Friday, May 28, 2010

A brush with danger?

By Lonnie Cruse

A while ago I received a very nasty, very threatening phone call on my cell phone. Luckily some people who break the law (this IS against the law, though only a misdemeanor) aren't as sharp as they could be.

Case in point, this guy not only didn't block the calling number he was using, but since I didn't answer the phone (in my purse, didn't hear it ring) he left his message in my voice mail, TWICE! Therefore I was able to report him, give the authorities his cell phone number, AND record the call for them, giving them proof of the calls.

Next case in point, at that time I had an outgoing message on my cell phone voicemail giving our name and saying we weren't available to take the call, so please leave a message. I've since changed it to a generic voicemail message from my phone company which gives the caller my number (but not my name) and says I'm not available. However, like I said, this genius called TWICE and obviously didn't hear me say my name, so if he misdialed, he never noticed he had the wrong number. The wrong person. The jury is still out on that one. The local state's attorney and the deputy who took my complaint are tracking down the caller.

My hubby used his cell phone to call the number back and the guy who answered not only sounded different from the nasty caller, but he also swore he loaned his phone to someone else who made the call. He begged us not to turn it over to the authorities and promised to take care of it, but because the call was obviously threatening and obviously directed at a woman (judging by the words used) hubby told him to do whatever he had to do, but the report was going to the authorities.

I did wonder about whether to turn this in to the authorities. The caller didn't use my name so it well could be a misdial. Turning him in might make him mad and turn his focus on me instead of who he really meant. However, he needs to learn not to threaten others. He also could stand to learn some real English, as he only used about five words that weren't filthy.

I titled this post: A brush With Danger for a reason. The threat in the call/voicemail was that the caller was going to do certain particularly nasty things to me (or whomever he meant to call.) Since then I'm keeping the storm door locked as well as the front and back doors, taking more precautions, and wondering if I need a new cell phone number. And FYI, my cell phone company would do NOTHING to help me with this beyond blocking that person's number. IF he meant this for me, he can easily give my number to his friends (assuming he has any) OR borrow other phones to harass me.

So far that hasn't happened and I hope it doesn't. I used the Internet to try to track the number he called from and tracked the phone owner to a city about an hour from us. I used several tracking sites and all took me to the same place. However, in order to get the owner's name, I had to pay a (small in some cases) fee. I decided to let the sheriff's department give it a shot first. Thing is, HIS phone company would not help me either. They were not interested in the fact that one of their customers is using their system to make illegal phone calls. Might violate HIS privacy. Sigh. Must have a court order, which authorities here are trying to get. Yeah, I understand both phone companies' reasons, I don't agree. You break the law, you should lose your phone priviledges. End of story.

My point about the danger is that if this guy is only an hour away, with all the information on the Internet today, he could easily track me down. It made me nervous. So I'm being cautious. And if I have to, I'll call in some favors from other law enforcement folks I know to find this guy. Folks who owe me. I can play dirty too, if need be.

The voice in the voicemail was not familiar and I can't, for the life of me, think of anyone I've ticked off THAT badly lately, so I'm hopeful it was a dialing error. Still, I don't give out that number to many people, the threatening calls were two hours apart so who loans their phone out for that long, and other things worry me. I'll let you know if anything comes of this. Meanwhile, folks, be thankful that some people are not savvy about how to make threatening phone calls and that you have voicemail. If you don't have it, you need to enable it. Right now.

Stay safe, sometimes it's a nasty world out there. Hmmm, I probably should use this in a plot line somewhere?


Maribeth said...

You were right it turning it over to the authorities. Even if they didn't mean it for you, someone out there is in danger.
Phone companies are all about avoiding lawsuits. I doubt it has much to do with privacy. They are very little help. They suggested one woman "have a talk with" the caller!

signlady217 said...

Telling the cops was exactly the right thing to do. Even if he didn't specifically mean to call you, he meant it for somebody! I know sometimes the justice system doesn't always work (our family knows this first-hand, unfortunately), but in your case I hope it does! Good luck and stay safe!

Allene said...

Thanks for the post. I actually have a WIP about a stalker and you answered some technical questions.

I have a slightly different problem. Someone is using my home number as their own. I can't understand why except I get a lot of 'collection' calls. But, yesterday I had a call from the doctor's office! Had another from the movie mart - if anyone can shed some light on what benefit they could gain I'd like to know. Phone company refuses to do anything.

Julia Buckley said...

How terrible, Lonnie! I can see why that would be really disturbing.

I hope the cops nab him and dole out the appropriate consequences. Good for you for following through.

Kat said...

How terribly scary! And echoing Maribeth, you were definitely right in turning it over to the authorities. I hope the police can do something about it. Which is more than the telephone company is willing to do, which does not surprise me, unfortunately.

I also had a brush with "danger?" (well, stalker), and the cellphone company would not do anything (including blocking his number). Yeah, they advised me to talk to the person and tell him not to call me, and I did not want to receive his calls anymore. The police was much more helpful than the telephone company on that situation. The stalker finally gave up, but not before six months of phone calls.

At least now I know to block my number when I do not want people to find out my phone number.
Good luck on resolving the situation!

kathy d. said...

This is awful. Given your situation and others' comments here, I would get a new cell phone number, without a doubt. Why even risk getting another call?

Years ago, I got hostile calls on my land line and I got a new phone number which was unlisted, unpublished and has stayed that way.

I do not give out my cell number.

There are people out there, unfortunately, who harass women, who may not even know who they're harassing (some do).

One suggestion I heard of hears ago from one who was harassed, was to bang pots and blow whistles into the phone.

Anyway, good you went to the authorities. Maybe you should consult an attorney to see what else you can do to protect yourself and get some legal back-up with the phone company.