how to react to a creepy anonymous voice mail?
April 29, 2013 8:15 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to respond to a voicemail left from an unknown number that is very creepy, sexual, and potentially threatening?

Asking for my gf - she received a message last night from an unknown number that has us a little creeped out. It mentioned identifying things about her and had sexual content. The message was received at a time when she was obligated to turn off her phone - so perhaps the caller knew something about her schedule? The message was fairly garbled, which makes me wonder if it was not just a phone-to-phone call but from something else, or perhaps international?

We're a little skeeved about the whole thing - don't want to over-react, but we also want to be responsible and safe. The police said she could file a report but there isn't really anything they can do in the absence of a clear, direct threat.

Any suggestions? Have you ever dealt with such a thing?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
I think some phone companies offer the option of blocking specific numbers from calling you. Have you tried talking with your service provider?
posted by yoink at 8:21 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Though I don't know what this could be, on the off-chance that this phonecall is from someone who has potential to be stalker, here is advice from a woman who had to deal with stalking:
"I never should have engaged him, even for a single second. After four years of researching the stalking phenomenon, I now understand that any show of interest, however small, is enough to permanently position you at the center of a stalker's obsession. Simply talking to him, even to rebuke him, was a form of encouragement."
posted by Pwoink at 8:28 AM on April 29, 2013 [8 favorites]

File the report with the police. It's no biggie, and they'll have it on file in case this stuff escallates.

Then call the Annoyance Call Bureau for your telephone provider, they may be able to offer blocks and tracing.

Sometimes there's just random creepy stuff in the world.

When I worked at the phone company, we could offer blocks and Call Trace (#57 IIRC) but if it only happened once, chalk it up to a really fucked up drunk-dial incident and forget about it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:29 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Was it personally identifiable to your girlfriend, or the kind of general references that could apply to a lot of people. If the later, I would let it ride and see if it happens again. Could just be a drunken wrong number. If the former, in that there is no doubt that the call was intended for your girlfriend, go to the police.
posted by COD at 8:35 AM on April 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

Did you do a phone number search? Or was the number blocked?
posted by jbenben at 9:46 AM on April 29, 2013

I am not a lawyer, I am not a corrections officer, this is not legal advice.

I had a similar thing happen, only they got me in person and it was way more threatening. The detective told me to screen my calls, and not to pick up the phone if he tried to call again, and to let them know if the caller tried again. He didn't.

Some phone companies can track back the last incoming call to your phone if you give them a police case number, which could itself be a reason to file a report. But what the police say about not being able to do much themselves without a direct threat is indeed true in some states (the police I spoke with were blase until I mentioned that the jerk I talked to had threatened to "mutilate" me - then they got a LOT more attentive).

But a reassuring note - ultimately we figured out that the guy who was calling me was in North Carolina, and most likely had gotten my number from the old contact list for a play I'd worked on in 2004. I only heard from him the once, and was reasonably comfortable that he most likely would not be crossing 6 state lines just to look for me. It's very possible that the guy who's doing this just gets his jollies from saying scandalous things, and the only reason that he included all the personal details was to scare your girlfriend into going along with it. Sick, yeah, but not automatically violent. Stay alert, but the odds are in your favor for him staying clear.

Good luck. Memail me if you have any other concerns (If my own experience can help).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:20 AM on April 29, 2013

Does she have any prankster friends or an angry ex? That would be my frist thought. (easy to have your number come in as unavailable)

Does her voicemail say who they called? Or just her number? Because then it could have been someone with a wrong number also. Have her change it to just her first name or something in her voicemail message.

If you can't think of anyone you know who would do something like that, then follow other's advice to contact police.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:21 AM on April 29, 2013

Weird. Tell her to be careful, not go out alone in the dark, change her routes a bit (if she runs, or works somewhere-change shifts if possible), keep windows locked if she stays alone in a house after dark or even earlier. If she takes local transportation and walks home, be alert to who sits next to her or around her. Just being more alert and watching her neighborhood a bit would be good.
posted by pakora1 at 1:12 PM on April 29, 2013

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