18288Re: [infoguys-list] Help . . . Oh yes indeed, you MUST report this
- Jun 6, 2012Charles -
It is *57, not #57. Also, it is not quite as simple as one might like but
it is doable. Here's a generic instruction for anyone interested:
How to Put an End to Unwanted or Harassing Phone Calls
Copyright © 1992 - 2012
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Posted October 1992
Revised April 2012
This is for informational purposes only. We are not able to counsel
2. _What makes a phone call harassing?_
3. _How often do I have to get these calls to make it harassment?_
4. _Who should I contact when I get harassing calls?_
5. _What can my local phone company do if I am receiving harassing
6. _Is the phone company always able to solve harassing phone call
7. _What can I do to stop harassing calls without going to the phone
company or police?_ (http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs3-hrs2.htm#6)
8. _What is the "pressure valve" strategy?_
9. _What precautions can I take to prevent harassment?_
10. _How can I stop telemarketing calls?_
11. _Sometimes my phone rings and there is no one on the line. What is
12. _What can I do to stop other kinds of unwanted calls?_
13. _Can I use Caller ID to stop unwanted calls?_
14. _What does Privacy Manager do?_
Obscene or harassing phone calls can be one of the most stressful and
frightening invasions of privacy a person experiences. And unwanted phone
calls, while a minor problem when compared with threatening calls, can still be
a major inconvenience. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help
put an end to these unwelcome intrusions.
2. What makes a phone call harassing?
When someone calls and uses obscene or threatening language, or even heavy
breathing or silence to intimidate you, you are receiving a harassing
call. It is against the law in California and other states to make obscene or
threatening calls. (California Penal Code section 653m, Penal Code section
3. How often do I have to get these calls to make it harassment?
Just one unwelcome call can be harassing; but usually your local phone
company will not take action unless the calls are frequent. However, if a call
specifically threatens you or your family with bodily harm, the phone
company will generally take immediate action.
4. Who should I contact when I get harassing calls?
Local phone companies have varying policies on whether to call the phone
company or the police first. Some recommend that you first call the phone
company's business office and explain the problem. A representative will
connect you with the "annoyance desk." Other phone companies may require you to
file a formal complaint with local law enforcement before they will deal
with the matter. To find out what your phone company's policy is, contact
the business office and ask for assistance. AT&T policies are available
online at their _Annoyance Call Bureau site_ (http://contact.bellsouth.com/acc/)
. Click on "Annoyance Call Types" for specific guidance. Verizon
policies are available at their _Unlawful Call Center_
at _Annoyance Call Complaint Handling page_
For serious threats, if life or property are threatened, or if calls are
obscene, you should call the police and file a report. Provide as much
information to law enforcement as you can. Indicate the gender of the caller and
describe the caller's voice. Note the time and date of the call(s). What
did the caller say? How old did he/she sound? Did the caller seem
intoxicated? Did he/she have an accent or speech impediment? Was there any background
noise? Was a phone number/name displayed on the Caller ID device?
5. What can my local phone company do if I am receiving harassing calls?
If the calls are frequent or particularly threatening, the phone company
can set up a "Trap" on your phone line. The Trap allows the phone company to
determine the telephone number from which the harassing calls originate.
You must keep a log noting the time and date the harassing calls are
received. Traps are usually set up for no more than two weeks. The phone company
does not charge a fee for Traps.
A phone company service called Call Trace may also be able to help track
down harassing calls. Immediately after receiving a harassing call, you
enter the code *57 on your phone and the call is automatically traced. Call
Trace is easier than using a Trap since the customer does not have to keep a
phone log. But Call Trace technology works only within the local service
area. (Look in the "Customer Guide" section of the phone book or the phone
company's web site for a description of your local service area.)
Call Trace must be set up in advance by the individual receiving harassing
calls, and it requires a fee for use. However, in situations where the
phone company would ordinarily use a Trap, you might not be charged if the
phone company suggests that Call Trace be used as an alternative. Be sure to
The information collected from Call Trace or from a Trap is turned over to
law enforcement personnel, not the customer. Law enforcement officers try
to stop the harassing calls by either warning or arresting the harasser.
With both Call Trace and a Trap, your phone conversations are not listened to
or recorded by the phone company.
6. Is the phone company always able to solve harassing phone call
No. If the caller uses a phone booth or multiple phone lines, the phone
company and law enforcement officials may never get enough identification to
take further action. In cases like these, changing your phone number might
help. Also, you might want to get an unlisted or unpublished number. In
addition, the tips listed below for discouraging other types of unwanted calls
may be of help.
7. What can I do to stop harassing calls without going to the phone
company or police?
First, simply hang up on the caller. Do not engage in conversation.
Typical crank callers are seeking attention. You have "made their day" if you say
something to them or express shock or anger.
