Anonymous threatening voice mails
April 13, 2016 7:38 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine is receiving anonymous threatening voicemails from a blocked number. The caller knows her name and address. She immediately called the police; they basically brushed it off and said she could give them her info if she came into the office. She doesn't know what to do.

The number has called multiple times and left voicemails with death and rape threats.

Is there anything my friend can do? Is there anything I can do for my friend? It seems so inadequate to just, you know, give the police your info and hope the threat isn't serious. She is already documenting everything and saving the voice mails. She called 911 and a police officer is at the house with her right now.

(Surprisingly, I haven't seen other questions like this, and I know it happens often. Forgive me if it's a repeat that I just missed)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The police should be able to find out what number is actually making the calls by getting records from the phone company. She should strongly push for them to do that. If it's not a burner cell phone, at least it might give her some information on where the threats are coming from.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:51 AM on April 13, 2016 [8 favorites]

Back when we all had landlines, you could hang up on a harassing call and then immediately dial *57. The calling number (even if blocked) would be recorded and then it's easier for the police to get the source.

I don't know if this works on mobile lines. What kind of service does your friend have?
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:55 AM on April 13, 2016

Call the phone service provider- they will have a protocol for dealing with legal/threatening phone calls. Each service provider has a different policy, but most will be able to provide you with the number (and possibly the name) of the caller. You can then bring this information to law enforcement.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:59 AM on April 13, 2016 [8 favorites]

This exact thing happened to me once; in my case the police took it a lot more seriously and I'm surprised the police are brushing it off in her case.

If she can make a copy of the messages and have the officer with her now take it with him, then get her case assigned to someone in the SVU, that can help.

But be advised that it still may take them some time. My case was picked up right away by a detective in the Brooklyn SVU (and I swear to god the guy was the real-life incarnation of Elliot Stabler), but it still took him a couple months to get the exact phone records. In the meantime, he gave me some safety tips, and gave me his cell number in case the guy who called me (he only called me once) ever called again.

But also, knowing that my case was being taken care of really helped, because there was something I could do if he called again, even if it was just calling the detective and saying "hey take care of this". that was very soothing. So if she can get assigned to a decent detective, that will help tremendously. I would suggest pressing the cop with her now to get this assigned to a detective, and since she's had repeated calls, that may not take that much convincing to get him to do that, fortunately. Especially if he made threats of violence - in some states that's a felony.

If you want to memail me and discuss further, feel free.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:00 AM on April 13, 2016 [7 favorites]

Call the Annoyance Call Bureau at the phone provider, they can do a number of things, trace calls, block calls and change the phone number.

If she feels unsafe where she is, she may want to move, or stay with friends temporarily.

You say the police are at her home now, presumably taking a report and advising her on what to do. Follow that advice.

She's documenting, she's reporting and she's doing everything right. Once she has a police report the phone company can do a LOT to help.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:03 AM on April 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

Pursue all avenues the Police provide.
Consider hiring a private investigator to investigate the case and to provide personal security advice.
posted by calgirl at 8:24 AM on April 13, 2016

If it were me, after I reported it to the police, I would look into various self defense courses as well as take a gun safety class and apply for a permit. (I have had an internet stalker, and the police actually called someone in the gun permit department of the state and I got mine in half the time (6 mos instead of a year.)
posted by AugustWest at 10:18 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I never answer a call from a blocked number, is that possible for her? If she lets it go to voicemail, she will have a recording of the threats, and can take it to the police. And raise bloody hell until she finds someone who will help her.
posted by raisingsand at 11:02 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ugh. I've been in a similar situation. I wouldn't do anything with the phone company until the police advise what to do (e.g., if she changes her number, that might not give the police the opportunity to research and catch the creep.) The police will hopefully be of some use and should definitely take a report and assign a detective to call in case of escalation-- if they don't she can keep calling and wear them out.

For the time being I would:
- lock down social media, even taking a break in case it was someone who is already trusted on social media, and not mention my whereabouts on social media

-make sure my doors and windows are secure on car and home

-be cognizant of my surroundings and how to exit quickly

-change up some of my routines so that I'm not always at x gym at x time, etc

-warn HR or my manager at work to not let anyone unauthorized in, but otherwise keep pretty mum. Obviously, safe friends like you can be informed, but no blabbing in case it's someone who enjoys watching the fuss

-routinely check in with said safe friends so that someone I trust knows where I am

-have my phone on me at all times

-not answer unknown calls or knocks at the door

-not be alone with anyone suddenly new in my life or someone not new but newly acting hinky

-read the Gift of Fear and feel empowered by the knowledge that my gut will guide me and most of these cases fizzle out without escalation

-use the buddy system as much as possible
posted by kapers at 11:10 AM on April 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

To add on to kapers very excellent and sound suggestions:

Your friend may want to consider installing an alarm system, especially since this person knows her address. Wait and see what the police have to say, but if it looks like tracking the phone number isn't getting them much of anywhere, I would probably do this if it is logistically and financially feasible. I'm pretty sure if you search you can also find other askmefi questions about ways to secure your home.

In addition, she could also look into setting up security cameras around her home. It could be one way to check out if there is anyone observing the house at various points in the day, for example.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:32 AM on April 13, 2016

A couple of general home security ask mefis: one two three


Can you recommend a home security alarm

Help me find an affordable alarm system

Talk to me about home security cameras

I'm sure you can find more. I just did a general search for "home security" to find this info.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:39 AM on April 13, 2016

You may find help at, which was set up to counter online harassment.
posted by Gor-ella at 12:13 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

She might want to change her number, either to Google Voice or via her phone company. (If the police are actually at her house, I don't think they're brushing her off. )
posted by Ideefixe at 1:52 PM on April 13, 2016

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