General Question

nikipedia's avatar

What's the best response to creepy late-night phone calls?

Asked by nikipedia (27300 points ) August 1st, 2009

Suppose you are a young woman living alone in a very safe neighborhood in a city that has been repeatedly deemed the “Safest City in America.” Safety has never been a concern for you, and it is a running joke with your friends that you can break into your apartment in less than thirty seconds.

Late one night, starting around 1:00am, you are awoken by a restricted number calling your phone. Concerned, you answer. The person on the other line makes some creepy-sounding whispers, but you can’t make anything out. You repeatedly ask the person to speak up and when s/he doesn’t, you hang up. The phone calls continue over and over again until you turn off your phone.

What is a reasonable amount of precaution to take before going back to sleep? Would you forget about it and do nothing? Call a friend, call the cops, leave your house? Remember, it is now well after 1:00am…but your house is very easy to get into…

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30 Answers

tullbejm's avatar

Buy a dead-bolt for you door. Then get a program called “true caller.” it allows you to bypass the restricted number and see who is calling (supposedly).

ctferrarajr's avatar

I would call the cops, my friends and stay put

teh_kvlt_liberal's avatar

This reminds me of the movie Black Christmas. If I were you, I’d change the number or call the cops

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I would not answer the phone at night unless you recognize the number.

LexWordsmith's avatar

Call two or more friends to come to your place together. Call the police (not 911) and ask for advice. Do NOT leave the apartment. Barricade the door, window, whatever, as well as you can until someone is outside the door whose voice you recognize and whom you trust. That’s for now.

For the future, get an answering machine and caller ID and screen ALL calls. Never answer until you recognize the number or the voice.

tramnineteen's avatar

I wouldn’t change your number. While the odds would seem slim there is a chance this is some kind of mistake coupled with some reason for the voice.

WAY more likely is teens prank calling you. Tell your friends, maybe have one spend the night. You can call the cops if you want to.

LexWordsmith's avatar

i thought that the Asker wanted to know what was the best thing to do at that very moment. Some Answerers apparently understood the question differently.

For the future, @nikipedia, i wouldn’t change my number unless it makes you feel more comfortable to do that—in my opinion, modern technology obviates the need for that.

LexWordsmith's avatar

Yes, the deadbolt and other physical security measures are also a good idea for the future. Again, see what the police advise.

Facade's avatar

Don’t answer the call

SuperMouse's avatar

I like the deadbolt idea. A month or so ago I got a creepy call in the middle of the night, I didn’t answer and it went to voicemail. The caller left a creepy message, so avoiding the call didn’t solve the problem, it just freaked me out more. That evening I got a baseball bat and put it beside the bed, it has been there ever since. If the calls had continued I would have contacted the police and changed my phone number. Usually the company will change the number for free if you are getting crank calls.

galileogirl's avatar

You can put a block on all restricted numbers if you think it is just pranking Some people do that to stop phone sales callers. Then the caller will either enter the code and show the number or move on to another victim. If you are freaked out and the calls are really menacing, record and report, The phone company can trace them and terroristic threats or obscenity can result in anything from probation and loss of phone access to a felony conviction and a civil suit for harrassment.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Don’t answer your phone because it let’s the person know you’re home.

Close and lock all your windows at night and take reasonable precautions for your own safety.

Call the police if the calls continue. Save any voicemail the person leaves.

filmfann's avatar

Use the call blocking feature, block restricted numbers, or blow a whistle into the phone.

FrogOnFire's avatar

Solution: The Back-Up

But seriously (if you don’t consider that a serious solution or don’t own a shotgun), for now, lock and block your doors and forget about it, but if the calls continue again, I would certainly recommend a call to your local police (not 911, though, because its not an emergency).

galileogirl's avatar

In most cases it is better to be proactive than reactive.

filmfann's avatar

In all cases, it is better to be proactive than radioactive.

Quagmire's avatar

First of all, you should stop joking about how easy it is to get into your apartment, even with your friends. Make your apartment NOT easy to get into. Secondly, DO get an answering machine and screen the calls. If you get another call like that, DO change the number.

