How to Remove a Charge-Off Without Paying

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Contributor, Benzinga
August 14, 2023

Your credit score is essential for securing low-interest rates on loans like mortgages or auto loans and opening the door to better financial opportunities. Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. A charge-off is a creditor’s declaration that the debt is unlikely to be collected. This can happen on any debt, from credit card debt to a loan, and can cause serious harm to your credit score. Find options below for removing a charge-off without paying. 

What Is a Charge-Off?

A charge-off is a debt the creditor has reported as unlikely to be paid off. The implications of this can lead to a major decrease in your credit score. A charge-off doesn’t occur if you pay a credit card late once or twice; it occurs when a debt becomes severely delinquent. Traditionally, creditors declare a charge-off after six months without payment. This can vary by bank or financial institution. During those six months, they will make many attempts at collections before making a charge-off.

For the bank, a charge-off is a form of write-off. For the consumer, it can have long-term implications. Even if you make all other payments on time, it can impact your credit score. Charge-offs, like missed payments, stay on your credit report for seven years. While exact credit scores vary by many factors, charge-offs can sometimes lower a credit score by 50 to 150 points. 

How to Remove a Charge-Off Without Paying

Removing a charge-off without paying starts with understanding personal banking preferences to choose the most suitable bank. A trusted bank can become your financial partner to work through late payments and help establish a payment plan. Here are other ways to remove charge-off from your credit report.

Dispute Inaccuracies

Review your credit score regularly. You are entitled to an annual free credit report at You may also be able to access your credit report through your bank. Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One Bank, Chase Bank, Citi, Discover, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo offer free credit reports or scores to credit card holders and some other account holders. 

When you check your credit report, check for any incorrect or outdated information related to the charge-off. Check the information on all three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — as different creditors may not report to all three credit bureaus. 

You can dispute incorrect information directly with one or all of the three credit bureaus. It’s essential to provide clear documentation or evidence to support your dispute. 

If you have difficulty disputing incorrect information with the credit bureaus, you can also contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for support or use its template letter

Request Validation

A collector must give you a debt validation letter that offers information about the debt, including the creditor’s name, the amount owed and your right to dispute it. The debt validation letter confirms that the debt actually belongs to you and the debt collector has the right to collect it. Before paying for a charge-off, it’s essential to confirm the information they have is correct and related to you. 

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) gives you the right to request verification of the debt from the collection agencies. You can send a written request to the creditor or debt collector requesting debt validation. 

If you can send the letter within 30 days of the first contact, the debt collector must stop trying to collect from you until it verifies that the debt is yours, giving you more time to gather information. You can request a verification letter after 30 days, but in that case, the debt is assumed valid, and the collector can seek payment while responding to your letter.

If they don’t provide verification, it could be a scammer. In that case, don’t pay the debt. You can make a second request for a debt verification letter. If you request the validation letter within 30 days, the debt collector isn’t allowed to collect until they provide debt verification. 

Negotiate With the Creditor

Removing a charge-off without paying can also involve negotiation. You can negotiate with the creditor to settle the debt for a reduced amount. You could negotiate a payment plan, settle on a lower amount and establish a regular monthly payment schedule to settle and pay to delete the charge-off.  

To successfully negotiate with a creditor:

  • Acknowledge that you owe the debt
  • Calculate how much you can realistically pay monthly
  • Explain the plan to the creditor and request an agreement
  • Ask that the charge-back be removed from your credit report
  • Get the agreement in writing

Remember, it’s essential to obtain any settlement agreement in writing before making payments. Otherwise, you’ll still be faced with the full debt amount. 

Time-Based Removal

Even information like bankruptcies will naturally age off your credit report. Charge-offs remain on your credit report for seven years from the original delinquency date. If you’re not planning to apply for major loans like a mortgage, you could let the charge-off simply age off your credit reports over time.

During that time, focus on making all payments on time and building other positive credit behaviors like a low debt-to-income ratio to improve your overall credit profile.

If you believe your rights are being violated or you are facing aggressive debt collectors, you can seek legal advice. A legal professional can help you navigate complex credit and debt situations. In complex situations, such as when the debt isn’t yours but you cannot remove it from your credit report, receiving legal guidance can be invaluable. 

