Before you attempt to negotiate with a creditor, or settle a debt for that matter on your own, make sure you understand the statute of limitations. Collectors only have a certain amount of time to collect on a debt before they can take you to court. Once the statute of limitations expires there really is nothing that a creditor can do to continue to collect. So, be weary when answering your phone or responding to settlement offers if the debt has been outstanding for a number of years. Every state has a different statute of limitations.