How long does debt stay on a credit report?

I am helping my best friend clear up her finances and she has many, many old collection notices on her credit report that are helping to drag her rating down. They are probably 4-7 years old. Do these ever fall off? Or get written off? It seems like they just keep transferring them to other agencies. She also has a... show more I am helping my best friend clear up her finances and she has many, many old collection notices on her credit report that are helping to drag her rating down. They are probably 4-7 years old. Do these ever fall off? Or get written off? It seems like they just keep transferring them to other agencies. She also has a Household Bank credit card in collections - should this be paid first or the old debt? She tried to make arrangements with the collection agency for Household but they wanted much more a month than she could give them, and they refused to make arrangements so right now they are getting nothing. Help - I am not sure where to start. :(
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