A profit and loss write off on credit bureau report is really just a fancy way of saying that the credit card company decided that a given debt wasn't worth collecting and took a write-off for it. When they take a write off for the unpaid balance of debt, they reflect this fact on your credit report. There are a few ways that a profit and loss write off on credit bureau report may show up: the debt may say "charged off" or "uncollected bad debt" or any number of different things... all of which essentially mean the same thing.
What Is a Profit and Loss Write Off on Credit Bureau Report?
Credit card debts are unsecured debts, which means if a consumer doesn't pay, the creditor can't just foreclose and take any assets. Instead, if you don't pay your credit cards and the creditor wants to get paid, that creditor would have to take legal action against you. This would generally mean filing a lawsuit, proving you owe the debt, and winning the lawsuit. Then, if you didn't pay, they'd have to go through additional court action- like getting your wages garnished or getting a lien placed on your property- to actually collect the money you owe.
Credit card companies often decide this is a lot of hassle, especially if the balance owned is a relatively low one. So, instead of pursuing a lawsuit against you, the credit card company may take a profit and loss write off and essentially write off the possibility of ever collecting the money from you (usually, they can then deduct this loss from their tax obligation/liability.)
The Effect of a Profit and Loss Write Off
When a credit card company takes a profit and loss write off, that may seem like it isn't such a bad thing- since after all, the collection calls from that creditor are going to stop and you aren't going to have to pay back the debt. However, having a credit card company put a profit and loss write off on credit bureau report can create a number of problems for you:
- When the profit and loss write off shows up on your credit report (usually, but not always in the form of a statement under that account saying "charged off" ) this is going to lower your credit score. Your credit score is used when deciding whether to give you a loan and at what rate. Having a charge off on your report is going to make it harder for you to get a loan in the future and you'll get worse rates on any loans you do get than someone with better credit. This can cost you thousands over the course of your life.
- If you do get a loan in the future for something like a mortgage, the bank or mortgage lender may be unwilling to give you the loan until you deal with the charged off account since they may fear that a creditor will come back and put a lien on the house as a result of the unpaid debt.
- The collection efforts may not stop despite the charge off; the credit card company may sell the debt to some other collectors (who may be less scrupulous or more aggressive at trying to collect the debt.)
What Can You Do?
If you are unable to pay your debt, having the creditor write it off is probably not going to be the best option. Instead, you might want to try negotiating the debt with the creditor or proposing a payment plan. Most creditors will be willing to deal with you, especially if they are afraid they are going to get nothing and have to take a profit and loss write off. They may, for example, allow you to lower your monthly payment. They may also allow you to reduce the balance owed and/or pay off some portion of the balance in one lump sum and have the rest forgiven.
Fixing Your Credit
If you already have a profit and loss write off on your report and it is lowering your credit, the best thing you can do is try to be responsible in the future and give it time. While you may be able to call the creditor and ask them to remove the negative remark from your report (if you pay the bill, they may do this), getting the negative taken off isn't always going to be possible. However, if you establish a better track record of on time payments and you use credit responsibly in the future, eventually you will be able to raise your credit score again.