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Help stop a phone stalker
May 2, 2006 7:54 AM   Subscribe

My friend has a pervert calling her who will not stop. She's already tried the phone company and police to no avail. Looking for suggestions on how to get him to stop.

A week ago, a friend gets a call from some guy asking perverted questions. He continued to repeatidly call her. She contacted her cell-phone carrier (Verizon) who said they can't block calls to cell phones and she should file a report with the police. She did as such, and the police responded by telling her they can't stop him because a) it's a restricted number (she has NO idea who it is) and b) they can't force the phone company to release who the caller is.
So far, she's tried having male friends answer, taking down her voicemail so it says, ""Your call has been forwarded to an autmated voice message system. The NUMBER is not available," And now just ignoring him. Yet today, he called another 4 times.
Any ideas on how she can get the pervert to stop calling or find out who it is, be it through the police, phone company, hired hitman, etc?
posted by jmd82 to Human Relations (74 answers total)
 
A very loud, eardrum-shattering whistle might have an impact.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:00 AM on May 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


I wonder if she could get a restraining order against an anonymous party (ie the unknown phone number) and present it to Verizon for enforcement? If I could get such an order I would take it into a Verizon store and simply refuse to leave until they either blocked the number or released it, all the while smiling haplessly and being polite but driving the employees batshit crazy.
posted by astruc at 8:01 AM on May 2, 2006


Although, if he's just asking perverted questions to her voicemail, what's the big deal? How bad is it? Why doesn't she just delete? What sort of questions are we talking about? Does he seem to know her, or is it random?
posted by astruc at 8:02 AM on May 2, 2006


I'd be inclined to get a new cell phone number. And to be be bloody careful to whom I gave it out. Isn't this almost certainly someone she knows?
posted by orange swan at 8:03 AM on May 2, 2006


I had a guy who did this. Finally, one time he called I went on a batshit non-stop crazy screaming rant about the evils of Republicans until he hung up. When he called back, I went on another batshit non-stop crazy screaming rant, this time about the evils of Democrats. Again, he hung up. He tried one more time and I started singing opera. He never called back.
posted by schroedinger at 8:04 AM on May 2, 2006


Buy an air horn. Whenever he calls, blare it into the phone.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:04 AM on May 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


The whistle is a good idea, or tell your friend not to get so upset over it. I would be surprised if the reason this "pervert" is doing such is to get attention, getting her all flustered. Tell her to ignore it, don't show any anger or annoyance over the phone. I'm not trying to trivialize the problem, but I would say the easiest solution would be to ignore it or laugh at him.
posted by killyb at 8:04 AM on May 2, 2006


astruc, I'm guessing you've never been stalked by a pervert. Yes, on the surface they're just perverted questions that she can delete. But it's an annoyance at best, frightening at worst. Nobody enjoys the feeling that a stranger is watching them or getting off on their fear and confusion. Nothing is quite so stressful as persistent, aggressive unwanted attention.
posted by schroedinger at 8:06 AM on May 2, 2006


She should change her number and make sure the new number is private and unlisted. Any kind of reaction encourages the caller to continue. S/he learns- it takes four phone calls to get an angry boy-friend to answer; it takes six phone calls to get an airhorn. Any kind of reaction besides cutting off the source just teaches the caller how much s/he has to do to get a response. Best bet is to make a response impossible.
posted by headspace at 8:06 AM on May 2, 2006


[responses are from her]
Thorzdad: Good idea, but already tried that.

re: restraining order
"I can't get a restraining order because the police said there's nothign they can do. They actually said, "If the guy doesn't want to stop calling you, he's not going to stop calling, no matter what the police do."

astruc:
he calls me at all hours of the night, anywhere from midnight to 6am and my cell phone is my alarm clock so I can't turn it off. And I can't turn it off during the day in case my babysitter calls and there's a problem with my son (you have to be careful when you have kids). And it IS a big deal b/c it's pissing me off.

orange: She knows getting a new number is an option, but she does not want to do it. Again, it's allowing somebody else to control her life which is unacceptable.

