If you're behind on your credit card payments and the term "credit card charge-off" has come up, you may be wondering what that means. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions.

What does credit card charge-off mean?

When a credit card account goes 180 days (a full 6 months) past due, the credit card company must close and charge off the account. This means the account is permanently closed and written off as a loss to the company, although the debt is still owed.

You could find that reaching out to your credit card company is helpful. Many creditors may be willing to work with you.

Collection charge-off – what do I owe?

Even when your account is closed with charged-off debt, you’re still responsible for paying back the money you owe. Your credit card company may contact you for collection—or you can get in touch with them. You could find that reaching out to your credit card company is helpful. Many creditors may be willing to work with you, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB.

How does charge-off impact my credit report?

While it isn’t possible to say exactly how a charge-off will affect your credit report or how your credit will be viewed by other creditors, a charge-off will generally stay on your credit report for up to 7 years. The exact impact of how that affects your credit score depends on other factors beyond just a credit card charge-off.

Keep an eye on your credit report to track your status and check for errors. You can get a free copy of your credit report every year from annualcreditreport.com, as well as from the 4 major reporting bureaus: TransUnion®, Experian®, Innovis® and Equifax®.