In A Nutshell
A 609 letter is a request to remove inaccurate negative information about your credit history from the credit reporting agencies. This is one strategy for improving your credit scores.
Did you know that, based on Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), there exists a loophole in getting negative items (such as late payments) removed from your credit report to help increase your credit score?
And that credit repair loophole is called the 609 Dispute Letter.
Here’s the truth about 609 letters that you may not have read in the many online articles: they absolutely can work in many cases, though you’re probably better off hiring one of the best credit repair companies to do it for you.
And just like with credit report disputes, there’s no guarantee that a 609 dispute letter will actually work.
Let’s take a closer look.
What does section 609 of the FCRA really say?
Many stipulations that the FCRA sets forth are created to combat identity theft, and Section 609 is one of them.
The purpose of Section 609 is to make it more difficult for people to obtain credit information about others.
FCRA Section 609: Disclosure to Consumers states that every consumer has the right to request disclosure of any information in their file, the source of the information, and the identification of any person who obtained your credit report.
And if any credit reporting agency fails to verify any of this information, they must remove the negative mark from your credit report (which could, in turn, improve your credit score).
In other words, creditors have to keep extremely accurate and thorough records of any of their transactions with consumers—loans, credit cards, etc.— in order to legally report negative activity.
What is a 609 credit dispute letter?
You might be able to get negative items removed from your credit report based on Section 609, and many others have had success, boosting their credit score in the process.
The basic process involves writing a letter to ask for verification of all the information in your file in hopes that something was not documented correctly.
If the creditor did, in fact, fail to document something correctly, they have no legal choice but to remove that negative item from your credit report.
This is why it’s often called a credit repair “loophole” in the system.
Traditional disputes say a negative item is incorrect or doesn’t belong to the individual, but a 609 letter dispute just says the item might belong to you, but if they can’t prove that you consented to have someone pull your credit report, they have to remove it—so this can work as a nice credit repair option.
How do credit disputes generally work?
A 609 letter is still basically a type of dispute.
But in general, when someone disputes an item on their credit report, they do so based on an inaccuracy. These can include errors in reporting account statuses, data management, balances, or identity.
The way these work is by first disputing an item with the credit reporting bureaus directly. Each credit bureau has a link to dispute any of your credit items so you can do this online if you wish, or you can submit one in writing by sending them a letter.
Sometimes, a credit reporting agency will remove an item after your first dispute, but often, you’ll be required to follow up with further documentation.
For example, if an item contains a balance error, you may need to send receipts or other proof that shows why you believe it’s wrong.
The credit bureaus’ responsibility
Much of the responsibility for accurate reporting actually falls on the credit reporting bureaus.
That’s why, most of the time, the dispute process starts with them.
According to the FCRA, credit reporting agencies are required to include only accurate and verifiable information on your credit report.
All this means is that if the credit bureau doesn’t get satisfactory responses from your creditors, they are obligated to remove any negative items from your credit report.
Do 609 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.
What 609 letters don’t do
It’s important to know that while a 609 letter might help with your credit repair, they don’t relieve you of your debt. If it’s a legitimate debt, you’re still responsible for paying it back.
Another thing you should be aware of is that a removed item could be reinserted if the creditor is later able to verify the information on your credit report in question.
So, even though the credit reporting bureaus will delete an item if a creditor doesn’t respond within 30 days, they still have the right to produce their evidence at a later date.
And lastly, if a creditor has sold your account to a debt collection agency, you may see the same debt pop up again with a different company.
This can happen with accounts you still owe money on if you continue to be delinquent. So, just because you successfully dispute an item with your original creditor, it may not necessarily be the end of it.
If this happens, you will have to go through the dispute process again with the collection agencies in order to try to get those removed as well.
Free 609 dispute letter template
You can find dozens of 609 letter templates and samples online, and many websites charge for them.
But if you follow our suggested basic structure and use similar wording, you can write it yourself pretty easily.
The important thing is to make sure it’s actually worded like a dispute to make it clear you’re fighting to have the item removed from your credit report.
Following is a template you can copy and paste onto your own documents to send to the credit bureau.
You’ll need to address one to each one specifically and we’ll provide addresses below.
To whom it may concern:
I am writing to request the verification of information regarding certain items on my credit report in accordance with my Fair Credit Reporting Act: Section 609 rights.
[List Account Names and Numbers You’re Disputing]
I would like to verify that these creditors obtained my information legally by requesting that they provide me with the original sources of the information they received. This should include the identity of the individuals who requested my credit reports, my original contract or agreement, and any other relevant documentation. If you are unable to get this information for me, please remove these items immediately since their accuracy cannot be verified.
[Full Legal Name]
[Social Security Number]
Credit bureau mailing addresses
Equifax Information Services, LLC: P.O. Box 7404256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Experian: Dispute Department, P.O. Box 9701, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion LLC: Consumer Solutions, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022-2000
5 tips for writing and sending your letter
- Send your 609 letter by 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. It’s also a good idea to include a copy of your driver’s license or passport.
- 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.
- Include supporting documentation. To support your dispute, send the credit bureaus as much documentation as you can. For example, you may attach copies of a cleared check that showed you paid a credit card bill on time.
609 dispute letters are a good way to potentially clean up a few negative items on your credit report that you may not have been able to remove before.
Even if these items are yours, creditors have to legally document and be prepared to prove it.
But keep in mind that traditional credit report disputes are fine to start with as you may initially find some inaccuracies that need to be addressed.
But when these don’t do the trick, these 609 letters are yet another weapon in your arsenal on your journey to a better score.
- Federal Trade Commission. “Fair Credit Reporting Act”
- National Consumer Law Center’s Report. “Automated Injustice: How a Mechanized Dispute System Frustrates Consumers Seeking to Fix Errors in Their Credit Reports ”
- Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR). “Title 12 Chapter X Part 1022 Subpart E § 1022.43 Direct disputes”