Annoying phone calls
November 23, 2010 4:53 PM   Subscribe

My husband is receiving annoying phone calls from his ex (a friend gave his number out without knowing any better). He does not want to change his cell number due to his numerous work contacts. When he sees her number he doesn't answer and then she leaves messages. He has told her to stop but she must be a mental case, she has been calling for 2 months. What would be a solution to this other than changing his number? If he had the number blocked we figure she will just call from another number.
posted by sandyp to Society & Culture (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
It might seem a little extreme now, but I'd consider reporting it to the police. If blocking doesn't work and she keeps it up, then you have something for a restraining order.

He has told her to stop but she must be a mental case, she has been calling for 2 months.

Good chance she has some issues that need working out.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:59 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would do two things:

#1: answer one last time, and state very clearly that she needs to stop calling or he will get a restraining order.

#2: contact the friend and ask the friend to intervene as well, directly with her, since he was the one who gave the number in the first place. "You gave her my number, she won't stop calling me, you need to get her to stop or I'm getting a restraining order on her."
posted by davejay at 5:01 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Definitely contact the police (you don't have to call 911, you can call the non-emergency number or just go to the station). It's harassment, even if she's not threatening him. Where I live, making harassing telephone calls is a 2nd degree misdemeanor (up to 60 days in jail or a $500 fine).
posted by Gator at 5:08 PM on November 23, 2010


Definitely try blocking the number first. If your carrier doesn't do it, set it to a silent ring and delete voicemails without listening.

The Gift of Fear applies here, too. Answering after 50 calls teaches her that 50 calls is what it takes, and she'll keep doing it. Cut off contact completely.
posted by lhall at 5:08 PM on November 23, 2010 [13 favorites]


"If he had the number blocked we figure she will just call from another number."

Oh boy, do I hear that. This has come up a lot lately in AskMe, and I am wondering what the ultimate solution is, too.

In your case it might help to know what the nature of the voice mails are (is she threatening, for example?) Depending, maybe the police would be interested.

Nthing asigning her phone number a silent ring tone, this helped me immensely!

I strongly suggest having an attorney send her a threatening letter. The Good news here is that cell phone records are on your side.

Good luck.


Upon Preview, davejay has great advice.
posted by jbenben at 5:12 PM on November 23, 2010


Also, don't let the calls go to voicemail - press answer then hang up right away (flip phone, open and shut). That way she can't leave messages (at least when he's with his phone).
posted by Pax at 5:13 PM on November 23, 2010


"assigning"
posted by jbenben at 5:13 PM on November 23, 2010


Actually, Pax, there's no better evidence for stalking than a bunch of timestamped, desperate voicemails.
posted by griphus at 5:14 PM on November 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


I still think blocking her might be pretty effective. If she calls back from another number, answer and as soon as you confirm it's her, immediately hang up and block her again. If she calls back from yet another number, get a restraining order, because that's just crazy.
posted by zug at 5:20 PM on November 23, 2010


Griphus makes a great point. It's a good idea to document everything she's doing, even if you don't think right now that you'll need a restraining order.
posted by lhall at 5:22 PM on November 23, 2010


I would contact the cell company to report the problem. Perhaps they can help.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:32 PM on November 23, 2010


Unfortunately, there is someone in my life that calls me repeatedly as well. Short of getting a restraining order, I do recommend paying a little extra each month for a blocking service. Verizon has "parental controls" for $4.99 a month. You can add many numbers (I forget what the upper limit is but it might be around 20 numbers that can be blocked). My special caller tried maybe 5 numbers before it stopped. Of course, your friend's ex might be more persistent. I lifted the blocking service to save money after about a year. I thought "Surely, he's given up by now." Sadly, he called within a few days - I guess he never stopped trying. I quickly signed up for the blocking service again - a solid use of five bucks for sure.
posted by pinetree at 6:01 PM on November 23, 2010


Best answer: A simple and easy solution would be to sign up for YouMail.

There is a free version but the pro one is only $20/year. Here is how it will help you. With a few simple steps you can change your voicemail from your carrier to youmail [without affecting your number].

With youmail, you can set an individual greeting for each person (or group of people). You can also set calls from specific callers to hang up right after playing the greeting without going to voicemail. There are also dozens of community greetings that you can use.

