You also can report it to the F.T.C. on a complaint website, identitytheft.gov/ssa, dedicated to Social Security scams.
What if I revealed my Social Security number to a caller?
Visit IdentityTheft.gov, which uses a question-and-answer format to help you protect yourself from identity theft. Steps include putting a freeze on your credit reports to prevent someone from opening new bank accounts or credit cards with your information. At a minimum, you should put a fraud alert on your credit reports, and check them regularly to spot any suspicious activity.
How should I advise an older relative who receives fraudulent calls?
People of all ages are receiving Social Security scam calls, the F.T.C. said.
But Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist and an associate professor at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, said older adults were particularly attractive targets for fraud schemes, in part because they often have access to accumulated wealth.
Older adults also exhibit behaviors that may put them at risk for phone fraud, she said. In a recent study of 935 older adults that she co-wrote, more than three-fourths of the participants reported answering the telephone whenever it rang, even if the call was from an unfamiliar number. Many also said they listened to telemarketing calls and struggled with ending unsolicited calls.
The study suggested that falling prey to a telephone scam, even in people who appear to be functioning normally, may be an early warning sign of later cognitive problems or Alzheimer’s, Dr. Boyle said. That doesn’t mean that everyone who is duped will develop dementia. But it may be wise, she said, to monitor the person’s behavior for potential problems, or seek professional screening.
AARP Fraud Watch offers a free helpline for people worried about phone scams (1-877-908-3360) as well as online tips, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or Finra, offers resources for helping protect older people from financial exploitation.