Age discrimination at work
Were you handed a pink slip suspiciously close to retirement age? asks Mark Miller at Reuters. Discrimination in termination makes up the bulk of the growing number of age discrimination complaints, though experts say hiring discrimination is probably underreported because it's harder to prove. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has "an online assessment tool that can give an initial reading of whether you've got a valid claim," in which case you should file a complaint. Compile a list of other workers who have been let go, including their titles and ages. If you see a suspicious pattern, consult a lawyer and "hold off signing any waivers of your right to sue." If you're still on the job but worried you might not be for long, be proactive. Make yourself indispensable, and keep detailed notes — just in case.
An eagle eye on medical costs
It pays to stay on top of those hospital expenses, says Farnoosh Torabi at Yahoo. They "can be intimidating," but 80 percent of them contain errors that increase bills by an average of 25 percent. So track your procedures and double-check your bills. Wrong dates and double billing are red flags. If you catch an error, send a written letter and keep your insurer in the loop. You can keep costs down before you put on a hospital gown, too. Talk to your doctor "about cost-saving alternatives or how you may be able to reduce your bill," and do some homework in advance, using resources such as HealthCareBlueBook.com, which lists fair prices for common medical procedures.
Data-breach damage control
You may not be able to stop a data breach, says Ann Carrns at The New York Times, but you can protect yourself from the direst consequences of one. If a large company or government agency that has your personal data announces a breach, immediately beware of identity fraud. If you're offered free identity-protection services, "use them." They can keep an eye on your credit report and let you know if any suspicious activity pops up. Make sure to alert your bank and credit card companies, too, and sign up for email or text alerts that can give you a heads-up over anything unusual. If your Social Security number is compromised, consider placing a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report that will tell lenders to give credit applications an extra-close look.