Also, her # is private and unlisted and doesn't answer his calls anymore.
posted by jmd82 at 8:10 AM on May 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


I know that for landlines you can get the feature that refuses incoming calls from restricted numbers. I wouldn't be surprised if you could do the same for her cellphone.

Otherwise, best of the options above are A) change the number. It's a hassle but you'd be surprised how little work it is to spread the word to people you know. B) stop answering the phone. He'll probably keep at it for a while longer, but if he never talks to her, he'll eventually move on.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 8:10 AM on May 2, 2006


you can get the feature that refuses incoming calls from restricted numbers.

Yes, this should be possible. My brother is a doctor, and his cell phone only accepts calls that include the caller ID.
posted by alms at 8:14 AM on May 2, 2006


Er, sorry to post again, but there's no reason to change her number unless she absolutely has to. The man keeps calling because he's enjoying her reaction, whether it's her flustered complaints, her male friends' ultimately empty threats, or imagining her reaction to his gross voicemail messages. You just have to give him a reaction he won't enjoy. That may be an airhorn, that may be a whistle, that may be acting completely, utterly insane.

Now, I'm biased 'cause it worked for me, but I really like the faux-insanity method. She gets the fun of acting like a nutcase and giving him the confusion he gives her, and theoretically he'll start to find her dramatically less sexy. Unpredictable, incoherent behavior is not stimulating to most people, perverts included.

If she knows other languages, sprinkle them into the rants. It would add an extra dose of nuttiness to her reactions. And the important thing is to keep going in the same screechy, screaming tone--don't let the guy get a word in edgewise.
posted by schroedinger at 8:19 AM on May 2, 2006


i was just flipping through my phone and noticed i can block/forward numbers from my phone, check your phone for this feature, or go buy a cheap phone that has this feature (go to your local wireless store and flip through the menues), otherwise there is nothing you an do....and you just have to accept that. The police won't do anything (what can they do?), the phone company won't do anything (though if I were her I would talk with them a bit more).
posted by killyb at 8:19 AM on May 2, 2006


alms - Verizon said they cannot block incoming calls and if there is a way to do it on my cellphone, I do not know how.

kingjoeshmoe - I do *not* answer my phone anymore at all.

He's called an upward of 20 times in a week, only 4 times has the phone been answered. Twice on accident where I found out he was a pervert, and once by a male friend. Otherwise his calls are ignored.

schroedinger - he's not enjoying any reaction because I'm not answering my phone at all. It just rings until voicemail picks up. I never talk to him.


killyb - Um, yes, on my phone I can only block numbers that I actually have. I can't block "Restricted" numbers which is what he has come up when he calls so I don't know the number. The police won't do anything b/c they're lazy. I know for a fact they have the capabilities to get unknown numbers as I know some police officers who live in other states. Unfortunately, they can't help me.


(posted by the stalkee)
posted by jmd82 at 8:23 AM on May 2, 2006


What a bad situation! This won't stop him from calling, but she could change the ring tone for his calls so that she knows not to answer.

I had to do this recently because I was getting hang-up calls multiple times/day from a spoofed #. I switched calls from this # to a silent ringtone and just avoided answering.
posted by missmerrymack at 8:24 AM on May 2, 2006


The police could do something. They have probable cause that a crime is being committed. If the phone company won't voluntarily give up the caller number, then the police could easily get a search warrant to obtain this information.
posted by reverendX at 8:26 AM on May 2, 2006


how about getting a recording of "this phone number has been disconnected" and playing it back when "no caller ID" appears. three or four times should do the trick if it's done convincingly.
posted by poppo at 8:26 AM on May 2, 2006


reverendX - the police COULD do something. They just refuse to. I don't know how to make them realise that I am being harrassed. Harrassment, especially sexual harrassment is against the law.

(posted by the stalkee)
posted by jmd82 at 8:29 AM on May 2, 2006


What is the make and model of your phone?
posted by deadfather at 8:38 AM on May 2, 2006


So, to sum up: The police won't do anything, the phone company won't do anything, and this woman won't do anything (can't change the number, can't block calls, can't turn off the phone).

