Building your credit score back up doesn’t have to take years or even months. In fact, there is a small loophole in Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act that can help you fast-track your way to a higher score. This may sound too good to be true, but rest assured – it isn’t.
This loophole places the burden on the credit bureaus and targets their own internal practices and policies. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, however, we need to take a closer look at Section 609.
What Is Section 609 of the FCRA?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) covers many components of credit checking in order to maintain accuracy and privacy. It lists the responsibilities of credit bureaus and credit reporting companies along with the rights of the consumer – your rights. This Act governs how everything works so all parties are treated fairly.
For example, under this act, you must be told if any information in your file has been or is being used against you. Additionally, you have the right to dispute information that may be incomplete or inaccurate. Other issues addressed include limiting third-party access to your file, requiring your consent before providing your credit scores to employers, and the option to seek damage from those who violate the FCRA.
The FCRA is divided into sections, each with a unique set of rules for credit bureaus to follow. Section 609 of the FCRA deals with disclosure and puts the burden of providing proper documentation on the credit bureaus. In other words, you may have debt or negative items on your credit report, but there may be a way around them.
Your Rights as Stated in Section 609
The FCRA as a whole focuses on your rights as a consumer, from having the right to know what is in your file, to have the right to ask for your own credit score. Section 609 in particular centers on the consumer’s rights to verification of accuracy, requiring the credit agencies and bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) to verify and disclose all relevant information. This can be in the case of identity theft, or simply to dispute incorrect or inaccurate information.
Excerpts from this section are listed below:
- “Summary of rights required to be included with agency disclosures. A consumer reporting agency shall provide to a consumer, with each written disclosure by the agency to consumers under this section.”
- “…a statement that a consumer reporting agency is not required to remove accurate derogatory information from the file of a consumer unless the information is outdated under section 605 or cannot be verified.”
- “…as proof of positive identification of the victim, at the election of the business entity.”
- “…as proof of claim of identity theft, at the election of the business entity.”
- “The Bureau, in consultation with the Federal banking agencies and the National Credit Union Administration, shall prepare a model summary of the rights of consumers under this title with respect to the procedures for remedying the effects of fraud
or identity theft involving credit, an electronic fund transfer, or an account or transaction at or with a financial institution or another creditor.”
While all of this information directly relates to your rights as a consumer, what we’re going to focus on has to do with the responsibilities of the credit bureaus and reporting companies.
Why the Section 609 Credit Repair Solution is Your Lucky Break
This might just seem like legal jargon to you right now, but, really, it’s a way out of bad credit. Let’s break it down piece by piece.
First of all, the lender never actually sends the credit application to the three credit bureaus, even though the law requires such verification before adding it to the report. It’s simply a known fact that most people overlook.., until now. That technicality can get negative points removed from your credit score. It is also the bureau’s obligation to make sure consumers know their rights.
Additionally, as an excerpt from Section 609 reads above, your identity must be verified before including information from your credit report. If you have debt that is years old, you can argue that the collections companies or credit bureaus cannot prove that the debt is actually yours. As a result, the debt is often eliminated from your report. it is your right, under the FCRA, to have any inaccurate or unverifiable information corrected or removed from your credit report.
In short, there are small technicalities throughout Section 609, including those listed above, that you can argue in an effort to get negative items deleted from your score, or even potentially have student loans or other debt removed from your credit records altogether. It is a loophole that people have found, with demonstrated success in improving credit scores.
The following sections will tell you how to reference Section 609 in a written dispute of your credit report and what to include in your dispute letter. You’ll also learn tips and receive guidance for crafting an effective dispute that gets you the desired results.
How to Use Section 609 to File a Dispute
Now that you know about Section 609, how do you do something about it? What’s the right strategy? There are a few that different people have used with mixed results.
