The Investigators

Feb 15, 2012 11:59 PM

Investigators warn about co-sign dangers

TUCSON - Have you ever been asked to co-sign on a loan, perhaps for a friend or family member? Financial experts say it is very risky business.

But these days, the pressure is on to co-sign, since lenders are taking fewer chances in this soft economy. They want that extra security on loans they write.

Dr. Michael Sullivan of Take Charge America, a non-profit consumer consulting firm, said, "The best advice I can give on co-signing, is never co-sign."

Tucson Attorney Kathy Jonson agreed with Sullivan. She told the investigators, "it is hard to say no, but it will come back and bite you."

One of Johnson's clients said she wished she'd never co-signed on a credit card for a former business associate.

Teri Lamour lent her good name and credit to a business owner, who she thought was about to sell his martial arts studio to her.

They opened a new credit card account that the owner was to use for expenses during the transition period.

But in the end, the owner sold the studio to someone else. And months later, Teri was left literally holding the bag to the tune of a $12,000 credit card bill.

Lamour said, "that's when we were hit with 'oh, and by the way, you have this credit card debt', which we had no idea at the time."

Since the bills went to the studio, Lamour said she never saw them.

Financial experts say if you do end up co-signing a loan, or lending your name and credit to someone else, be sure you have access to payment records on that account.

Because once you co-sign, you're as responsible for the debt as the person supposedly making the payments.

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