From a reader: How do you report harassing and threatening phone calls telling you that they will send people to arrest you at work. These calls are coming in on my work line during my employment hours. I do not know these people nor have ever heard of them. They continue to call on my lines and yelling all sorts of remarks that do not make sense. Who are these people and what is my recourse? I have told them to stop bothering me and stop calling, but they are not complying with my request.
Action Line: More and more, we hear this same story. Scammers are becoming more aggressive. Unfortunately, anyone can become a victim of annoying and harassing phone calls. These calls may include random calls by pranksters, calls that come through late at night, threatening calls and even obscene phone calls. Secure Community Network tells us that most can be prevented or avoided by using some simple techniques:
1. Your telephone is for your use and service; always use it on your own terms. If you simply don't feel comfortable talking to the caller, hang up. Remember that the telephone is under your control and you are not obligated to speak to anyone.
<strong2. Ask for the caller's identity or affiliation. If the caller makes an improper response or does not respond immediately, hang up.
3. If the caller asks, "Who is this?" or "What number have I reached?" don't give an answer. Instead, ask, "To whom do you wish to speak?" or "What number did you dial?" If the call is not legitimate, that will probably end it.
4. Don't give out any information to anyone you don't positively recognize or who fails to give satisfactory identification or affiliation. If the caller has a legitimate reason to be contacting you, they will be forthright with the information. Don't trust what they tell you until you are able to verify.
5. If you have children, instruct them not to talk to strangers on the telephone. Burglars or other criminals will sometimes attempt to obtain useful information from unsuspecting children. Teach your children to ask for the caller's name and number so someone can return the call later.
6. If a caller persists after you've made it clear you do not wish to talk, the simplest response is to hang up. Other techniques that may be useful in some circumstances include blowing a police whistle into the phone or tapping the disconnect button and stating "Operator, this is the call I wanted traced."
7. If you are receiving harassing or threatening phone calls, keep a log of all of the incidents. Contact your local police department. If you are receiving calls from a specific number, you can always contact your phone provider and have that one number blocked. Our experience is that these callers use throwaway cell phones. They also use phone equipment to fake the caller ID. Your best defense is to hang up.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or email@example.com.