If the silent treatment does not work, you might try putting a message
like this on your voice mail system:
I'm sorry I/we can't come to the phone right now but you must leave a
message. I/we are receiving annoyance calls and the phone company has a trap on
this line. If you do not leave a message I/we will assume that you are the
annoyance caller and this call will be traced.
If you answer the phone and the harassing caller is on the line, another
suggestion is to say: "Operator, this is the call." Then hang up. Or say the
word "trap," what time it is and the date; then hang up.
8. What is the "pressure valve" strategy?
Some threatening calls are part of a larger pattern of abuse, such as
stalking. Some experts recommend in these situations to get a new phone number,
but keep the phone number being called by the harasser and attach a voice
mail machine or message service to that line. Turn the phone's ringer off
and don't use that phone line for anything other than capturing the calls of
This is the pressure valve strategy. The harasser will continue to call
the unused number and will think that he/she is getting through. Instead, you
are simply using the number to gather evidence. You will want to save tape
recordings of the calls.Get another phone number for your use, and be sure
it's unlisted and unpublished. Give the number to trusted friends and
relatives only. Do not give it to your bank, credit card company or credit
bureau. Put passwords on all of your phone accounts (local, long distance, and
mobile). Tell the phone companies in writing that they must not disclose any
account information to anyone but yourself, and only when the correct
password is given.
9. What precautions can I take to prevent harassment?
Do not disclose personal information when called by someone you do not
know. They might be checking out the residence for possible robbery or other
crime. If the caller asks what number they have called, do not give it.
Instead, ask them to tell you what number they dialed.
To prevent being targeted for obscene calls and heavy breathing, women
should only list their first initial and last name in the phone directory.
Having an unlisted number is another option.
Children should be instructed to never reveal information to unknown
callers. Instead, they should be taught to record the caller's name and phone
number along with date and time.
Do not include your telephone number on the outgoing message of your voice
mail service if you wish to keep your number private. By omitting your
phone number from your message, you prevent random dialers and people with
Call Return (explained below) from capturing this information.
10. How can I stop telemarketing calls?
The most effective and easiest way to prevent telemarketing calls is to
register your home and personal phone number(s) with the National Do Not Call
Registry operated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
You can sign up for the Do Not Call Registry two ways:
* The FTC's toll-free phone number is 888-382-1222 (TTY:
* Online registration is available at the FTC's web site,
11. Sometimes my phone rings and there is no one on the line. What is
Many people are frightened when they receive "hang-up" calls. They wonder
if someone is harassing them, or if a burglar is checking to see if they
are not home. In most cases, these calls are from telemarketers. (For
additional information on telemarketing, see Fact Sheet 5,
_www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs5-tmkt.htm_ (http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs5-tmkt.htm) .)
Many telemarketers use "predictive dialing" technology to call consumers.
A computer dials many phone numbers in a short period of time. When an
individual answers, the computer seeks a sales representative who is not
occupied at that time and connects the call. If all of the sales reps are on
calls, the consumer hears dead silence. These are "abandoned calls."
Abandoned calls or calls that result in prerecorded messages are among the
top reasons consumers complain to the Federal Trade Comission (FTC) and
the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). To address the growing number of
complaints about these "robocalls," the FCC, on February 15, 2012, adopted
Under the revised rules, a telemarketer cannot make "robocalls" without
your prior written consent. In addition, the "established business
relationship" exception has been eliminated. These two major changes will become
effective in early 2013. Other provisions, to be phased in through early 2012,
require telemarketers that use "robocalls" to offer an opt out before the
prerecorded message or sales representative begins the sales pitch. The FCC
has also reduced the number of abandoned calls allowed, to be effective in
To read the FCC's consumer guide on "robocalls," and find out how to
complain see: _www.fcc.gov/guides/robocalls_
If you are receiving many abandoned calls a day, you can call the
annoyance department of your local phone company and ask that a Trap be placed on
your line. In extreme situations, the phone company might be willing to
contact the offending telemarketer and request that your phone number be place
on its "do not call" list. If the repeated calls are from a malicious
individual who is harassing you rather than a telemarketer, the phone company
will report the number to law enforcement as described in the beginning of
California Public Utilities Code 2875.5 requires telemarketers to limit
abandoned calls to fewer than 1% of their total call volume. For information
visit _www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html_ (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html)
12. What can I do to stop other kinds of unwanted calls?
Sometimes calls are annoying but are not serious enough to involve law
enforcement as is necessary with either a Trap or Call Trace. These might
include telemarketing sales calls, wrong numbers, overly aggressive bill
collectors, and prank calls. There are several steps you can take to discourage
such unwanted calls.
An answering machine or a voice mail service is one of the best ways to
limit unwanted calls. An answering machine records messages when you are not
available and can also be used to screen your calls. Similar to an
answering machine, a voice mail service or an answering service can also discour
age unwanted calls.
