06/12/2013 11:06 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

I Want to Settle My Old Debt. - Kyle

Huffington Post Reader Question

Dear Steve,

I am attempting to settle old debt past the statute of limitations.

I have debt that is nearly 7 years old (literally, a matter of months). I need to pay or settle these debts. How should I go about contacting the collection agencies in order to initiate settlement agreements without causing me trouble?


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Dear Kyle,

While I applaud your desire I'm afraid I don't get what the point is.

If this debt is truly outside the statute of limitations, which can be tricky to calculate without the help of a lawyer, there would be no continued risk of being sued over the debt. And debt that is delinquent for more than seven years and 180 days can't be reported on your consumer credit report anymore. Generally the credit bureaus remove it around the seven year mark.

Now remember that just because you can't be sued over the debt if it is truly outside the statute of limitations, collectors can attempt to collect forever.

So here is where I am confused. If you want to now repay this old debt for some personal belief or reason then wouldn't it make more sense to pay the full amount?

But if you wanted to settle the debt for less than you owed and it is outside the statute of limitations and could restart the reporting clock on your credit report, what's the purpose of doing this?

And the other factor at this point is that debt has probably been sold and resold so many times it is doubtful the current debt buyer can even prove proper ownership of the debt. So you'd wind up paying someone that says they now own the debt rather than be able to prove they own the debt.

You see how problematic this can get?

For whatever reason you do insist on opening this can of worms the best place to identify where the debt is now would be to get all three credit reports for free from or look for a provider of a tri-merge or consolidated credit report. I much prefer those for ease of finding data that does not match among reports although there is a charge for those reports.

And once you find the debt I would strongly suggest you attempt to validate the debt with the current alleged owner of the debt. Here's what to ask for.

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