How to Deal With Harassment by Phone

Last year, Americans received 45.9 billion robocalls. Automated calls have become a national menace that’s increasingly difficult to contain. But this is just one facet of phone harassment. Unwanted calls could appear in countless other forms. Sometimes, they could be pranks that wake you up in the middle of the night. They could also be lewd or threatening and may even expose you to criminals and racketeers.

Whether it is repeated calls from a telemarketer or an anonymous caller who only greets you with heavy breathing, you need to tackle them head-on. If left unaddressed, they could become the source of severe mental distress and may even threaten your safety at times

Dealing with phone harassment

How you tackle a harassing call has a significant bearing on the outcome. It could subdue its advances or may even make things worse. So, understanding the correct steps to handle them effectively is essential for a positive outcome.

Here’s what you should know.

#1 Identify the caller

Verifying the caller’s identity is step number one. Sometimes, the repeated calls you receive at two in the morning could be from a relative traveling overseas in a region with poor signals. It could even be a friend pulling a prank on you. But sometimes, it could be a stalker or a criminal. So, it’s essential to verify the caller’s identity to eliminate the possibility of a threat to your safety. You can do this with a reverse phone search on Nuwber or PhoneHistory.
And if there are any criminal records linked to the number’s owner, Nuwber could easily help retrieve them, too.

The information you find during this verification process will be critical to determine your next steps. However, keep in mind that criminals could use spoof numbers as well, thanks to sophisticated and easily accessible technology. So, before you react, carefully review the information you have uncovered.

#2 Avoid conversations

Whether the caller remains silent or attempts to engage you in a conversation, you need to hang up the moment you identify any unusual behavior. Engaging the caller is one of the most common mistakes made by call harassment victims. For instance, do not ask questions, request them to identify themselves, or threaten to call the police. Any form of conversation will only serve to encourage them even more. Remember, these malicious actors, whether they are stalkers or simple pranksters, will gain immense pleasure by seeing you rattled. As for telemarketers, they could be extremely persistent and will always be happy to get an extra few seconds of conversation with you.

So, it’s important not to engage with the caller. Simply hang up and end the conversation. Avoid answering their calls there onwards.

#3 Block the number

There are several blocking options available to prevent unwanted calls. But the easiest way to do this is through your phone settings.

Many smartphones offer a blacklisting and whitelisting feature under the privacy settings. You might even find options to block hidden numbers, one ring calls, and unknown numbers from specific regions. They could also have features to avoid messages from unknown numbers and to set keyword filters to identify spam text.

Now, keep in mind that blocking a number may not always resolve the issue. For instance, telemarketers could use a range of numbers to launch automated robocalls. This may require you to block several numbers over time. If you’re harassed by spam calls, network carriers like T-Mobile have various screening and blocking tools for their customers. Some of these are offered free, while others may require a monthly or annual subscription.

#4 Inform authorities

If the calls persist or seem to become even more aggressive, then it’s time to inform the authorities and make an official complaint. Note down all information, such as the dates and times, frequency of the calls, the numbers used, and the call logs.

Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your telephone network operator. Telecommunication companies could launch an investigation and block the number. If the calls seem particularly threatening, do not hesitate to inform the police. After all, you should never leave your safety to chance. Share all evidence you have gathered to help them investigate. Meanwhile, it’s also essential to keep your friends and family informed of the incident.

#5 Adopt preventative measures

  • Set up caller ID to help identify calls from unsaved numbers. Phone companies often provide this service free of charge. You can also download a caller ID app. Many of these apps can give you access to user-generated spam and scam databases. These could be a valuable tool to detect and block unwanted calls.
  • Register all your mobile and landline numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry. This could put an end to most telemarketing calls. Once you register, it will take around 31 days to activate. And from there onwards, the FTC could take action against any telemarketers that contact you. However, this will not ward off calls relating to charities, political campaigns, surveys, or debt collections.
  • Avoid sharing your phone number on public domains such as social media and websites. If you need to do so due to professional reasons, ensure you use a separate phone for work. Besides these, there are many other instances you’ll be prompted to provide your phone number. For example, this could happen when signing up for a loyalty card, setting up your profile on a dating app, or downloading a free course. These are all data collection techniques, which could increase the chances of your phone number reaching the hands of a marketer or even a criminal. So, practice extra caution when sharing.

The bottom line is, phone harassment should no longer be a source of distress. There are plenty of effective steps to help you tackle it without compromising your safety and wellbeing. But remember to address the calls before they escalate and adopt preventative measures to avoid potential threats.