Annoyance, Malicious, and Harassing Telephone Calls
Annoyance and malicious phone calls can become a chronic problem. They may include random calls by pranksters, frequent pointless calls, calls where the caller does not say anything, obscene calls, calls from former romantic interest, or threatening phone calls. These calls are intended to upset the caller who receives them, either for revenge or to satisfy the caller’s personal urges. These calls can often be prevented or avoided by persons learning and using some simple techniques to decrease their potential for victimization.
Hang up. If the caller does not speak, is obscene, or asks inappropriate questions, or you simply don’t feel comfortable talking to them, hang up the telephone. When doing so, don’t slam the receiver down. This will only let the caller know that you are upset and may encourage their behavior.
Don’t Talk To Strangers. If the caller asks, “who is this?” or “what number have I reached?” don’t give an answer. Instead ask, “Who do you want?” or “What number were you calling?” Don’t give out any information to anyone you don’t positively recognize or who fails to give satisfactory identification or affiliation. If the caller asks for your roommate or another member of your family, simply say that you will be glad to take a message and have the call returned as promptly as possible. Under no circumstances should you give the names of others living with you to someone who doesn’t already know them.
If you have children, instruct them not to talk to strangers on the telephone. Burglars or other criminals will sometimes attempt to obtain useful information from unsuspecting children. Teach children to ask for the caller’s name and number so someone can return the call later.
Keep Cool. Don’t let the caller know you are angry or upset. This is the reaction that they want and it will often encourage them.
Don’t Play Detective. Don’t extend the call attempting to figure out who the caller is. This may be the reaction the caller wants or needs.
Don’t Try To Be Clever. A witty response may be interpreted as a sign of encouragement.
Don’t Try To Be A Counselor. The caller may need professional help, but may only be encouraged by your concern and will continue calling.
Be Careful Who You Tell About The Calls. Many calls of this type are actually made by friends, family members, or someone else you know. If they find out you are upset or concerned, the calls may continue.
Place Ads With Caution. When placing an ad with a newspaper or on a bulletin board, use a newspaper or post office box number, if possible. If you must use your telephone number, do not list your address. Crank callers are often avid readers of classified ads.
Report Annoying Or Malicious Telephone Calls. Make a record of what time calls were received, what the date was, what was said, what the voice was like, what the phone number was (caller I.D.), etc. Report these phone calls to the appropriate law enforcement agency with proper record keeping of the phone calls.
Many things can be done to end these types of calls:
- Change your number and make the new number unlisted.
- Post your phone number(s), cellular phone and home phone, on a no-call list with an accredited Web site.
- Blow a loud police whistle into the telephone when these calls occur.
- Identify the originating phone number the person is calling from with the use of Caller ID and have your telephone company block that number.
- Keep good records and report the calls to the police. Prosecute suspects for telephone harassment.
Just remember that you are not helpless. Ask your phone company for advice on how to prevent or combat the problem. Sometimes changing your phone number is much less of hassle then dealing with these types of phone calls.