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Nuisance phone calls - John C. Kirk

Nov. 9th, 2004

02:37 am - Nuisance phone calls

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Well, that was rather unpleasant. I was just about to go to bed when the phone rang - I answered, and got someone being abusive and threatening.

It was a (drunk?) guy, with a "common" accent, for want of a better word. "Oi, John, I'll fucking do you, you fucking cunt." Repeated several times with variations. I asked who he was, and said that I thought he had the wrong number, but he ignored me. I then hung up, and tried to do 1471 to find out who he was, but when I picked up the phone again he was still there, repeating himself. Hung up again, picked up again, and it was silent, but still an active line. Hung up again, held the receiver down for longer, then picked up and got a dial-tone, so I called 1471. "The caller withheld their number." Great. I clicked the receiver again, and heard the broken dial-tone for an answerphone message - called 1571, and heard the same guy again, saying the same stuff.

Now, this is annoying - I would assume that it's also illegal, and since I have evidence (the recorded message), presumably the phone company could access the number. The customer service lines aren't open until the morning, so I called the local police station instead. They redirected me a couple of times, then I spoke to someone who told me to come down to the station.

So, I trekked over there, and spoke to the officers on duty. They told me that there was nothing they could do about it, so I should just go back home, and speak to BT in the morning. Their advice was that I should get my line adjusted to block incoming calls with the number withheld (sounds like a good idea, to cut down on my phone spam from companies as much as anything else), and maybe change my number. Apparently the harrassment legislation says that there's nothing they can do for an isolated incident, particularly if I don't have any idea about who it was. I do wonder whether it was a wrong number, since "John" is a fairly common name. On the other hand, I don't share the police's optimism of "Oh well, that's alright then", since it then implies that there's another guy called John who's got someone after him. I'm sure that the phone company have the technology to match up the incoming number, particularly so soon after it happened, but the police said that they won't do it. If this is the legal scenario (data protection act or whatever), then I can't blame the police for having their hands tied, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating for me. I was a bit shaken just after it happened, but that's now been displaced by a growing anger.

I'll speak to BT in the morning, and see if there's anything they can do. If I do change my number, then I'll give it out on a more restricted basis (not that I exactly advertised it far and wide before). If anyone has any legal advice about how to handle this, please let me know. If you have any illegal advice, then obviously I couldn't listen to it, and I certainly wouldn't be willing to buy you a pint at the pub by way of thanks. Hypothetically speaking.

Anyway, I now seem to have lost my inclination to sleep, so it looks like it's going to be a long night.

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Comments:

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From:alexmc
Date:November 8th, 2004 11:45 pm (UTC)
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I was getting nuisance calls some time ago and BT are pretty good at helping you block them. What was worrying is that he called you John.

(I don't normally like BT but this is one area where they were quite good in responding)
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[User Picture]
From:dwagon
Date:November 9th, 2004 12:15 am (UTC)
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you can also get a gadget that displays the number an phone call is coming from, allowing you to screen them as well. Hopefully this was just an isolated mistake, though that's not very comforting for the 'other' John.
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[User Picture]
From:alexmc
Date:November 9th, 2004 02:11 am (UTC)
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If the caller has blocked his id then nothing on the end of your line will display it. However in most cases where the caller has blocked his number the *telephone company* can enter the number into their nuisance call database and block it from your phone.

If BT set it up for you (there is a special free number for nuisance calls) then you get a leaflet of advice, and whenever you receive a nuisance call you ring a number which adds the last caller's number to the database. You never get to see the caller's number, but you can still block it. If the nuisance caller goes to a different phone then you can add that new number to the database as well.

However if the guy never rings back then don't worry about it. There is nothing the police can do about people making crank calls at random. They have enough problems with genuine stalkers and more serious crimes.

(Yes, I realise how useless is my advice of "Don't worry about it". )

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[User Picture]
From:alexmc
Date:November 9th, 2004 02:12 am (UTC)
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They probably wont do this for you for free unless it is a series of threatening calls.
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