Showing posts with label how to check your credit reports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label how to check your credit reports. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Credit Scores and Retirement

Once you retire, your credit score will still be important.  Even if your mortgage is paid off and you have no plans to borrow money ever again, you will still want to carefully monitor your credit rating and make sure there are no issues with it.

When the credit-reporting company, TransUnion, polled a group of Baby Boomers, nearly half of them said that their credit rating would no longer be important after they retired.  This misconception, however, could cause them to have unexpected problems later in life.

Your Credit Rating Could Drop During Retirement

Even though your credit rating will continue to be important when you retire, the truth is that the score normally declines for most people as they get older ... even if they have an excellent credit history and solid assets.

Why will your credit rating go down? 

Below are some common reasons:

If you are like most people, you will use less credit as you age.

Using your debit card to immediately pay cash for purchases does not help you maintain your credit score.

As you pay off your house, car, credit cards and other debts, your credit report and activity become "thin" and could virtually disappear.

Why is a Low Credit Rating a Problem in Retirement?

Today, many people are living 20 years or more after they retire.  While you may think you will never again make a large purchase during the remainder of your life, eventually you may want to downsize to a smaller home, purchase a new car or have other credit needs.

Lenders will look at your credit score if you decide to get a mortgage on a new home, take out an auto loan, apply for a new credit card, or co-sign for a student loan for one of your children or grandchildren.  If you decide to rent an apartment in a retirement community or other location, the management company and the utility companies will want to see your credit score.  In addition, your auto and homeowners insurance premiums will be higher if you have a low credit score.

How Can You Improve Your Credit Score Without Adding Debt?

The last thing you want to do in order to maintain a high credit score is take on new debt.  However, experts recommend some actions that will improve your credit score ... and they don't involve adding debt.

* Every couple of years, ask your credit card issuers to raise your limits by $500 to $1000.  Whenever you have a high limit, but a low balance, your credit score gets a boost.

*  Do not close old accounts, even if you rarely use them, for the same reasons mentioned above.  It is better to have lots of available credit, but a low balance.

*  Keep your main credit cards active by occasionally making a modest purchase using one and paying off the balance quickly.

*  Be careful to make all your payments on time.  If you travel, set up auto payments with your bank so that none of your payments are ever late.

*  If you have let your credit completely lapse and you don't have any credit cards, you may need to rebuild your credit history.  To do that, you may have to start with a secured card from your bank.

*  Check your credit report regularly to be sure there are no errors on it that could drag down your credit rating.  You can get a free copy of your report every year from each of the three major credit-reporting companies.  You can contact them individually or you can go to  You can also sign up on the free site to find out your current credit rating, get suggestions on how to raise it, and see your credit reports.

Take the above steps, protect your credit, and monitor your credit reports regularly.  Just because you are retired, you should not forget these simple precautions.

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning for retirement, common medical issues, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare or more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Websites to Help Protect Your Identity

If you are like most people, you probably feel as though your identity has been sold so many times that everyone in the world must have your name, address, Social Security number and other private information by now.  Identity theft is an ongoing problem and it seems to get worse every day.

However, there are still a few things you can do to protect yourself.  While no system is perfect, with the help of a few websites you can at least reduce the amount of information that can be used against you.

The first step you need to take is to limit the amount and kinds of information about yourself that is available.  Next, you need to know how to check your credit information to make sure it is correct and has not been contaminated by a company's carelessness or by someone who has been using your identity for their own purposes.  Then, learn how to keep your personal information private whenever you use social media.  Finally, consider using a credit tracking company to protect your identity in the future.  Below is the information you will need to do these things.

How to Get Yourself Off Phone and Mailing Lists

Everyone should contact the services below and have their name removed from as many lists as possible.  Start with these free services:

To Remove Your Name from Direct Mailing Lists:

or write:
DMA Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY  10512

For Telemarketing Lists - Use the Government Do Not Call List:

Remove the name of deceased individuals, whose identity is frequently stolen:

Opt out of pre-approved credit offers:
1-888-5 OPT OUT

Remove your email address from internet or email ads:

How to Check Your Credit Reports

Everyone is entitled to free copies of their credit reports.  It is important that you check yours several times a year to make sure no one is taking out credit cards or opening accounts in your name.  You can contact the credit bureaus directly or you can contact them all at once by using the single service listed below.  Do NOT pay to get your credit reports.  If anyone asks for your credit card information, you are on the wrong site.

Another site that provides free credit reports and will help monitor credit applications in your name is

A third site that allows you to check your credit scores is  They will also monitor your accounts and you can join for free.  They also update credit scores and credit reports every day, so your information is always as current as possible.

Learn How to Keep Your Information Private on Social Media

Both the police and criminals have become adept at using social media.  The police use it to catch criminals; the criminals use it to find victims.  You do not want to make yourself an easy victim.

Read the privacy information on sites like Facebook.  Make sure you use the tightest privacy settings possible.

Do not become Facebook friends with people that you do not know very well.  Unfriend people who you suspect are sharing your posts with strangers.

Just to be extra careful, do not post detailed personal information on social media, especially your travel plans.  Wait to post photos of your trips until after you get back home.  You do not want strangers to know that you are out-of-town.

In addition, reset your passwords periodically, especially if you think your account has been hacked.

Services that Protect Your Credit

In addition, if you are still concerned that your private information might be stolen, use a service like LifeLock.  For a monthly fee, they will give you your credit rating or report to you any attempt to open an account or credit card in your name.  If you are the person who opened the account, then there is no problem.  If you weren't the person, then you will be alerted and take immediate action.

A free service which will also give you free credit reports and monitor credit applications that are made in your name is Credit Karma. 

Take Action to Protect Your Identity

With so many hackers and other criminals, it is important for all of us to do everything we can to protect our identity.  While we would like to think that the government and corporations are doing it for us, the truth is that they are not doing a good job of protecting us.  We have to make sure we do everything we can on our own.

Another step you can take is to ask your bank and credit card companies to send you new cards that contain chip technology rather than the "old-fashioned" strips.  The chips are much harder to hack.

If you are looking for more information to help with your financial planning or other information of use to retirees, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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