Saturday, September 18, 2010

Should I Co-Sign to Help Someone Obtain Credit?

Recent shifts in policy have made it harder for young people and people without excellent credit to get their own loans and credit cards.  The CARD act now states that those under the age of 21 can not hold a credit card without either a steady job or a co-signer.  Those who have blemishes on their credit report are in a similar situation since lenders are less likely to turn the other cheek and offer these individuals new loans or credit cards.  With no where else to turn, these individuals are now turning to co-signers for assistance, but should you help them?  
Saying no to pleas from friends and family members looking for help can be tough, but remember, you should take careful consideration before cosigning.  Needless to say arguments about payments, loan status, and lack of communication can cause disputes and damage personal relationships.  Co-signing for those who are not close to can cause turmoil as well.
Lately, many have attempted to capitalize on the tight credit market by charging upfront fees to co-sign for individuals they don’t even know well.  Message boards and online posts are full of people looking for advice on how to start a cosigning business.  Teenagers and young adults without jobs as well as those who have damaged their credit due to bankruptcy make good prey for those looking to charge upfront fees to cosign.  If you’re considering starting this type of business, however, think twice before doing so.  While co-signing for a stranger may not be illegal, some may find it morally wrong and it could possibly end with both you and your co-signee in hot water with creditors. 
You must be prepared to literally bail out the person you co-signed for should they default or become late on payments.  Otherwise, you’ll reap all of the disastrous results of late payments on your credit history.  In addition, cosigning makes it appear to credit card companies like you have several accounts.  Too many accounts could lower your FICO score.  If you’ve been in any of these situations, you should begin working on repairing yourdamaged credit now and refrain from cosigning for others in the future.

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