How do I stop a prank caller
September 5, 2005 5:59 PM   Subscribe

How do I locate the Identity of a nuisance phone caller and make him stop calling.

Every evening at about 8:30 9pm EST, I begin to receive calls from the same number. In one night, I calculated a cumulative number of calls at 1 at every 41/2 seconds. I finnaly called the number myself - hiding my caller ID - to see who was calling and all I got was an unitellagible VM message.

The calls typically end before they go to my VM. Only once has the caller left a VM - he just wanted to say hi. The voice on the caller's VM and the voice left on my VM are the same - male, 20ish, garbled.

The number is in-state - NH, 603 - and all attempts to find the caller's identity have failed. Reverse directory searches and web searches have yelded no returns. I should mention that my only phone is a Cingular cell line and I am extreamly shy about giving out any personal information; ever. I am assuming that the caller is using a cell because I can't find any public record of the number.

So . . . How do I locate the caller (or shouuld I) and who do I talk to to have this taken care of?
posted by johnj to Technology (13 answers total)
Can't you just block the number?
posted by amarynth at 6:10 PM on September 5, 2005

Please search the archives before posting a new question- a couple days ago, a very similar question was asked.
posted by elisabeth r at 6:13 PM on September 5, 2005

elisabeth r, this doesn't sound like a fax line, so that previous thread won't be very helpful. I'm with amarynth, does Cingular let you block numbers?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:32 PM on September 5, 2005

Best answer: Call the phone company first, and see if they can block the number.

If they can't or won't do anything about it (highly doubtful), file a police report. Police departments these days typically have a form you can fill out and mail in. Either you can pick it up off the web, or call in to the front desk and describe the issue. Once you have a police report, and the incidents still take place, you can then take that as some leverage to the phone company, if they won't act voluntarily.

Finally, if nothing works, you may want to simply consider changing your phone number. You mention that you're shy about giving out your information, so I'm assuming that the only people that have your information are family, friends, and bill collectors.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:05 PM on September 5, 2005

I've had friends call up the mobile number and ask for numbers to get blocked by their providers. If I remember correctly, you have to have some sort of reason -- which you obviously do.

So you've never actually talked to him? That's weird, as prank calls feed off people answering and being annoyed. Perhaps he's deranged. I'm sure with the number someone here could find out more about him.
posted by geoff. at 7:05 PM on September 5, 2005

elisabeth r, this is a cell phone he's having trouble with, not a land line.

Unfortunately, I had this very issue with my Cingular cell phone in December, and I had to change my phone number. It cost around $35, but it was instantaneous and I haven't had trouble since.

Sometimes the cellular providers reuse disconnected numbers too soon, and you get wrong numbers meant for the last person to hold your number. Of course, if you're threatened by this caller you should call the police and let them investigate it.

I wish I had better news, but unless you're concerned about your safety, you're going to have to change your phone number.
posted by lambchop1 at 7:05 PM on September 5, 2005

Have you ever answered the call? If the guy is tracking someone in particular (an ex, say), maybe he'll stop upon learning that he's got the wrong number. Does your outgoing VM message reveal anything about you? If it doesn't, and you don't want to answer his call, you might at least make it say, "Hi, you've reached John," so that if he's looking for Dave or Sue, he knows he's calling the wrong number.

Have you googled and reverse-looked-up your own number to make sure it's not listed anywhere? It's a long shot, but maybe someone has you down as a dealer or an exclusive club or a pimp or something. [On preview, lambchop's "recycled numbers" theory makes sense too.]
posted by xo at 7:14 PM on September 5, 2005

I went through a similar experience this past year, and I suspect that you are going to have a hard time trying to get the phone company or the police to intervene- whether to block this person's calls, or to find out who he is and why he's bothering you- without spending time and money. Most police departments aren't going to treat this as a priority case, and most service providers aren't inclined to help you unless they can charge you for it. Unless you think the person has reason to know your home address and you fear for your safety, I would follow xo's advice: answer the phone and confront the guy. Tell him you have filed a police report. Tell him that all of your calls are being traced. Tell him there's a monitoring device impanted in his right eye socket. Even if it's poppycock it should scare him off.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:04 PM on September 5, 2005

Response by poster: Excelent advice all round. I'll file a police report and query Cingulat. If all else fails (most likely), looks like I'm gettin a new number.

Thanks to all . . .
posted by johnj at 8:09 PM on September 5, 2005

T-Mobile will change your number for free if they have given you a number that inconveniences you. (They gave me a number that had been used by a movie theater for showtimes.) If they try to charge you anything, remind Cingular you could easily switch to T-Mo.
posted by kindall at 11:21 PM on September 5, 2005

Not sure this will help, but I just read this story (scroll to the bottom) today and it seems it may be related to your mummbling caller.

Kearney residents and businesses have been receiving these random phone calls by a caller that is having a hard time speaking English, and a hard time understanding that he has the wrong number. The caller called Perkins twice over the weekend and his employer, Crossroads Ford, received four calls.

The gibberish is nothing new to the Kearney Police Department as the caller seems to like the 308 area code, said police chief Dan Lynch. The calls do not seem to have criminal intent and cannot be part of a scam, because no one can understand the caller, Lynch said.

posted by geeky at 7:23 AM on September 6, 2005

I can block numbers on my cell phone, preventing it from ringing. I can't block them from leaving a messge though.

Call your provider and ask- they instructed me on how to do it, no questions asked.
posted by Four Flavors at 1:27 PM on September 6, 2005

Response by poster: Well Pumpkins, looks like after all your great advice it was changing my number that I eventually had to do. No charge, by the way, 'cause the guy was harassing me with constant calls. Cingular Rocks!

I will file a report with the poliece just in case this guy does this again to another person.

Thanks One and All
posted by johnj at 2:18 PM on September 6, 2005

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