Ohio University

Telephone Harassment

How to Cope with the Prank 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 prank caller. Some authorities estimate that over a million prank 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 prank 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 unnecessarily 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 prank 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, use a post office box number if possible. If you must use your phone number, do not list your address. Prank callers are avid readers classifieds and ads.
  10. Report obscene or annoying calls to the Ohio University Police Department.  By reporting the call to the above authorities, you have begun the process of stopping these 3 a.m. calls.