The 609 Dispute Letter Myth

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The condition of your credit will have a profound impact on your overall financial well-being. Unfortunately, many of us can have credit-related setbacks, such as a loss of a job or a divorce. Regardless of why you’re trying to rebuild your credit reports and credit scores, it is a wise use of your time and energy. Taking a closer look at the 609 dispute letter might be a good start.

There are right ways and there are wrong ways to go about the process of repairing damaged credit reports. There are also a number of credit repair myths you’re better off avoiding because they can get expensive. If you’ve done any online credit repair research you’ve likely encountered the so-called “609 dispute letter.” This dispute letter template, which is commonly sold to consumers, is often billed as a “credit repair secret.” Alas, the 609 dispute letter isn’t the silver bullet that some people claim it to be.

What is Section 609 and a 609 Dispute Letter?

 

The credit reporting agencies (CRAs) work hard to make sure your credit report contains accurate information. Yet despite their best efforts, credit errors still happen sometimes. Thankfully, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to dispute inaccurate items on your credit report when and if you discover a problem.

A 609 dispute letter refers to a particular type of dispute letter template that consumers can submit to a credit reporting agency that is supposedly based on your right to request your credit report and see all of the information that a credit reporting agency has in their system about you. This is formally referred to as “consumer disclosure” and it is certainly your right under Section 609 of the FCRA.

Some credit repair companies have theorized that if you ask for things like original loan documents, bankruptcy paperwork, or promissory notes associated with derogatory credit entries, which the credit bureaus obviously don’t have because they aren’t your lender, they are required by Section 609 to remove the negative entry.

The truth about the 609 Dispute Letter

 

What the 609 letter merchants aren’t telling you is section 609 of the FCRA has nothing to do with your rights to dispute your credit reports and also does not obligate a credit bureau to remove anything from your credit reports. Instead, that’s section 611 of the FCRA.

Section 611 gives you the right to dispute incorrect items on your credit report. When you send a credit dispute, the credit reporting agency that receives it is required by federal law to investigate your claim. Within 30 days the CRA must verify, update, block, or otherwise remove the disputed account from your credit report. This is commonly referred to as credit report “reinvestigation.”

You’ve probably already figured out that the 609 dispute strategy is based on the unproven theory, again, that if you request additional information about an account that a credit bureau cannot produce, it must delete the item from your credit report. Ergo, you might be able to get a negative item off your credit report before the credit bureau’s seven-year statute of limitation on credit reporting has expired.

In summary, here are the numerous problems with the 609 dispute letter theory.

·      There is no evidence, anywhere, suggesting that a particular dispute letter template is any more effective than another. You can write your dispute on a bar napkin using a crayon and the credit bureaus use the same process to investigate.

·      Most accurate, negative accounts can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. A credit bureau is only required to remove inaccurate or unverifiable information when you dispute it and they confirm that it is incorrect. There is no obligation to delete simply because they don’t have loan documents.

·      Section 609 of the FCRA doesn’t address your right to dispute credit reporting errors. Rather, section 609 has to do with your right to request copies of your personal credit reports and information associated with those reports, like you can do at www.annualcreditreport.com.

·      The FCRA only entitles you to information that a credit bureau has in its database. If you use a 609 letter to ask for details a credit bureau doesn’t possess (e.g., statements, original loan agreement, etc.), it doesn’t have to provide you with those documents. You don’t have the right for information that is not in a credit bureau’s system.

Next steps

You can, and should, check your credit reports for errors. The FCRA makes this process easy for you as well. You have the right to claim each of your three credit reports once every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com, although you can claim your reports for free every week through April 2022.

 

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