Your credit score will follow you for a long time, constantly impacting your financial health and decisions. Your credit score plays a role in your ability to make large purchases, such as a house or a vehicle, as well as your reputation among lenders and other stakeholders who may see it.
A poor credit score can haunt you for years to come. Many people find themselves in a difficult situation when they run their credit report and see it plagued by negative information or history. Did you know that you can also file a 609 dispute letter to get some of that adverse information off of your report for good?
What Is a 609 Dispute Letter?
A 609 letter (also known as a 609 dispute letter) is a way for you to remove information from your credit report.
It works by asking the credit bureau to produce tangible proof that you owe the money listed on your report and then removing the information if they cannot prove it. For example, a credit bureau might be unable to produce the signed copy of your original loan or credit application, thereby allowing you to remove the information from your credit report in some situations.
You can request to remove any information, regardless of if it is accurate or not. If the credit bureau cannot verify that a reported debt is correct, there is a chance that you can remove it from your credit report. Keep in mind that this does not stop you from owing your debts – It only prevents them from appearing on your credit score.
What Is a Credit Bureau?
The credit bureau is the company that collects relevant financial information and then creates your credit report. From this information, the credit bureau will assign you a credit score for stakeholders, such as potential lenders and employers, to use to assess your financial health and reliability.
If you are sending a 609 letter to request the removal of information from your credit report, you are sending this letter directly to the credit bureau that created your credit report.
There are three major credit bureaus in the United States (in 2021). They are:
All three of these credit bureaus offer similar services and will produce similar credit scores for an individual. If you are filing a 609 dispute letter to have information removed from your credit score, you will need to send one letter to each credit bureau that shows the disputed information on your credit report.
How Do You Know What Information Is on Your Credit Report?
Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are allowed to request the following information from your credit report:
Your consumer credit files and the source that provided this information
All prospective employers who have accessed your credit report in the past 2 years
Businesses that have made soft inquiries into your credit report in the past 12 months
Once you have a copy of your credit report, you can use a 609 letter to ask for the removal of information that negatively impacts your credit score. You can request your credit score from each credit bureau individually or use a service that requests multiple reports at one time for you.
When Do I Need a 609 Dispute Letter?
You need a 609 dispute letter in the following situations:
You notice inaccurate information on your credit report
You see accurate information on your credit report that is hurting your credit score
You have the right to request the removal of any information on your credit report, which then puts the burden on the credit bureau to prove that it is accurate. If they cannot do so, there is a chance that they will need to remove that information from your credit report.
What Should a 609 Letter Include?
A 609 dispute letter should be a physical letter that includes the following information:
Your information: legal name, signature, social security number, date of birth
Your account names and numbers
Your desire to exercise your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, section 609
Proof of identity: Copies of birth certificate, social security card, passport, photo ID, W-2, lease/mortgage documents, and a utility bill
A copy of your credit report. Highlight or circle the information that you are disputing.
A direct request to verify or remove the disputed information within 30 days of the letter
What Should a 609 Letter Look Like?
There is no specific structure required for a 609 letter, which means it can be challenging to know where to begin when you sit down to write one. Check out our free section 609 credit dispute letter template (pdf) if you are unsure where to start.
You can use our 609 letter template for late payments, defaulted loans, or any other information that you would like to have removed from your credit report.
Do I Need to Send a Physical Letter in the Mail?
While this might be difficult for some of our younger readers to wrap their minds around, you do need to send a physical dispute letter in the mail. You will see the option to dispute information on your credit report online, but this does not allow you to request documentation from the credit bureau.
The success of the 609 dispute letter relies on requesting documentation from the credit bureau to verify the information on your credit report. The only way to formally request this documentation is through a physical letter in the postal mail. Luckily you can use our 609 dispute letter template to make this easier.
Do 609 Letters Really Work?
609 letters work in some, but not all, situations. If the credit bureau can provide documentation that verifies the information you are disputing, the letter will not successfully remove the information from your credit report.
However, many credit bureaus will find it challenging to produce the documentation they need to verify the information that shows on your credit report. In this situation, there is a chance that you will successfully remove the information from your credit score.
Even if the credit bureaus do not produce the information necessary to verify the information that you are disputing, there is a chance that they will still be able to keep the information on your report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act does not require them to keep this documentation on file, so they might continue reporting the information.
What Happens After the Credit Bureau Receives My 609-Letter?
After you send your letter to the credit bureau, a few things might happen.
If the credit bureau accepts your request, they might delete the information from your credit report without contacting you or asking you for anything else. This removal is an ideal situation, and you would become aware of it by checking your report periodically for changes.
Suppose the credit bureau has the documentation that you requested to verify the information. In that case, they will likely send you a copy of the documentation, thereby refusing your request to remove the information. In this situation, you will probably need to wait for the info to expire after the designated amount of time for each offense.
If the credit bureau does not have the documentation, they still might deny your request. In this situation, they will notify you that they do not have the requested documentation. If you are confident that the information is incorrect, you can dispute the report again. This time, point out that they do not have documentation to verify the information on your report.
Other Ways to Remove Information from Your Credit Report
If you are unsure if a 609 letter is the best way to dispute information on your credit score, there are a few other options that you can try. Each option will best apply to different information, and none will be successful 100% of the time.
Dispute the information using the credit bureau’s online tool. This tool requests that the credit bureau checks its records for accuracy, not that they reach out to your creditors for documentation.
Request proof of your consent for companies to run hard inquiries. Companies need your consent to run a hard inquiry on your credit because it can negatively impact your credit score. If they fail to produce proof of consent, such as a signed form, the credit bureau must remove it from your report.
Contact your lenders. If you are confident that the information on your report is incorrect, it can sometimes be faster and easier to settle the issue with the lender.
If My 609 Letter Is Successful, Do I Still Need to Pay Back the Money?
Technically, yes. Maybe.
In reality, sometimes even if your 609 letter successfully removes the loan or debt information from your credit score, you will still need to pay back the money that you owe to the creditor. This letter stops the information from showing up on your credit report. It does not forgive the loans you owe.
Wrapping It Up: The Gist of 609 Letters
A 609 dispute letter can be an excellent way to remove information from your credit report that negatively impacts your credit score. You can use our free 609 dispute letter template to create an effective 609 letter to send via certified mail to the credit bureau. Although they are not always successful, a 609 letter is an excellent option for disputing your credit report and quickly improving your credit score.