If that's the situation, well, then, you're screwed.

Look, the guy's gonna keep calling. What's more important here, "winning" (which you obviously haven't done, because he *is* currently dictating your life -- you can't answer your phone, you're being woken up at all hours, etc) or making your life easier. Why balk against making your life easier?

This is not a battle worth continuing.
posted by occhiblu at 8:39 AM on May 2, 2006


This link might help you out, a lot of info on cell phone abuse/harassment.
posted by dead_ at 8:39 AM on May 2, 2006


What I'm thinking is one of the reactions the stalker might be enjoying is the idea of your reaction when he leaves a voicemail message.

What I'm wondering is if you do start answering his calls again, but doing it in a completely unattractive and crazy manner, might he lose his fixation on you like my stalker did with me? I tried ignoring the stalker, I tried having male friends answer the phone, I tried threatening him, I tried even talking with him to try to psychoanalyze him over the phone to get him to figure out why he was getting off on this. He had none of it.

Right now, he either gets to imagine you being uncomfortable at getting his voicemail message, or if you answer he gets to witness you being uncomfortable. But you can't exactly pretend you're OK with his calls, that'll encourage him even more. You want to project an image that is neither comfortable nor uncomfortable with him--you're no longer a woman who's reacting to him, you'll be an obnoxious crazy person who's completely obsessed with the voices in their head or whatever and he just happens to be a foil for you to rant on about them. I guess what you have to do is change his position from an actor to an observer--his calls will have no effect on you because you'll come off as simply too annoying nutty for them to.

First of all, he won't get a chance to say anything that might make you flustered or confused. Second, if he calls he won't get to listen to anything sexy, just somebody talking about purple penguins eating their head or how much they hate Bush's monetary policy or why Kerry looks like a horse.

I am probably coming off as crazy myself for pushing for such a non-traditional method of dealing with pervs, but I fully believe in aggressively hitting these guys on their own terms. You can't scare this guy. Ignoring him won't make him go away. You have to be unattractive to him, and the quickest way to do that is that I can see is to be obnoxious and insane.
posted by schroedinger at 8:44 AM on May 2, 2006


um, yes and on my phone I can do the same thing, just as I said, so if you set the phone up to only accept calls from your phone book listing it will block his call..

Calling the police lazy is an easy way out while remaining cool. What would you like the police to do? Go over to his house and tell him to play nice? Have his phone shut off? Send him to jail? I'm sorry to hear about the problem, but I think the best solution would be to get over it, as the police aren't doing anything, the phone company won't, and changing the number isn't going to happen(?)

Why is it that the police are the most useless people ever, except when ones house is being broken into?
posted by killyb at 8:45 AM on May 2, 2006


She kept this guy on the phone long enough for him to ask more than one question? Not to blame the victim here, but, hello, he got encouragement right there at the start. It's awful hard to stop this ball rolling. Lesson learned. Don't ask me where I learned it.
posted by bilabial at 8:47 AM on May 2, 2006


dont pick up the call, dont listen to the voice mail. seems simple.
posted by tomtiberius at 8:48 AM on May 2, 2006


New cell phone number! No need to use a sledge hammer when a screwdriver will do.
posted by zek at 8:51 AM on May 2, 2006


jmd82's friend. Can we get details on the phone? There may be an unused feature we could take advantage of.

Suggestions

- There should be a phone profile that turns ring volume OFF and vibration OFF while keeping the alarm on. She should switch to this if possible.

- Perhaps she can make 'Restricted' into a contact, and then set ringer volume for this contact to OFF or even better, auto-forward all calls from 'Restricted' to another number (ideal!) like the police department.

- She can add all of her known contacts to a profile, set the default ringer volume to off, and then give the profile ringing options on.

- She can make recordings and bring these to the police. If she doesn't make any progress, ask to speak to a captain. Have her play the recordings to the captain.

- She can make recordings and bring these to Verizon. Even better, call Verizon's Help Service and ask to speak to a manager, play the recordings to the manager. Verizon has the direct power to track down scumbag's phone number. They should be the ones handling this.

