set off

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1. The ability of a debtor to reduce the amount of one's debt by an amount the creditor owes to the debtor. Thus, if a debtor owes a creditor $20,000 but the creditor owes the debtor $5,000 in an unrelated matter, setoff allows the debtor effectively to owe only $15,000.

2. In banking, the right of a bank to seize a debtor's account balance held at that bank if a debt is in or near default. Some jurisdictions limit the right of setoff; for example, the United States does not allow it to apply for commercial loans or credit card debt.

set off

To deduct debts from each other.Oftentimes defaulting debtors will claim that they have not paid their obligations because of a right of setoff against injuries suffered as a result of wrongdoing by the creditor.Lenders with bank deposits in the name of their borrower may set off the bank account against the mortgage debt if there is a default.

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