All American consumers enjoy rights outlined under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA states that Americans have the right to dispute credit information if it’s inaccurate or out of date, as well as request copies of credit information and background records at any time.
If you’ve identified inaccurate credit information, or if you want to know more about your current credit info, you need to know how to draft and send a 609 dispute letter. Let’s take a closer look at what a 609 dispute letter is, how it works, and why you may need to write one.
Section 609 is a specific section of the FCRA. It covers a variety of important consumer rights, such as the right to access your credit information.
However, Section 609 does not directly discuss your right to dispute inaccurate, out-of-date, or erroneous credit information/background check information. Instead, it’s mostly about your right to access a copy of all the information in your current credit file. This is an important part of any credit dispute.
Section 609 outlines a variety of important consumer rights, including:
As you can see, Section 609 doesn’t guarantee the right to dispute information that you think is unsubstantiated, out of date, or otherwise inaccurate. Those rights are enshrined in Section 611 of the FCRA instead.
Despite section 609 not being the section that handles dispute letter rights, many consumers opt to send so-called "609 dispute letters" when they wish to contest inaccurate or out-of-date credit information. This is just another term for a credit dispute letter – you don’t have to call it a 609 dispute letter or anything similar, although you can if you want to.
Many consumers and credit bureaus simply use the term 609 letter or 609 dispute letter as a framework for the dispute letter you may need to file if you detect inaccurate information on your credit report.
A credit dispute letter, therefore, is any written request to a credit reporting agency to verify any disputed credit information and correct or fix erroneous or out-of-date credit items on a credit report. Say that you receive a copy of your credit report and notice that the same debt or loan line item is listed twice.
You then decide to file a 609 dispute letter with the credit agency with the erroneous report. In the letter, you point out the erroneous information, request that the credit bureau fix it, and include contact information or other documentation to prove the issue.
In a perfect world, the credit bureau would receive your 609 letter, find the inaccurate information, and fix it ASAP. In some cases, however, you may find that credit bureaus behave differently.
Technically, a 609 dispute letter would be better termed a 611 dispute letter, as Section 611 details other relevant important consumer rights, like the right to file a dispute against a credit bureau, consumer reporting agency, etc.
Ultimately, though, there’s no real difference between these types of dispute letters. You can file a 609 dispute letter, 611 dispute letter, or general dispute letter. The credit agency that you send it to will know what the point of the letter is and act accordingly.
The core reason to send a 609 dispute letter is to correct or dispute erroneous credit information. Erroneous credit information can include but is not limited to:
If you locate any erroneous information on your credit report, it's important to dispute it at the earliest opportunity. Erroneous and out-of-date credit information can lead to a whole host of negative long-term consequences, such as:
Furthermore, if you don’t correct erroneous information quickly, it could follow you around or compound over time. The credit bureaus oftentimes exchange or collect the same information, so if an error shows up on one credit report from one credit bureau, it may show up on the credit report from another bureau, too.
The point of sending a 609 dispute letter is to:
Fortunately, writing a 609 dispute letter doesn’t have to be very difficult or involved. In fact, you don’t have to follow any proprietary rules about format, template, or wording. You do need to include all the necessary information for the credit bureau to complete its investigation, however. That information includes:
You can write a 609 dispute letter yourself or with the assistance of knowledgeable lawyers. However, if you’ve never filed a credit dispute letter before, it may be wise to contact attorneys before putting your pen to paper (or your fingers to a keyboard).
That’s because consumer rights attorneys help clients file dispute letters all the time. They know what the credit bureaus look for and all the loopholes they may use to get out of doing what’s right. Therefore, they can help you draft an airtight 609 dispute letter that will get you the resolution you seek.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a basic 609 letter template you can follow. Feel free to fill in the terms or gaps with the information that’s relevant to your case.
Dear [credit bureau name],
I am writing to exercise my rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act Section 609. I request information regarding [line items] which are currently listed on my consumer credit report compiled by your agency.
[List all the account names and numbers of the erroneous information]
According to Section 609 under the FCRA, I am entitled to know the source of this information. Furthermore, I wish to inform you that I believe the above information is [inaccurate, out of date, etc. Fill in more information to explain yourself].
I request that this information be investigated and fixed at the earliest opportunity.
To prove my identity, I have included copies of my passport and driver’s license. I’ve included a copy of the credit report with the same account for which I’m requesting information and erroneous information correction.
If you’re not able to verify the above accounts or the information’s veracity, I request that it be removed from my credit report within 30 days.
[Printed name and contact information]
In the majority of cases, a credit bureau that receives a 609 dispute letter will investigate the noted information and, if it finds the information to be out of date or inaccurate, will fix it at no cost to the consumer. In this way, most credit bureaus adhere to the rules and regulations outlined under the FCRA.
However, what if a 609 dispute letter is ignored? For example, what if a credit bureau doesn’t respond to your letter, let alone investigate disputed information and fix erroneous info? In these cases and more, know that the credit bureau is violating your FCRA rights.
Because of this, you could have grounds for a lawsuit and other legal action. You can sue the credit bureau in question for violating your rights across several laws, including:
Should you take the credit bureau to court, you could recover damages of up to $1000 per violation of your FCRA rights. That said, your lawsuit will be more successful and more effective with the assistance of knowledgeable consumer law attorneys.
In most cases, it’s a good idea to contact attorneys about 609 dispute letters before considering a lawsuit and before filing your letter in the first place.
In fact, the right attorneys can provide a wide range of assistance for your case, including:
Furthermore, if a 609 dispute letter is ignored and you decide to file a lawsuit against the credit bureau in question, you’ll need lawyers to achieve a sound resolution. Lawyers will gather even more evidence for you, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you in court. They can also coach you so fully understand what to say and how to represent yourself in case you are called to testify.
With the assistance of consumer rights attorneys, you may recover up to $1000 in compensation for every distinct incident of your FCRA rights being violated. You may recover even more damages depending on the specifics of your case.
Even better, the best law firms don’t charge you a dime unless they recover damages through their legal efforts. This contingency fee basis means you don’t have to worry about your finances being thrown into further jeopardy if you try to work with legal representatives and defend your consumer rights.
609 dispute letters are excellent first steps if you wish to dispute that erroneous or out-of-date information on your credit report. However, if your 609 dispute letter is ignored or doesn't achieve the resolution you hoped for, it's important to contact knowledgeable FCRA consumer rights attorneys right away.
Consumer rights attorneys can help you draft an effective 609 dispute letter and other documents, gather evidence for an upcoming lawsuit or arbitration case, and so much more. Get in touch with us today for a free case evaluation and consultation.