Good luck!
posted by onalark at 8:51 AM on May 2, 2006


and my cell phone is my alarm clock so I can't turn it off.

Well, this part is easy to fix. You can get a cheap alarm clock at any drug store.
posted by advil at 8:52 AM on May 2, 2006


I'd get a new phone number, personally.

Or screen my calls with caller ID or an answering machine.

I've had to deal with phone calls from a guy who was... well, not a pervert, just an asshole. The problem was, he was my roommate's father. So, I let the answering machine answer all my phone calls for me.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:53 AM on May 2, 2006


schroedinger - Ah, those are interesting suggestions. I wonder if they'll work with this guy ... I'm willing to try just about anything at this point. I imagine talking so much that he can't say anything gross to me might work, we'll have to see.

occhiblu - He doesnt' wake me up at night because I turn off the ringers on my phone, and have it so that the alarm just goes off. He still calls, though. It's mostly bothersome during the day when I have to check to see who is calling me.

killyb - I have no idea how to set up my phone so that it only accepts calls from people in my phonebook. The manual / online help didn't show a way to use a feature like that either? It's not a matter of "Getting over it" - we were just looking for suggestions on any alternate ways to get him to stop or how to handle the police or phone company so that something can be done.

(posted by the stalkee)
posted by jmd82 at 8:56 AM on May 2, 2006


Okay lets NOT blame the victim here! We are not all trained in "what to do if you have a phone stalker" nor did she expect that this guy would be harassing her! Sheesh.

Second, I would most certainly call the police lazy. This is harassment and it shouldn't be that hard for them to subpoena the phone records.

Honestly though, I think getting a new number is probably the best thing. It's going to be a pain giving a new number out to everyone, but it will probably stop the harassment. And if it doesn't...then you can narrow down the harasser to a limited group of people and then try to get the police (try a different officer or deparment?) to do something about it again.
posted by radioamy at 8:57 AM on May 2, 2006


Change the number. Do it now or do it later, when he's annoyed you even further. Save yourself some hassle by doing it now.

I would also change cell phone providers, because why would you want to reward a company that won't help you by paying them any further? But that's just me.
posted by beth at 8:57 AM on May 2, 2006


bilabial - ... Yes, he was on the line long enough to ask a question. Isn't that usually how it goes? I picked up the first time he called and said, "Hello?" to which he immediately said something perverted. I hung up.

onalark - It's a Razr phone. I've only had it a week, thus me having no idea how to do those features. I tried making Restricted into a contact, but that didn't really work out. Actually the calls started the same day I got my new phone (not a new number, though). I don't talk to the guy anymore whenhe calls so unless I pick up I couldn't make recordings. Although if I did that might be a good way to get the police to listen?
posted by jmd82 at 9:03 AM on May 2, 2006


how about getting a recording of "this phone number has been disconnected" and playing it back when "no caller ID" appears. three or four times should do the trick if it's done convincingly.

How about getting a male friend to record her a cheery voicemail greeting—"Hi, you've reached [phone number]. Leave a message!" Maybe the guy will think she's gotten her number changed.
posted by oaf at 9:07 AM on May 2, 2006


If you don't want to change the number, and Verizon won't help, port your number to a different cell phone company that will block calls without caller ID. It is a pretty fast process these days. Of course, make sure your potential new company can do the blocking or the potential new phone can before you go through with it.
posted by zsazsa at 9:08 AM on May 2, 2006


While my pranker was not a pervert, I did have a very aggravating pranker problem a few years back.

My solution was to answer in a foreign language, specifically Russian, whenever I did not recognize a number. Friends and family adjusted quickly and the moron pranker was stymied. he must have believed that the number had been changed.

I know this sounds like a silly answer to a serious question. I would not have posed it if not for the fact that it worked. It also works on sales calls.
posted by BeerGrin at 9:13 AM on May 2, 2006


the calls started the same day I got my new phone

That is a weird coincidence. Was the salesperson at the Verizon store male? That would explain the sudden influx of calls to an unlisted number.
posted by amber_dale at 9:14 AM on May 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


I looked through the RAZR phone manual. It apparently supports call barring, which is the feature you're looking for. Whether call barring on incoming calls without caller id is something Verizon Wireless supports or not, I don't know.

