To understand how the FCRA Section 609 credit repair method works, it is important to understand that the FCRA was written before the advent of the internet. As such, they require the credit reporting agencies to have physical copies of all documentation to support each account that is being reported on. This is a problem for these agencies as virtually all credit items added to your credit report these days are submitted electronically. This in turn, means that it is rare for any documents to be reviewed prior to changes being made to your credit report.
Essentially, the credit reporting agencies just give all creditors the benefit of the doubt when new information IS added to your file. You can use this to your advantage by asking for hard-copy verification via Section 609 of the FCRA for virtually anything negative that is listed on your credit report. You simply need to use the following letter and not be deterred by any scare tactics that the credit reporting agencies will use to cover their tracks as they will try everything in their power to avoid having to tell you that they do n’t have the physical documentation.
There are many sections and subsections in the Fair Credit Reporting Act that was established in 1971. Remember that the FCRA was established to protect the consumer from unfair lending and collections practices. One such section that can help the consumer dispute debt and information contained in their credit report is Section 609.
How does Section 609 help you repair your credit? How can you take advantage of this “legal loophole”?
Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act says that upon a consumer’s request, the credit reporting agency must be able to provide certain information to the consumer.
What this means is that you legally have options to get the credit reporting agencies to verify the debt on your account. I went into an explanation of the verification of debt in the last blog post so you should understand it a little bit. Like we talked about, a lot of the information on your credit report may be inaccurate.
Some of it may be accurate. It’s important to make sure that the debt on your credit report and all the information contained therein is accurate. The credit reporting agency must be able to prove that the account listed belongs to you, and also where they received this information regarding this account.
The legal wording in Section 609 of the FCRA doesn’t have information pertaining to whether the negative account is valid or not. What the law does care about is that the information the credit reporting agencies have on you and the accounts listed in your report is enough to provide proper verification under the law.
When you send a verification letter to the agencies, you are sending a request under Section 609 of the FCRA. You will be asking that the credit reporting agencies follow the law and verify the debt as requested. The credit reporting agencies have 30 days from receiving this letter to go through the verification process and get back to you.Make sure you keep foolproof records of everything you do through this process.
When you mail the 609 letters to the credit reporting agencies, send them certified mail with return receipt. This will cost you a little bit of money on the front end, but it will be worth it to have peace of mind in your record keeping. When mailing them certified, you will be able to track them and see when they are received. If the credit reporting agency does not respond to your dispute request within 30 days of that date, they are in violation of the law and you can call them out on it.
If they fail to respond to your 609 letters within 30 days, you can request that the credit reporting agency removes the disputed items from your credit report since they neglected to follow the law.
Your letter may be classified as “frivolous” by the credit reporting agency. The reason this happens is that they use computers to scan the incoming letters and classify them into categories. It would be rare for an incoming letter to go directly into a human’s hands first thing. The credit reporting agency will then respond to your inquiry letting you know that it thinks your request is frivolous. You will have to send a second round of 609 letters.
To avoid having to do this process multiple times, you can put it a little more work on the front end, ensuring that a human will handle your dispute request instead of a computer.
When making the 609 letters to send to the credit reporting agencies, do not use an internet form letter. I will later give you examples of letters you can send but do not use them word for word. Instead, use them as a template or a guideline for what you will send.
Also, do not type your letter up in a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Instead, write your letter out by hand. Use blue ink, since it is harder for the computers to decipher. Write in print rather than cursive, as we want the human that looks over your information to be able to clearly read what you are asking of them. It is also a good idea to get the letters notarized before you mail them. This will prove to the credit companies that you are who you say you are.
When the credit reporting agency responds to your dispute request, they will do so by mail. There are a few different ways they can respond.
One way is a full and complete verification of your debt, like a copy of the original dated contract bearing your signature. If this is the response you get, the debt has legally been verified and you will be hard pressed to get them to remove it from your report.
Another way they try to verify the debt is not a true verification at all. The credit reporting agency may send you a copy of a statement on the line of credit that they received as proof from the original furnisher of the loan, or from a collection agency collecting the debt for the original lender. This is not solid proof of your debt. You will need to send another letter, requesting to see the copy of the original dated contract that has your signature on it.
The ideal outcome is that they credit reporting agency has no way to verify the debt in compliance with the law, and when they respond to you they tell you that. If this is the response, they need to delete the credit line off of your credit report. When the negative information is deleted, your credit score will improve.
After Dispute, Is it Gone for Good?
This is where some people get hung up. You are disputing your credit lines with the credit reporting agencies, usually not the person or company reporting the information to the agency.
Unfortunately, sometimes even if the credit reporting agency deletes the inaccurate information from your credit report, it can come back to haunt you. If the original furnisher of the debt sees that the information has been knocked off, they may try to get it reinstated. They could also sell it to a collections agency which would start the process of verification and 609 letters all over.
If your debt was already with a collections agency when you disputed it and had it removed from your credit report, they won’t be happy either. They could also try to get it put back on your report, or they might even sell it to yet another collections agency. Once again, this would restart the whole process of verification/609 letters.
