For all the convenience that the telephone brings, many have experienced the aggravation and annoyance of harassing phone calls. The following are guidelines to reduce this type of nuisance:
- Do not admit to a stranger that you are alone. Also, instruct your children, when alone, to say that Mom or Dad is busy and to ask the caller to leave a message or call back.
- Consider having an unlisted telephone number. Avoid giving out your home phone number to strangers.
- If you are asked for your phone number on a check or credit card transaction, furnish a work phone number instead of your home number. Also, if your personal checks are imprinted with your home phone, request that this be removed when reordering a new supply.
- If you must be listed in the telephone directory, ask that your address and first name be removed. Your first initial and last name should be sufficient
- NEVER give out personal financial information or credit card numbers during unsolicited telephone calls from people you don't know.
- Don't fall for con artists who claim that you've won a prize and who ask for a credit card number for "proper identification". Tell such callers to notify you by mail of your good fortune.
- Some organizations and charities solicit for funds by telephone. If you are interested in supporting a particular cause described by a phone solicitor, ask them to send you additional details and pledge card by mail.
- Hang up immediately on obscene callers or strangers who ask questions regarding private matters. Many such callers are merely seeking an emotional response and will discontinue their harassment if you avoid a reaction of fear or anger
- Allow your answering machine to screen your calls. Tell your friends and relatives that you will pick up the phone when you hear them talking into the machine. Your outgoing message should not reveal your identity or that you are away. Change the recording or use the voice of a friend, if necessary.
- If you begin receiving repeated harassing or obscene phone calls, make note of the date and time of each incident and the characteristics of the call. Include details such as specific wording of the call, caller's voice, and background sounds. Avoid conversing with the caller or lingering on the phone, however.
- Chronic harassing phone calls should be reported to the police. Consider changing your phone number and carefully screening who you provide your new number to.