Sending letters vs. filing complaints: why letters are better. While a handful of people have tried filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about their credit reports, all have received back a generic statement that says that the FTC will not intervene in any dispute between a consumer and a credit bureau. In other words, you’re on your own. That’s why many people have taken to writing dispute letters referencing Section 609, or hiring a lawyer to help them fight against the credit bureaus.
If done right, sending a well-organized, well-written 609 dispute letter can get you results where other methods would fail.
Sample letters and templates. This blog contains sample dispute letters and templates. Use these to help you format and draft your own personal letters. However, before sitting down to write, you want to ensure that you have all the necessary information.
Before you begin. Make sure you have a copy of each of your credit reports in hand, as you want to dispute all of the negative items on that report, within reason. Keeping your reports nearby helps you specifically reference them in your dispute. As you’ll soon see, the key to writing an effective dispute letter is specificity and attention to detail.
The most important thing to remember when writing your dispute letter is that you have to reference the FCRA and this specific part of it, Section 609. Along with proving your identity, this is the integral piece of your dispute.
If you’re still not entirely sure where to start, or if your mind goes blank the second you sit down to write, the subsection below (“What to Include in Your Dispute”) outlines a list of things to include in your letter. Keep the following points in mind, too:
Again: reference Section 609. You want to directly cite and quote Section 609 in your letter to the credit bureau, reinforcing that it is your right to dispute the items on your report. This shows whoever is reading your dispute that you know what you’re talking about.
Request receipt of delivery. When you do mail the letter, make sure that you request a delivery receipt, so the company cannot claim that they never received it.
Save everything. Keep detailed records of your entire dispute process. Make a copy of your letter for your own reference, note important dates (for instance, the date you sent the letter and the date it was received), and keep all related files together and organized. Keep electronic copies in a designated folder on your computer, and back them up to external storage or a cloud drive. If you have physical copies, keep them in a folder in a safe place.
Include proof of identity. Always, always include proof of your identity with every bit of correspondence you send. Section 610 (a) (i) of the FCRA particularly stipulates that consumers must provide “proper identification” in order to receive a response from a credit bureau. If you fail to send these items along (again, reference “What to Include in Your Dispute” to learn what you’ll need), the credit bureaus won’t even look at the rest of your letter, let alone consider your case.
The importance of your dispute letter timeline. Section 609 of the FCRA contains one other key element that gives you a good shot at winning your dispute: all disputes must be addressed within 30 days, or all disputed information must be deleted from the files. This period is extended to 45 days if more information is found that could lead to a re-investigation. Say you’re not totally sure if you have a solid case to bring up to the credit agency. Even if you brought tip an argument that wasn’t necessarily strong, if you receive no response within one month, that information must be removed.
This is a great piece of the puzzle to keep in mind and something you should consider including in your letter. The main thing to remember with your letter is that it’s all about technicalities. Does anyone really care that not every single piece of every single credit file has been verified by numerous sources? Not in the slightest. However, it’s your right to dispute it, and it can often work to your advantage.
Following the Section 609 Credit Repair strategy has made a difference for many people. People report that their disputed accounts or negative items on their credit scores have been deleted, and their credit scores have improved greatly. All it takes is some time and a simple letter, and your ability to live free from the burden of bad credit is well on its way. Remember a reputable credit repair service will undertake this work for you too.
What to Include in Your Dispute Letter
When writing your dispute letter, it is important to include all relevant information, as well as several key elements, in order to create an effective, impactful letter. A strong letter will not only make a good case for you, it will also hit the points you want to emphasize and tie it all back to the specific pieces of Section 609 of the FCRA that you want to highlight.
A strong letter will get you noticed; a weak letter will get you a form response, at best.
That said, you also want to make sure you have all of the background and supporting information included to support and reinforce your dispute. The checklist below outlines the key elements to keep in mind as you write your letter, including basic information, documentation, references to the FCRA, wording, and more.
- Your full name, contact information, and account information (if available).
