Harassing Phone Calls
Obscene or harassing phone calls can be one of the most stressful and frightening invasions of privacy a person experiences.
In Florida, it is against the law to make a telephone call to a location where the person receiving the call has an expectation of privacy and where the caller makes any obscene comment, does not disclose his/her identity, or repeatedly calls, whether or not there is any conversation, with the sole purpose to harass the receiver. This crime is a second degree misdemeanor and is punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and/or 60 days in jail (Florida State Statute 365.16).
If you receive a single harassing phone call, don’t panic. The caller may have inadvertently dialed the wrong number and never intended to alarm you. Keep the following suggestions in mind if you receive a call from someone you don’t know:
- Never engage in conversation with someone you don’t know.
- Don’t give the caller your name or any other identifying information.
- If the caller tells you he may have dialed a wrong number and asks what your number is, don’t give it to him. Instead ask what number he intended to dial.
- When you answer your telephone, if no one responds to your greeting, hang up immediately.
- Hang up your phone immediately if you hear any obscenities.
If you receive a pattern of harassing or obscene phone calls:
Contact the UWF Police Department at 474-2415. An officer will meet with you to discuss the calls. Have the information about the calls ready when the officer gets there. Information that the officer might ask includes:
- dates and times of the calls
- telephone number of the phone that the calls were received on
- provider service for that telephone number
- telephone number of the caller (if you have caller ID)
- description of the voice of the caller (male/female, accent, speech pattern, deep pitch/high pitch) and background noises
Keep a log of when you received the calls and anything that was said.
If the calls were recorded on an answering machine, do not delete the calls. Keep the tape to turn over to the police.
If the messages were recorded to an internal answering system, do not delete the messages. The calls can be transferred to tape by the police.
We take your safety seriously. If you are concerned about harassing phone calls that have you received, please call the UWF Police Department at (850) 474-2415.