The Real Deal: The cost of signing contracts without reading them closely

A recent study found that 13% of people don’t actually read contracts before they sign them. But doing that could mean losing money, a home and more.

News 12 Staff

Jun 14, 2023, 12:09 PM

Updated 339 days ago

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You should read up before you sign a contract — but do you really look closely?
News 12 consumer reporter Janice Lieberman has the Real Deal on how not looking hard enough at a contract could cost you.
A recent study found that 13% of people don’t actually read contracts before they sign them. But doing that could mean losing money, a home and more.
Asset protection attorney Ann-Margaret Carrozza says even your phone and gym contracts need to be read carefully.
“What I call a toxic contract is something that has the potential to derail your life if you sign it without reading it,” she says. “No amount of clever lawyering can get you out of a bad contract if you sign it without reading it.”
Reading the fine print on how to cancel or if money is owed is key and could save you hundreds. It can also save you time in speaking with customer rep about your issues later.
And when it comes to financial or home loans, make sure you understand how it might impact your credit.
“If you cosign any type of loan, including a student loan, the entire amount of that debt goes on your debt-to-asset ratio, and it will immediately reduce your credit score,” says Carrozza. “So at the very least, if you decide to cosign the loan, know what you're getting into.”
If you file a joint tax return with a spouse, make sure you understand what you’re signing. Carrozza also recommends making sure there isn’t a lot of blank space on a contract - and if there is, to put a big X on the page and mark it with your initials, so that additional content can’t be added afterwards.
Ultimately, Carrozza says people shouldn’t feel like they’re being impolite when asking for a day or more to look over contracts before signing.
“Bottom line: don't feel pressured to sign,” she says.


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