Annoying Phone Calls

Annoying or Obscene Phone Calls

Annoying, harassing, hang-up, or obscene telephone calls are becoming more and more commonplace today even with advanced technology in communications, such as:

  • Call Blocking *67
  • Call Trace *57
  • Caller ID with name
  • Line Blocking *82
  • Repeat Dialing *66
  • Return Dialing *69

Today, we’re able to trace a phone call back to the caller by pressing a couple of buttons on your telephone. This is an excellent tool for the homeowner and law enforcement to identify the caller.

These types of calls are evident in bad relationships, the breakup of a relationship, a disgruntled employee, unhappy customer, a neighbor and the like. The caller has a sole purpose to annoy or harass. There is a solution and these types of calls can be stopped.

Misdemeanor Status

In Massachusetts, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 269, Section 14A is the chapter and section that one can be charged with for annoying or obscene telephone calls. There are three elements to the law that must be met. The person repeatedly made telephone calls or caused telephone calls to be made (at least 3 calls) to the victim or the victim’s family, and the person’s language was indecent or obscene, or the person’s sole purpose was to harass or molest the victim or the victim’s family. Penalty: Misdemeanor.

Some Initial Steps to Take

Call Trace is an effective way of combating annoying, threatening and harassing phone calls. The only calls you should trace are those which are considered life threatening or harassing to the point at which you are willing to press criminal charges. Using the switching power of the Verizon network, you can accomplish on your own what used to require complicated intervention. Call Trace will trace a bothersome call, record your number and the number of the caller, then forward the information to the Verizon Unlawful Call Center.

You will not receive the telephone number of the person who called. This information will be retrieved and held by the Unlawful Call Center. This traced information will only be released to legally empowered authorities. You should make a note of the date and time of the call that you traced as a reference when you follow up with the Verizon Unlawful Call Center and the Boxborough Police Department.

Tracing Phone Calls

Verizon provides the following service that helps put an end to annoying and obscene phone calls by tracing the last incoming call. It provides essential information to authorities if an investigation is required. Please note that there is a fee for tracing phone calls. When you want to trace a phone call:

  1. Hang up then lift the receiver and listen for a dial tone.
  2. Press *57 or for rotary phone dial 1157.
  3. An announcement will tell you the call was traced and give you further instructions. You will not receive the number from Verizon. The results of a successful trace will only be provided to the police or other legal authorities.

Finding Out Who’s Making the Calls

How do I find out who’s making the phone calls? The Boxborough Police Department will investigate annoying phone calls within Boxborough only. If you’re getting these phone calls, it is requested that you call the Verizon Unlawful Call Center (UCC, formerly the Unlawful Call Bureau) and open up a case. The Unlawful Call Center will provide you with further instructions. The Phone Company will not provide the police with any information until you have opened a case with them, unless it is an extreme emergency.

Next, contact the Boxborough Police Department and speak to a police officer advising that you would like to file a complaint regarding annoying phone calls. After providing the officer with your information, obtain the Police Case Number. You may need this case number for the Phone Company.

If you have successfully traced three or more phone calls, you will be notified. When you’re notified by the phone company call the Boxborough Police, and give the officer the case number provided to you by the UCC. An officer will contact the UCC and they will provide the officer with the information on all calls traced. The information provided would be the telephone number, the address where the call was placed from, and the person’s name the phone number is listed to. The UCC will send the investigating police officer a report and the list of numbers traced.

Successful Follow-Up

The officer will contact you (victim/reporting party) and tell you the date and time of the call, the address where the call originates from, and who the phone number belongs to. If, after hearing the person’s name and address, further investigation is needed, the officer will assist you. Many times, once a parent or the reporting party hears the name and address, they wish to handle the problem themselves without police involvement. And this may be a better solution depending on the situation. Once you close a case with the UCC and the calls persist, you must call them again to open up another case.

Some Additional Notes

No conversation is necessary. It does not matter whether the person had a conversation with the victim, only that the person made the telephone calls or had them made. It must be proved that the person’s only purpose was to annoy, harass or molest, unless the person used obscene language. If a person makes repeated telephone calls in a short period of time, or in the middle of the night, and hangs up when someone answers the phone, it is reasonable to infer that the calls were made for the purpose of harassment. Call 800-518-5507 or contact your local phone company for the Verizon Unlawful Call Center office in your area at 1-877-872-2348 (1-877-TRACE4U).