Charge-offs are serious negative entries on your credit report. Credit card companies and other creditors will close your accounts and list them as charged off if you stop making payments. Charge-offs can cause your credit score to plummet, making it difficult or impossible to be approved for new credit. You can remove a charge-off by negotiating with the original creditor or challenging the information with the credit bureaus because it is inaccurate or outdated.
Get a copy of your credit report from Annual Credit Report, a website established by the nationwide credit bureaus to offer free reports as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal law. View and print the report directly from the site or follow instructions on the homepage for ordering by telephone or mail.
Find the charge-off on your credit report. Note the date that the charge-off was entered on the report. Federal law allows charge-offs and similar negative information to be reported on your credit report for seven years. If seven years have passed, write a letter to the credit bureau asking that the information be removed because it is outdated and by law can no longer be included on your report. Mail the letter to the credit bureau's address listed in the report and wait 30 days for a response.
Verify the accuracy of the charge-off. For example, perhaps someone else's charge-off was inadvertently listed on your report, or you actually paid the account in question. If the information is wrong, send a letter to the credit bureau asking that the information be removed immediately. By law, the credit bureau must remove inaccurate information. Wait 30 days for a response.
Contact the creditor if the information is current and accurate. Negotiate with the lender for an option called "pay for delete." This legal arrangement allows you to pay the full amount that was charged off in exchange for the creditor deleting the information from your credit report. Not all creditors will agree to such an arrangement because they believe it undermines the credit reporting process. However, this represents the only other honest way of deleting a charge-off, other than waiting for the information to become outdated or disputing it because it is wrong.