If you’ve been denied credit recently or are in the process of repairing your credit, you may have come across the option to send a 609 letter to credit reporting agencies.
But what is a 609 letter? And can it help you to clean up your credit or to get a higher credit score?
This article explains how the 609 letter works and shares tips on how to write an effective 609 letter. It also walks you through the steps to file a credit report dispute.
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What Is a 609 Letter?
The 609 letter is a request to a creditor to prove that you asked for the credit in the first place. It’s said to be a loophole to help remove poor reporting from your credit bureau.
How? Because if a creditor does not have proof of your signed credit contract, previously made payments, or other documents verifying that you applied for the credit you were granted, they cannot make you pay for the credit owed.
Even if you did request the credit, you could get out of paying for it if the creditor can’t prove you did.
Even the best credit repair companies tout 609 letters as a way to help you repair or clean up your credit, and some will charge you big bucks to send 609 letters on your behalf.
What Is Section 609 of the FCRA?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (also known as FCRA) is federal legislation that was enacted in 1970. The primary goal of the act is to ensure that consumers’ credit reports contain accurate and fair information.
The act also helps ensure that consumers’ privacy is maintained during the credit sharing and reporting process. According to section 609 of the FCRA, consumers have a right to access copies of their credit reports.
In addition, the act states that you are entitled to information associated with reports made to your credit bureau.
Do 609 Letters Work?
A 609 letter may or may not work to help you resolve poor credit ratings on your credit bureau. Most companies have a record of you signing up to receive credit from them.
If there is an error on your credit report that shows a debt you did not sign up for, a 609 letter may help you remove it from your credit report.
But if you just want to take advantage of the “loophole,” you could be wasting your time. And because some companies charge fees to write 609 letters for you, you could also be wasting your money.
Before you pay a company to write a 609 letter on your behalf, consider writing your own 609 letter – for free.
How to Write an Effective 609 Letter
Any letter should suffice when you’re disputing a report on your credit bureau.
However, if you’re set on writing a 609 letter, here’s a template you can follow:
Your street address
Your city, state, and zip code
The date of the letter
Subject: Fair Credit Reporting Act, Section 609
To whom it may concern at (credit reporting agency: Equifax, TransUnion, Experian)
I am writing to exercise my right to request information on the report listed on my credit file by (i.e., AAA Collection Company, account number 123456789) in the amount of (dollar amount listed, i.e., $274.28) that has a date of (list date of report).
According to section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, I am entitled to documents showing the source of information that shows where I signed a contract agreeing to be responsible for this bill.
Please send me this information, and if it is not available, I am requesting that this collection item be removed from my credit bureau report.
You can use the following identifying information to verify my identity further.
Date of birth: i.e. 01/01/1999
Social security number: i.e.123-45-6789
My attorney’s information is as follows. (If you are working with an attorney, please include your attorney’s information here).
As further proof of my identity, I am including copies of (i.e., birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, Social Security card, rental agreement, and/or one utility bill or bank statement verifying your address).
I have also included a copy of my credit report and have highlighted the item in dispute. I am asking to have the disputed item removed within 30 days if the company in question cannot produce a signed contract.
Your name here
Note that you must assemble three packets, each containing a copy of your 609 letters, copies of your identifying documents, and a copy of the credit report with the disputed item circled.
Then, address and mail one packet to each of the three reporting credit bureaus:
Experian: P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013
Equifax: P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
TransUnion: P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016-2000
Note: When you mail your letters, you may want to mail the letters “return receipt requested” so that you have proof that the letters reached their destination. It will help ensure the letters aren’t lost in the mail.
Remember that a 609 letter isn’t always necessary when disputing credit reporting information. Instead, you can file a credit report dispute with one or all of the three credit reporting agencies.
How to File a Credit Report Dispute
A credit report dispute filing is often as effective as a 609 letter. Removing incorrect information from your credit report is essential, especially if you’re working to repair or rebuild your credit.
But since the credit bureaus understand the law, there’s no need to write a 609 letter or mention the FCRA and section 609 when you file a dispute.
Each credit reporting agency has an official dispute filing process recommendation on its website. Here are links to each agency’s page:
File a Dispute with Experian
Experian has a dispute process webpage that allows you to file a dispute and then check on disputes you’ve filed. The page also gives instructions for mailing a dispute letter or checking a dispute filed via phone call.
File a Dispute with Equifax
If you want to file a dispute with Equifax, go to the Equifax dispute webpage. You’ll find complete instructions, including a FAQ section, that will give you what you need to know to file a dispute with Equifax.
File a Dispute with TransUnion
TransUnion also has a webpage devoted to helping you file a dispute. Along with a dispute filing form, this page also shares answers to many questions regarding credit report disputes.
The Bottom Line on 609 Letters
Credit reporting errors are not infrequent, so it’s important to know what a 609 letter is and whether or not you need one. But the truth is, most people don’t need a 609 letter. You can file a credit report dispute if you notice an error on your credit bureau.
However, if you feel that a 609 letter is your best option, you can write it yourself and avoid paying big bucks to have one written for you.
Lastly, if you haven’t done so recently, ordering a free copy of your credit report is a good idea. You can typically request one from the credit bureau once a year, or you can sign up with a credit score app like Credit Karma. Credit Karma provides you with your Equifax and TransUnion credit scores for free, with weekly updates sent to your email inbox. Learn more in our Credit Karma review.