SOURCE: TransUnion

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February 23, 2017 10:00 ET

30 Percent of Americans Risk Damaging Credit Score in Retirement

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - February 23, 2017) - More than 30 percent of American baby boomers may be making mistakes detrimental to their financial well-being in retirement, according to a new TransUnion® (NYSE: TRU) survey, published today.

The report examined credit perceptions and behavior of non-retired, U.S. consumers between the ages of 51 and 70. It found that 34 percent are actively reducing their reliance on credit cards, behavior that may actually result in account closures and ultimately, credit score reductions. A concurrent analysis of TransUnion's proprietary consumer data revealed that 20 percent of people in that age range already have subprime credit.

"Our findings highlight the importance of continued credit education for consumers of all ages," said Heather Battison, Vice President of TransUnion. "Well-intentioned baby boomers are putting themselves at risk by snubbing their cards. Card providers may close unused accounts due to inactivity, which negatively impacts consumer credit. A better approach is to continue to use existing credit cards for small purchases and pay off the balance in full and on time each month."

Findings from the survey indicate the credit remains a low priority for baby boomers, In fact, only 16 percent of respondents cited concern about maintaining credit health as a top financial priority when preparing for retirement. In contrast 59 percent ranked Social Security program uncertainties as a top concern, followed by unexpected medical expenses (54 percent) and lack of savings (49 percent).

"Consumers should absolutely be focused on building and maintaining credit health at every life stage, including retirement," said Battison. "The benefits of good credit don't stop just because you've stopped working, and the rate of subprime credit among this age group is concerning."

TransUnion offers several resources to help consumers of all ages build and maintain credit health, including boomers in their retirement years. They include:

  • Use it or lose it: Even if you are trying to reduce spending overall, it's important to continue making small, manageable charges to your active cards to preserve access to credit. Unused card accounts can close due to inactivity, which can have a negative credit score impact.
  • Cautiously co-sign: 56 percent of survey respondents understand co-signing requires good credit, but what they may not know is that co-signing on a loan for a family or friend can negatively affect credit scores. Co-signers are on the hook for timely loan repayment, so any missed payments - even for someone else's loan - can hurt a credit score.
  • Eliminate debt: boomers have an average of $99,852 in debt, according to TransUnion's consumer credit database. Focus on paying off debts in a timely manner to avoid racking up interest payments, and preserve funds for the timely repayment of any loan or credit card bills.
  • Lock out identity theft: TransUnion's Credit Lock allows users to lock their TransUnion credit directly from a phone or the TransUnion website - protecting against fraudulent credit activity. Users can lock their TransUnion credit report to help protect against a thief opening an unauthorized line of credit in someone else's name.

For more information, visit TransUnion's website.

For more information about TransUnion's Credit Monitoring, please visit: transunion.com/credit-monitoring.

About the Survey

The online survey includes responses from 1,002 employed U.S. consumers between the ages of 51 and 70. The survey was conducted from January 13 to 17, 2017.

About TransUnion's Proprietary Data

TransUnion's proprietary data queries are pulled from its database of hundreds of millions of credit-active consumers. The information in this report is based on a December 2016 analysis of the credit and debt behaviors of a random sample of 15 million consumers in that database. TransUnion categorizes the age groups as follows: millennials (18 -36), generation X (37 - 51), baby boomers (52 - 70) and silent generation (70+).

About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)
Information is a powerful thing. At TransUnion, we realize that. We are dedicated to finding innovative ways information can be used to help individuals make better and smarter decisions. We help uncover unique stories, trends and insights behind each data point, using historical information as well as alternative data sources. This allows a variety of markets and businesses to better manage risk and consumers to better manage their credit, personal information and identity. Today, TransUnion has a global presence in more than 30 countries and a leading presence in several international markets across North America, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Through the power of information, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies and families and safer communities worldwide.

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