Threatening Phone Calls

Source: Montana State University Police Department

Anyone can be the victim of harassing, annoying, obscene, or threatening telephone calls. These may include random calls by pranksters, calls late at night, frequent pointless calls, calls where nothing is said, obscene calls, calls from former romantic interests, or threatening phone calls.

These calls are intended to upset you, either for revenge or to gratify the caller’s personal urges. Most can be prevented or avoided by learning and using some simple techniques to decrease your potential for victimization.


  • Your telephone is for your use and service; always use it on your own terms. If the caller doesn’t speak or 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.
  • Ask for the caller’s identity or affiliation. If the caller makes an improper response or does not respond immediately, hang up.
  • Some “silent” callers are looking for a response and may want you to become scared or angry. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
  • 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.
  • 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 asks for your roommate or another member of your family, simply say that you’ll be glad to take a message and have the call returned as promptly as possible. 
  • Under no circumstances should you give the names of others living with you to someone who doesn’t already know them. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.” 
  • Remember, don’t speak unless you want to, don’t give out any information, and don’t respond to questions.
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