George Simons | October 19, 2022
Summary: Do you have a negative item on your credit report that you hope to eliminate. Find out if a 609 letter can really work to improve your credit.
If you are looking for ways to repair your credit in the wake of bankruptcy or an adverse judgment from a debt collection lawsuit, you may be curious about the efficacy of a “609 Dispute Letter.” Some people have described this type of correspondence as a “credit repair secret” or “legal loophole” that essentially obligates credit reporting agencies to quickly eliminate certain negative and/or inaccurate information from a credit report. This often leads people to ask, “Do 609 letters really work?”
The “609” in a 609 dispute letter stands for Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This provision establishes your rights to request a copy of your credit report and associated information that appears on your credit report.
However, this is somewhat of a misnomer since Section 609 of the FCRA does not specifically establish the right to dispute inaccurate or negative information found on credit reports. It is actually Section 611 of the FCRA that creates a legal right to formally dispute inaccurate information that appears in credit reports. Specifically, Section 611(a)(1)(A) established the formal right to dispute an error on a credit report. Here is the relevant statutory language:
If the completeness or accuracy of any item of information contained in a consumer's file at a consumer reporting agency is disputed by the consumer and the consumer notifies the agency directly, or indirectly through a reseller, of such dispute, the agency shall, free of charge, conduct a reasonable reinvestigation to determine whether the disputed information is inaccurate and record the current status of the disputed information...before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the agency receives the notice of the dispute from the consumer or reseller.
Once a dispute letter is submitted to a credit agency, the FRCA sets forth that a credit agency must initiate an investigation and this process must be completed within 45 days. Though, in practice, most 609-related investigations are finished within a few weeks. Once the credit reporting agency completes the investigation process, it is required to provide you written results within five business days.
There is a reason the FCRA created a statutory right to contest, and seek removal, of an inaccurate item on a credit report - because many credit reports contain glaring errors that could be seriously impacting your credit score. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, nearly 1-in-5 consumers could have errors on their credit reports. This means that close to 20 percent of Americans may have unnecessarily-low credit scores because of an oversight or mistake on their credit report. If that was not bad enough, some credit specialists believe the frequency of credit inaccuracies is significantly higher and more common.
Unfortunately, no one can guarantee that a 609 dispute letter will work and trigger the removal of negative or inaccurate information from your credit report. Nevertheless, if you are attempting to repair your credit and your outreach to the big credit bureaus has been unsuccessful, submitting a 609 dispute letter may be worthwhile. Many people have reported positive results after submitting a 609 dispute letter to the big credit agencies.
Though, it is worth mentioning that, even if a 609 dispute letter leads to the removal of an inaccurate item from your report, that item could be reinserted if the creditor can subsequently verify the challenged information on your credit report.
In addition to 609 dispute letters, you have the option to challenge an inaccurate item online through each credit agency's website. When you determine there is a specific item or piece of information appearing on your credit report or reports that is legitimately incorrect, you can usually complete an online dispute form where you can describe the issue with the inaccurate item and submit the challenge directly to the credit agency. In addition to submitting an online dispute form, you may be able to contact a credit agency on the phone via a customer service line.
If you are attempting to repair your credit, utilizing a 609 dispute letter may be helpful in potentially removing a negative or inaccurate item from your credit report. Even if the item on your report is yours, under the FCRA, creditors are legally required to document this fact and be prepared to prove it in response to your letter.
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