A study by the Federal Trade Commission found that one in five consumers had at least one error in their credit report. One in four had an error that would hurt the consumer’s credit score. Those numbers show why it’s so critical to review your credit reports regularly and dispute errors when you find them.

It may seem old-school, but the best way to get a dispute heard is to send a letter. That’s right. A real letter that you send through physical mail. This guide will teach you how and explain how to decide if you’d be better off getting professional help.

Table of Contents

What is a credit report dispute letter?

A credit report dispute letter does just what the name suggests. It disputes information that you believe is inaccurate in your credit report. When you find that kind of information, you can send letters to credit bureaus (also known as credit reporting agencies) or to the data furnishers that provided the information to the bureaus in the first place.

A dispute letter has several parts, including a section that highlights disputed items and responds with evidence. It ask the credit bureau to remove or correct the disputed item.

Why snail mail dispute letters are better than online disputes

While you have the option to respond to credit report errors online through credit bureau websites, experts recommend sending written letters. Sending physical copies means:

  • you will have proof of what exactly was sent and when
  • you can include evidence to support your case

The FTC advises that letters be sent with “return receipt requested.”[1] That way, you know exactly when the credit bureau receives the letter . By law, the bureaus and data furnishers have 30 days to respond once they receive your dispute.

Types of dispute letters

General dispute letter

This is generally the best type of dispute letter to send. It is a simple, general-purpose letter. There is no need to invoke any aspect of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in your letter as the letters below do. It just lists the mistake from the credit report, supplies evidence to prove your case, and asks to remove the negative item.

609 credit report dispute letter

This letter references Section 609 of the FCRA and requests that the credit bureau verify an item in your credit report. In this letter, you ask a credit bureau to verify information, and if that information cannot be verified, it must be removed.

This essentially does the same thing as the general-purpose letter, but points to a specific section of the FCRA and requests that additional step of verification. However, keep in mind that that step actually occurs whether you ask for it or not. The process the credit bureau does with any dispute is to see if an item can be verified and remove it if it can’t.

611 credit report dispute letter

A 611 credit dispute letter references Section 611 of the FCRA. It requests that the credit bureau provide the method of verification they used to verify a disputed item. You send this letter after a credit bureau responds to a dispute and says that they verified the information. You’re basically asking the bureau to check again.

623 credit report dispute letter

The 623 credit dispute letter, which references Section 623 of the FCRA, is a “last-ditch” attempt to remove a record. Once you go through the process of sending a general dispute letter or a 609, then sending a 611 dispute letter, you have the last option of contacting the data furnisher directly. In this letter, you ask the data furnisher to prove that the debt belongs to you. This is known as debt validation and generally only applies to disputes about third-party debt collection accounts.

How to write a credit report dispute letter

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a credit dispute letter should have four main parts.[2]

  1. Identifying information – Your name, address, phone, etc.
  2. Company Information – This can be the information for the credit bureau you’re making the dispute with or the data furnisher.
  3. Disputed items – List account numbers, dates, what needs to be changed, and why.
  4. Enclosures – List the copies of physical documents, the credit report, your identity paperwork, and copies of bills or other evidence that you may have.

What you’ll need to include with any credit dispute letter:

  • Account numbers (including the credit bureau, as well as your account number with the furnishers, if available)
  • Source of your dispute information
  • Type of disputed information
  • Dates of account activity in question
  • An explanation of why this is an error (be sure to provide evidence)
  • Your personal information
  • Documents to verify your identity

Credit dispute letter sample templates

Below you will find samples of the four types of dispute letters we outline above. You can download a template letter in Word for each type of dispute. Simply replace the lines in brackets <> with your information to write your dispute letter.

General dispute letter sample template

Use this template to ask for the removal of errors on your credit report.

<your name>
<your address>
<your email>
<date of birth>
<Social Security number (optional)>
<driver’s license number (optional)>

<credit bureau name>
<credit bureau address>

Subject: Disputed items in credit report

I’m writing about the following data that appears on my credit report. I’m challenging the validity of this record showing a debt that is recorded in your system under the FCRA, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Section 609. I am asking you to verify this record. If you cannot verify this record, I request you remove this data from my account immediately.

Disputed Item 1

<name of company>
<address of company>
<company phone>
<account number if available>

Reasons why this is an error: [list your reason(s) here]

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

<your signature>

<print your name>

Enclosures: [list items enclosed] <Copy of the credit report with the item(s) circled or marked>
<Items proving your identity>
<Documentation that proves your case>

Download this letter as a Word document »

609 dispute letter sample template

Use this template to ask to verify a debt on your credit report.

<date>

<your name>
<your address>
<your email>
<date of birth>
<Social Security number (optional)>
<driver’s license number (optional)>

<credit bureau name>
<credit bureau address>

Subject: Disputed items in credit report

I’m writing about the following data that appears on my credit report. I’m challenging the validity of this record showing a debt that is recorded in your system under the FCRA, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Section 609. I am asking you to verify this record. If you cannot verify this record, I request you remove this data from my account immediately.

