Threatening/creepy Prank phone call. Do I do something about it?
February 5, 2014 4:46 PM   Subscribe

This morning at 8:50am I received a phone call and it went to voicemail. The voicemail is creepy. It says "You better watch out" in a whisper.

The call was received on my cell phone. The phone number that called it is within the same area code. I have tried to perform a reverse phone look up online. I can only find that it is a landline phone and the city it is from. This city is one that I have never lived in and is about 1hr30min drive away from me currently.

My question is, Do I do something about this? Such as call police to report them? Or maybe I can call the number back? I some how assume this must be a prank and some teenager who may have been off of school due to snow. I am not sure if there were snow days today.

Although, what if it is some crazy person and calling them will just cause me problems? My main goal would be to make sure I am safe, but I would also like to make sure the person knows that this is not cool and if a teenager make sure his parents know that he did this.
posted by Jaelma24 to Law & Government (13 answers total)
Save the voicemail, but don't bother doing anything about it unless something else happens.
posted by Etrigan at 4:50 PM on February 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

I would let it go as a prank or a wrong number/prank combo unless this pings some stalker issues that are already going on.

Like if you know someone in that city who could be "out to get you", or you've had a stalker in the past, or you do some public thing that could lead to being stalked, sure, call the police.

If it's just the one call, I would ignore unless it escalates.
posted by Sara C. at 4:52 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

This exact thing happened to my family member a few nights ago. Do you mind saying where you are? She called the cops and the phone company but neither one was able to tell her anything useful.
posted by HotToddy at 5:00 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Truly scary people confront. Unpowerful people lash out in creepy, anonymous ways like this.

That doesn't make it any less creepy for you, I realize. But even if this is a bona fide person with a bona fide beef, this is about as far down the threat totem pole as one can get. Evil people who'll cause you harm don't tend to go this route. So rest easily, and don't allow your mind to inflate it beyond what it is.

If there's ever a means of responding to this person (e.g. they reach you on the phone, or you find out who it is, etc), the thing to do is remain calm and ask, with genuine curiosity, how you've gone wrong in their eyes. And position yourself, emotionally, so even if it's something you have no intention of changing (e.g. you let your kid date with someone of a different race, or you have a political bumper sticker on your car), you'll be able to respond in a vague spirit of kindness rather than friction. You don't need to wince, frown, or argue back; it's possible to be kind with someone who has a wrong or even horrendous viewpoint. That's often what they needed in the first place. Remember the Grinch!
posted by Quisp Lover at 5:47 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you tried looking on for the number?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:51 PM on February 5, 2014

I would consider calling back, but be prepared to launch a nuclear weapon on their ass right from the start "who the fuck is this and why in fuck did you think do you think this is ok?" (I'm kind of bitchy that way.) even if you're talking to their parents - especially if you're talking to their parents. They need to know you're mad so they'll lay down the law to their kids. (If it was kids.) Don't be afraid, don't feel bad for dumping on them, no apologies. People need to know stuff like this is not cool.

If you don't do that then ignore it.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:28 PM on February 5, 2014

Can you block the number? That would be my first step.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:34 PM on February 5, 2014

This sounds like the sort of prank call that kids might make and it's hard to judge age from a voice when someone is whispering. I wouldn't worry about it unless something else happens.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:54 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I assume you tried googling the number itself and checked White Pages and all that? Don't only uses phone directories -- I've googled phone numbers and found old craigslists ads and stuff that identified who had the number.

If you did call back, I'd block your number and speak very rationally -- do not yell or swear -- "Hi, I received a threatening voicemail from this number and I'm wondering if it was a prank or what is going on?" Maybe it's a parent with kids and you could ask if whoever answers doesn't know what you're talking about. A land line increases the odds that it's a family phone in a house with kids. People who live alone or adult couples tend to just use their individual phones.

You can always ask the police about it and what they think is the correct response.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:20 PM on February 5, 2014

This would creep me the hell out but I agree with everyone else (and you) that this sounds a lot like a classic prank call, someone just punching in numbers in the phone randomly got you. If this happened to me I would probably try calling the number back from some other phone (a phone at work or a friends phone), make my info private (*67) and just say I had a missed call from this number and who is this? If it turns out to be parents of pranking kids, they might have already been alerted by other upset people and know just what you're talking about. If they are non-committal, I would ask if they are aware someone at their number has been leaving threatening messages on strangers phones.

Overall, my goal would be not to worry about it too much (but I'm a scaredy cat with an overactive imagination and I think calling would help ease my mind, but maybe this won't help you.)
posted by dahliachewswell at 10:33 PM on February 5, 2014

The callerid might have been spoofed. Dont call them back, they might be trying to get people to harrass that number.

If the message was generic and contained no personally identifying information about you I would ignore it.

If it did have personal information about you I would report it.
posted by TheAdamist at 4:01 AM on February 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you get another and you're pretty sure it's a prank, I offer you my solution that's stopped every repeat prank caller I've had: answer the phone and drone "State [federal/national/whatever] law requires me to tell you that I am recording this call and will be turning it over to the police." I've never had one stay on the line long enough to finish the sentence.

My mother, who taught middle school for decades and therefore was the recipient of many, many prank calls, found that it worked for her, too. You might end up with a caller who's got actual knowledge of recording laws and realizes that state law doesn't require you to tell them that--I live in a just-one-party-knows-it's-ok state--and that you're making it up, but if it's typical pranking, they probably don't, and won't take the chance on you.
posted by telophase at 3:03 PM on February 6, 2014

Thanks, for everyone's response. I think I may have traced the number to a charter school, but I could not confirm that with the school itself. I will keep the message just in case, but I have no stalker problems nor do I know anyone in that town. So I will just leave it alone unless anything else happens that would prompt action.
posted by Jaelma24 at 9:42 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

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