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Are Charged Off Debts Still Collectible?


What does “Charge-Off” mean?

Generally a Charge Off is a notation on a credit report that a lender places on an account when it has gone unpaid for a period of time.  The account has moved from the asset side of the creditors balance sheet to the deficit side.

A Charge Off v a Write-Off.  Is Charged Off Debt Collectible?

If a creditor has written off a loan, normally that means that the loan has been forgiven.  In contrast, a “charged off loan” is still collectible.

How to Handle a Charge-Off from a Credit Report

To handle a charged off debt, you have to view the debt at two levels – the credit impact of the charged off debt and the balance that is owed on the debt.  Often, I get calls from consumers about a charge-off because they want to improve their credit.  A credit repair company might attempt to remove the adverse credit reporting, but removing a debt from your credit report without addressing the balance that is owed.  In that situation, the debt is still collectible, and you may still be sued on it.  Its like putting a band aid on an infected wound – a consumer should address the balance that is owed

The impact of settling the debt on credit scoring will vary depending on the terms of the settlement, as well as your other scoring factors.  In most instances a settlement will not remove prior bad credit history because creditors are required to report information accurately on a report; if a consumer missed payments, generally a creditor must show those payments to still be missed after the balance is paid off.  However, settling a balance will show that the consumer no longer owes a balance, and allows the consumer to add new positive credit information in the future.

What About a Charge Off that is Past the Collection Timeline (Statute of Limitations)

Information can show on a credit report normally for 7 years.  In contrast, in Florida a creditor can only sue on most debts for 5 years (called the “statute of limitations”).  If a debt has exceed the time when it could be sued on, a consumer should take caution in considering settlement.  Making a payment on the debt can re-extend the statute of limitations.

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