Some services let you dispute information with the click of a button, but that can lead to mistakes. A reader wonders what to do after accidentally reporting a charge-off as ID theft.

Question: What happens if you accidentally dispute a legitimate charged-off account as identity theft? I was not paying attention to the account I was clicking on. A few accounts I had were legitimately not ones I had authorized, yet a few were. Anyhow, I was using Lexington Law when I clicked on one that was legitimate and identified it as identity theft. What should I do now?Malynda in CA

Ashley Davison of Credit Saint responds…

Hi Malynda,

I would first contact the company you are working with and see if they can change the reason you input into their system. If they cannot, I would contact the bureaus directly via phone and let them know that you accidentally disputed damage for the wrong reason.

Time is of the essence for this issue. If the creditor takes this claim and is concerned about the security of your account with them, they may close the account.

If you are not getting anywhere with Lexington Law or the bureaus, it may be a good idea to contact the creditor directly and give them the ‘heads up’ about the mistake. You also would be at risk of the credit bureaus placing fraud blocks on your credit.

This is not a bad thing to have but may prevent you from applying for lines of credit in the future.

What is a charge off?

A charge off shows on your credit report when a creditor has been unsuccessful in collecting what you owe. Basically, the lender attempts to collect the debt from you several times but fails in the process. They then close your account, and the charge off reflects as a negative mark on your credit report. It’s an indication that they will likely never collect what’s due.

A charge off typically goes on your credit report after six months of you neglecting to adhere to a payment schedule. However, the account doesn’t move from good standing to a charge off immediately. For example, one month of avoiding your payment to a debtor can move your account from “in good standing” to a “negative status” designation.

Keep in mind, though, a charge off does not mean the creditor won’t try to collect through an in-house collections team or a third party.

How long do charge offs stay on your credit report?

Charge offs remain on your credit report as a negative mark for seven years. After the seven-year mark, it no longer shows on your credit report.

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About the Author

Ashley Davison

Ashley Davison

Ashley is currently Chief Operating Officer for Credit Saint. She previously worked as a Logistics Coordinator at Ernst & Young for their Financial Planning Line. Ashley is currently working toward an Executive Leadership Certificate from Cornell University. With a degree in education, she is eager to teach the world everything she knows and to learn everything that she does not already know! Ashley is a FICO Certified Professional, a Board Certified Credit Consultant & Certified Credit Score Consultant with the Credit Consultants Association of America, and holds a Fair Credit Reporting Act Compliance Certificate.

Published by Debt.com, LLC