Many credit bureaus and credit providers collect and share your credit information over your lifetime, often from the very first time you apply for credit.
It is a good idea to take advantage of a free credit report to check what information these companies share between them, correct errors, and even take measures to improve your credit rating.
For example, you might have become aware of an issue with your credit record if you applied for credit, but your application was denied on the basis of a poor credit rating.
What are your options under the Fair Credit Reporting Act if your credit report contains errors?
Section 609 Of The Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a Federal law. It governs how credit bureaus and credit reporting agencies may operate. This includes how consumer information is collected and distributed.
The FCRA also details consumer rights under credit bureaus and credit reporting agencies. Section 609 allows you as a consumer to request and verify all the information on your credit report. You may inspect this information and start a credit dispute if you find any mistakes.
Under Section 609, you must request the information by letter. The Section 609 letter is the first step in a potential credit dispute, but does not form part of the actual “credit dispute process”.
What Is A Section 609 Dispute Letter?
Technically, there is no “Section 609 Dispute letter”. A more accurate description would be a “Section 609 Inquiry letter". The term “dispute letter” is used because the letter may form the foundation of a credit dispute.
A Section 609 letter asks for information about:
- The source of the information recorded on your credit report.
- The identity of anyone who has obtained a copy of your report over the past two years.
- All the information linked to you in the database of the credit bureau.
- The option to dispute any identified errors.
Does A Section 609 Dispute Letter Actually Work?
The Section 609 dispute letter remains in force through the FCRA federal law. If the credit bureau receives the letter and does not act or respond, you have the option of reporting their non-compliance to the Federal Trade Commission.
The Federal Trade Commission is the federal agency charged with enforcing the FCRA. Reporting non-compliance to the FTC will add pressure on credit bureaus. This can encourage the credit bureau to respond to your Section 609 letter, and fix any errors on your credit report.
If the bureau cannot locate the documents to verify information you dispute, it must be removed from your report. Items removed from your credit report will also depend on how clearly you have disputed them.
If the information on your credit report is verifiable, it will remain on your credit report.
How To Write A Section 609 Dispute Letter?
When creating a dispute letter, follow these three steps:
Get an initial credit report. Check the report and record any negative items that you consider incorrect.
Once you have identified the negative items you need more information on to dispute, you can start writing your letter. The format of the letter is not as relevant as the information it includes.
You will need to include the following information in your Section 609 letter:
- Personal information: Your full name, date of birth, address, and phone number
- Attorney information: If you have an attorney, include their name and contact information. If you don’t have any attorney, call us today for your FREE case review.
- Account number with credit bureau: Include your account number associated with the credit bureau that issued your credit report. Your account number should be listed directly on the credit report.
- A statement asserting your FCRA rights under section 609: Include a statement that you are writing your letter in terms of your rights contained in Section 609 of the FCRA, and that you want all the information related to debts listed on your credit report.
- List the items or entries you’re requesting information about: Insert the list of negative items that you identified in step one. Include all the dates associated with each item you have selected. These should be items you plan on disputing pending the response of the credit bureau.
- Your credit report: Include your most recent credit report. This can be the report you obtained in step one.
- Proof of identity: Copies of a government issued ID, driver’s license or passport can serve as proof of identity.
- Request for removal: Remind the credit bureau that if they cannot verify an item listed by locating the original contract and/or other documents that validate a given item, they must remove the item within 30 days.
- Reference to enclosures: Enclosures are any supporting documents you have included with the letter. You can refer to these as enclosures or annexures.
- Your signature and date: Sign and date the documents you intend on sending.
The final step is to mail your section 609 letter. It is important to make use of certified mail with a return receipt. This creates a paper trail of “proof” so that the credit bureau cannot deny receiving the letter.
Section 609 of the FCRA allows consumers to query credit information associated with their identity. It protects your right to accurate and fairly represented credit information, and provides a process to dispute any information that is incorrect or unverifiable.