What Does Charge Off Mean on Credit Report?

Written by Banks Editorial Team
4 min. read
Written by Banks Editorial Team
4 min. read

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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 and ask for a letter containing information about the total debt and original creditor. You can also ask for a caller to identify themselves and start the name of their collection agency.  

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.

When Do Charge Offs Happen?

Charge-offs occur when a borrower hasn’t made any loan payments for at least six months. As a result, the creditor believes the borrower will not repay the debt and deem it uncollectible. The creditor then contacts credit agencies to inform them about the decision.

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 minimize after two years if you keep up with payments. 

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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.

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 paid 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. 

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.

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 debt collection agency’s authenticity. 
  • 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-of 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.

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, like the Freedom Debt Relief 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 you fully pay 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

Freedom Debt Relief is a debt settlement company that has helped clients get rid of debt since 2002. The company has resolved over $15 billion in debt and may be able to help you. Freedom Debt Relief wants to give you a free consultation with a debt specialist who can help you on your journey. Request a free consultation with one of their certified Debt Consultant today.

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