounts. You can dispute information you believe is unverifiable or incorrect. The credit reporting agency is responsible for removing any information which cannot be confirmed or verified.
It's vital to understand that if credit bureaus find any disputed information to be accurate, they are not required by law to remove it. You cannot request for credit files that are more than a year old unless they are for employment purposes, in which case, you get 2 years.
609 Letter Example
You can draft and send your own 609 letter. Just make sure to include all the right information.
This is a typical sample of a 609 letter:
I would like to exercise my right to request information regarding the following listed items in my consumer credit report as per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Section 609.
[List all account names and account numbers here]
I am entitled, as per section 609, to be provided with the original contract containing my signature or the source of information for the mentioned items.
I have included copies of my Social Security card, passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, W-2, and rental agreement as proof of my identity. I have also included copies of my cell phone bill along with a copy of my credit report.
I request for the information to be removed within 30 days if you are not able to furnish the original contract.
[Name, Address, Social Security Number, Date of Birth]
No agency has made the 609 letter wording or format proprietary. These letters are not creative works; they are legal documents and hence not protected by copyright. There is no evidence to suggest that a certain type of dispute letter format will be more effective than another. However, this fact doesn’t stop credit repair companies from advertising that their letter template works better than others. The bottom line is you should always work with credit repair companies that offer to write individual and unique letters instead of using a template.
Can A 609 Letter Improve My Credit?
609 letters have been successful in disputing an error in credit reports. However, there is a caveat. The information in question must be inaccurate and unverifiable for it to be removed from the credit report. There is no evidence suggesting that a 609 letter is more effective than other methods of disputing inaccuracies in credit reports. It’s simply another way of gathering the necessary information and seeking verification of the report.
Credit bureaus are responsible for removing only negative items if disputes are successful. Verifiable and accurate information will remain on the credit report and 609 letters cannot be used for their removal. A major flaw in the 609 letter concept is that credit bureaus are not required by the FCRA to keep or provide signed proof of debts or contracts.
This means the information listed on the credit reports may be found valid whether specific documents and signed contracts are produced or not. 609 letters should be written and sent if you are sure there are false items or unverifiable debts on the credit report. Mistakes on credit reports are generally always removed by credit bureaus.
609 letters essentially demand the removal of unverifiable and inaccurate information from credit reports. They do not guarantee that a specific item will be removed.
Credit bureaus have 30 days to respond to an inquiry as per the FCRA. If the bureau doesn’t respond within the given time frame, the agency is required to remove the negative items mentioned in the letter. If the credit bureau doesn’t reply in 30 days, it’s recommended that you send a follow-up letter.
Credit repair companies routinely file various types of dispute letters on behalf of their clients. It’s recommended that you allow industry experts handle your situation if you are not confident or don’t have the time and energy for follow-ups.