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Here are at least 4 good reasons not to co-sign on someone else's loan

Survey finds 4 in 10 people who co-sign lose money KOMO photo

It can be really tough to say "No", when a friend or relative asks for financial help. But debt management experts say "No" is often the best answer if that help involves adding your signature to a contract.

It's hard information for a lot of people to hear, because saying "No" can mean leaving your friend or relative at the end of their rope. But unless you have plenty of extra money on hand co-signing can leave you hanging in more ways than you realize.

"If you co-signed for me on a car, and I didn't make those payments, now you're responsible for making those payments." explained Becky House, with the non-profit credit counseling agency American Financial Solutions.

It's the first rule of co-signing, but House says too many people underestimate the risk.

"Not only that," added House, "But while I wasn't making those payments, that was damaging your credit."

Before you sign on the bottom line to help someone buy a car, rent an apartment, get a cell phone service plan, or take out student loan for college- consider this:

A 2016 survey by creditcards.com found 4 in 10 people who co-signed lost money because the other person defaulted. 3 ind 10 co-signers ended up with a lower credit score and 3 in 10 who co-signed reported damaged relationships after the co-sign arrangement fell apart.

"People lose a job. Now they don't have the income to make the payment. People get sick, or they get injured." House stressed.

"And the other thing people don't think about, is that when you co-sign for someone, that also reduces your borrowing ability. Event if the person is still making the payments, it's still part of your debt."

Depending on your own financial standing, if someone defaults on an arrangement you co-signed, it can make it harder for you to get credit- to buy a house, or a newer car, or get the best interest rate on your credit cards.

If you're willing to risk co-signing, debt management experts say make sure you can afford- and are willing- to assume full responsibility for the debt.

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