How to Report Harassing Phone Calls—Fight Back Against Annoying Telemarketers With DoNotPay!
Harassing or pranking phone calls are a great invasion of your privacy, and they pose a threat to the sense of security. According to Statista, the number of spam calls in America has skyrocketed to a whopping 32 phone calls per month in 2019.
If they bug you while you are at work, wake you up when you are asleep, or interrupt every quiet moment when you are trying to relax, it’s high time you did something about it. Let’s see how you can fight back against the harassing and persistent phone calls.
What Makes a Phone Call Harassing
Receiving a phone call and hearing threatening or obscene language on the other side falls under harassment. Harassment can come in different forms through—email, cyberstalking, text messages, social platforms, or harassment over a mobile phone.
Mobile harassment refers to any type of call placing that causes the receiver to feel embarrassed, threatened, tormented, or victimized.
The Federal Communications Act aims at protecting citizens from telephone harassment and constitutes legal solutions and enforcement mechanisms.
Even though it is sometimes difficult to know if someone is harassing you, you can identify some signs if you pay attention. The phone call is considered illegal if a person uses it to harass you by:
- Trying to annoy you
- Making vulgar and obscene comments
- Attempting to steal your sensitive information
- Trying to intimidate you by breathing heavily or being quiet
- Pretending to be someone they are not
- Calling you incessantly
- Hiding their identity during the call
The Federal Communications Act requires harassers to pay serious monetary fines. If they make an illegal phone call, they can also be faced with imprisonment.
What Can Be Considered Harassment?
Harassing behaviors is any behavior that you did not initiate and you find:
Most people equate harassment with sexual harassment, but it can come in many other forms, such as physical, digital, or verbal harassment.
How Can You Handle Harassing Phone Calls?
If you receive a harassing phone call—don’t panic. Here’s what you should do if you find yourself ear-to-ear with the harasser.
- Hang up the phone. If you hear threats or improper questions on the other side of the phone, don’t engage in conversation
- Do not play detective. Avoid messing with the harassers only to reveal their identity. Extending the call is what the caller wants
- Report harassing phone calls. If you start receiving annoying and obscene phone calls, it’s vital that you report them. Annoying and repeated calls from salespeople that usually come at inappropriate times, especially without your permission, also fall under harassing phone calls
Different Types of Phone Harassment
Based on the circumstances of the call, we can distinguish three types of phone harassment:
- Robocalls & spam calls
- Obscene or threatening phone calls
- Blocked or No Caller ID harassment calls
Robocalls & Spam Calls
A call is defined as a robocall if an organization or an agency uses an autodialer to reach their potential customers. This is one of the most popular methods employed by telemarketers.
Many telemarketers, who don’t use an autodialer but real humans to reach consumers, also make countless spam calls that are so pervasive that they are also harassing.
Robocall scams are another pressing concern—they pose a great threat to the safety of U.S. citizens. Even though most people are able to recognize robocalls, three to five percent of targets still pick up the phone and press a key to get more info.
Fraudsters will bend over backward to gain your trust. In most cases, they will pretend to represent the IRS, your bank, or a legitimate telemarketer, only to get a hold of your personal and financial data and try to cheat you out of your money.
The new feature of our DoNotPay app can help you fight against the robocalls. All you have to do is make a free virtual credit card, and we will provide you with all the information you need to take the law-breaker to court. Our feature—Robo Revenge—is here to help you catch the scammer in the act!
Obscene or Threatening Phone Calls
These types of calls mostly come from people from your surroundings—someone whom you met at some point in your life. Whether they come from people you know or from strangers, these calls are considered a criminal offense.
Some phone calls can be received from harassers who are intentionally being quiet, only to scare you.
The targets are usually threatened, called names, exposed to rude language, or blackmailed. These calls are usually repeated, and the caller will keep placing them until the victim picks up!
