Creditors typically write off or charge off a debt if there has been no payment on the account for more than 180 days (6 months). This does not, however, mean that the person no longer owes the debt. A charge-off is an accounting procedure for tax purposes used by the creditor where an uncollectible debt or charge-off is reported as a loss for the creditor.
If you have any charge-offs on your credit reports, your ability to obtain credit will be seriously impaired and you must actively work to restore your credit. Charge-offs stay on your credit report for 7 years from the date of the initial missed payment that led to the charge-off (the original delinquency date), even if payments are later made on the charged-off account.
Paying an old charge-off will not remove it from your credit reports. It will simply be updated to a “paid charge-off,” which, while slightly better, is still a seriously derogatory item. To qualify for some loans, including a mortgage loan, you must take care of any charge-offs that appear on your credit report. To remove a charge-off from your credit report, you must dispute the account with the credit bureaus. If after numerous disputes the credit bureaus verify the account, you must contact the collector. All negotiations should be in writing. You will likely need to begin on the phone to ascertain the correct person with whom you should be negotiating. However, once you know who that person is, send everything in writing and request they do likewise.
Negotiate with the collection agency to remove their listing entirely from your report. A charge-off is a negative, whether it is paid or not. Make sure you get this agreement in writing as well.