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Telephone Harassment

How to Cope with the Crank Phone Caller

The phone rings. It's 3 a.m. No, it's not Mom calling to say Dad just deposited $500 in your overdrawn checking account. Instead you are greeted by a string of obscenities, heavy breathing or silence.

You have just become another victim of the crank caller. Some authorities estimate that over a million crank calls were made last year. Most of these calls are the ring-and-hang-up variety. A growing number are either obscene or threatening.

Now that you've become the victim of the crank caller, here are a few ideas to prevent a repeat call.

  1. Hang up. As soon as you hear an obscenity, improper questions or no response to your sleepy "hello?" - HANG UP!!
  2. Don't talk to strangers. Be careful when the caller says he/she is taking a survey. If you have any concern over the legitimacy of the survey, ask the person his/her name, firm name and telephone number. Say that you will call back after you verify the authenticity of the survey.
  3. Don't play detective. Don't extend the call trying to figure out who is calling. This or any type of reaction is exactly what the caller wants and needs.
  4. Keep cool. Don't let the caller know you are upset or angry.
  5. Don't panic when the phone rings. It may just be the wrong number. If it is a crank call, follow the suggestions here.
  6. Don't try to be clever. A witty response may well be interpreted as a sign of encouragement.
  7. Don't try to be a counselor. The annoyance or obscene caller certainly needs professional help, but he or she will only be encouraged by your concern and will continue the late night calls.
  8. Don't tell everyone about your calls. Many calls of this type are made by friends, family members, even your closest friend or someone you are dating.
  9. Place ads with caution. When placing an ad in a newspaper, use a newspaper or post office box number if possible. If you must use your phone number, do not list your address. Crank callers are avid readers of the classified ads.
  10. Never volunteer your number to an unknown caller. This is an invitation to call again. If your number is the wrong number, the caller does not need to know your number.
  11. Report obscene or annoying calls to the Ohio University Police Department if they are coming to a campus phone. A crank call log can be obtained from the police department. Use it to make a record of the call. By reporting the call to the above authorities, you have begun the process of stopping these 3 a.m. calls.