What is a 609 Dispute Letter? It Could Boost Your Credit Score

If you’re looking to repair your credit, the numbers “6-0-9” might be just what you need — or, more accurately, you might need to compose a 609 Dispute Letter.

This is a letter any consumer may send to the three credit bureaus requesting additional information after spotting an inaccuracy. It often includes a request to remove the entries from the credit report.

What is a 609 Dispute Letter?

The 609 Dispute letter is only a credit dispute letter — like a debt verification letter — and not an official dispute.

It’s named after section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law that protects consumers from unfair credit and collection practices. It’s not actually a dispute but rather a way to request that the credit bureau provides documentation substantiating the authenticity of the bureaus’ reporting. The item may be inaccurate if a credit bureau cannot provide the documentation.

Ultimately, a 609 Dispute Letter may or may not help you repair a credit score falling into the poor or bad category.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to write a 609 Dispute Letter and send it to one or all the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, or Experian. You might feel a sense of relief at least for the moment knowing you did something to get the ball rolling after learning about any erroneous items. 

Using a 609 letter to dispute an item on your credit report

When opting to submit a 609 Dispute Letter the process is again like a debt verification letter sent to a third-party debt collection agency by the consumer. 

The letter is written by you when you’re trying to validate that a debt owed is legitimate, which is your right as a consumer under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The FCRA states that only accurate and timely information is allowed to be listed on your credit report. Inaccurate information — or information that cannot be verified — must be removed. 

Section 609 grants the right for a consumer to see any negative information that a furnisher (i.e., a lender, creditor, collector, or court) sent to a credit bureau as evidence that the information is accurate. All information must be verifiable, and should a credit bureau be unable to complete validation of the debt, it must be removed from your credit report completely.

Section 609 also only grants you the right to request information about the items listed on your credit report (s) as disputes are covered by other sections of the FCRA.

But many borrowers have discovered a loophole to erroneous information: the credit reporting agencies will automatically remove unverifiable information after receiving the Section 609 Dispute Letter.

How to write a 609 letter

If you have no idea how to write a 609 Dispute Letter, that’s no problem. Writing and sending a Section 609 letter is not difficult.

Even though various services have templates you can buy, there’s no need to pay. Many sample letters are available online for free.

Gather the paperwork

To begin, compile all the documents needed such as: 

  • A credit report (Provide the account number you’re inquiring about)
  • A copy of your birth certificate
  • A copy of your Social Security card
  • Your current address and any other addresses where you’ve lived during the past two years
  • A government-issued ID: This means a copy of your driver’s license, a state-issued identification card, or a copy of the identification page on your passport
  • A tax document with your Social Security number
  • A rental agreement or mortgage contract that includes your name and address
  • Any utility bills including your name and address (gas, electric, etc.)

How to get free copies of your credit report

Remember you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — once per year and all are available via annualcreditreport.com. Or you can file for these online with each of the three credit bureaus on the credit bureaus’ websites.

After you’ve obtained the reports, review them carefully. Flag any negative or inaccurate info. 

Also, be aware that you’re entitled to additional free credit reports if you’ve been denied credit or have been a victim of identity theft.

Craft your letter

The easiest and most inexpensive way to compose a 609 Dispute Letter is to download a template for free. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers various guidelines and a sample letter.

Start the letter by including the dispute information, your legal name, current address, phone number, date of birth, Social Security number, and the date.

Dear [credit reporting agency]:

I am requesting information regarding [item in question] on my credit report. Per my rights under Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, I understand that I am entitled to view the source of this information in the form of the original contract containing my signature.

Per my rights under Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, I am requesting information regarding [the item in question] on my credit report. I understand that I am entitled to view the source of this information, which is the original contract that contains my signature.

This information was brought to my attention via [insert prospective collection agency or account name, list account numbers associated]. 

Here is my identification information:
Social Security number:
Date of birth:

I am attaching additional information to help with your search. This includes: [whatever information may be useful, including copies of your driver’s license, passport, or the bill in question.]

I am also including a copy of my credit report. I have circled and highlighted the account for which I’m requesting verification.

If you’re unable to verify the account in question by providing the original contract, please remove the information in question from my credit report within 30 days.

Thank you for assistance. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Name
Address and contact information

There are plenty of free letter templates to help you get started, including one from USlegalforms.com.

Make four copies of the letter and all the identification paperwork you will need to send to each bureau. Keep one for yourself.

Want to learn how to write the perfect 609 letter? Watch this video:

Where to Mail Your 609 Letter

Send the 609 letters to each credit reporting agency and clarify the account that requires validation.

