How Can I Find All My Debt?

Quick Answer

You can find all of your debts by checking your credit reports, going through old bills and mail and contacting known creditors directly to ask for balance statements.

A young woman using smartphone to call her credit card company.

The average individual household debt balance reached $104,215 in 2023, a slight increase from the year before, according to Experian data. That figure encompasses all types of personal debt, including mortgages, car loans, student loans and credit cards.

With what may be a large sum of debt to manage, keeping track of who you owe money to can become tricky. Here are three ways to find out what debts you owe, plus how to pay off debt and what to do if you can't afford payments.

How to Find All Your Debts

1. Check Your Credit Reports

Your credit report will show a list of all your reported balances, alongside who owns the debt and the amount due. You can review your Experian credit report for free at any time. You can also request weekly credit reports from the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) for free by visiting or calling 877-322-8228.

Creditors aren't required to report accounts to the bureaus, so some debt may not show up on your report. For example, payday loans (a form of extremely high-interest debt) aren't typically reported and won't generally appear on your reports.

2. Go Through Your Mail

Track down any notices of unpaid bills, balances owed or accounts in collections you've received in the mail. Check these for information on who you owe debt to or to which collection agencies your debt was sold.

Just be sure to verify the legitimacy of collections letters you receive by searching for the collection company online and contacting them directly. Letters you receive in the mail could be debt collection scams.

3. Contact Creditors Directly

You can also contact your creditors directly to ask what you owe them. Ask them for an updated statement detailing your current balance and payments due.

If your debt is in collections, ask your lender to provide you with the name and contact information for the collection agency they've sold it to.

How to Pay Off Debt

Once you locate your debts, here's how to start paying them off.

1. Take Inventory of Your Debts

The first step in making a plan for getting out of debt is to create a list of exactly what you owe. You could do this on paper, in the notes app on your phone or in a spreadsheet on your computer.

For each debt, list out to whom you owe it, the remaining balance, the interest rate, the payment due date and the minimum payment due each month.

You could sort your debts in order from smallest to largest balance, or in order of highest to lowest interest. This can help you visually account for and prioritize your debts—more on how to do this below.

2. Adjust Your Budget

One of the best ways you can pay off your debt on your own is to create a debt payoff budget. This can help you balance your spending to prioritize getting a handle on your debt, and it's also a good way to start meeting other goals, such as setting aside an emergency fund.

Depending on how much debt you're in or how tight money is, temporarily trying a strict, bare-bones budget (where you cut out all but the essentials) could be a way to make a large dent in high-interest debt. Another option is to consider a 50/30/20 budget, where 20% of your income goes toward debt repayment and savings.

3. Use a Debt Payoff Strategy

You could consider the debt snowball method, which has you pay off your smallest balance first, moving on to your next smallest and so on. This can be an especially good tactic if you're having a hard time keeping track of what you owe.

Another option is the debt avalanche method, which has you wipe out your highest-interest debt first, then the next-highest-interest debt and so on. This method can help you save the most on interest.

4. Consider Debt Consolidation

A debt consolidation loan can be a good option if multiple payments are placing a burden on your finances. But you'll typically need good credit to qualify. Also, debt consolidation is only a good option if you're able to stick to a budget and avoid going into more debt.

What to Do if You Can't Afford to Pay Your Debts

If you're struggling to afford payments on your debts, taking action early can help you get back on stable footing. Here are some ideas to consider.

  • Look at your budget. The first step you should take when you're struggling to make payments is to look for areas you might be able to cut back. Learn about ways to pay off debt on a budget, including by cutting unnecessary spending and seeking additional income.
  • Talk to your creditors. If you're experiencing financial hardship and can't afford to make payments, contact your creditors as soon as possible to let them know your situation. They may be able to work with you on an agreement for how you could reduce your interest or payments due.
  • Contact a credit counseling service. A nonprofit credit counselor can help you come up with a plan for getting out of debt. They'll review your personal financial situation and budget with you and make recommendations for how you can tackle your debts, afford your bills and create a budget.
  • Consider a debt management plan. A credit counselor may suggest that you participate in a debt management plan, in which your counselor negotiates with your creditors to lower your rates or monthly payments. Debt management plans require that you close your credit cards and make one monthly payment to your counselor, who manages the rest on your behalf.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • The easiest way to find a list of all your debts is to check your credit reports. Most creditors report your accounts and payments to the credit bureaus. You can check all of your debts for free by reviewing your free credit report from Experian. You can also get a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) by visiting

    Note that it's possible that some debts, such as payday loans or medical debt balances under $500, may not appear on your credit reports.

  • What happens if you stop paying your debt can depend on the type of debt and how much you owe, plus how your lender handles missed payments. Here are some possible consequences:

    • Payments that are 30 or more days late will appear on your credit report and do serious damage to your credit. The later your payments become, the worse the impact on your score. Eventually, your debt will enter default.
    • Interest will continue to accumulate and grow your balance over time, leading you deeper into debt.
    • Your debt could be sent to collections. This usually doesn't happen until your debt is at least 120 days past due. Collections can remain on your credit report for seven years.
    • Collection companies could take you to court over unpaid debts. If the court rules against you, the agency may be able to garnish your wages or freeze money in your bank account to collect on the debt.
  • There are a couple ways to find out who owns unpaid debts in collections. The simplest way is to check your credit reports. Within your reports, you'll find information on your unpaid accounts along with the name and contact information for the company who owns them.

    Another way to find out who owns your debt is to contact your original creditor and ask them to provide you with the name of the debt collection agency that bought your debt.

The Bottom Line

Shouldering debt, especially high-interest balances, can be a big burden on your budget and your mind. But getting a clear view of what you owe can be a first step toward feeling in control of your debt. From there, creating a plan to start repayment and communicating with your creditors if you're struggling to afford payments are strong next steps forward.