Disputed Item 1

<name of company>
<address of company>
<company phone>
<account number if available>

Reasons why this is an error: [list your reason(s) here]

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

<your signature>

<print your name>

Enclosures: [list items enclosed] <Copy of the credit report with the item(s) circled or marked>
<Items proving your identity>
<Documentation that proves your case>

Download this letter as a Word document »

611 dispute letter sample template

Use this template to ask for a re-investigation of errors on your credit report.

<date>

<your name>
<your address>
<your email>
<date of birth>
<Social Security number (optional)>
<driver’s license number (optional)>

<credit bureau name>
<credit bureau address>

Subject: Disputed items in credit report

I am requesting a re-investigation of the following data that appears on my credit report. On [date], your company responded and stated that the data which appears below is verifiable and therefore cannot be deleted. At this time, I ask that you provide all supporting documentation and information on how you arrived at that conclusion. This is my request and right under FCRA 611.

Please reply within the time limits as stated by the FCRA or delete the data which appears on my credit report.

Disputed Item 1

<name of company>
<address of company>
<company phone>
<account number if available>

Reasons why this is an error: [list your reason(s) here]

I have enclosed the following documentation to support this request: [summarize documents you’ve enclosed]

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

<your signature>

<print your name>

Enclosures: [list items enclosed] <Copy of the credit report with the item(s) circled or marked>
<Items proving your identity>
<Documentation that proves your case>

Download this letter as a Word document »

623 credit report dispute letter sample template

Use this template to ask data furnishers to verify and remove errors on your credit report(s).

<date>

<your name>
<your address>
<your email>
<date of birth>
<Social Security number (optional)>
<driver’s license number (optional)>

<creditor/collection agency name>
< creditor/collection agency address>

Subject: Disputing credit report items

I am requesting an investigation of the following data that appears on my credit report. Specifically, I’m disputing the records that your company is sending to the credit reporting agencies.

When I disputed this record with the credit bureaus, they stated the information was verified. However, because credit recording agencies often use software that doesn’t provide complete investigations, I am disputing the information directly with you. This is my right under section 623 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

If you cannot perform this type of investigation or locate all of the records to investigate this dispute, please update the credit bureaus to remove the information.

I’m also asking that you send your method of investigation, along with all records, as well as documentation that proves the account belongs to me. Then I may conduct my own investigation.

Disputed Item 1

<name of company>
<address of company>
<company phone>
<account number if available>

Reasons why this is an error: [list your reason(s) here]

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

<your signature>

<print your name>

Enclosures: [list items enclosed] <Copy of the credit report with the item(s) circled or marked>
<Items proving your identity>
<Documentation that proves your case>

Download this letter as a Word document »

Do 609, 611, and 623 dispute letters work?

Although some people have success invoking specific sections of the FCRA, these letters may not help any more than a well-written general-purpose credit report dispute letter.

It is even possible that credit reporting agencies may flag 609 and 611 credit report letters as potentially frivolous. That’s because some credit repair companies advise people to send dispute letters that point to certain sections of the FCRA to question everything on their credit report.

Connect with an accredited credit repair service that will help you clean up your credit report correctly.

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Why 609, 611, 623 letters aren’t a loophole

With a quick internet search, you can find vendors selling these types of letters and claiming they give you a “loophole” to get any item off your credit report. Unfortunately, there are no loopholes. Any valid legitimate item in your credit report will remain there until the date it will naturally fall off.

Credit bureaus are not under any obligation to delete data. The burden of proof is whether an item can be verified.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act exists to protect your rights, not give you loopholes. Remember that credit reporting agencies are only under an obligation to remove information that cannot be verified. If they believe the information is verifiable, they won’t agree to remove it.

Sections 609, 611, and 623 in the FCRA

  • Section 609 addresses your right to request copies of your credit report and states that data records must be removed if disputed information cannot be verified. It doesn’t address your right to dispute information in your credit report. The right to dispute information is in section 611 of the FCRA.
  • Section 611a of the FCRA says that the credit reporting agency doesn’t need to show the verification method or send you written results of the dispute when you send your dispute electronically.
  • In Section 623 and other sections of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to dispute a debt not only with the credit reporting agencies but directly with a data furnisher (credit card company, lender, collector) as well. Section 623 of the FCRA also prohibits a company from furnishing inaccurate information to a credit reporting agency.

Tips for writing successful credit report dispute letters

  • Pay attention to the evidence that you include and provide records to back up your claims.
  • Try not to use form letters from the internet or credit bureaus. We include templates for guidance. But please adjust them and make them your own document.
  • Dispute errors that are real. Don’t try to get the credit bureaus to take off valid and legitimate negative items. Most likely, they won’t, and your legitimate disputes could get rejected in the process.
  • Always ask for the error to get deleted or updated.
  • Try to dispute one error at a time, or at least just a few at once. If you have a large number of errors, you may want to group them and space out the disputes.
  • Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested.
  • Keep records of all correspondence.
  • If you feel you were a victim of Identity theft, you need to report that immediately, in addition to making the dispute with the credit bureau.

Get professional help to clean up errors in your credit report.

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Article last modified on May 5, 2022. Published by Debt.com, LLC