Another thing you need to understand is that just because the debt is no longer reported on your credit report, that does not mean you no longer owe it if it is a valid debt. Make note of the fact that I said valid debt. If the information concerning the debt is invalid and you can prove it, you should have nothing to worry about during the dispute process.
However, if the debt is valid and you are just trying to get the negative reporting on the debt removed from your credit report; this process does not absolve you from paying that debt.
The 609 letters you sent to the credit reporting agencies were not sent to dispute whether the debt is valid or not. The purpose of the 609 letters you sent was to force the credit reporting agency’s hand into proving to you that they have the legal right to report the disputed debt. If the credit reporting agency is unable to provide you with physical proof of the verification of the debt, they cannot report it on your credit report as they have no way to prove it is 100 percent accurate. The FCRA demands that the credit reporting agencies ensure that everything reported by them is factual, and this is where you have them most of the time.
Again, I will say if the debt actually belongs to you and the only reason you are disputing it is that of negative reporting, you still owe the debt. If you do not pay up on the debt, it will soon be sold to a collections agency, and then guess what? You will be right back in this situation again. Requesting that the credit reporting agencies verify that the information being reported by the collections agency is correct. If you are not careful and do not pay! attention, this an quickly turn into a vicious repeating cycle.
With the following “609 letters”, you will need to be sure to always include a copy of a photo identification as well as a copy of your social security card (also include your past residences for 5 years). This is due to the fact that the FCRA only requires the credit reporting agencies to respond to individuals in writing if they provide these details. Without it, your letters will simply be ignored. When disputing accounts, it is also important to never dispute more than 22 at one time. This is the magic number, anything more than that will cause you dispute to be considered frivolous. Additionally, you will want to ensure you hand label your envelopes as type envelopes will be opened far less often.
Section 609 Dispute Letter Template
(Credit Bureau Name)
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is a formal complaint that you are reporting inaccurate and incomplete credit information. I am distressed that you have included the below information in my credit profile and have failed to maintain reasonable procedures in your operations to assure maximum possible accuracy in the credit reports you publish.
Credit reporting laws ensure that bureaus report only 100% accurate credit information. Every step must be taken to assure the information reported is completely accurate and correct. The following information therefore needs to be re-investigated. I respectfully request to be provided proof that these inquiries were in fact authorized With an instrument bearing my signature, and for legitimate business purposes. Failing that the unauthorized inquiry must be deleted from the report as soon as
(Accounts you wish to have removed from your report)
Please delete this misleading information, and supply a corrected credit profile to all creditors who have received a copy within the last 6 months or the last 2 years for employment purposes.
Additionally, please provide the name, address, and telephone number of each credit grantor or other subscriber.
Under federal law, you have 30 days to complete your re- investigation. Be advised that the description of the procedure used to determine the accuracy and completeness of the information is hereby requested as well, to be provided within 15 days of the completion of your re-investigation.
I will be providing you with templates for the letters we discussed previously. In case you skipped over those blog post to get to the good stuff, I will give a brief explanation again here.
You can send a Section 609/Method of Verification Letter forcing the credit reporting agencies to verify that they have proof of your debt from the original lender.
You can send a goodwill letter, asking for compassion regarding late or missed payments on a line of credit.
You can send a letter asking a creditor for a Pay-to-Delete deal to remove information from your credit report.
You can send an HIPAA letter for information regarding healthcare accounts on your credit report.
Remember, do not copy these letters word for word. They are just templates to give you an idea as to how to word your letters that you send. Do not print these, instead, write them out by hand. Consider having them notarized to further prove your identity to the credit reporting agency. Send the letters by certified mail only, with a read receipt.
Along with the dispute letters, you will need to send information proving who you are. Write another document and include the following information:
- Your full name. This includes your middle initial and any suffix such a Junior or III
- The date you were born
- Social Security Number (if you have one)
- Current and former addresses from the past 5 years
- A copy of a government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license
- Copy of bank statement, utility bill, insurance statement, etc. to verify your current address and identity
Sample Letter 1
Credit Reporting Agency/Bureau
City, State, Zip
To Whom It May Concern:
I have reviewed a copy of my credit report and am writing to dispute some information that needs to be deleted from the report. These items should be deleted for the following reasons:
Reason for Deletion
According to the provisions for consumers provided in the Fair Credit Reporting Act 611(a) [15 USC 168ii(a)], these items I am disputing must be re-investigated or deleted from my credit record within 30 days. While the investigation is ongoing, these disputed items must be removed from reporting on my credit report, or listed as “in dispute”. I am also requesting the contact information of the individuals you communicated with during your investigation into this dispute.
When the investigation is complete, please notify me that the above items have been deleted in accordance with 611 (a)(6) [15 USC i68ij (a) (6)]. Please also furnish me with an updated copy of my credit report, to be sent to the address below. According to 612 [15 USC 168ij], I should pay nothing for this report.
City, State, Zip
Social Security #
You can also choose to work with a reputable credit repair agency who will manage this entire process for you. This can often be a much easier option if you don’t have the time to prepare credit repair letters and follow up with the agencies.