So I once dated a woman who didn't like the breakup and started calling me over a dozen times each day. I set her getting to the default verizon disconnected number greeting and set it to hang up right away. She gave up calling me.

Sometimes sales people bother me [god knows how they get my cell phone]. For those fuckers I set the old AT&T greeting "please deposit 5 cents to continue".
posted by special-k at 6:03 PM on November 23, 2010 [29 favorites]


her getting

* her greeting.
posted by special-k at 6:08 PM on November 23, 2010


#1: answer one last time, and state very clearly that she needs to stop calling or he will get a restraining order.
Bear in mind that this may have the opposite effect of just teaching her it takes X calls to get a response.
#2: contact the friend and ask the friend to intervene as well, directly with her, since he was the one who gave the number in the first place. "You gave her my number, she won't stop calling me, you need to get her to stop or I'm getting a restraining order on her."
and this runs the risk of humiliating her, which may result in lashing out.

The professional advice for dealing with people like this (e.g. that given in The Gift of Fear) is to redirect the attempts at contact to a professional or a trusted friend who is not a drama addict, who can check the calls for anything worrying and archive them for posterity, but will offer no response and will not pass any of the messages on to you.
posted by caek at 6:09 PM on November 23, 2010


Keep in mind that you can use Google Voice with your existing number, so you can do some of the things special-k suggested without having to pay $20/year.
posted by grouse at 6:35 PM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Get the restraining order. It won't do any good in the short term, but it establishes a paper trail and history if she does something More Drastic in the future.
posted by ErikaB at 7:56 PM on November 23, 2010


Re: paper trails, you can also file a non-emergency police report.
posted by lhall at 9:56 PM on November 23, 2010


Reporting it to the phone company might work. Record the hysterical messages in case you ever need to play them to the police.

Blocking her number would get the point across, but if she really is that desperate to get in touch with him, it will just amplify the problem.

Indirect action seems to be the key here so far. So far she hasn't posed a problem; she is simply an annoyance. Surely she knows he's married, but you could pick up his phone a few times. Don't lose your temper. Just tell her that he's not there right now, and you've noticed her calling a lot and that it seems peculiar.

You will probably be able to gauge the level of trouble she is going to cause by doing this.
posted by CorduroyCorset at 10:28 PM on November 23, 2010


Had something similar to this. Thought a little while, tried both the service provider and police. Nothing there.

In a pragmatic fit, I changed my number and let my contacts know. A few business issues, but, that was it.

Also, Corduroy has the right idea. Gauge the situation.
posted by converge at 4:14 AM on November 24, 2010


He needs to give her one clear warning that her calls are not welcome, that she needs to stop, and that if she does not he will be taking legal measures to restrain her.

He should be able to block specific numbers too, I'd hope.
posted by Decani at 5:41 AM on November 24, 2010


Your boyfriend is being stalked / harassed. There are lots of threads on here on the topic and how to respond.

If he has her address, he should write her a very formal letter saying that he does not want to contact her and will not be talking to her again, ever. The letter should say that if he receives one more call from her, he will file for a restraining order and make a compliant with the police for stalking.

And if he receives one more call from her, he should do it. If he does not have her address and cannot get it easily, the same can be said over a curt phone call that is not a conversation, but rather an explanation.

Guys have it rougher with harassment and stalking by exes, but that's what this is.
posted by motsque at 7:02 AM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


*Husband, sorry.
posted by motsque at 7:02 AM on November 24, 2010


Asking her to not call, or saying "we figure she will just call from another number" sounds like spinning your wheels.

If it was businesses harrassing you with advertisements, I can say from experience that if you ask them to stop, they will all keep calling you. The more you ask them to stop, the more they'll keep calling, and they will pass your number around.

So I would just block the number and be done. If she gets five different phone numbers, then block her each time. When your level of tolerance for that is exceeded, then change your phone number. If she finds that one, then block the number again.
posted by johnlvs2run at 9:33 AM on November 26, 2010


Response by poster: Verizon does have the option to block 5 numbers for 90 days with the option to redo at that time. But upon discussing with my husband he liked the YouMail idea and we "ditched" her number with a message that said his number had been disconnected. YouMail has hundreds of voicemail message you can customize for all you contacts that is pretty cool too. Thanks for all the helpful advice! Hopefully this will be the end of our problem, if not we will have to get the restraining order.
posted by sandyp at 6:33 PM on November 26, 2010


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