Blocked or No Caller ID Harassment Calls
When harassers don’t want to reveal their identity, they usually place Blocked or No Caller ID phone calls, which hide the incoming caller ID number. Placing a blocked call is super easy—what you need to do is dial *67 before the phone number you want to call. iPhone users are able to do it automatically by changing their device settings.
You can also receive spoofed robocalls, where scammers use advanced technology to mask or hide their numbers.
Where to Report Harassing Phone Calls
You can address your problem with the harassing phone calls to several places, but it can take some time until you find the best option. Here’s what you can do:
- Report harassing phone calls from telemarketers to the FTC
- Report harassing calls to the police
- Apply for a restraining order
- Report the harassing phone number to your telephone company
Report Harassing Phone Calls From Telemarketers to the FTC
You can add your landline and cell phone number for free to the National Do Not Call Registry that’s run by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you continue to receive harassing phone calls from telemarketers after your number is on the registry for 31 days, report unwanted sales calls to the FTC.
How to Report Harassing Calls to the Police
The police can usually check if the persistent caller has a criminal record. For this reason, you should note down everything you hear and help them carry out a detailed investigation. Here’s what the police can be interested in:
- Do you recognize the voice you hear on the other end
- Do you hear a male or a female voice
- How many calls do you receive per day
- Are you being subjected to any form of harassment besides unwanted phone calls
- What are the exact time and dates of the calls
- What was the content of the calls—does the call include threats to intimidate, steal, kidnap, or injure (unless they did not say anything)
- Does the harasser insist on calling even if you asked them not to
If the harasser is not calling from a spoofed number, the police can reveal their identity and track them down.
To report the harasser to the police, you need to gather evidence, prove that you have been victimized, and provide evidence that you received harassing, unsolicited, and illegal phone calls.
How to Apply for a Restraining Order
You need to apply for a restraining order in the justice court for the township where the harassment happened.
If you have some evidence to support your application, you should put it together for your hearing. Here’s what you can prepare:
- Phone call transcripts by the adverse party
- Exact time and date when the harassment happened
- Any other documentation that can be valid for the hearing
Court papers are usually sent to the adverse party by the sheriff's office. Keep in mind that you will be asked to pay a fee for the service.
How to Report a Harassing Phone Number to Your Telephone Company
Sometimes you can find a simple solution with your telephone companies. Any harassment that takes place through phone calls should be reported to them.
Service providers have harassment policies that protect their users from unsolicited and threatening phone calls.
You can use the provider’s call protection that can stop unwanted calls, as well as advanced caller ID services.
How Can I Stop Harassing Phone Calls?
If you want to try to stop the harassing phone calls yourself instead of reporting them first, there are a variety of ways in which you can do it. Depending on the circumstances, you can:
- Put your number in the Do Not Call registry
- Use your phone’s in-built features
- Use your provider’s call protection
Put Your Number in the Do Not Call Registry
You can fight against the annoying telemarketing calls by putting your number in the National Do Not Call Registry, which is operated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can register online on FTC’s website.
If you still keep getting these calls, check if a number is on the Do Not Call list to verify if you have completed the process successfully. You can do it in three ways:
- Dial 1-888-382-1222
- Verify your registration online
- TeleTypewriter 1-866-290-4236
Remember that even if your phone number is in the database, some agencies are legally permitted to contact you. Some of them are:
- Political parties
- Institutions that have your permission to call
- The IRS
You can find all the exceptions here.
Harassers usually do not care if your phone is in the database. Exes or telemarketers blatantly and deliberately break the law with the sole purpose of reaching you, no matter what. In these situations, putting your number in the Do Not Call Registry simply does not suffice, and you need to use other methods to keep these callers at bay.
Use Your Phone’s In-Built Features to Stop Telemarketer Harassment
One of your best defenses is to use call blocking options. Which type of call-blocking technology you need depends on which phone you are using—a traditional landline, a mobile, or a home phone that places calls over the internet (VoIP). VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, which means that your phone makes calls over the internet and not over phone lines.
