In today’s digital age, monitoring your credit is more important than ever, especially for seniors.
Due to mounting healthcare costs and living expenses, more and more seniors rely on credit to get by. In fact, senior debt is up by 83 percent since 2001.
You may need to depend on credit at some point in retirement, so it pays to be conscious of your credit score now. Your credit score tells lenders, credit card providers and even assisted living facilities a lot about you and your financial history. Do you pay your bills on time? Are you a responsible borrower?
You need to check your credit score even if you aren’t planning on applying for a line of credit anytime soon because your credit report may also reveal the first indications that you’ve been a victim of identity theft. It can also reveal mistakes that, if aren’t corrected promptly, can affect your credit for years to come.
Scams Are Serious
Because so many American adults depend on credit, there is a wide selection of credit monitoring services to choose from, some legitimate and some fake. While it’s vital to check your credit score, it’s also extremely important to avoid falling for a scam service. You could end up with stolen credit card numbers and leaked personal information – a recipe for identity theft and financial trouble.
Use the following guidelines to ensure you don’t become a victim in your efforts to check your credit score:
Be Wary of Emails and Unsecured Websites
Closely examine any emails you receive regarding your credit score. Visit the website that the email is sent from and verify all links within the email. If you received an unsolicited email, be on your guard. The government does not communicate through email – an official government document will always be sent through the U.S. postal service. Also, never click on downloads or attachments included in the email – it could transmit a virus to your computer.
Never Offer Personal Information
If a website or service asks for your credit card number along with personal information like your address or social security number, do not provide answers. Many of these sites could be scams that plan to steal your identity. Even if they are legitimate, they likely plan to enroll you in a monthly service and charge your credit card for monitoring services that you may not want to pay for, especially if you can receive the information you need for free elsewhere.
Use Verified Resources
You are entitled to three free copies of your credit report each year through the verified website AnnualCreditReport.com. While these reports don’t show you your actual score, they can help you identify any discrepancies that are necessary to correct in order to keep your score high. If you currently have a credit card, many companies offer free credit monitoring as well, providing you with your FICO score on your monthly statement.
Check your credit score on a regular basis and you’ll feel confident that your personal information is safe and your finances are under control. For help with other aspects of your financial life, such as how to handle healthcare costs, talk to the team at My Senior Health Plan for advice and options.