Even if the debt is yours, a legal professional can help advocate on your behalf and help negotiate with creditors or locate other opportunities to remove the charge-off from your credit report. 

Restoring Your Credit After a Charge-Off Occurs

Removing a charge-off is one step, but regardless of the outcome, it’s essential to work on rebuilding and restoring your credit score. Here are key steps to take:

Address the Charge-Off

First, proactively contacting the creditor responsible for the charge-off is important. Tell it about the debt details, repayment options and potential settlements. You can follow the negotiation steps above. And to ensure any agreement during the conversation remains legally valid, you’ll need to obtain written documentation.

Establish Positive Payment History

Even if the charge-off remains on your credit report, establishing a positive payment history can significantly impact credit rebuilding over time. Payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score. While the charge-off will hurt your score, years of positive payment history can gradually mitigate this influence. 

Everyone gets busy, and it can be easy to miss a due date. You can set up payment reminders on your phone, computer or directly with the bank to avoid missed due dates, making it easier to build good credit history. 

You can also prioritize and manage payments to ensure they’re consistently on time by setting up automatic payments or automatic withdrawals from your bank account for all loans or credit accounts. If you’re worried you won’t have enough to cover the full bill, you can set up an automatic minimum payment and pay as much as possible. 

Secure New Credit

Financial products specifically designed to help you rebuild credit are available. Consider using secured credit cards or taking out credit-builder loans as tools for rebuilding credit. To use the new credit responsibly, make small purchases and pay off the balance each month.

You’ll deposit a set amount with a secured credit card, usually enough to cover your credit line. As you make charges and on-time payments, the credit card issuer reports on-time payments to the credit bureaus, building credit over time.

Credit-builder loans work similarly. With a credit-builder loan, you pay a set monthly amount and only gain access to the funds once you’ve paid the loan in full. The bank reports positive payment history with each on-time monthly payment, further building your credit score. 

You can apply for a secured credit card or credit-builder loan with your local bank, online banks or other lenders. Find some of the best secured credit cards or credit-builder loans

Monitor Your Credit Report

Regularly monitoring credit reports is essential for tracking progress and ensuring the accuracy of credit reports. Check the name, address, Social Security number, total accounts and outstanding debt to ensure all information is accurate. 

If you have a credit card with one of the many major banks, you may also be able to access your credit report through your bank. Remember to get a free annual credit report from all three credit bureaus at To request the free credit report, you may also call 1-877-322-8228 or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service

P.O. Box 105281

Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

You can also request help or buy an additional credit report by contacting each credit bureau:

Building a Better Credit Score

Removing charge-offs or negotiating payment terms can set you up for better financial opportunities. The power is in your hands by paying bills on time and using financial products like credit-building loans and secured credit cards. Consider also using rent reporting companies to report on-time rent and utilities payments or becoming an authorized user on the credit card of someone with a good credit score. It takes some planning and attention, but with a focused strategy and tools to help, you can build a healthy credit score.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can a charge-off be removed from my credit report without paying?


Yes, sometimes a charge-off can be removed from your credit report without paying, especially if it wasn’t yours or was incorrect. All charge-offs will naturally be removed from your credit report after seven years.


What are some strategies to remove a charge-off without paying?


Strategies to remove a charge-off without paying include disputing inaccurate information, negotiating with creditors, seeking legal advice or waiting seven years until the charge-off will be removed from the credit report.


Are there any risks involved in attempting to remove a charge-off without paying?


The main risk of attempting to remove a charge-off without paying is that you won’t be able to negotiate or remove it successfully. In this case, it will naturally be removed from your credit report after seven years. Even if you cannot remove the charge-off without paying, you can steadily rebuild your credit score by paying other bills on time.

Alison Plaut

About Alison Plaut

Alison Plaut is a personal finance writer with a sustainable MBA, passionate about helping people learn more about financial basics for wealth building and financial freedom. She has more than 17 years of writing experience, focused on real estate and mortgage, business, personal finance, and investing. Her work has been published in The Motley Fool, MoneyLion, and she is a regular contributor for Benzinga.