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Missing a payment can hurt your credit score and lead to frustrating phone calls. If 11 Charter Communications (Charter) contacts you or you notice the name on your credit report, a missed payment on a Charter Spectrum account is the likely culprit. While an unexpected debt collection can cause stress, dealing with the problem is actually simpler than you might expect. Read on to learn more about Charter and how to remove a collections account from your credit report.

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What is Charter Communications, Inc.?

If you notice a drop in your credit score relating to a collections account from Charter, you might wonder what the entry is for. While the 11 might throw you off, 11 Charter Communications is actually Charter Communications, Inc., the popular and familiar telecom and broadband services provider. Charter has its headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, and is one of the largest providers of phone, cable and Internet services in the U.S. While it does most of its business under its brand name Spectrum, you’ll often see the name 11 Charter Communications for its debt collection efforts.

4 ways to remove Charter from your credit report

A Charter account can severely hurt your credit report as long as it stays there. Fortunately, removing a collection agency from your credit report can be easier than you might think if you follow these four tips:

  • Send Charter a debt validation letter
  • Negotiate a pay-for-delete agreement
  • Ask for a goodwill adjustment
  • Hire a credit repair company

1. Send Charter a debt validation letter

If you think there’s an error and you don’t owe Charter the money, you should certainly dispute the debt. But even if you do owe the money, you can argue for the company to remove the negative entry from your credit history. Companies and debt collectors can't always fully document a customer's debt.

You can write to Charter at the following address:

  • 11 Charter Communications
  • 400 Atlantic Street
  • Floor 10
  • Stamford, CT 06901-3512

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires debt collectors to provide valid proof of your debt. However, you must submit a validation letter within 30 days of a company contacting you. If Charter can’t provide the validation you’re requesting, it must remove the collection from your credit report.

Whether you pay the money you owe is a separate issue. This article only explains how to remove negative items from your credit report, and keep in mind that simply paying the debt won't remove the record of the past due bills.

2. Negotiate a pay-for-delete agreement

If Charter can document your debt, you should try to negotiate a pay-for-delete agreement. With this deal, you'll pay the balance — or a part of it — in exchange for the removal of the negative item from your credit report. As explained above, paying the balance won't result in the deletion of Charter's negative credit information. Paying might stop the phone calls and letters, but the collections account will remain on your credit report for several years.

In a pay-for-delete agreement, you leverage your payment of the debt as a tool to fix your credit. For it to work, you must get the deal in writing before you pay. You can discuss this over the phone if you prefer, but don't hand over your credit card number at the end of the conversation. Make sure you get a written record of the pay-for-delete agreement before you pay.

A pay-for-delete agreement can ensure the removal of the account from your report and save you money. You can negotiate to pay a much lower amount than you owe to settle your debts. Once you reach an agreement and make a payment to Charter, you should see the negative entry disappear from your credit report within the next 30 days. If the entry is still there after that time, write to Charter again and make sure they keep their promise. If this happens, having the agreement in writing is important.

3. Send a goodwill letter

If you pay off the past-due balance, you no longer have your payment to use as leverage when you ask Charter for a deletion. But that's OK. You can still ask them to delete the negative item as a gesture of goodwill by sending a goodwill letter.

Goodwill letters are known to work, especially if you’re a Spectrum customer with an account in good standing. They’re also effective if your late payment, missed payment or forgotten balance is an anomaly and not a habit. In your letter, explain how the company's derogatory credit marks are hurting your personal finances. It may seem like a pipe dream, but asking for a favor often helps.

4. Hire a credit repair company

While negotiating the removal of Charter from your credit report yourself is doable, it’s often a stressful task. If you hate the thought of answering phone calls from Charter or drafting debt validation letters, you have other options. There are dozens of credit repair companies out there that specialize in disputing debts, negotiating settlements and boosting credit scores. They’ll also ensure that debt collectors don’t harass you or otherwise violate the FDCPA.

If a lingering phone bill is hurting your credit score or you’re dealing with more serious credit issues such as foreclosure or bankruptcy, a credit repair company may be well worth the cost.

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How does Charter work?

Charter offers a line of competitively priced telecommunication services via a massive network across the U.S. In 2016, Charter merged with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, expanding its home Internet services under the Spectrum brand. With so many customers, Charter has a large customer support department.

Sometimes subscribers forget to pay their bills or leave a past due balance when they disconnect their services. During the hassle of a move or a change in service providers, it’s easy for final payments to slip through the cracks. When that happens, Charter can report your past due balance to the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

A negative item on your credit report will lower your credit score. In many cases, companies like Charter hire debt collection agencies to recover debts from their customers. It’s also common for agencies to purchase the debt outright for pennies on the dollar, report the debt to the credit bureaus and hound debtors until they reach an agreement.

A Charter collections account entry can stay on your credit report for seven years, which can do substantial damage to your credit score. When a collections account appears on your credit report, the lender or collections agency can repeatedly call you and send letters regarding your unpaid debts.

Dealing with Charter

Customers of phone or cable providers often experience frustration when it comes to customer support. Charter isn’t a stranger to criticism from customers, particularly when it comes to collecting on late payments.

There are thousands of customer complaints filed against Charter with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), where the company holds an C-rating. Many of these complaints concern the same issues, including:

  • Faulty reporting: Sometimes inaccurate reporting is to blame for collections accounts on credit reports. Many customers report being contacted by Charter regarding debts that don’t exist.
  • Debt validation: These are complaints from customers that claim Charter fails to present proof of the debt they’re claiming.
  • Harassment: Other customer complaints relate to Charter’s communication tactics, claiming harassment over the phone to collect debts.

In light of these, it’s important to learn the basics of the FDCPA. This act protects you in many ways by limiting how and when debt collectors can contact you. For instance, this law restricts debt collectors from calling at unreasonable hours and communicating with your employers or relatives. It also allows you to stop a debt collector’s calls altogether and choose to communicate only by mail. In fact, you should insist on written communication to document your case, including the specifics of any negotiations you make with the company.

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Will Charter sue me?

Many account holders ask the same questions when they first hear from a collection agency:

  • Can they sue me to force repayment?
  • Can the company garnish my wages?

The law allows debt collectors to sue you in civil court. The company would have to win the lawsuit and then petition a judge to garnish your wages as repayment for a debt. Charter could file a lawsuit against you, but in most cases of consumer debt, a huge company like Charter won’t sue for a small amount.

It's helpful to know what Charter can't do. It can't:

  • Prosecute you in the criminal justice system
  • Have you arrested
  • Visit you in person about the bill
  • Call phone numbers after you ask reps to stop calling
  • Call you after you request written communication only
  • Talk to your employer about your debt

If Charter or any other debt collector violates your rights, notify the CFPB or your state's attorney general's office.

Disclaimer: This story was originally published on August 12, 2020, on BetterCreditBlog.org. To find the most relevant information concerning collections or credit card inquiries, please visit: https://money.com/how-to-remove-collections-from-credit-report/ or https://money.com/get-items-removed-from-credit-report/