Dealing with Harassing or Threatening Telephone Calls

The following are some general tips on how to deal with any harassing or threatening telephone calls.

  • As soon as you hear an obscenity, improper question or no response, hang the telephone up.  Be consistent and hang up each time.
  • If you have any concerns about the legitimacy of a person asking for personal information over the telephone, ask the caller for his name, firm name and telephone number.  Say that you will call back after you verify the authenticity of the call.
  • Never extend the call trying to figure out who is calling.  This or any type of reaction is exactly what the caller wants.
  • Never leave a message on your voicemail or answering machine that says "I am out of the office", "I am not at home at the present time" or "I am away for the weekend."  Refrain from using names or giving out the telephone number.  If the call is a prank, you have now given the caller a name and a return telephone number.  The following are some suggestions of messages:  "Your message is important to me, please leave your name and number", "I am glad you called.  Please leave your name and number." "I am not available at the present time, but will return your call as soon as possible".
  • The majority of obscene or harassing telephone calls are simple pranks, any telephone calls of threats of violence must be taken seriously.  Immediately after receiving a telephone call in which there is a threat of physical harm or violence, report the call to the Department of Public Safety (If the call was received on campus) or to your local police department (If call was received at your home).

The following are the procedures that should always be followed whenever you receive a harassing or threating call on a University telephone line:

  1. Disconnect after the nature of the call has been established.
  2. Before another call has been received, pick up the telephone and after hearing the dial tone, dial 107.
  3. This will activate the annoyance bureau trace system.  After confirmation, hang up.
  4. Accurately record the date, time and details of the call.
  5. Call Public Safety and file a written report on the call.
  6. There is a $1.00 telephone company charge for the service.
  7. On calls of harassment, there is usually a need to trace three calls.
  8. Calls of a threatening nature will be handled immediately and the local police will be notified.