credit cards

Remove charge-offs from credit report?

Leslie McFaddenQuestionDear Credit Card Adviser,
I am 24 years old and just looked at my credit report for the first time. Due to a series of stupid decisions in opening credit cards and not keeping up with them, I realized there are several charge-offs listed on my account. To my knowledge all of them have been paid. All but one reads: "Payment made/after charge-off!" Is there a way to negotiate and get those removed? I don't plan on buying a house or even a car anytime soon, but I don't want those things to affect my credit for the next three to six years.
-- Kristi

AnswerDear Kristi,
You may have already learned from your mistakes, but your credit report will keep a historical record of them for years to come. Paying a charge-off doesn't trigger its removal from your credit report. A charge-off means the lender has reported the debt as a loss after months of nonpayment, a notation that has a very negative impact to your credit score. The paid status will look better to lenders than the alternative, but each charge-off will still sit on your credit report for seven years from the date of the first delinquency.

That said, I would check on that one charge-off that isn't listed as paid. If you did pay off that debt, you can dispute the unpaid status to get it updated. The credit-reporting agencies won't delete information that comes back verified as accurate.

While you wait for the charge-offs to age off your credit report, you can start rebuilding your credit by paying your other credit obligations on time and keeping credit card monthly balances to a minimum.

If you don't have any other accounts, you can re-establish credit by getting new credit cards. Keep the accounts current and balances low each month to improve your score. Pay in full to stay out of debt.

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