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.
609 Letter Example
There’s nothing proprietary about the format or wording of a 609 letter, although it does require your own documentation.
Here’s a sample of a typical 609 letter:
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]
Does a 609 Letter Really Improve My Credit?
There’s no evidence to suggest a 609 letter is more or less effective than the usual process of disputing an error on your credit report—it’s just another method of doing so. If the dispute is valid, the credit bureaus will remove the negative item. Any accurate or verifiable information will stay on your credit report—a 609 letter doesn’t guarantee its removal.
The flaw in the 609 letter theory is that the FCRA doesn’t require credit bureaus to keep or provide signed contracts or proof of debts, meaning that the information could still be found valid.
There are other ways to dispute inaccuracies and remove negative items than sending a 609 letter. In fact, you can get a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus, and follow the process to correctly dispute any inaccuracies you find.
Correctly Disputing Errors on Your Credit Report
The best way to dispute errors is by diligently reviewing your credit report, identifying errors, gathering corresponding documentation to prove the error and contacting the credit bureaus. You have the right to handle disputes by yourself, or you can hire a reputable credit repair professional to file a dispute on your behalf, like Lexington Law firm.
Filing a dispute can be a time-consuming process, but at Lexington Law, we can help you work to remove inaccurate, unfair or unsubstantiated negative items on your credit report. Call us today for a free credit report consultation.