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Charge Off on Credit Report: What Does It Mean and How to Remove It?

Written by Marc Guberti

Marc Guberti is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor who has been a finance freelance writer
for five years. He has covered personal finance, investing, banking, credit cards, business
financing, and other topics.
Marc’s work has appeared in US News & World Report, USA Today, Investor Place, and other
publications. He graduated from Fordham University with a finance degree and resides in
Scarsdale, New York.
When he’s not writing, Marc enjoys spending time with the family and watching movies with
them (mostly from the 1930s and 40s). Marc is an avid runner who aims to run over 100
marathons in his lifetime.

Updated April 3, 2024​

7 min. read​

what does charge off mean on credit report

Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. Missing loan payments hurts your payment history and weakens your credit score. In addition, some borrowers fall behind on debt for a few months and end up with a charge off. These events negatively impact your credit score, but you can recover from them. It’s possible to remove some charge offs from your credit report so they no longer hurt your score. We’ll start by exploring charge offs in greater detail and following up with solutions.

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What is a Charge Off?

Charge offs show up on some financially distressed borrowers’ credit reports. If you don’t pay a loan for over six months, some creditors will give up on the debt. This is because they believe you won’t repay it and will issue a charge off. Creditors charge off debt because they can write it off as a financial loss. This strategy helps the creditor save on taxes instead of sitting on the loss.

A charge off does not eliminate debt. Any borrower remains obligated to pay debt until it’s fully paid, settled, or voided by bankruptcy. Some creditors sell bad debt to debt collection agencies. These agencies may use aggressive outreach tactics and can call you anytime between 8 am and 9 pm. Many scammers act as debt collection companies to prey on unsuspecting victims. If you receive a call, don’t provide sensitive information. Ask for a letter containing information about the total debt and the original creditor. You can also ask for a caller to identify themselves and start the name of their collection agency.

When Do Charge Offs Happen?

Charge offs occur when a borrower has not made any loan payments for at least six months. As a result, the creditor believes the borrower will not repay the debt and deems it uncollectible. The creditor then contacts credit agencies to inform them about the decision. Charge offs also vary based on the type of debt.

Unpaid Credit Card Debt

Credit card issuers give you more time than financial institutions. The outstanding debt will only be charged off after six months. You can make the minimum monthly payment to your credit card company to stay in good standing.

Defaulted Loan

A loan charge off can happen after you have missed payments for four months. The creditor can then send your financial obligation to a debt collection agency.

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How To Know If You’ve Received A Charge Off

Any debt you haven’t paid for six months is eligible for a charge off. The debt will show up on your credit report as charged off. Creditors are not obligated to inform borrowers about charge offs; they are only required to notify credit agencies about the change. Creditors must also inform the agencies about the borrower’s first month of delinquency. You can request a copy of your credit report and check if the credit agencies labeled the debt as charged-off.

How Charge Off Shows Up on Your Credit Report

The line of credit or loan in question will have its status listed as “Charge off.” The major credit bureaus will update it to “Paid charge off” if you repay the debt. If a debt collector obtains the debt, your account will be reported as “placed or transferred for collection.” This scenario makes it possible for a charged-off account to show up on your credit report twice.

How Long Does A Charge Off Remain On A Credit Report?

A charge off can remain on your credit report for up to seven years. Some borrowers get it removed by negotiating with the creditor and repaying the debt. A charge off will hurt your credit score, but its impact can be minimized after two years if you keep up with payments.

How a Charge Off Affects Your Credit

A charge off indicates a borrower’s difficulty with managing debts. Any indicator of this effect will hurt your credit score, and charge offs are no different. Payment history is the most important part of your credit score. Some charge offs affect your credit score more than others, depending on their payment status.

Paid Charge Offs

A paid charge off stays on your credit report. However, lenders can see you paid it in full. While some lenders won’t like a charge off, some are more understanding if you pay it off. Lenders can review other areas of a borrower’s finances to see if that borrower can handle a new loan. Paid charge offs don’t have much of an impact on your credit score.

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Unpaid Charge Offs

These charge offs also remain on your credit report, but they don’t inspire confidence from lenders. Even if you are close to paying off the debt, it still shows up as unpaid. An unpaid charge off will still impact your score, but it won’t have as much of an influence as you make payments.

Can You Dispute a Charge Off On Your Credit Report?

You can dispute any item on your credit report. Major credit bureaus will only remove a charged-off debt from your report if the information is inaccurate. For instance, you may have already repaid the debt, but it still shows up as “Charge off” on your credit history. These items will have a negative impact on your credit score, and removing them can add more points to your score.

Ready to take the next step towards improving your credit score and achieving financial stability? The Credit Pros offers personalized solutions and expert guidance to help you address any charge offs on your credit report. With their proven track record of fast and effective results, you can trust that they have the expertise to assist you in reaching your financial goals.

