Credit Reporting and misleading information?

I am in the process of paying off past debts from a few years ago in my less responsible college days. The problem is that these debts are showing up as multiple entries on my credit report due to the fact that these collection agencies keep selling them off, and then failing to update the information… How am I supposed to pay these debts when I don’t know who has them, and what the actual balance is on them? Furthermore, why is this practice legal? Once an account is sold to another collection agency, why is the agency that is no longer the holder on the account allowed to have a ding on your credit report? It makes no sense. 1 negative account should equal one negative entry… not multitudes of dings equating to a mutilated credit score. Is this an intentional loophole in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and how do I fix this mess on my credit report?
To the first answer: The question is not confusing, but your answer is. It doesn’t address the question at all. I live in the United States.

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