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If it's your kid or close family member, a good strategy is to take out the loan yourself, and let the other party co-sign with you. The loan or CC still is on their credit, but you can make sure the loan gets paid. Either party can send in the payments or hold onto the coupon book, whatever, but the problem with cosigning is that you don't find out the loan is not being paid until it is in collection, by which time your credit is all crapped on.

Also, many creditors, including utilities like phone, water and gas will send out a courtousey statement, which is a must if you're a cosigner, that way you find out as soon as the loan is late.
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