Districts

 

Hang Up Calls

Your phone company estimates that the average phone customer gets between 5 to 10 hang up calls per month. Often these are due to people misdialing the phone number that they are calling. Even though they may hang up as soon as they have dialed the last digit, your phone will still ring, and of course, no one will be on the other end.

There are instances where repeated hang up calls are made by someone to harass or annoy you. Many times juvenile or teenage children are involved in these type of instances. Additionally, with all the new phone devices, such as fax machines and modems, many times these calls can be due to one of these devices calling your number repeatedly in error. If you believe that this type of call is being made by someone to harrass or annoy you then you should have the phone company trace the source. After receiving the phone call, hang up and then dial *57: stay on the line and a recording will tell you if a successful trace has been made. You will need to complete at least two successful traces on this type of call for the phone company and the Police Department to track the call. After completing the second successful trace contact the Police Department to report the problem.

Harassing, Threatening or Obscene Phone Calls

If you receive a harassing, obscene or threatening phone call the first thing you should do is to hang up the telephone. After hanging up, dial *57 on your phone and your phone company will begin a trace to the phone number from where the call was made. Stay on the phone line and a recording will tell you whether or not the trace was successful. In most instances the trace will be successful. In some areas however, older technology is still in place that will not allow the trace to work. The phone companies are working to update all the equipment so that all these phone calls can be tracked down.

If you return home and find a threatening call on your answering machine, a *57 trace will still work as long as the call in question was the last phone call made to your number. Remember though that many people do not leave messages on machines if you are not there. Also make sure that you save the call for evidence purposes.

Report the phone call to the police. In some instances a second successful call trace may be necessary to take any action, but you should document the fact that the calls were made. This alerts the police to any common types of threatening or harassing phone calls that are ongoing and also to any possible threats against you.

Sales or Survey Calls

Never give out any personal information to anyone that you do not know!
This is the most important rule that anyone can follow to avoid being scammed or swindled on the telephone. If someone calls you with an offer that you are interested in, get a return telephone number for them and call them with any information that they have requested. Checking out businesses or charities before giving them personal information or money is also recommended. A quick call to the local Better Business Bureau (206-431-2222) can assure you that you are dealing with a legitimate business. The Better Business Bureau also has a web site for more information.

If you have received an unwanted sales or telemarketing call you can request that they put you on their "no call" list. If you do so, they are not allowed to call you again for a period of one year. Enforcing this provision, however, is not within the jurisdiction of the Edmonds Police Department as it is a Federal law.

Contests, Scams and Swindles

Never give out any personal information to anyone that you do not know!
Many unscrupulous people are out there using the phone to defraud people out of their money. Some other tips:

  • Get a call back number for the person to verify who they are.
  • Be wary of "contests" where you have to pay for shipping or handling.
  • NEVER give out credit card numbers or social security numbers to anyone you do not know.
  • Never give out credit or debit card "PIN" numbers. The bank will not call you and ask for this information.
  • Never give out computer passwords or authorizations to anyone claiming to be from a company you deal with.
  • Be wary of charities that offer to have someone "pick up" your check at your house.
  • If you receive a call from someone identifying themselves as a police officer and they request personal information ask them for a call back number to their police station. Then either call them back or call to verify that they are who they say.


The Washington State Attorney General's Office Web site has more information on telemarketing fraud.

For information about fraudulent telemarketing and other types of fraud check out the National Fraud Information Center

For information on charitable organizations see the BBB Wise Giving Aliance.