Personal Information Dispute Letter
When a credit bureau makes an error on your credit report, you have the right under Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act to send a letter requesting information about it. This is sometimes referred to as a “609 dispute letter.”
You can submit your personal information dispute via the online option or through old-fashioned paper mail. Both methods are effective, though you might get more timely results by going the online route.
What to Include
A personal information dispute letter is a request to a credit bureau that specifies errors on a consumer’s credit report. The letter must present specific details about the incorrect item and include proof that demonstrates why it should be corrected. Consumers also need to send a copy of their credit report where the error appears, and any documents that prove their identity.
Consumers should start their letter by writing their full legal name and social security number. Two spaces beneath, they should write the name of the credit bureau. Then, they should write today’s date. Using this format makes it easier for the credit bureau to identify and categorize the dispute. Next, consumers should explain the error in detail and ask the credit bureau to delete it from their reports. Consumers may want to include supporting documentation like copies of bill statements, loan paperwork, or even a police report. However, they should refrain from expressing anger or frustration as this could cause the bureau to delay investigating the claim or even dismiss it as frivolous.
Addressing the Credit Bureau
You can dispute credit bureau errors through their websites and by mail. Each bureau has a specific area where you can submit disputes online, and most will send a form with your credit report that you can use for mailing. Ensure that you include as much information about the error as possible in your letter and keep copies of everything you send. This may help prevent the credit bureau from asking you for more information later.
The most general type of dispute letter references Section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and asks a credit bureau to verify an item in your report. The credit bureau must investigate the disputed item and, if it cannot be verified, remove the item from your report.
If you send your dispute letter by mail, make sure to pay for a return receipt so that you have proof of when the credit bureau received it. By law, they must investigate your dispute within 30 days of receiving it.
Addressing the Information Furnisher
There are a few things to keep in mind when drafting your dispute letter. First, it’s important to realize that this is a legal document that may later become part of a court exhibit. This means that you should be polite and do your best not to include any foul language or name-calling.
Another important thing to remember is that you also have the right to dispute information directly with the company that provided the information to the credit bureau in the first place. These are called information furnishers and can include credit card issuers and lenders.
If you send a direct dispute to the furnisher, it has 30 days to investigate your claim and then report back to the credit bureaus. Once the credit bureaus are made aware of the inaccurate information, they have to remove it from your credit report and give you an updated free copy of your credit report. If the furnisher stands by its claim that the information is correct, it must notify all three credit bureaus about your dispute.
The letter should end with a cordial phrase such as “Sincerely,” or “Respectfully yours.” The more cordial and professional the letter is, the less likely the credit bureau will delay the investigation or dismiss it as a frivolous dispute.
The final paragraph of the letter should request a response within 30 days as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Also include a request that the disputed information be corrected or deleted, based on the evidence you have provided. Send the letter by certified mail with a request for return receipt. This will provide you with a signature as proof that the credit bureau received your letter.
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion each have a webpage that walks you through the online process of filing a dispute. If you file the dispute online, you can check on its status anytime. Generally, most disputes are resolved in about 30 days. If an error is found, your credit report will be updated.