When many young adults step out into the real world on their own for the first time, some of them get into the habit of checking their credit scores and monitoring any dips or changes that would cause red flags. Young adults are buying their first cars, renting their first apartments, putting down payments on their first homes and applying for loans and credit extensions to make all those things possible; so keeping up with credit scores is a necessity.
But as people get older, credit scores become less of a necessity and more of an occasional check. Senior citizens have credit cards established or paid off and have likely already purchased a home or secured their living situations. At that point in their lives, seniors may feel it is not necessary to get their credit scores checked very often, if at all. But financial elder abuse lawyers say it is even more vital for older people to keep up with their credit scores and monitor any potential fraud or financial abuse.
Access to Credit Information Can Open the Door to Financial Abuse
Once a criminal has enough information to utilize another person’s credit history, the fastest and easiest way to profit from this act is to apply for several different credit cards and max them out. Such financial abuse could be done by a random hacker just as easily as a close relative or caretaker with easy access to financial records and information. The victim may not even be aware that his or her financial security has been compromised.
Bad credit can ruin a person’s financial future for several years after the fact, even if it is a result of fraud. With outstanding debts, you will have much more difficulty applying for loans, including mortgages and car loans. Bad credit is also difficult to erase; in most cases, it takes only a few minutes to undo years of good credit and financial habits, but it can take several years to rebuild a solid credit score.
In California, every resident is entitled to one free credit report from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three main credit reporting bureaus, each year. This report can be obtained on the federally-approved website www.annualcreditreport.com, and will give you—or your loved ones—information about credit scores and any damaging credit activity. Accessing your free report every year will alert you to any fraudulent activity being made in your name or Social Security number.
Financial abuse attorneys recommend that you check your credit score two or three other times per year, in addition to the free score you receive annually. Typically, you do have to pay for the extra reports, but knowing that your financial background is safe is important, even if you are not applying for loans.
You should also be checking your bank statements each month to ensure that no fraudulent purchases, charges or wires are being sent out from your accounts. Double-checking your financial records will help you catch fraud when it happens before a criminal can run rampant with your information. It is also a good idea to have a financial advisor review your statements for potential red flags—checks written to unrecognized persons, repeated withdrawals at unfamiliar vendors, or from outside the state or city.
At the Evans Law Firm, Inc., we represent clients who have been victims of fraud and financial abuse. To discuss your case, contact a California financial elder abuse attorney at our firm today.