You have some serious ammunition to go to Verizon customer support with. You have circumstancial evidence pointing to a Verizon employee being the potential harasser. I can't imagine them not wanting to take care of this.
posted by onalark at 9:17 AM on May 2, 2006


Ok, I just spent a whole bunch of time typing out options for you, but just do what oaf said. After a few times, he'll think you changed your number. I wouldn't really bother changing it back to your voice either - let your friends and son's school or whatever know that your voice mail is now a guy, no one will even think twice about it.

Also, look in your manual, in the phone under settings, etc etc etc...there has to be a way to change restricted calls to a silent ringer or a short ding or something. If you're not good with stuff like that, have a friend try to figure it out for you. I have the super-basic phone from Verizon and even though the phone will still ring for restricted calls, I can make the ringer into a very low beep (that wouldn't wake me up if I used my phone as an alarm).

My phone does require a lock code to get into that menu though, and mine was the last 4 digits of my cell #. If that doesn't work, try 0000 or 1234.
posted by AlisonM at 9:18 AM on May 2, 2006


occhiblu - He doesnt' wake me up at night because I turn off the ringers on my phone, and have it so that the alarm just goes off. He still calls, though. It's mostly bothersome during the day when I have to check to see who is calling me.

Well, OK, except that you just used that as the main reason he's bothering you:

he calls me at all hours of the night, anywhere from midnight to 6am and my cell phone is my alarm clock so I can't turn it off.

I know this is annoying, and creepy. I got *one* perverted phone call once and that seriously freaked me out; I can't imagine dealing with them all the time.

But people here are giving you practical solutions, and you keep responding with "I can't do that, I can't do that, I can't do that," and now with "This is the problem, oh that's not really the problem, *this* is the problem..." I'm not sure what else you want from us.
posted by occhiblu at 9:18 AM on May 2, 2006


amber_dale - I agree! But the salesman was foreign and this guy does not sound foreign at all. I still think it's an odd coincidence as well.

BeerGrin - I'm in my 20s, but I sound like a young teenager because my voice is small. I think that's one reason why the guy is still calling. I'm not sure if I answered in another language if that would help. I think the calls are random and it's just a pervert who is looking for a female to answer. But that's definitely an option to consider. Thank you.

(posted by the stalkee)
posted by jmd82 at 9:19 AM on May 2, 2006


onalark - was calling barring something I can do or is it a feature the phone company has to do for me?
posted by jmd82 at 9:23 AM on May 2, 2006


She contacted her cell-phone carrier (Verizon) who said they can't block calls to cell phones and she should file a report with the police. She did as such, and the police responded by telling her they can't stop him because a) it's a restricted number (she has NO idea who it is) and b) they can't force the phone company to release who the caller is.

Does this mean A) that a police report has been filed and the police were unwilling to take further action, or B) the police were unwilling to file a report?

In the case of A) wait some time and file another report or have the additional information appended it to the original report. In the case of B) try again. Not all police officers are equal, some are more willing to take on certain situations. Go to the station and do not leave until they take a report from you. Be friendly, ask a lot of questions, and assertive and positive but don't make demands from them. Either way, when dealing with the police have an easy to read list of the dates, times, duration, and content of all calls received. Having a police report and an officer familiar with the details and sympathetic to this situation will be very important if this escalates beyond just a wacko making phone calls.

And the police report can give you some leverage when dealing with Verizon. When they tell you "but the police..." ask who in their company the police can contact about this matter (because sometimes the cops don't know), and ask if in this situation they will let the stalkee out of her contract without penalty. If they think they're going to lose her money, they may be more willing to find a way to help.
posted by peeedro at 9:27 AM on May 2, 2006


My solution was to answer in a foreign language, specifically Russian, whenever I did not recognize a number. Friends and family adjusted quickly and the moron pranker was stymied. he must have believed that the number had been changed.

