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The Savage Truth: Seasoned Credit Lines

This has to be the first great scam of the new millennium. It's called Seasoned Trade Lines. The premise is simple. You have great credit. Others have lousy credit. If they could just "borrow" your good credit for 60 days -- by becoming an authorized user on your credit card -- then they could apply for a mortgage and pay a lower rate, based on your good credit.

This column should end right here. The risks are obvious. You would rightly hesitate to add your own son or daughter as a co-signer on your credit card. After all, if their credit is good, they can easily get their own low-interest-rate card. And if their credit is bad, then they probably shouldn't be borrowing at all. Why on earth would you add a complete stranger as a co-signer on your credit?

The companies that promote this concept of "seasoned trade lines" call it an "honest credit boost." For a fee, they'll match you up with someone else's credit. Of course the deadbeat never personally meets the sterling credit risk. It's not really like a dating service. Rather, it's sort of a "credit sperm bank" -- a brief, impersonal encounter with long-lasting results!

The appeal to the person with terrible credit is obvious. The Web sites of the companies that promote this dubious product proclaim that they can, in less than 90 days, raise your credit score by more than 200 points! That will allow you to easily "buy a new home or take the vacation of your dreams." All of these "lines" are guaranteed to come from people with credit scores above the 700 level. They promise that once your credit score has been "improved" because you've borrowed someone else's good credit history, "you'll pay lower rates and can borrow more."

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