How to Stop Cell Phone Harassment

By James Clark

Cell phone harassment is illegal in all 50 U.S. states. Not only is it annoying, but unwanted calls also burn up the minutes available in a cell phone plan, resulting in lost calling time and wasted money. Most states define telephone harassment as an obscene communication or any verbal or text message threatening physical harm. Intent is also necessary to establish a criminal complaint of harassment, either by repeated calling or specific threats in a single call. Fortunately, there are several options for stopping harassing cell phone calls, up to and including legal action.

How to Stop Cell Phone Harassment

Step 1

Block unwanted incoming calls by entering the caller's phone number, including area code, in your cell phone's call-block feature. The procedure varies with cell phone models, but typically involves scrolling to "selective call block" and pressing the "enter" button.

Step 2

Report threatening and obscene calls or text messages to the police, so the calls can be traced if the harasser is using a caller ID blocking feature.

Step 3

Save any harassing voice mail or text messages for use as evidence.

Step 4

File a written report with the police to initiate a criminal investigation and secure a subpoena for the telephone company, which may require formal legal service to release information about a caller's identity.

Step 5

Stop annoying sales calls by registering your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry (https://www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx), which will reduce and possibly even eliminate telemarketing calls. Registration is free, does not expire, and can be done for every phone number you have.

Step 6

File a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission by email (fccinfo@fcc.gov) or online at www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html.

Tips & Warnings

  • Debt collectors and certain nonprofit telemarketers are exempt from federal Do Not Call laws.