DEAR HARRY: I just paid off the balance on my last credit card, and I'm now 100 percent debt free! Wow! It took seven long years, but now my credit reports look very acceptable. The few creditors that didn't get paid in full are now long past the statute of limitations, and none appear in my credit reports.

Now, my problem. My wife and I got to talking about our situation, and we are both concerned about those guys who got hurt. Some are big companies, but there are five or six small operators.

We think we want to pay these people what they lost. Is there some way we can do this without obligating us to pay the big guys as well?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: It does not appear that you went through a bankruptcy or some other type of restructuring. Those debts just sat dormant for the required period. There does not seem to be any reason that you cannot do what you like regarding those debts. Just do not commit yourself in writing to anyone that you intend to favor.

Here's another consideration: The big guy creditors trusted you in the same way as the little guys. Do your ethical standards permit you to deal with them in a different way? In any event, a tip of the many Gross hats for your concern. I can understand your sympathy for the little creditor, but will that really be enough for you?