Although many older Americans don't bother, it's important for everyone to periodically check their credit reports for errors, even if they aren't planning to apply for a loan.
That's some of the advice contained in a new Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. newsletter, "Financial Tips for Seniors," aimed at helping people manage and protect their finances in retirement.
"As many consumers get older, they often face issues such as how to maintain their lifestyle and pay for medical expenses on a fixed income," the FDIC said.
Topics in the 12-page guide include saving and investing, getting organized and preparing for medical bills. The guide also outlines the potential pitfalls of buying annuities, co-signing a loan for a relative and taking a reverse mortgage, which allows homeowners age 62 and older to borrow against the equity in their homes without having to make monthly payments.
The booklet also contains a section with phone numbers, addresses and websites for other sources of help and information for seniors, such as from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, www.consumerfinance.gov.
One of the largest sections is devoted to helping seniors avoid being scammed. That includes advice on protecting personal information and red flags for fraud -- such as unexpected emails or phone calls requesting a bank account number or pressure to send money quickly by wire transfer.
As for why it's important for seniors to keep tabs on their credit reports, the agency said mistakes could have wide-ranging consequences beyond affecting rates on loans, such as raising insurance and credit card rates.
Federal law entitles consumers to free copies of their credit reports once every 12 months from each of the three main credit bureaus. To order, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll free 1-877-322-8228.
For a copy of the FDIC's Financial Tips for Seniors, visit www.fdic.gov/consumernews or call toll free 1-877-275-3342.
Patricia Sabatini: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3066.