If you’ve ever looked into repairing your credit, you may have seen credit repair businesses advertising “609 dispute letters” as a way to remove negative information on your credit report.
What is the idea behind this strategy, and do 609 dispute letters work? Before you spend your hard-earned money on one of these credit repair letters, let’s learn more about 609 disputes with one of our nation’s leading credit experts, John Ulzheimer.
Credit repair is the process of removing inaccurate negative items from your credit report that could be keeping you from having a higher credit score.
While you can repair your credit yourself, in this context, we’re talking about the process of purchasing credit repair services from a company who works to clean up your credit report for you.
As part of this process, credit repair organizations (CROs) challenge information on your credit report by sending credit dispute letters to the credit bureaus. This is a common practice that has been used for decades.
The 609 dispute letter specifically has emerged more recently as a new credit repair tactic.
The 609 in “609 dispute letter” refers to Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
The FCRA is a statute that lays out the rights of consumers when it comes to credit reporting, such as the right to an accurate credit report.
Section 609 entitles consumers to receive information that the credit bureaus have on you, i.e. request copies of your own credit reports. It’s important to note that Section 609 does not say anything about dispute letters or disputing information on your credit reports. The right to dispute inaccurate or unverifiable information is actually stated in section 611 of the FCRA, not section 609.
As we said, what Section 609 does include is your right to request to see your credit reports. What it does not do is entitle you to receive information that the credit bureaus do not have.
The premise of a 609 dispute letter is that you can ask the credit bureaus for information about an account that they probably do not have and, as the theory goes, since they do not have the information you are requesting, they will have to remove the account from your credit report.
For example, someone might send in a 609 dispute letter to the credit bureaus asking for a copy of the original promissory note you had with your lender or the cardholder agreement you had with one of your credit card issuers. Sometimes people may ask to receive copies of checks they mailed to make payments on an account.
Of course, since the credit bureaus are not your lenders, they will not have copies of such documents, which have nothing to do with your credit report. Only your lenders are going to have these types of records pertaining to your business with them.
However, proponents of the 609 dispute method claim that if you ask the credit bureaus for information that they do not have, they must delete the item from your credit report. According to John, unfortunately, this claim does not hold water.
Again, there is no rule in credit reporting that entitles you to information that the credit bureaus do not have. The credit bureaus are not obligated to remove an account from your credit report just because you ask for a document that only your lender actually possesses.
If you are paying a credit repair company extra money specifically for 609 dispute letter services, you should be aware that Section 609 of the FCRA does not give you any rights to have information removed from your credit reports.
How does John know this? Well, first of all, anyone can read the FCRA and see for themself that the letter of the law provides no basis for the 609 dispute myth. Beyond that, some of John’s 30 years in the credit industry were spent at Equifax, managing the credit dispute resolution process.
“There is absolutely nothing that we did different [with] that era’s version of the 609 dispute letter. We didn’t do anything faster, we didn’t send any different dispute forms to the furnishing party, we didn’t word the disputes any differently—nothing was done differently because of a Section 609 letter,” he said in the Credit Countdown video about 609 disputes on the Tradeline Supply Company, LLC YouTube channel.
There is absolutely nothing that we did different [with] that era’s version of the 609 dispute letter. We didn’t do anything faster, we didn’t send any different dispute forms to the furnishing party, we didn’t word the disputes any differently—nothing was done differently because of a Section 609 letter.
Purchasing a Section 609 dispute letter probably isn’t a good investment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t repair your credit using the tried-and-true credit dispute process.
If you still want to hire a credit repair company, that’s still an option—just don’t expect 609 letters to work any better than standard dispute letters.
Remember, you can also dispute items on your credit report yourself for free. There’s no cost to file a dispute with the credit bureaus directly.
Need some guidance? Check out our articles on How to Fix the Most Common Credit Report Errors, where we walk you through each step of the process, and How to Remove Derogatory Entries From Your Credit Report.