Standup: I’m Kristin Arnold. The credit crunch is affecting more than home loans. Car loan money is also getting tighter, and that may steer more people into co-signed loans. But before you consider asking for help, or giving it, here?s a little borrower?s education from Bankrate.com.

Voice over 1: With the nation in the grips of a credit crunch, borrowing for big-ticket items is getting tougher, which may increase the popularity of co-signing. Someone with strong credit guarantee a loan for someone with weak credit.

Voice over 2: First rule of co-signing a car, or any other kind of loan? Don?t do it. Because if that friend or family member doesn?t make those payments, both your credit and your relationship could be in jeopardy.

Voice over 3: Listen to what this finance manager said when I asked him if he would co-sign a loan for a friend.

SOT: ?I personally wouldn?t. I?m an old-fashioned guy. If it?s my wife, sure.?

Voice over 4: But if you?re determined to go down this road, at least use some safeguards. Example: if you?re co-signing a car loan, make sure your name is on the title as co-owner. You owe, you own.

Voice over 5: And be sure payments are getting made. If they?re late, your credit is dented. If there?s a repossession, your credit is totaled. Stay in the loop.

Voice over 6: Same thing with insurance: make sure it stays in force. If your borrower is missing car payments, they could be missing insurance payments too. And if that car gets wrecked or stolen, it?s all you.

Standup: Now you can see why co-signing any kind of loan is risky business: you?re taking someone who?s already wrecked their credit history and putting them behind the wheel of yours. So before you co-sign for anyone, look under their hood carefully. For Bankrate.com, I’m Kristin Arnold.

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