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What Does Write Off Mean On A Credit Report


What does it mean when I see that a debt has write off on my credit report?

My name’s Mike Ziegler. I’m the managing attorney for the Debt Fighters. We’re a Florida law firm committed to helping consumers eliminate serious debt.

A very common question that I get is I meet with the consumer and they’re reviewing their credit report and they see the term write off next to the information about the debt. And very commonly looking at that notation, the consumer is of the impression that they’re no longer responsible for the debt. So I’m here today with some bad news. When you see the term write off, that doesn’t mean that the debt has gone away. All that really means is that the lender has taken the debt from the asset column of their balance sheet to the deficit column. It’s now a liability to them because they see that it has not been paid and it’s out of payment regularity. So just because the debt says, write off, that doesn’t mean that the obligation has gone away. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be collected upon. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be sued for the balance.

How long will you see write off on your credit report and how long can be collectible? So keep in mind that the timeline for how long something can show on your credit report is different than the timeline for what’s called the statute of limitations. So under Florida law and the law of every state, there are certain limitations period for how long a creditor can sue on a debt. So for example, in Florida, on a written contract, the statute of limitations is five years. So from the last payment, generally, the creditor has five years to be able to sue you on the balance. Mortgages are more complicated, but I’ll save that for another day.

Now, after that five years has expired, that doesn’t mean that the debt has gone away. It just means that you can’t be sued on the balance. Now, the timeline for how long a debt can be reported to on credit is different. The timeline for credit reporting is generally seven and a half years on a revolving credit line, which is usually like a credit card, and most other debts you’re going to see. So it is possible that a debt will be reporting on credit for longer than the period of time that the creditor can sue you on the balance. So if you’re seeing write off debts, even if that has been on your credit report for five years or more, that may be perfectly valid credit reporting, even though that’s been a little bit of longer time period.

Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t have your antennas up because quite often with debt that’s that old. The debt at some point, it’s going to be resold to a new company and in some instances, what debt buyers will do is something called debt reagent, where they will start to report the debt at the time that they acquired the loan. And they’ll treat that as the beginning of their seven and a half year period instead of the time when you first fell behind. So it’s perfectly reasonable and appropriate to keep your antennas up and review your credit report in detail to make sure that you’re not being held responsible for something that’s too old to report on your credit report.

If you have questions about debts that are showing on your credit report as written off, if you’re wondering about whether the credit reporting is accurate, and whether there is underlying way of resolving the debt itself, so you don’t have to have it in your mind, then I encourage you to contact my office for a complimentary consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

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