What Is a 609 Letter and How Can It Help You?
Last Updated: February 2, 2023
Imagine you’re about to buy a new car, land a new job, or mortgage a lovely double-floor house; While that all sounds lovely, the first roadblock that you might encounter is none other than your credit score. If your score is too low, you can say farewell to your consumer dreams. More often than not, a credit report includes misinformation that affects your three-digit number—Not all is lost though. One way to deal with this sketchy issue is to draft a 609 letter.
We’re sure you must now be thinking about what the 609 letter is and how it can help you. We would be.
Our article aims to explain the benefits of sending this correspondence to credit reporting agencies as well as its importance; as you read, you will encounter definitions, tips, pros, cons, and our FAQ.
What Is a 609 Letter?
This type of letter is named after section 609 in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This section states that credit bureaus are obligated to disclose all information relating to your credit report. As a note, though, section 611 refers to your right to see the source of information sent to the credit reporting agency as evidence that the report is correct.
Three nationwide credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, must report verifiable and accurate information. Nonetheless, a study by the Federal Trade Commission suggests that one in five people have errors on at least one of their credit reports.
What can you do to prevent this? Well, you can draft a sample letter to remove items from a credit report which are inaccurate and damaging to your credit score. Essentially, a 609 letter is one of many credit repair strategies. You can send a 609 letter to the credit bureau by yourself, or you can hire a credit repair company to do so on your behalf.
(If you opt for the second course of action, make sure to check out our list of the best credit repair companies).
How Can a 609 Letter Help You?
While some credit bureaus ironically call it a “magical dispute letter,” this credit repair loophole is undoubtedly worth your time (and remember, time is money!) Here are some benefits of issuing 609 letters.
- A 609 letter forces credit reporting agencies to investigate and verify any alleged errors on your credit report. There’s nothing wrong with asking them to do this, by the way; You are exercising your rights granted by federal law.
- Suppose there is outdated and inaccurate information on your credit report. Credit report agencies have 30 days to respond to a 609 dispute letter. If they fail to, they violate federal law, namely the FCRA. The next step for them would be to delete all erroneous data.
- Sometimes there may be no means to verify the veracity of a piece of information (the original signed copies of credit applications, cashed checks used for bill payment, etc.). In that case, credit reporting agencies are obligated by the FCRA to remove the information.
All in all, the purpose of this particular letter is to dispute the credit report. In the long run, sending one will allow you to boost your chances regarding something like a new job or home purchase. It’s as simple as that.
How Do You Dispute Inaccurate or Unverifiable Information With a 609 Letter?
Next, we’re going to provide you with advice on how to file a credit dispute. These steps should be simple enough so that you don’t get confused by any part of the bureaucratic process.
First and foremost, make sure to get your credit report from all three credit bureaus before contesting any errors.
These companies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) send free credit reports every week to all consumers through AnnualCreditReport.com through April 20, 2022. By doing this, they’re helping consumers protect any part of their financial health affected by COVID-19.
File a Dispute
Relating to what we previously said about what the 609 letter is and how it can help you, if you find an error or any unverifiable information, you can file a dispute. You may do this either online or on the phone with the credit bureau reporting false information.
Remember, however, that a 609 letter is a type of debt validation letter. This means that you can only ask for further investigation of the debt, not its immediate deletion. When you fill out a credit report dispute form or call a credit bureau, don’t overstep your bounds.
Once you file a dispute, the investigation should take no more than 30 days.
The FCRA states that credit bureaus have 30 days to respond to your letter, although once COVID-19 is eradicated and consumers start obtaining free credit reports annually, credit bureaus may take up to 45 days. Also, 45 days are allowed if you submit extra information connected to your dispute during the 30-day investigation period.
Get a Written Response
Once the investigation is over, you are entitled to receive a written response to your 609 dispute letter within five business days.
There will either be two outcomes: you were successful, or you miscalculated on your end. You may continue to dispute other misinformation you suspect and hope for the best. Keep in mind that you can’t avoid repaying a legitimate debt—even if it’s removed from your credit report— and if the credit bureau finds proof of information,, they will be reintroduced.
What Should You Include in a 609 Letter?
It is critical to know what documentation should be sent with the 609 letters. Therefore, we ask you to carefully read the following points (It’s nice, this formal writing, isn’t it?).
- Section 610 of the FCRA clearly states that consumers must provide “proper identification” to receive an answer from any credit bureaus. That being said, every 609 letter template should be furnished with documents establishing who you are. Proofs of identity include, but are not limited to:
- The credit report with the account circled and/or highlighted
- Your birth certificate
- Your social security number
- For those who have a passport, a photo of the page showing your personal information
- Your driver’s license or state-issued ID
- A tax document that shows your social security number
- A rental agreement, mortgage contract, or utility bill with your name and address
Make sure to point out the exact error on your report, and request the credit bureau to investigate the matter and provide proof it is correct. Keep your writing neat, concise, and straightforward, being guided by the question: What is a 609 letter, and how can I use it to my advantage?