That was also a thought I had, but it depends on foreign-language proficiency. If you could answer unknown callers with a canned «Говарит Москва [music]» or „Hier ist das Erste Deutsche Fernsehen mit der tagesschau [music],” that might throw people off. It might be hard to do with a cell phone, though.

tagesschau is the answer to everything. Well, not really.
posted by oaf at 9:31 AM on May 2, 2006


Please post the model number of your phone so we can find out if you can block calls without caller ID on it yourself.
posted by zsazsa at 9:33 AM on May 2, 2006


Cops: they aren't lazy, just patient. You need to complain more. They can do something. If you aren't getting what you need from them, go upstairs--call the state's attorney office and complain.

They can do something about it--but are unwilling to waste their time on simple complaints. The more you complain, the more they will react. Remember: This person is committing a crime, and it's their job to fight crime. Get complaining.
posted by lester at 9:33 AM on May 2, 2006


Maybe I'm loco, but what if you set up a sting? Answer the phone, say you want to meet up with him behind the library, and wham-o, a few brute-ish friends take care of him. (I'd recommend police, but they seem to be worthless in this case, very unfortunately.)

If that creeps you out, then for sure go to Verizon with your information. I second what onalark said-- you have some serious ammo, and you should get help. Maybe go to a different store than you got your phone at and find a kind-looking woman who will sympathize. Tell her the story and ask her to discreetly find you a woman manager.

All those who are saying you should change your number, buy an alarm clock, etc., are offering a bandaid, but you need to go straight to the heart of it. Find the bastard and take care of the root of it.
posted by orangemiles at 9:34 AM on May 2, 2006


This is kind of lame, I admit, but you know if this has only been going on for a week then there's a possibility that it will end. Last spring, somehow or other, a prostitute was giving out my cel phone number (don't ask me. I have no idea. Maybe my number was close to hers & she got them mixed up?) & there appeared to be nothing, according to Sprint or the cops, that I could do about it. So I stopped answering pretty much all calls, turned the phone off at night, got a male friend to record a message that said "This is NOT Bianca" and eventually the problem went away. While I know these kinds of phone calls are sort of scary and definitely annoying, sometimes if you just wait a while, they'll find someone else to harass.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:48 AM on May 2, 2006


- She can make recordings and bring these to the police. If she doesn't make any progress, ask to speak to a captain. Have her play the recordings to the captain.

- She can make recordings and bring these to Verizon. Even better, call Verizon's Help Service and ask to speak to a manager, play the recordings to the manager. Verizon has the direct power to track down scumbag's phone number. They should be the ones handling this.
She can bring the recordings to the local TV news station's consumer reporter. Nothing makes a company or a misogynistic police force move quicker than negative publicity at 6:00.

As a matter of fact, just threatening that to Verizon's customer service (but make sure it is not the lowly rep, but the manger's manager's manager) will get things moving.
Even in a big city like New York.
posted by xetere at 9:52 AM on May 2, 2006


I'd strongly urge you not to try to meet this person or setting up any "sting" operation. You have no idea who you are dealing with or how many brutish/armed/likemindedly warped friends they could have.

Besides that, the police would definitely take a report for assault and battery from the Perv...

Please don't follow that suggestion. Some of the other ideas were better, and not bandaids at all. They are offering more adult, real-life ways of solving it.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:53 AM on May 2, 2006


the police responded by telling her they can't stop him...

Whoever you spoke with is either incompetent or lazy. Insist on speaking with someone else. If you live in a small town, schedule an appointment with the chief; if you're in a city, a lieutenant should suffice. What you're describing is a criminal act, and the police absolutely can acquire the line usage from the telephone company.

If you're uncomfortable with being the squeaky wheel and forcing the police to act, you can hire a lawyer who will push the same buttons. But frankly, that's a waste of money. Do it yourself. (Spine required.)
posted by cribcage at 9:57 AM on May 2, 2006


Go back to the police. Ask to speak to someone else (imply that a female officer might be more sympathetic). Tell them you will continue to be there, asking for someone who will enforce the law until you get satisfaction. Tell them you are not going away, and that you want them to do their jobs. Harrasment is serious. Make them take you seriously. Do not go away. Keep coming back. That's the only way you'll get them to do anything. A law is being broken. It's simple. They have a duty and obligation to investigate and enforce the law.
posted by geekhorde at 10:01 AM on May 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Frankly I think that Verizon's attitude is terrible. In a former life I used to work for BT in the UK - and they would take serious steps to help victims and the police to trace nuisance callers. I would have thought that, given the US' reputed compensation culture an American phone company would be even keener to defray liability by protecting its clients.

