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Obscene and Harassing Phone Calls

Always use the telephone on your terms, not on the terms of the caller. Don’t talk to anyone unless you want to and never volunteer your name to an unknown caller. Hang up at once if a caller makes obscene or harassing remarks or does not respond to your "hello."

You should always be wary of a caller who wants to conduct a survey. Criminals often use this as a ruse to get confidential information such as credit card numbers or bank account details. If you suspect that a call is not legitimate, get the caller’s name, company affiliation, and phone number. You can call back after you have verified the authenticity of the call.

Crank phone callers often obtain numbers from classified ads. If you place an ad, use a box number or list your phone number without your address. You should also be careful about recording unusual messages on your phone answering machine. Police report that many crank calls originate after the word spreads about a unique message on an answering machine.

Other suggestions for dealing with obscene or crank callers:

  • Don’t play detective, counselor, or comedian. This is just what the caller wants.
  • Report all obscene or harassing calls to the police immediately.
  • Keep a log of repeated calls. Record the date, time, and content of the call. Try to describe the caller’s voice and note any background noises.