Another product on the market is an attachment to the telephone called an
"inbound call blocker." It allows only those callers who enter a special
numeric code onto their touchtone phone pad to ring through to your number.
This device is highly effective in preventing unwanted calls. However, you
must be certain to give the code to everyone you want to talk to. Even so,
you could miss important calls from unexpected sources, like emergency
Several vendors sell such call screening devices. Check the web site of
Privacy Corps (_www.privacycorps.com_ (http://www.privacycorps.com/) ) or call
(888) 633-5777. You can also check the web sites of online electronics
retailers for call blocking products. No endorsements are implied.
In most areas of the country, Custom Calling services are available from
the local phone company which can help limit unwelcome calls. However,
before you sign up, look carefully at the services to be certain they will work
in your situation and are worth the monthly fee. Also remember that many of
these features only work within your local service area. Calls coming from
outside the area might not be affected by these features. (Consult the
"Customer Guide" section of the phone book or the company's web site to find
out the boundaries of your local service area.) Keep in mind, these services
require a fee, either month-to-month or per-use. To avoid having to pay
for call screening on an ongoing basis, consider purchasing a device that
attaches to the telephone, such as the call screening devices mentioned above.
* Call Screen (*60): Your phone can be programmed to reject calls
from selected numbers with a service called Call Screen (some phone companies
might use a different name). Instead of ringing on your line, these calls
are routed to a recording that tells the caller you will not take the call.
With Call Screen, you can also program your telephone to reject calls from
the number of the last person who called. This allows you to block calls
even if you do not know the phone number. Most phone companies charge a
monthly fee for this service.
Call Screen is not a foolproof way to stop unwelcome calls. A determined
caller can move to a different phone number to bypass the block. Also, Call
Screen does not work on long distance calls from outside your service area.
* Priority Ringing: You can assign a special ring to calls from up
to 10 numbers - the calls you are most likely to want to answer. The rest
can be routed to voice mail. There are ways callers can get around Priority
Ringing when it is used as a screening tool. The harasser can switch phone
lines and avoid the distinctive ring.
* Call Return (*69): This service allows you to call back the number
of the last person who called, even if you are unable to answer the phone.
Some people suggest that Call Return can be used to stop harassing callers
by allowing you to call the harasser back without knowing the phone
number. Use caution with this method of discouraging harassing callers, however,
as it could actually aggravate the problem. This service is paid on a
13. Can I use Caller ID to stop unwanted calls?
With Caller ID, customers who pay a monthly fee and purchase a display
device can see the number and name of the person calling before picking up the
phone. Some people believe Caller ID will help reduce harassing or
unwelcome calls. Others, however, raise privacy concerns about the technology
since subscribers to the service can capture callers' phone numbers without
To help consumers protect the privacy of their phone numbers, state public
utilities regulators (for example, the California Public Utilities
Commission) require local phone companies to offer number blocking options to
There are two blocking options to choose from. If the customer chooses Per
Line Blocking (called Complete Blocking in California), their phone number
will automatically be blocked for each call made from that number. If the
customer chooses Per Call Blocking (called Selective Blocking in
California), the phone number is sent to the party being called unless *67 is
entered before the number is dialed. When the number is blocked by either of
these methods, the Caller ID subscriber sees the word "private" or "anonymous"
on the Caller ID display device.
Because of these blocking options, Caller ID is not likely to allow you to
capture the phone number of the determined harasser. Most harassers will
block their phone numbers or will call from payphones. However, Caller ID
can be used by people receiving harassing calls to decide whether to answer.
They can choose not to pick up calls marked "private" or numbers they don't
A companion service to Caller ID, called Anonymous Call Rejection (ACR),
requires an incoming call from a blocked number to be unblocked before the
call will ring through. Use of this feature forces the harasser to disclose
the number - by entering *82 - or to choose to not complete the call. But a
determined harasser can get around this feature by using a payphone. This
service can be added to a consumer's local phone service for a fee or at no
charge depending on the carrier. It is activated and deactivated with the
touchtone code *77.
14. What does Privacy Manager do?
Most local phone companies offer a service called Privacy Manager. It
works with Caller ID to identify incoming calls that have no telephone numbers.
Calls identified as "anonymous," unavailable," out of area" or "private"
must identify themselves in order to complete the call. Before your phone
rings, a recorded message instructs the caller to unblock the call, enter a
code number (like the inbound call blocking devices mentioned above), or
record their name. When your phone rings, you can choose to accept or reject
the call, send it to voice mail, or send a special message to telemarketers
instructing them to put you on their "do not call" list.
Sarkis Detective Agency
1346 Ethel Street
Glendale, CA 91207-1826
"one Nation under God" and "in GOD we TRUST"
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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