It IS probably just a crank, or an idiot friend playing a stupid joke. Call the phone company and alert them. They can probably trace the call.

kyle94481's avatar

Get a gun and learn to shoot

Dog's avatar

Keep a diary of each call date and time.

We had this happen with my teenage daughter.
I called the phone company and they were very understanding. For no charge they allowed her to change her number to an UNLISTED one. After this I only allowed her to give out her number to a certain number of people.

The important thing about changing the number to an unlisted is that it will define whether or not the caller finding you was random or whether you KNOW them.
If the calls continue on the new number then you can not only assume that you know them but also that they know where you live and I would contact the police and take further steps to ensure that your apartment is secured.

galileogirl's avatar

Many years ago I started to get strange calls. At first a lot of wrong numbers and hangups on the answering machine. One day I was home and a call came from a woman threatening suicide and there was no caller ID and she sounded so serious I stayed on the phone until she seemed to calm down and she agreed to go to a neighbor, Still more hangups, up to 10 a day on my machine, One day I came home to a threatening message claiming I was following this guy and he knew where I was and if I didn;t stop he was going to kill me. Now that really freaked me out because the guy really sounded strange, not like a prank call at all. I took the message tape to the police but they didn’t seem to take it seriously. The next time I was home when there was a wrong number I asked where were they calling. It was the local psychiatric center which has the same name as I do. There had never been a problem before but that year they dropped the hospital’s phone number and referred to UCSF, (OK that identifies me to locals) If somebody was trying to reach the nuthouse, the first number they came to was mine.

Flo_Nightengale's avatar

Pick up the phone, say hello, and when they speak, press one of the telephone buttons and say,“This is the call I want traced.” I speak from experience. Never got the call again and it saved changing the phone number.

LexWordsmith's avatar

i’m kind of wary of all the suggestions that you should ever pick up the phone when you don’t know who it is. if it’s a pranker or a creep, you’re just rewarding them by doing that. if you really do want to pretend that you are having calls traced, get in touch with the phone company and see what their procedures actually sound like to a caller.

Quagmire's avatar

Is there a way you can forward the call automatically to a MALE friend? The caller needs to hear a MALE answer the phone.

FrogOnFire's avatar

@Quagmire Maybe she should get the most muscular, deep-voiced male friend she has and have him stay over one night. As soon as the creepy call comes, he answers and gives some scary (but not too threatening) response.

Quagmire's avatar

Unless the caller can see through the phone, “muscular” wouldn’t really be necessary. And who knows WHEN the call comes again. What’s her poor male friend to do? Stay over indefinitely?

There are ways to call forward to a male friend or relative willing to help.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Here’s an article on tracing cell phone calls.

LexWordsmith's avatar

Have a gruff male record your short answering machine message?:
“You’ve reached 555–555-5555. Please leave a message.”
Your friends/relatives will know to start talking, and then you will pick up.
Legit callers will state their business, and then you can decide whether to pick up.

nzigler's avatar

If they threatened you: call the cops. Keep of record of when they call, etc.

If they are just dumb creeps, unplug your phone at night.

If it persists, the police should help and/or you can get an alarm system or take other measures if it freaks you out. I assert that anyone wanting to harm you wouldn’t call you in the middle of the night though… They want to scare you- try not to give them the satisfaction. The police could trace the calls (unless the callers are very adept) and will help if you have a legitimate threat on your hands.

LexWordsmith's avatar

i don’t agree with unplugging your phone. That amounts to passively circumscribing your life rather than actively dealing with the annoyance—doing the latter will be better for your self-esteem and will avoid a decline into “learned helplessness” (q.v.).

juniart's avatar

Hey, I’m facing the same situation as you. Some creep somehow got my number a few months ago and constantly called me. He sounded like he was jacking off (thats what the whispers were probably…to you). I warned him I’d call the cops and he stopped calling me.

Then…recently (this morning), I got another call…called 5 times at least before I answered!
He asked me, “Can I let you listen to me while I’m in the shower?”
I said, “No.”
He asked why and I told him he was a creep and hung up.

Now, I was told not to call the cops…can I now?? I’m betting its the same guy…he sounds exactly the same. I’m paranoid….

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