planning-for-retirement-age-50It may seem like the age of 50 is a little late to start thinking about retirement, but the truth is that many Americans are working past the average retirement age of 55. With Americans retiring later, they can begin planning for their twilight years later. So for people 50 and up, now is the perfect time to start a retirement plan that can meet your personal financial goals. Here are three steps you can take now to get your retirement plan on track and protect yourself from possible scams and fraud.

Start Saving

The first step you should take is to start saving. Today. If you do not have a plan yet for maintaining your money and building your savings, you can worry about that later. Just get your nest egg started. Remember, this is not a rainy day savings plan; it is the foundation of your golden years. And a few dollars a week isn’t going to cut it. Give yourself a savings goal of about 10 percent of your gross income. You can use this money to save by either paying off high-interest debt like credit cards, which is not a tax-deductible expense. This option means that whatever absorbent interest you were paying now becomes immediate savings. Or your second option is a savings plan, most likely a 401(k).

Contribute to Your 401(k)

The easiest method of building a 401(k) is to participate in the program offered by your employer. Even if it is not a stellar plan, like one where the employer matches every dollar you put in, it is still automatically deducted before you receive your take-home pay. Meaning the money you contribute to your 401(k) does not count toward your gross income and is not taxed. This point alone makes it a more appealing option than sticking money from your pay check into a savings account. If your current employer does not offer a 401(k) package, you still have options. You can open an IRA with a brokerage or mutual fund company.

Protect Yourself Against Scams

You will also be entitled to your Social Security benefits upon retirement, even though these benefits are, for most, not enough to sustain their current living conditions. But where there is government disbursements, there is the possibility of fraud. To make sure you are not scammed out of your benefits, you should be aware of these potential threats to your benefits and savings.

One of the most prevalent scams is impersonating a Social Security Administrator (SSA). Though impersonating an SSA is illegal, there are still many con artists who attempt this scam.

There are a few ways you can spot a fraudulent call. The caller will try to get confidential information from you over the phone, and may ask for personal details like your date of birth, your banking account number, and of course, your social security number. The caller may mention that the SSA computers are down, so he or she cannot look up the information, or may mention a problem with your Medicare prescriptions, all as a ruse to get your sensitive information.

If you think you have received a call like this, you will need to report it immediately to the SSA. Use resources like LifeLock for information about such scams and tips on how to protect yourself.

Just because you got a late start in retirement planning doesn’t mean that it’s too late. For those over 50 that want to start nesting, take these starting tips to heart and begin now.