By working with The Credit Pros, you can develop a strategic plan to remove any negative items from your credit report, including charge offs. With their 100% 90-day money-back guarantee and no long-term contracts, you can feel confident in their commitment to helping you succeed. Contact The Credit Pros today at (888) 558-1602 or fill out a form to get started on improving your credit score and achieving financial freedom. Don’t let past mistakes hold you back – take proactive steps towards a brighter financial future with The Credit Pros.

What to Do If You Received a Charge Off

If you received a charge off, don’t panic. Some scammers take advantage of financially and emotionally distressed borrowers and act as debt collection companies. Use these steps to navigate a recently acquired charge off.

  • Determine If The Account Is Really Yours: Check the outstanding balance to make sure it matches up with the debt, and ask the creditor about any discrepancies. If your debt gets sold to several collections agencies, make sure the prior agencies mark the debt as closed. Only one agency can have an open claim on your balance. Borrowers should also ensure the charge off date matches the first missed loan payment.
  • Find Out Who Owns The Debt: The original creditor may have sold your debt to an agency. Ask for a debt validation letter within 30 days of the agency’s first outreach. Borrowers can request details about the original debt, including a copy of the original contract. This information can help a borrower verify the authenticity of the debt collection agency.
  • Determine Whether Or Not The Debt Is Actually Paid: Review your records to make sure you haven’t already paid off the debt. Some debt collection companies make mistakes, while others want to scam you out of money. You can check previous emails, statements, and other documents to reach a conclusion about your payment history.
  • Determine If The Charge Off Is An Error Or Is Inaccurate: You can get a charge off removed if it’s inaccurate. Review your documentation and contact one of the three credit bureaus about getting it removed. The credit bureau will ask for documentation that proves the charge off is an error or inaccurate. If one bureau confirms the charge off is an error, that bureau will contact the other two bureaus on your behalf.
  • Or Whether The Debt Is Beyond The Statute Of Limitations: The statute of limitations limits how long a creditor can take legal action against you. After the statute of limitations expires, they can no longer approach you about the debt. The statute of limitations varies by each state. You can avoid the debt, but it will still appear on your credit report and decimate your credit. You may have to repay the debt before qualifying for another loan. In some states, making a single repayment will reopen the statute of limitations.
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3 Ways To Resolve A Charge Off

Borrowers have three options for resolving a charge off. We have outlined them below.

Negotiate With The Original Lender

If the original lender hasn’t sold your debt, you can work with them to resolve the issue. Borrowers can agree to a new payment plan, catch up on existing payments, or enroll in a debt settlement program. Lenders will mark the charge off as paid after you pay it off.

Use The Advanced Method To Dispute The Charge Off

You can review every detail of the charge off and look for errors. If you detect any mistakes, reach out to a credit bureau and ask for the charge off’s removal. Due to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit bureaus will adjust or remove the charge off if they can’t verify the entry. This strategy only works if you find any errors. You will have to provide proof of existing mistakes in the charge off entry.

Pay Off Your Debts

You are obligated to pay off any debt. After fully paying off the loan, the creditor marks the charge off as paid. Borrowers have many choices to lower debt, such as working a side hustle and trimming expenses. With enough money for a partial lump-sum payment, borrowers can also consider debt settlement.

How to Remove and Recover From a Charge Off

You can follow these steps to remove a charge off from your credit report and recover from having it on your score.

Repairing Credit Post Charge Off

You will have to catch up on late payments and make on-time payments for other financial obligations. Payment history is the most significant component of your credit, making up 35% of your score. Credit utilization comes in a close second, making up 30% of your score.

On-time payments and catching up on your unpaid debt will have the best impact on your credit. Credit transformations don’t happen overnight. Taking a long-term approach can lead to meaningful progress.

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Ensuring Charge Offs Does Not Reappear

You can take these measures to ensure a charge off does not show up on your credit report again.

  • Making Payments on Time: You don’t have to wipe away all of the debt right away. Getting back to on-time credit card payments and staying on top of your loans is a big help. Prioritizing timely payments will also put you in a better financial position and make you more conscious about how you use your money.
  • Setting Up Payment Plans: Debt buyers and creditors want to work with you. The only thing worse for them than a borrower falling behind is a borrower walking away from those obligations due to bankruptcy. Payment plans can break the debt into more manageable monthly payments and make it easier to stay on top of everything.
  • Seeking Assistance from Experts: Credit repair companies and other professionals can guide you along the journey. They can help you negotiate with creditors and determine the best path forward.
  • Monitor Your Credit Report: Periodically check your credit report to ensure there isn’t inaccurate information surrounding your charge off items. You can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus every year. Regularly reviewing your credit report can also shield you from identity theft and reveal ways to improve your credit score.
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