Most of the Android and iPhone phones offer an option to block the calls immediately before they reach you. This means that you will not receive the blocked call at all—it will go straight to your voicemail.
Here are guidelines for blocking all unwanted calls on Android devices:
- Go to the Phone app
- Click on Settings
- Find the option Blocked Numbers
- Enable Block Unidentified Numbers switch
Here are guidelines for silencing unknown calls on iPhone devices:
- Open Settings
- Tap on Phone
- Enable the Silence Unknown Callers switch
Download Call-Blocking Apps on Your Phone to Stop Telemarketing Harassment
Apart from using your phone’s in-built features, you can also install call-blocking apps on your device. Call-blocking apps work like a filter on your phone. They can help you:
- Block numbers based on geographic area
- Transfer the unknown call to your voicemail
- Block all unwanted robocalls
Use Your Provider’s Call Protection
If you wish to reduce the number of unwanted calls, check which blocking services your phone company offers. In the table below, you will find each of the big phone carriers, along with the protective features they have provided for their customers.
Robocall Blocking Service
|Verizon offers The Call Filter app that helps you stop unwanted calls, and the great news is that you can use it for free! It is available for Android and iOS phones. Call Filter Plus goes for $2.99 a month, and it offers additional services such as a personal blocklist or a spam risk meter.|
|AT&T provides its users with the Call Protect app, which helps in reducing the number of spam calls. It is free for Android and iOS smartphones. The premium version is available for $3.99 a month, and it provides advanced caller ID services as well as reverse number lookups.|
|T-mobile uses advanced technology to inspect the calls and display them as “spam likely.” You can use the Spam Block service by logging into the account or by dialing #662# on your phones.|
Rely on DoNotPay to Protect You From Harassing Phone Calls
If you are struggling to put an end to harassing phone calls, you can turn to DoNotPay for help!
Our app offers a simple and elegant solution to keep phone harassers at bay and finally get the peace you deserve. DoNotPay will help you handle the issue in just a few steps. Here’s what you should do:
- Log in to your DoNotPay account via the web browser
- Opt for Relationship Protection section
- Click on Safety and Stalking
- Describe the situation to our chatbot and give the name of the harasser (if you know it)
- Wait for DoNotPay to generate a cease and desist letter that you can send to the harasser to demand them to stop with the harassing phone calls at once
This letter can be strong evidence in court—it proves that you have tried to resolve the issue prior to taking it to court or filing for a restraining order.
If the harasser decides to stalk you on social media, our app will be there to help you out too! DoNotPay can directly report the harasser to social media representatives, and their account will go under investigation.
DoNotPay Protects Your Privacy and Finances
Sharing your credit card details online comes with certain risks, and it’s getting more difficult to tell good and bad websites apart. With DoNotPay’s virtual credit card generator, you will be able to protect your identity and bank account from cyber scammers.
Whenever you run into a suspicious email or website, generate a virtual credit card and proceed without worries. Our virtual cards also work like a charm if you want to avoid automatic payments after free trials.
Apart From Dealing With Harassing Phone Calls, Here’s What DoNotPay Can Also Do for You
DoNotPay can help you with all types of harassment—online harassment, harassing text messages, or when you simply don’t know how to stop a stalker. But that’s not everything we have to offer. If you access DoNotPay from your browser, you will find lots of useful features. Once you log in, you can choose from a wide range of services:
- Suing anyone in small claims court
- Disputing traffic tickets
- Getting help with paying your bills
- Handling with credit card problems
- Learning how to keep yourself protected from stalking and harassment
- Contacting customer support faster than ever by jumping the long phone queues
- Dealing with airlines
- Disputing parking tickets
- Fighting speeding tickets
- Getting even with robocalls
- Scheduling a DMV appointment in any state
- Monitoring and canceling subscriptions or memberships