Ending Malicious and Harassing Telephone Calls
It is estimated by telephone officials that over a million people each year receive phone calls that could be categorized as annoying, malicious, harassing, crank, obscene or nuisance calls. Whatever they are referred as, these telephone calls serve no legitimate purpose and represent an unwarranted invasion of privacy.
These calls can become a chronic problem for some people, particularly women. They may include random calls by pranksters, calls at late-night hours, obscene calls, calls from a former romantic interest, or calls where a threat is made. These calls are intended to upset the person who receives them, either for revenge or to gratify the caller's personal urges. These calls can often be prevented or avoided by following these simple techniques to decrease their potential for victimization.
- Hang Up
If the caller doesn't speak, is obscene, asks inappropriate questions or you simply do not feel comfortable talking to them, hang up the phone. When doing so, do not slam the receiver down. This will only let the caller know that you are upset and may encourage them.
- Turn the Phone Off
This works especially well for cellular phone users.
- Don't Talk to Strangers
If the caller asks, "who is this?" or "what number have I reached?", don't give them an answer. Instead ask, "Who do you want?" or "what number were you calling?" Do not give out any information to anyone who you do not recognize or who does not give satisfactory identification. If you have children, advise them not to talk to strangers on the telephone. Criminals often attempt to obtain useful information from unsuspecting children. Tell your children to ask for the caller's name and phone 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 they want and it will often encourage them.
- Don't Play Detective
Do not extend the call by attempting to figure out who is calling. This may be the reaction the caller is looking for.
- 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 annoying or malicious caller probably needs professional help, but he/she may only be encouraged by your concern and continue calling.
- Place Ads With Caution
When placing an ad in 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 include your address. Crank callers and burglars are often avid newspaper readers.
What Can be Done to End the Calls?
The Fairmont Police Department recommends that you follow these tips:
- CALL TRACE.
If an unknown, unwanted caller continues harassing you, press *57 immediately after hanging up the phone. A recorded message then advises you if the call was sucessfully traced. Write down the call time and date on a piece of paper. Once you have three(3) sucessful traces, bring the information with you to the Law Enforcement Center. A Police Officer can then send a call trace request form to Frontier Communications. The process takes some time so be patient. Pressing *69 after hanging up will give you the last number that called your phone. It usually works unless the caller is out of the area.
- Have your phone number changed and unlisted.
This usually solves a persistant problem.
- CALLER ID.
Many phone companies offer caller ID. You can then determine who is calling you immediately and determine whether to answer the call.
- Cellular phones present their own problems.
Most of the time it is difficult for a phone company to sucessfully trace a cell call. Contact your cellular provider for their recommended procedure.
- If you receive a call from a known or unknown person threatening you with immediate harm, call the Fairmont Police Department right away.
Messages Left on Answering Machines:
If an annoying or malicious message is left on an answering machine, DO NOT erase the tape or delete the message. It may be useful to the possible criminal investigation of the incident.
If you have any questions about harassing/malicious phone calls, contact the Law Enforcement Center at 507-238-4481.