- Contact information for a legal representative, if you have one
For each credit bureau that you contact, include proof of your identity with your letter. This may include the following:
- Documents that verify your full name, date of birth, and social security number (copies of your driver’s license, social security card, birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate, a W2 with your full social security number listed, etc. You must include verification of both your full name and your SSN.)
- Documents that verify your current mailing address (copies of your driver’s license, rental agreement, utility bills, mortgage, house deed, etc.)
- A copy of your credit score with relevant items highlighted
Specific references, statements, and wording.
- A mention of Section 609 and the exact portion you are referencing – each portion is denoted with some combination of an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number, or a roman numeral. For example, if you were to reference the sub-section that starts with the sentence “Summary of rights required to be included with agency disclosures,” you would call it paragraph (c) (2) under Section 609, or Section 609 (c)(2).
- A call to action – in other words, language that describes what you want to happen next.(Do you want something removed from your report? Do you simply want clarification? Make sure you specifically state what you want from the credit company.)
- A statement explaining that all issues outlined in your dispute must be addressed within 30 days (this is crucial for taking advantage of the loophole for the timeline of disputes).
- Words that reinforce the gravity of the situation (“Exercising my right”, “filing a dispute”, “formal dispute”, “in accordance with”, “you are required to”).
Submitting your dispute by mail. When it’s time to mail your dispute letter, send it by certified mail, and request a return receipt for your records (this way, the credit company cannot say that they never received your letter). Make sure that you address the letter to the correct department. Usually, this will be the complaint department.
How the credit bureaus handle disputes. For more information from the credit bureaus themselves on how they handle disputes, you can check out the links below. Each bureau now additionally accepts disputes submitted online.
- TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-disputes/dispute-your-credit
- Equifax: https://www.equifax.com/personal/disputes
- Experian: https://www.experian.com/disputes/main.html
Things to remember. The keys to an effective dispute letter are specificity, attention to detail, and accuracy. Using a polite but firm tone is also important. An angry letter that includes name-calling and exclamations will most certainly not be taken seriously. Other things to note:
Get it proofread and fact-checked. Once you have drafted your dispute, have a trusted friend or family member fact-check and proofread it for you to make sure you’ve included everything. Pay attention to spelling and grammar, too, as you want to be as clear and concise as possible. A letter filled with mistakes will not get you the results you’re hoping for.
Be persistent. Keep in mind that you may have to send multiple letters before you get any results. With each letter, make sure you include your required documentation, especially proof of your identity and address. If you receive no response, a template is included below to help you draft an effective follow-up letter.
Finally, remember that even if you can’t get your credit score improved using this method, all is not lost. There are still actions you can take to improve your credit and improve your life. The next blog post will tell you how.
“Attorney” Credit Repair Dispute Letter Templates
The following are examples of letters you can send to credit reporting agencies and bureaus to dispute any negative items or debt on your reports. All of them reference Section 609 of the FCRA, but they can all be tailored to fit your unique situation.
Tips for Using the Dispute Letter Templates
Be thorough. When drafting a dispute letter, always be sure to include as much information as possible, and keep all correspondence you receive through mail or email, in order to maintain thorough and accurate records.
When in doubt, include documentation. You should also attach an relevant information, including a copy of your driver’s license for proof of identification, a copy of an documents they ma have sent you, and/or more detailed explanations or disputes. For example, if you have an account listed as being late, print out all recent statements and records of payment.
Illustrate your case. Make sure you include as many details as possible, such as account numbers, dates, and explanations. This will show that you did your homework and are taking it seriously. As mentioned earlier, the disputed information must be removed from your credit report if the agency does not respond within 30 days, or 45 days if information that could warrant a re-investigation is found.
What’s in Each Template?
Each of the following templates is independent of one another, with the exception of Template #4, which is a general follow-up to any of the first three letters. The first three letters are simply variations of the same basic idea, with slight differences in verbiage and tactic. You might decide to choose one complete template to follow, or create your own combination of the three depending on how you would like to approach your letter.
