Q: No one has been able to give me a simple answer (or any answer, for that matter) as to what we should do.

Periodically, we receive a letter from a collection company offering a reduced deal to pay off an old debt. My question is if we are able to do this, will this be reflected on our credit reports? These debts have long since disappeared from any report (we’re talking about debts from 18 to 20 years ago) and we do not want to do anything that will now reflect badly on our credit.

A: Often, companies will sell very old debts to collection companies, who will try to get you to reengage. But just because you’re contacted doesn’t mean you have a legal duty to pay them. If the window of time during which a company must start collection proceedings has elapsed, you may be off the hook. There’s no point engaging because depending on where you live, that may start the clock ticking all over again.

You might want to ignore these letters. If something pops up on your credit history, you can deal with it then. But my guess is these collection agencies just trolling for someone who takes a look at the debt they once owed and decides they now have the money to pay that debt back.