About a week after concluding a harassment investigation that officers say was ongoing for an extended period of time, the police have issued tips on how to handle harassing phone calls.
Calls can be not only bothersome but in some cases frightening and intimidating, police say, and committing them is a crime. Police point out that it is against the law to use profane, obscene or abusive language over the phone, or to use a telephone to harass or perhaps threaten people.
Generally, they say, crank callers are seeking attention or reaction from those receiving the calls — either shock, anger or exasperation. However, for those on the receiving end, police offer a few tips on deterring further calls:
• If a caller will not identify themselves, if the person remains silent, or at the first obscene word or lewd remark, simply hang up. Don’t talk to the person and don’t slam the receiver. Don’t give the caller the satisfaction he or she is seeking.
• Always be cautious of divulging any personal information to anyone on the phone. Know who is calling.
• Never give your number out if someone asks. Instead ask what number they are calling. This may be a crank caller who dialed at random or is perhaps "checking out" the residence.
• Young children should be instructed on the importance of never revealing information to unknown callers.
• Women should only use their first initial in the phone directory to minimize the chance of an obscene phone call.
• If you are having problems with annoying phone calls, you may chose to have an unlisted phone number or perhaps have your number changed. Phone service providers may also offer call display or call trace features.
• Call the police if your life or property is threatened or if the calls are obscene.
For more information or a presentation on annoying and harassing phone call prevention, people may contact the community policing department at 204-729-2378.