Credit Repair - Understanding Charge Offs

By: Chane Steiner

"Charge off" is an accounting term that creditors use when they assume after a period of delinquency that they are not able to collect on a debt that is owed to them. Creditors write that debt off as a loss against their income taxes. Just because a debt is charged off (or written off) does not mean the debt is forgiven. The money is still owed. The creditor will usually sell or assign the debt to a collection agency or a lawyer to effect collection.

Some companies continue to charge interest, but most don't. If they do decide to keep charging interest, they have to continue to report it as income. Most companies would rather just write it off and be done with it.

Having charge offs on your credit report usually results in the consumer being denied credit by other lenders. Even worse, it can also affect the interest rate that other lenders charge on current debts even if those lenders were not impacted by the charge off themselves.

If you find yourself late on your payments, you should always try to contact the lender and let them know you are having problems meeting your financial obligations. Ignoring the situation and letting it get to charge off status always makes it worse. You can usually avoid your account being charged off by at least letting them know you intend to pay and by at least making small payments as often as you can.

If you already have charge offs on your credit report, it is possible to have them removed. You can try to contact the original creditor and arrange a payment plan in exchange for them removing the charge off once it is paid. It doesn't hurt to ask them how it can be resolved or removed. You can also dispute it with the credit bureaus.

It's much easier to get a paid charge off removed from your credit report than it is an unpaid charge off. When you dispute the charge off with the credit bureaus, they have 30 days to verify the account with the creditor. If the account is paid, many times the creditor will just ignore the verification request. They really only report charge off so that they can damage your credit hoping that it will turn make you want to pay them off. It's highly unlikely that they would ever ignore a dispute if you still owe them money.

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