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Topics addressed on August 6, 2008:
Cosigning means you share full responsibility for the debt
If you are a cosigner and the principal party is 30 days late with a payment, will that reflect on your credit report? I have been told cosigners are shielded from this type of adverse report.
When you cosign for someone, you are vouching for someone’s character, and more importantly from a credit standpoint you are agreeing to share responsibility for the debt. Put more directly, if you have cosigned, you have agreed to pay the debt if the other person does not.
The account and associated payments – on-time or late – will appear on both the primary account holder’s report and the cosigner’s credit report. Any late payments will hurt your credit report as much as it hurts theirs.
I recommend that you request written instructions from the creditor about how you can check on the status of the account at any time, if you will be notified if the signer fails to pay, and how you will be notified. If the creditor doesn’t provide notification, then establish a way with the signer to verify payment each month.
You should give careful consideration to cosigning for anyone, even family members, and if you do sign, you definitely should take steps to fully protect your good credit history.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team