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  • Be Wary of Guaranteeing a Loan

     

    You need to be wary of guaranteeing a loan. What would you do if a friend or relative asked you to guarantee a loan? You would probably like to help them by agreeing to guarantee the loan but consider your actions carefully first and make sure you understand what it involves.

    You are being asked to guarantee a loan. Think carefully before you do. If the borrower does not pay the debt, you will have to. Be sure you can afford to pay if you have to, and that you want to accept this responsibility.

    You may have to pay up to the full amount of the debt if the borrower does not pay. You may also have to pay late fees or collection costs, which increase this amount.

    The creditor can use the same collection methods against you that can be used against the borrower, such as suing you, garnishing your wages, etc. If this debt is ever in default, that fact may become a part of your credit record.

    Studies of certain types of lenders show that for guaranteed loans that go into default, as many as three out of four guarantors are asked to repay the loan.

    If you guarantee a loan and your friend or relative misses a payment, the lender can immediately collect from you without first pursuing the borrower. In addition, the amount you owe may be increased - late charges - if the lender decides to sue to collect. If the lender wins the case, your wages and property may be taken.

    Despite the risks, there may be times when you want to guarantee a loan. Your child may need a first loan, or a close friend may need help. Before you guarantee a loan, consider this information:

    Be sure you can afford to pay the loan. If you're asked to pay and can't, you could be sued or your credit rating could be damaged.

    Even if you're not asked to repay the debt, your liability for the loan may keep you from getting other credit because creditors will consider the guaranteed loan as one of your obligations.

    Before you pledge property to secure the loan, such as your car or furniture, make sure you understand the consequences. If the borrower defaults, you could lose these items.

    Ask the lender to agree, in writing, to notify you if the borrower misses a payment. That will give you time to deal with the problem or make back payments without having to repay the entire amount immediately.

    Make sure you get copies of all important papers, such as the loan contract. The lender is not required to give you these papers; you may have to get copies from the borrower.

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