Practically, have you though about approaching a lawyer for help. Particularly if your friend uses the phone number professionally and needs to hang onto it, this might be cheaper than changing it? They should be able to put the fear of God into the police/Verizon.

Alternatively, as other posters have suggested the media is your friend here. A good local journo should be able to run the story without jeaopardising your friend's anonymity - the hook is how many routes she's tried for help without getting any.
posted by prentiz at 10:04 AM on May 2, 2006


What would you like the police to do? Go over to his house and tell him to play nice? Have his phone shut off? Send him to jail?

How about all of the above? The phone calls are breaking the law. Cops are supposed to deal with lawbreakers. Are you with me so far? Why would the victim not expect the cops to handle a criminal?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:11 AM on May 2, 2006


Threatening to go to the media is a good idea. Or getting a lawyer to do it for me. I think that no one is taking me seriously because they think I'm a little teenager on the phone. That's my best guess because my voice is small even though I'm in my 20s. I'll try calling Verizon again and using the media card. I tried talking to a manager or supervisor, but "none were available" both times I called to talk to them about the problem. I guess the next step is to be Super Bitch and demand to talk to a manager and threaten to go to a news station. That might actually work. I hadn't really considered that before.

And, yes, I expect the cops to do something! Harrassment and sexual harrassment are against the law. If there's not jailtime, there's fines. Unfortunately, the cop I talked to WAS female, so using that route didn't help.
posted by jmd82 at 10:34 AM on May 2, 2006


Police are troglodytes. It isn't up to them whether or not they contact the phone company. You need a lawyer to get a judge to issue a warrant. But that may not be necessary; just a letter or a call from a lawyer threatening to do this may be enough. Or, as cribcage suggested, even a phone call from you threatening to get a lawyer threatening to get a judge might be enough.
posted by bingo at 10:36 AM on May 2, 2006


Change providers.

If Verizon won't take your concerns seriously, find a provider that will.

Change numbers.

Again, it's allowing somebody else to control her life which is unacceptable.

While I admire your courage (and would love to see this pervert behind bars or heavily fined), is fighting this the best use of your time? How long will it take to find out who it is and take the legal and/or technological steps to make it stop? Ten hours? Twenty? What will you do if another pervert comes along? How much is your time worth to you? Getting a new number from a new provider (and VOIP - see below) may be cheaper.

VOIP

Get an inexpensive VOIP and forward it to your cell phone. Do not give your new cell phone number out to anyone.

With VOIP, you get a robust feature set:

1) filter calls
2) set timers
3) permanent busy signals
4) online interface

For example, you can set it up so that calls with a blocked caller ID get a permanent busy signal, set it to go directly to voicemail when you are asleep and selectively filter important calls (family) to ring through anyway. An online interface will give you full control over filters/timers as well as a complete list of calling statistics (useful if you receive similar calls in the future - it is easier for police to act if they have concrete list of dates and times).

VOIP forwarded to a new cell phone number will solve your current problem and can offer better protection from future problems (prank callers, telemarketers, ex-whatevers and other undesirables).

While changing phone numbers is a major hassle in the short term, a new cell phone number and VOIP could make your life much more pleasant in the long term.
posted by cup at 10:55 AM on May 2, 2006


I don't know what a VOIP is?
posted by jmd82 at 11:00 AM on May 2, 2006


VOIP is a technology for transmitting ordinary telephone calls over the Internet.
posted by Floydd at 11:22 AM on May 2, 2006


VOIP: Voice over Internet Protocol (also known as IP telephony)

While the feature set is robust (telemarketer block, anonymous call block, scheduled 'do not disturb' times, filters, etc.), it is cheaper than a land line.