Experian

  • P.O. Box 4500
  • Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion Consumer Solutions

  • P.O. Box 2000
  • Chester, PA 19016-2000

Equifax

  • P.O. Box 740256
  • Atlanta, GA 30374-0256

Take the packages to the post office and ask to have them sent by certified mail with a return receipt requested. Depending on where you live the cost should be about $7 per package, or around $6 if you opt to get the return receipt via PDF. Don’t skip the return receipt. Even though it costs extra, it will serve as proof that the credit bureaus have received your letter.

Fixing mistakes on your credit report is important

Trying to fix any kind of mistake or error on your credit report isn’t always easy, and every once and a while you might need some help to find the underlying cause of the issue.

Because such errors and inaccuracies may unfairly drag down your credit score, you must do what you can to get the report back up to speed.

For instance, one late payment may seem inconsequential, but it could drag a credit score a few extra points and be a sticking point if you’re trying to get approved for a credit card, mortgage, or car loan. Plus it can increase the interest rate you’ll pay for that loan. 

Regularly checking your credit score for wrong or negative items might help you stay above the curve. 

When reviewing your credit report, look for unfamiliar entries — and if you see something that doesn’t appear to be correct, filing a 609 Dispute Letter is what many feel is a “credit repair secret” that might solve the problem.

What a 609 letter can and cannot do

While it may sound like a miracle, there are some things the letter will – and will not —provide in the process.

When a credit bureau receives your letter, you should get a response that will either be a copy of the contract you signed that supports or validates the furnisher’s claim, or you’ll be notified that it doesn’t have the original contract.

If the credit bureau can’t access the contract, the incorrect information may be deleted from your file, requiring no follow-up. 

If the inaccurate information remains on the credit file, you’ll need to formally dispute this with the credit bureau. When you fill out the dispute form, you must state that the information could not be validated by you or the credit reporting agency, and it must be removed from your credit report.

If the credit bureau produces the original contract you signed, the information will stay on your credit report until it has timed out, which is about seven years.

Don’t bother questioning accurate information

Don’t waste time and money writing by sending a 609 Dispute Letter if you know that the credit report information is correct or that verifiable debt will be confirmed. You will not be successful.

If you need help with a dispute, consider hiring a credit repair company

If you can’t wait to get a response because you’re trying to obtain a loan or other time-sensitive credit application, there are ways to speed up the process. 

Although you can easily take care of the 609 Dispute Letter and contact the bureaus on your own for just the postage cost, there may be a better option if you can’t wait.

A reputable credit repair agency that handles credit report disputes will likely solve the problem faster. Remember, a bad credit score means you’ll pay more in interest over the life of your loan — if you even get approved, this might not be a bad idea if you feel you can’t do it on your own. They will not be able to get accurate information removed, though. There are plenty of credit repair scammers out there, so watch out for unrealistic claims.

If you feel a credit agency has violated your rights

If you find the credit agency has violated your rights or feel you have been wronged without a solution after these steps, you should consider contacting the Federal Trade Commission or a law firm for professional assistance. 

The bottom line

In the end, a 609 Dispute Letter might be the simplest way to resolve your credit report issues. Be sure to write a detailed letter explaining the problem, the inaccuracies, the who, what, where, and why after discovering the incorrect/inaccuracies on your credit report.

Mail it to the three bureaus, wait for a response, and hopefully, it will solve your problem.

FAQs

What steps can I take to rebuild my credit if I’ve been a victim of identity theft?

Don’t keep your Social Security number in your wallet but is in a safe place. Never keep the card where it can be easily accessed by anyone but you. 
Avoid phishing emails — meaning don’t click on something from someone that looks odd. Never answer emails from people you don’t know or recognize an email address.
Be careful with mobile banking and shopping. If you use a shopping or banking app in a public place, don’t log in through public Wi-Fi. Also, don’t let anyone view your screen that is nearby.
Use complex, unique passwords and change them regularly. Choose different passwords and update them every few months, including letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t use birthdates, phone numbers, or anything else that is too personal. 
Sign up for free credit monitoring service that can monitor and give you access to your credit score and a complete debt profile. Some offer free identity theft insurance and real-time notifications when something changes in your credit file. 

What’s the difference between a debt validation letter and a debt verification letter?

It can be confusing because sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but these are different letters. A debt validation letter is typically sent by a debt collector to you and usually contains basic information about the debt and statements of your rights. A debt verification letter is sent by you to a debt collector and in the letter, you can ask for the debt to be verified.

What are some easy ways to help build credit?

Whether trying to get a loan or a new credit card, credit-building is important for future purchases. There are various tools to help you get and keep a good credit score:

Apply for a secured credit card.
Get a credit-builder loan or a secured loan
Ask a friend or family member to co-sign your applications
Become an authorized user
Get credit for the bills you pay with a program like Experian Boost
Practice good credit habits
Check your credit scores and reports regularly

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