When you notice inaccurate information on your credit report, you need to file a dispute letter ASAP. A dispute letter brings that inaccurate information to the attention of the credit bureau that created the report, giving the bureau a chance to fix the info and restore your credit score to its proper place.
Not sure what kind of dispute letter to file? You might have heard of a 604 dispute letter. Today, let’s break down what a 604 dispute letter is, what it means, and why you should try to file one of these specifically.
In a nutshell, Section 604 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act details a lot of important information. Most notably, it breaks down when credit bureaus – also called consumer reporting agencies or CRAs – are legally allowed to release credit information to employers, banks, credit unions, and any other organization or institution, including the government.
However, Section 604 does not talk about disputes, inaccurate information, or when you are allowed to request your credit info from a CRA like Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Therefore, a “604 dispute letter” isn’t a specific or “real” type of dispute letter.
Instead, many people file credit dispute letters when they notice inaccurate, out-of-date, or false consumer information on their credit reports. They call these letters 604 letters, but that doesn't change anything about the dispute process.
Section 609 of the FCRA is much more relevant to the credit dispute process. It details that consumer reporting agencies are always obligated to provide consumers with information in their credit files, with the exception of the first five digits of Social Security numbers and anything concerning credit scores or other credit risks that relate to the consumers.
In other words, consumers have the right to request their credit info from the big credit bureaus whenever they like. They also have the right to know the identity of anyone who obtained a copy of the report for employment reasons over the last two years and for any other reason over the last year.
Armed with this information, consumers can then look over their reports, check for inaccurate or out-of-date information, and then begin the dispute process with a CRA if needed.
In most cases, people confuse Sections 604 and 609 because the numbers are very similar. They also both concern consumer rights for credit information. However, there’s also no such thing as a Section 609 dispute letter. Once more, you can reference Section 609 in a credit dispute letter, but it makes no difference to the credit bureaus whether you submit a “dispute letter” or a “Section 609 dispute letter.”
A Section 604 dispute letter, also called a credit dispute letter, can be a good dispute tool for correcting inaccurate info you discover on your credit report. Just keep in mind that you don’t need to collect a Section 604 letter, nor do you need to refer to Section 604 in your dispute letter paperwork.
Instead, you need to do is draft a letter to the CRA or other organization you wish to file a dispute with. The letter needs to include:
That’s it! There’s no need to reference specific sections aside from generally referencing the FCRA, and knowledgeable consumer rights attorneys can ensure that you draft your letter effectively and successfully by including all pertinent information.
You might need to file a dispute letter with the big credit bureaus, a bank, or any other CRA for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, as an American consumer, you are entitled to only have accurate, up-to-date consumer information be used for hiring and financial purposes. For example, if you apply for a loan, you have the right to ensure that only accurate information is included in your consumer report to be viewed by a loan officer.
Most importantly, however, you may need to file a dispute letter if you notice inaccurate information on your credit report that resulted in some adverse outcome. Say that you are denied a loan opportunity or job opportunity because of inaccurate, out-of-date info on your credit report.
Under the terms of the FCRA, you can file a dispute letter to request that said information is fixed at the earliest opportunity. That way, you can be considered for loans, lines of credit, homes, and jobs fairly based on your real credit history.
Every consumer needs to know how to do this, as mistaken credit info can affect anyone at any time.
Luckily, filing an effective, successful dispute letter is not very technically complicated. You can also make things easier for yourself by contacting knowledgeable consumer rights attorneys like Fair Credit.
To file a successful dispute letter, download a dispute letter template from the Internet. There are dozens of different sources you can use, but they all have areas for the same basic pieces of information. You need to include the details of your dispute and copies of the information you’ve used to identify inaccurate information in your credit report.
Every consumer reporting agency is legally required to have a dispute process. Most will allow you to submit your dispute letter online; this is recommended, as it means that your dispute will be received more quickly, and the CRA in question will theoretically investigate more quickly as well. But you can also submit your dispute letter to a relevant organization by physical mail instead.
Regardless, once the organization has your dispute letter request, it has 30 business days to investigate the matter and get back to you. If it doesn’t, it’s in violation of your FCRA consumer rights, meaning you could take them to court for a lawsuit or some other legal recourse.
In most cases, though, organizations like the big credit bureaus do investigate issues of inaccurate or out-of-date information. They'll take a close look and, if they indeed determine that they made a mistake, they'll fix the issue quickly and notify any involved parties, like a prospective employer or loan officer.
Don’t worry about missing out on an opportunity if you submit a credit dispute letter. Employers, lenders, and other interested parties have to tell you that they are considering denying you an opportunity in the form of a pre-adverse action letter. That should give you enough time to check out your credit report, make any fixes that are necessary, and correct the record before a final decision is made.
In summary, a 604 dispute letter is technically not a distinct dispute letter type at all. It instead refers to Section 604 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This Section isn't necessarily relevant to a credit dispute letter, which you need to file when you find inaccurate or out-of-date information in your credit report. You should instead try to file a 609 dispute letter or a general dispute letter.
Fair Credit can help with all of this and more. Our knowledgeable attorneys know the ins and outs of the FCRA and can help you draft an effective dispute letter that resolves any credit issues you might have quickly and thoroughly. Contact us today to learn more.