Use these templates as a helpful guide to composing and organizing your dispute. With careful attention to detail, you should end up with a letter that is direct, convincing, and effective.
Account # (if available)
Name of Company/Point Person
Dear [Name of credit reporting agency],
I am writing to exercise my right to question the validity of the debt your agency claims I owe, pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
As stated in Section 609 of the FCRA, (2) (E): A consumer reporting agency is not required to remove accurate derogatory information from a consumer’s file unless the information is outdated under Section 609 or cannot be verified.
As is my right, I am requesting verification of the following items:
[List any/all items you’re looking to dispute,including the account name(s) and number(s) as listed on your credit report]
Additionally, I have highlighted these items on the attached copy of the credit report I received.
I request that all future correspondence be done through the mail or email. As stated in the FCRA, you are required to respond to my dispute within 30 days of receipt of this letter. If you fail to offer a response, all disputed information must be deleted.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
See Attached: [List attached documents here.]
[*Attach copies of proof of identity (name, birth date, SSN, current mailing address) along with a copy of your credit report with relevant items highlighted, as discussed above: “What to Include in Your Dispute.”]
Account # (if available)
Name of Company/Point Person
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to exercise my right to dispute the following items on my file. I have made note of these items on the attached copy of the report I have received from your agency. You will also find attached copies of documents that prove my identity, birth date, SSN, and address.
As is stated in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Section 609:
[In this section, include a relevant quote based on which area you are trying to dispute. Several quotes are See Attached: [List attached documentation here.]
listed above, or you can look on the FTC’s website for the official document with exact verbiage. Make sure you note which sub-section you are quoting from.]
The items I wish to dispute are as follows:
[Include as many relevant items as you have, up to 20, including the account name and number as listed on your credit report.]
These are [incorrect, inaccurate, unverified] due to the lack of validation by numerous parties that is required by Section 609. I have attached copies of relevant documentation.
I would appreciate your assistance in investigating this matter within the next 30 days. As required by the FCRA, if you fail to do so, all aforementioned information/disputed items must be deleted from the report.
See attached: [List attached documentation here.]
Account # (if available)
Name of Company/Point Person
To whom it may concern,
This letter is a formal dispute in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Upon review of my credit report, I have found that there are several inaccurate and unverified items. These have negatively impacted my ability to receive credit and have provided unnecessary embarrassment and inconvenience.
As I am sure you are aware, it is my right, according to Section 609 of the FCRA, to request a proper investigation into these inaccuracies. In particular, I am referencing Section 609 (c) (B) (iii), which lists “the right of a consumer to dispute information in the file of the consumer” under the “model summary of the rights of consumers.”
As such, the following are items I wish to dispute on my credit report:
[Include as many relevant items as you have, up to 20, including each account name and number as listed on your report.]
I have also highlighted all relevant items on the attached copy of said credit report.
As stated in the FCRA, you are required to respond to my dispute within 30 days of receipt of this letter. If you fail to offer a response, all disputed information must be deleted. I have attached all relevant documentation for your review. I thank you in advance for your prompt response and resolution of this issue.
See Attached: [List each piece of attached documentation here.]
Template #4: Follow-up Letter
Account # (if available)
Name of Company/Point Person
Dear Sir or Madam,
My name is [Your name], and I reached out to you several weeks ago regarding my credit report. This letter is to notify you that you have not responded to my initial letter, dated [insert date]. I have restated the terms of my dispute below for your convenience.
[Insert information from your first letter about disputed items. Include disputed account names and numbers as listed on your credit report.]
Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) states that you must investigate my dispute within 30 calendar days from my initial letter. As you have failed to do so, I kindly request that you remove the aforementioned items from my credit report.
Any further comments or questions can be directed to my legal representative, [insert name], who can be reached at [insert phone number].
See Attached: [List all attached documentation here, including copies of your credit report, proof of identity, proof of current mailing address, etc.]