On Preview: Thank you, Floydd. Sorry I couldn't answer sooner, jmd82.
posted by cup at 11:24 AM on May 2, 2006


In non-techy: If you have a high-speed internet connection (cable or DSL), you can get a phone line that uses that internet connection. It works just like a regular phone, but it's usually cheaper per month and it has extra features that you can usually control on your computer. So you can do fancy things like let only certain numbers ring through on the phone and block others when you're sleeping, or have certain phone numbers forward to your cell phone but not others, etc.

Something like Vonage is a VOIP. You may have seen ads for others, talking about how you can get cheaper rates than your phone company offers.
posted by occhiblu at 11:37 AM on May 2, 2006


I think that no one is taking me seriously because they think I'm a little teenager on the phone.

Don't worry about things like that. Make a plan to deal with the problem and follow through. There's plenty of good advice in this thread to help you along.
posted by peeedro at 11:44 AM on May 2, 2006


Make a fake recording where the guy says he's going to rape and kill you** - throw in your address for good measure - bring it to the police - at which point they will have to get off their lazy asses and do something, the next time he calls they'll trace his exact whereabouts in about 4 seconds - then sit back and enjoy the fun as this 12 year old soils himself when confronted with the evidence.

** may be illegal in some/all states
posted by any major dude at 11:44 AM on May 2, 2006


the calls started the same day I got my new phone

Perhaps the guy thinks he's calling the previous owner.
posted by orange swan at 11:48 AM on May 2, 2006


orange swan - no, I got a new phone, but not a new number. I've had teh same number for years.
posted by jmd82 at 12:08 PM on May 2, 2006


Be a squeaky wheel. One police officer and one verizon employee put you off. They are idiots. Try again, go up the chain of command. My theory is, "no doesn't mean no till a smart person tells you no."
posted by selfmedicating at 12:08 PM on May 2, 2006


I like that one suggestion to have a male friend record a new voicemail greeting so it seems like you changed numbers.

If they continue after a week, it's obvious that the stalker is someone who's been reading this AskMe post. *looks around suspiciously*
posted by like_neon at 12:24 PM on May 2, 2006


This should do the trick.

(Phone rings. Move yourself in front of your computer)

PERV : Hi baby are you wearing those silky blue panties today?
YOU : Oh hi! Can you hold one a second?
(Partially obscure the mouthpiece with your thumb)
YOU : (In a low but audible voice away from the phone) Ok Sir, it's him.
(Start tapping on your computer)
YOU : Ok
YOU: (To caller in a sweet voice) Hi. You having a good day today?
PERV : Oh I think it is just about to get a LOT better
(Partially obscure the mouthpiece with your thumb again)
YOU : (In a low audible voice again) You getting it? You getting it?
(Keep tapping)
YOU: (To perv) So what's the weather like where you're calling from? As nice as here?
(More tapping)
Continue on like this and if he is still on the line, end with this
YOU : (In low voice) Got it? Ok great great.
YOU : (To perv) Well have a nice day and see you in COURT SUCKER.

If this doesn't work, change your number.
posted by zaebiz at 12:28 PM on May 2, 2006


If you can find someone who has an 800 number with caller ID, you could forward the call to that number and it would show you who the caller was. Actually it might work to just forward it to an 800 number, if when you call an 800 number with a restricted number you get a message that says "you have to unblock your number to call this number" The creep would think that it was a message from your number and he might stop calling.
posted by jefeweiss at 12:43 PM on May 2, 2006


** may be illegal in some/all states

Is probably illegal in all states, and would certainly end any cooperation you might get from the cops.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:36 PM on May 2, 2006


And if you can forward his calls, why not forward them to the cops?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:38 PM on May 2, 2006


Your profile says you're in Athens. Try the city police and the campus police. Also try the county sherriff.
posted by Frank Grimes at 6:10 PM on May 2, 2006


Call Verizon back and ask to speak to someone in security. Level 1 CSRs and their managers won't be able to do squat.

Verizon's security people usually *do* take stuff like that seriously.
posted by drstein at 6:32 PM on May 2, 2006


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