29 Sep 23

How To Remove A Charge-Off From Your Credit Report

| by

Last Updated on: 30th September 2023, 09:30 am

How To Remove A Charge-Off From Your Credit Report

Having a charge-off on your credit report can be super frustrating. It’s like getting a big fat F on your financial report card. But don’t worry – there are ways to remove charge-offs from your credit report. This article will walk you through the steps so you can clean up your credit.

What is a Charge-Off?

First things first – what is a charge-off anyway? A charge-off happens when a creditor essentially gives up on trying to collect a debt from you. They take the unpaid debt off their books as a loss, which hurts their bottom line. Not cool. This usually happens after several months of non-payment. Once it’s charged off, the creditor will report it to the credit bureaus. Then it shows up on your credit report looking all nasty.

Charge-offs are one of the worst marks you can have on your credit because it makes you look super risky to future lenders. They’ll be worried you won’t pay them back either. But don’t freak out – having a charge-off isn’t the end of the world. Here’s what you can do:

Check Your Credit Report

First, pull out your credit reports from and comb through them to find any charge-offs. Make note of:

  • The creditor
  • The amount of the debt
  • The date it was first reported

This info will come in handy later when you try to remove it. If you find multiple charge-offs, don’t be discouraged. Just take it one step at a time.

Verify The Charge-Off is Legit

Mistakes happen all the time on credit reports – so make sure the charge-off is even valid. If it’s not a legit unpaid debt, you can dispute the error. Simply submit dispute letters to the credit bureaus saying this charge-off ain’t yours. Send them any proof you have too. The credit bureaus will investigate within 30 days and remove it if it’s incorrect.

Negotiate With The Creditor

If the charge-off is legit and you owe the money, try negotiating with the original creditor to remove it from your credit report in exchange for payment. This is called a “pay for delete” agreement. Call up the creditor and politely ask what it would take to delete the charge-off. Be super nice!

If you can pay the debt in full, explain that you can send payment right away if they agree to delete it from your credit report. If you can’t pay in full, offer a lump sum payment – maybe 30% to 50% of the amount owed. Having something is better than nothing for the creditor. Make sure to get any agreement for deletion in writing before sending payment.

Wait It Out

If the creditor won’t budge on removing the charge-off, you may have to wait it out. Charge-offs can legally stay on your credit report for up to 7 years. Luckily, the impact lessens over time. Keep making on-time payments and lowering your credit utilization, and your score will start to improve.

You can also ask the creditor to re-age the debt by making consistent payments over several months. This will change the status to “current” and make it look like you paid it off more recently. Way better than a charge-off!

Add A Note of Explanation

Did you go through a rough patch and rack up some charge-offs? When applying for credit in the future, include a brief note explaining the situation and how you’ve turned things around. This shows creditors you’ve learned from past mistakes.

For example: “During my college years I accumulated some charge-offs due to financial hardship. Since then, I’ve learned how to better manage my finances and have been rebuilding my credit for the past two years.”

Lenders may look on you more favorably if you acknowledge your slip-ups. Everyone makes mistakes, after all.

Focus on Rebuilding Credit

In addition to cleaning up charge-offs, work on rebuilding a positive credit history. Things that can counteract the negative impact of charge-offs include:

  • Making on-time payments
  • Keeping credit card balances low
  • Having a mix of credit types (credit cards, loans, etc)
  • Not applying for too much new credit at once

If you have no open credit accounts, consider becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. Their good payment history will start to influence your credit. Or, secured credit cards require a refundable deposit and are easier to get approved for. Use them responsibly for 6 months to a year and you’ll likely qualify for an unsecured card.

Monitor Your Credit

Keep tabs on your credit reports moving forward to ensure:

  • No new negative marks show up
  • The charge-offs are removed after you pay them
  • The charge-offs age off your reports after 7 years

You can use a free site like Credit Karma to monitor changes each month. Be vigilant and keep challenging errors – this will get you back on track.

Don’t Stress, Just Take Action

Charge-offs stink. There’s no way around it. But don’t let them keep you down forever. Roll up your sleeves, make a plan, and start fixing the problem. You’ve got this!

With some time and effort, you can remove those charge-offs and rebuild a stellar credit score. A few late payments or collections don’t have to haunt you. Take control of your financial situation. A clean credit report is just around the corner!