In the course of your life, if you've managed your accounts wisely and kept your credit as clean as possible, you might find that other people you know may turn to you for advice on how they can do the same. While it's probably a good idea to impart some of your wisdom at this time, a step that may come next is something you might want to avoid at all costs.
In some cases, your friends or family members may ask you if you will co-sign on a loan or credit card with them so that they can have a better chance of obtaining it, or qualifying for more affordable rates and fees. However, doing so can create a huge risk for the credit scores you've probably worked years to build. The reason for this is that for the most part, you would likely have very little control over the management of these accounts; usually they'll be handled by the person you're co-signing for, and that can put you in a very precarious position.
When you're a co-signer, the lender doesn't take into account who's controlling the payments or other management of the financing, and in fact you would be considered just as responsible for it. That can be very good news if the other person in question manages the account wisely, keeping debts down and making all payments on time and in full. But if they have diminished credit, there is at least a chance that they may pose a greater risk for making at least some sort of mistake when dealing with it. Because you are considered an equal partner on the account, that misstep will reflect just as much on you as it does on them. In turn, that could drag down your credit score, potentially by 100 points or more.
For these reasons, it's important to carefully consider any kinds of decisions that would affect your credit, and also to keep close tabs on your current standing by regularly ordering copies of your credit report. Checking these documents over closely can also help you to determine whether any unfair markings are being listed in your name, and if so, it might be wise to contact a credit repair law firm about the issue. This may allow you to get whatever potential problems you have encountered cleared up as quickly as possible.