Top 10 Things Every Senior Should Consider
1. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This saying is timeless. Unfortunately, the fine print often exposes such offers as a bad deal. Check all the terms before you purchase an item or sign a contract. If you still feel uneasy, check with your family and friends. Taking a little time to check out an offer can save you big headaches later.
2. Use direct deposit for your Social Security payments. Having your Social Security check electronically deposited guarantees that the bank receives your payment safely and securely. More than 90 percent of the problems with Social Security payments are associated with mail delivery. Electronic deposit also means you get your money immediately. Direct deposit is safer, faster and secure.
3. At your death, your debts are your own. When you die, your creditors cannot force your family to pay for your debts. The creditors you owe can take assets from what is left in your estate, but they cannot force family members to pay out of their own pockets unless they co-signed the debt.
4. Update your will when your life changes — a birth, death, marriage, divorce or other life changing event. Be sure to update your will when your family circumstances change so that someone is not inadvertently left out. Death may be uncertain, but you can be more certain about how life after your death will affect your family if you plan for it now.
5. Don’t be a victim of identity theft. Identity thieves may call you and pretend to be with a company you have a relationship with. If someone from a company you do business with calls you on the phone and asks for important personal information, do not provide it. Instead, call the company’s number in the phone book or on the statements they mail you and ask if someone called you. Chances are, it was a scam artist.
6. If you get an unexpected check in the mail, read all the fine print before cashing it. Some companies now send out checks with fine print attached. When the check is cashed, the person named on the check is enrolled in a service with a monthly charge. If you receive a check in the mail, make sure there is no fine print on the check or other materials mailed with the check that will cost you money.
7. Check your credit report (free)! Request your free credit report at least once a year to check for identity theft. Thieves sometimes open credit card accounts in seniors’ names, charge up large amounts and do not pay. This affects your credit report, which influences whether you can be employed, rent an apartment, buy insurance or get a loan. Check your credit report free by calling 1-877-322-8228. Don’t fall for free credit report services advertised on TV that actually enroll you in a monthly service before you can get your “free” report.
8. Consider signing up for the national and Missouri do-not-call registries. Registering your phone number with the do-not-call registries will reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive. To register your phone on the national registry, call 1-888-382-1222. To register your phone on the Missouri registry, call 1-866-662-2551. You can still be called by charities, political parties, pollsters, and businesses with which you have a relationship, but telemarketing calls will stop.
9. Read the fine print on gift cards. Gift cards are not all the same. Some cards expire after a certain amount of time. Other gift cards charge fees for transactions or inactivity. If you are going to give someone a gift card, be sure that you understand the fees associated with the card.
10. Know who to contact when you need to complain. You can file a complaint with the Missouri attorney general’s Consumer Protection hotline at 1-800-392-8222 about problems with businesses or if you are the victim of identity theft. If you have a complaint about a securities or investment company, you can call the secretary of state Investor Protection hotline at 1-800-721-7996.
For more information see: http://missourifamilies.org/features/agingarticles/agingfeature13.htm