Is the 609 Letter Really a Credit Repair Secret?
A 609 letter is one of the latest internet credit repair “secrets” that claim the ability to remove any kind of information from your credit report—even accurate information—based on a “loophole” in the credit reporting law.
Why Use a 609 Letter?
If you’ve been working to improve your credit, a 609 letter may sound like exactly what you need to get negative accounts taken off your credit report. You can use it to dispute errors, resolve inaccuracies, and handle other items that might be impacting and lowering your credit score inaccurately.
Credit Bureau Responsibilities
When it comes to reporting your credit history, one of the credit bureaus’ responsibilities is to only include accurate and verifiable information in consumer credit reports. Use of the 609 letter in credit repair is based on the credit bureaus responsibility to report only verifiable information.
Credit bureaus collect consumer credit information from various sources like banks, then resell that information to businesses who need to evaluate consumer credit applications. Credit bureaus are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which details what credit reporting agencies and information furnishers can and cannot do when they’re reporting consumer information.
Using a 609 letter to clean up your credit might make perfect sense for your situation, but aside from the benefits, there are some things to be aware of.
Helps you take advantage of your right to request that credit bureaus disclose all information on your credit report.
Asserts your right to an accurate credit report, which includes only complete and verifiable information.
Credit bureaus may remove information that is erroneous, outdated, or otherwise cannot be verified, as allowed according to the FCRA.
Accurate information can be added back to your credit report even after removal if the creditor can verify its accuracy.
New debt collection agencies may add outstanding debts to your credit report at any time.
You can't eliminate obligations to repay a legitimate debt, even if a 609 letter removes it from your credit report.
Where Does the 609 Letter Come From?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act contains 25 sections, numbered 601 through 625. The 609 letter is based on rights granted under Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Under Section 609, credit reporting agencies are required to disclose certain information to consumers who request it. Specifically, consumers are allowed to request:
- All the information in their credit report
- The source of the information
- Each prospective employer that has accessed the consumer’s credit report within the past two years (except for businesses that accessed the credit report for an investigative report)
- Businesses that have made soft inquiries within the past year
This is essentially the information you get when you order your credit report online.
In addition to the required disclosure of information in your credit file, Section 609 of the FCRA requires credit bureaus to provide a summary of your rights under the FCRA, a list of the federal agencies who enforce the FCRA, and a statement that the credit bureau is not required to remove accurate, negative information unless it is outdated or cannot be verified.
Consumers have the right to an accurate credit report. That means that only accurate, complete, and verifiable information can be included in your credit report.
Despite rumors that say otherwise, Section 609 does not give consumers the right to dispute information nor does it require credit bureaus to provide proof of your accounts. Instead, Sections 611 and 623 of the FCRA cover a consumer’s ability to dispute inaccurate information and the credit bureau’s obligation to provide a description of the dispute process if the consumer requests it in writing.
Should You Purchase a 609 Letter Template?
The short answer is no. You may have come across template 609 letters for sale on the internet. Some websites charge hundreds of dollars for a 609 letter template and instructions for using the letter.
You have the right to request disclosure of information from the credit bureaus. You don’t have to state anything special or use certain language to exercise your right. Simply write to the credit bureau and request disclosure of information under section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You should always draft your own letters to the credit bureaus based on your specific credit report information.
As with all correspondence with credit bureaus, send your letter via certified mail so you can track the receipt of the letter and time a response from the credit bureaus. The FCRA doesn’t dictate a specific time frame for a credit bureau to respond to a disclosure request made under Section 609; 30 to 45 days is a reasonable amount of time to wait for a response.
What 609 Letters Don’t Do
Depending on the verbiage in your letter, i.e. if it reads like a credit report dispute and the credit bureau treats it like a dispute letter, a 609 letter may succeed in helping you get unverifiable information removed from your credit report, but there are some limitations.
- Accurate information can be reinserted to your credit report even after it’s been removed if the creditor can verify the accuracy of the information.
- Outstanding debts may be added to your credit report by a new debt collection agency.
- The 609 letter doesn’t eliminate your obligation to repay legitimate debts, even if the debt is removed from your credit report. Creditors and debt collectors can continue to pursue you for debts that are within the statute of limitations.
- Contrary to the myths around 609 letters, the FCRA does not require credit bureaus to keep or provide signed contracts or proof of debts. You can, however, request a description of the investigation procedure.
The FCRA does give consumers the right to dispute credit report errors. This is the best way to have inaccurate information removed from your credit report.