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I Have Old Debt From 10 Years Ago That’s Vanished. Do I Need to Worry About It? – Carrie

Written by Steve Rhode

“Dear Steve,

I had accumulated about $20,000 of debt 10 years ago. I never addressed any of it, and had one judgement for $2500 come through the local courts. I’ve never been able to pay any of this debt. About 3 years ago I looked into my credit report to see what I could do about getting out from this debt, maybe a bankruptcy. The 3 credit reports did not show any of that debt.

If the debt is not on my credit report, does that mean I don’t owe it any longer or is it that these debtors have just quit reporting to the credit bureaus?


Dear Carrie,

After 7.5 years from the date the delinquent information was reported to the credit bureaus, the account falls off your consumer credit report. However the judgment may remain since it might be reported in the public records section of your credit report. That part is not subject to the same removal timelines.

Depending on what state you live in the judgment may be renewed for a very long time. But if the statute of limitations has passed in your state, then the creditors could not sue you over that old debt. BUT, they can certainly continue to try and collect on it.

This old debt can be sold and resold to other bad debt buyers who may attempt to collect on it again. This is what we often refer to as zombie debt. It’s debt that comes back to life.

I’d be sure to monitor your consolidated credit reports and watch for any of the old debt to reappear at the oddest time.

But if this actually happens to you then we can deal with it then. In the meantime, if the judgment is still active it might make sense to tackle that debt and not worry about the others right now.

READ  How to Deal With a New 1099-C Issued on Old Debt Using Little Known IRS Form 4598

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


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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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