Consider writing something like: I am exercising my right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, specifically section 609, to request information regarding [report] listed on my consumer credit report [account number]. As per section 609, I am entitled to see the prime source of information, which is within the original contract that contains my signature.
Remind the credit bureau that if the information cannot be proved due to the lack of evidence, they are required to remove it from your credit report. Find a middle ground between being assertive and acting quarrelsome.
Try ending your letter with the following: Should it appear that you can’t provide me with the necessary proof mentioned above, please remove the error immediately.
Other things to remember when sending a 609 letter
We have covered plenty of stuff so far, but, young Padawan, there is still much to learn. There are many credit repair loopholes out there, and these are some of the best:
Make copies of all proofs of identity when sending them in your 609 letter.
Never send your real ID, passport, social security number, or whatever else is used. You need to make copies for the purpose of maintaining your own records. Sending original identifications in the mail may also result in identity theft, kissing goodbye to those documents for a while
If you send a 609 letter by mail, make sure you request and save the delivery receipt.
Credit bureaus are required to investigate appropriately written requests and notify the consumer between 30 and 45 days. With the receipt, you can track your letter, ensure that it arrives, and check the bureau’s response time. Here’s an interesting fact we haven’t mentioned with what a609 letter is and how it can help you—Suppose the credit bureau doesn’t answer you in the required time frame, and you have the delivery receipt. With your own evidence, you have every right to demand immediate action on their part in removing the negative item.
The FCRA does not require credit bureaus to keep or provide signed contracts of debts.
You can, however, request a description of the investigation procedure. In other words, you are entitled to ask for information included in the credit bureaus’ systems.
Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a 609 Letter
Sending a 609 letter may seem relatively easy, but it is imperative to watch out for some tricky features. The devil is in the details, so any imprudent word choice or disregard for bureaucratic procedures may impact the success of the 609 letter, which could cost you not just money, but a good credit score. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts that you should consider while on the mission to build credit.
- Request information from the credit bureau about a possible error on your credit report
- Make sure to stand your ground and make use of the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s section 609 loophole as much as you can. Remember, you have the right to handle credit disputes by yourself.
- Send the letter only if you are certain that the information is inaccurate or without proof
- Otherwise, you’re wasting your time on inefficient credit repair strategies. Of course, everyone makes mistakes. Nonetheless, always check your credit report twice.
- Maintain meticulous documentation supporting your 609 dispute letter
- Sometimes, the information you provide may be the key to a decision. Without enough evidence, you might have to resend letters or escalate the issue to legal experts if nothing is fixed
- Hire a credit repair company if you need additional guidance
- It is no shame to be unsure about what a 609 letter is and how to compose one. Sometimes you just need to outsource. Credit repair firms are hired to fight for you and your credit score; look for legitimate businesses for help.
- Send a 609 letter if you know the information is accurate and can be proved
- Shots in the dark are a waste of time when filing disputes to credit bureaus. These people know which side their bread is buttered on, so to speak, so don’t expect to easily fool them.
- Pay for a fancy 609 letter template offered on any untrustworthy websites
- There is no need to pay for an example model, as there is no correlation between using fancy designs and the letter’s effectiveness. You should adhere to formal writing standards and implement some of the tips provided above, though.
- Send a 609 letter too often for no actual reason;
- Online, there is no limit on how many times you can dispute an item on your credit report. Even so, frequently sending dispute letters will not magically boost your credit score if you don’t have a case.
This article is meant to equip you with the knowledge you need regarding what a 609 letter is and how it can help you. As explained, sending this type of letter means you intend to submit a credit report dispute. The ultimate goal of 609 letters is to improve a low credit score, and our tips on drafting a well-designed 609 letter—as well as do’s and don’ts—should help your case.
These letters are to demand the removal of inaccurate or unverifiable information from consumers’ credit reports. They are one of the many unknown credit repair secrets;by sending notices to agencies, you’re embarking on a potentially tedious path to improving your credit score.
According to the FCRA, credit bureaus must respond to your inquiry within 30 days. However, let’s suppose the bureau you contact does not respond within this time frame. In that case, the agency has no choice but to remove the negative information mentioned in your letter. Don’t forget to send them a follow-up letter to remind them of this.
Absolutely! A credit repair company can file a dispute on your behalf, and sometimes, this may even be a better decision. If you don’t feel confident with what the 609 letter is and how it can help you, let experts in the financial industry save you time, energy, and money.