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I’m Living in Japan and Owe on Some Old U.S. Stafford and Perkins Student Loans. – Steve

“Dear Steve,

I posted this in the forum, but it has been sitting their for almost a month and no one has addressed it. It is listed under Creditor Questions & Answers titled Statute of Limitations and Collection Agencies. I know; wrong category:) I am adding more information to this inquiry.

The key point to my situation is that there are no open accounts of any kind on my credit report. Any information I find on the Internet assumes that I have open accounts on my credit report; I don’t.

The 2 debts I am completely certain about are the Alaska State Student Loan (not federal) and the Stafford Perkins Student Loan. I do not have an open account with the Alaska Student Loan offices. As for the Stafford Loan, I’m not sure.

My situation is a little different – I think. I have been living abroad for almost 10 years now. I have decided it is time to move back to the states one year from now. I had intended to pay off my debt once I got settled here in Japan. Anyway, I have been doing as much research as possible to figure out to whom I owe money and how much.

I started by obtaining a copy of my credit report. I was surprised to see there was really nothing on it. There were, however, a couple of hard inquiries from collection agencies. I continued researching my options to start paying off my debt. That’s when I came across the subject of the statute of limitations for debt. As I understand it, the time which a creditor or collection agency can sue me has expired. Providing that there are no renewed judgments.

Now, I am not looking to dodge my debt. My first priority is to improve my credit score so that I can get basic things such as a place to stay, a job, utilities, etc. My cred it score is 634 (Experian) and I understand that 1. my score is attributed to inactivity and 2. that hard inquiries can knock off around five points. The 2 collection agencies are Diversified Collection Services and the other is GC Services. I looked-up both agencies and found that DCS has a A+ rating with the BBB. I can assume that it is possible that DCS owns my Stafford Loan and can validate it. Actually, I am working under the assumption that all the debts can be validated.

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In keeping with my priority, my credit score, how do I approach this? Also, are the hard inquiries a form of harassment?


Dear Steve,

If you did not get a consolidated credit report and only looked at a one bureau report, that’s not going to give you a complete picture. The credit bureaus each contain similar but different information. Only a consolidated credit report will give you the entire view.

The debt collection inquiries do not count as hard inquiries, as if you applied for credit. They are just trying to find you by checking in on your credit report.

The best way to begin to rebuild your credit in the U.S. in anticipation of your move back is follow the process I outline in this post. We need new good information to be reported on your credit report to bring your score up.

I would agree with you, your lack of recent information coupled with the current collection activity would explain your 634. But the good news is it’s not lower.

While you are in Japan, I’d suggest you call the collection companies from a Japanese phone line. Ask them for information about why they are checking your credit report. Let them know you are out of the U.S. and have been for a decade. There is no need to tell them about your possible return to the U.S. at this point.

Once we get the facts on what they are trying to collect, come back here and post an update in the comments. I’ve got some ideas on what to do next but I first need to know more about the debts.

We can make some good choices but first we need some good data. Don’t be afraid to call them from Japan and get the details.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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