Nathan Hager, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Many older Americans aren't taking advantage of their right to a free credit report every year, and it may be hurting their ability to get new credit cards or loans.
"People over the age of 60 have more errors on their credit reports," says Kimberly Palmer, author of the Alpha Consumer blog at U.S. News & World Report.
"The most common mistakes are confused identity, so someone else with your similar name, same address, perhaps or an old address," she says, citing a survey by the Society of Certified Senior Advisers.
Those little errors can lead to big reductions in your credit score, but Palmer says the mistakes are relatively easy to fix online. And that may be why the gray set is falling prey to faulty credit reports: they may be less savvy about the Internet than their younger counterparts.
"If your parents and grandparents don't feel entirely comfortable doing that, then yes, you can definitely help them," Palmer says.
The site to check your credit report is AnnualCreditReport.com.
The report is free, but only once a year.
Palmer also warns against going to competing credit check sites, because they could require you to sign up for identity protection, credit monitoring services and other gimmicks that may be expensive or unnecessary.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)