Editor’s note: This is a transcript of the audio file.

What do debt and milk have in common? An expiration date. I’m Kristin Arnold with your Bankrate.com Personal Finance Minute.

All states have time limits on debt; however, some consumer mistakes can restart the clock. If you don’t want to feel the bite of zombie debt, there are tips you need to heed.

There are two debt clocks. The first clock is a statute of limitations on collections. Typically, it’s three to six years.

The second clock is the length of time a debt can stay on your credit report, and as a result, affects your credit score. This clock runs for seven years.

Seven years after the original default date all mentions of a debt — no matter who has bought the debt or when — have to come off your credit report. However, all consumers need to do to reset the debt is to acknowledge the debt is yours.

If you’re unsure if the debt is actually yours – you have the right to ask questions and the right to have debt collectors stop contacting you – whether the debt is yours or not. Put the no-contact request in writing.

If you offer to pay a “little something” on the debt….be wary that a partial payment can put you back on the hook. To learn more, visit Bankrate.com. I’m Kristin Arnold.