I'm looking to start repairing my wife's credit on which she has several credit cards from before we were married. These debts are reaching the 7 year window where I've heard things "fall off" your credit.

Is that really the case? Are these items charged off and written off on taxes by the companies and forgotten? Have they sold the debts to debt collectors for a profit?

I'm trying to sort out whether it makes logical sense, as far as credit score is concerned, to pay down on these old debts.

Thanks in advance for all suggestions,


  • 1
    this will very much depend on the country you live in, where do you live?
    – Ian
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 9:23
  • Maryland, USA..
    – gMale
    Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 13:18

2 Answers 2


You might want to check out this article on the statute of limitations for debt. There are exceptions to that 7 year window that you need to be careful of.

1) Making a payment on an old debt or signing a promissory note, can RESET the 7 year countdown. So it may indeed, NOT be a good idea to make a payment.

2) Not all debts are limited to 7 years. (ex: Student Loans, Child Support, Fines, and Taxes)

A word of warning. Making a payment on an old debt can reset the timer on that debt.

3) Just because it goes off your credit, doesn't mean they can't still try to collect it from you.

These rules vary from state to state, so it might be smart to talk to a debt counselor before doing anything.


Without knowing more, I'd say get someone professional to look over the specifics.

If your wife has unpaid debts (essentially defaulted debts) then it can be sticky. The creditor could have sold off the debt to a third party, or they might not have. In some cases, just contacting the creditor can start clocks over again during which they cay try to collect again. The debts aren't forgotten about.

I'm not one to argue against paying off your debts, because it is the right thing to do. If your wife's financial activities have been good for the past seven years, then most of the effects of the bad marks will be at least discounted heavily in her credit score by the fact that they were so long ago. But I don't know what the effect on the credit score would be if you tried to make good on the debts now.

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