> University Police
Harassing and Obscene Phone Calls
How to Handle Malicious Telephone Calls
Sales or Survey Calls
Malicious Telephone Calls
Telephone Trace Policy
If You Should Become a Victim
Other Precautions You can Take in Advance
Reaching the Police or Campus Telecommunications Office
Montana State University’s Police Department and Telephone
Services Manager are very concerned any time you receive a malicious
telephone call. Your stay at MSU should be as pleasant as possible,
and abusive, annoying, harassing, obscene, or threatening telephone
calls are an unwarranted invasion of your privacy. In some instances,
they may also be unlawful.
If you are off campus, check with your local telephone company
and local police agency about their specific procedures and local/state
laws which may be involved. The procedures listed below are specific
to the Montana State University-Bozeman Campus, but may be very
similar to your local community policies and laws.
Most malicious telephone calls at the university are made by a small
group of immature people who consider it funny or smart to interfere
with your peace of mind. These calls do not usually constitute a threat
to your personal safety; however, you should contact the Telephone
Services Manager or the University Police Department any time you
receive a telephone call of questionable intent or origin. There is
usually a way to stop the calls, and we will be happy to assist you.
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Telephone sales solicitations or surveys conducted by telephone
are not regulated by Montana State University-Bozeman. They can
be valuable and interesting in cases where the companies placing
the calls have screened their prospects and know that you may
Other groups, however, are not particular about whom
they call. Using automatic devices that dial every number in
a prefix group, these calls are frequently accomplished without
human supervision, and you may find yourself talking to a computer.
Some persons are annoyed or offended by such calls.
Telephone services are available to anyone for legitimate
use, but no one likes thoughtless or indiscriminate sales or
survey calls. If you choose not to respond, simply say so and
hang up. Be sure to leave the handset hung up for at least 30
seconds to ensure the caller is disconnected.
If you are interested but are skeptical about the offer, state that you
will return the call or ask the caller to try again later after you’ve
had a chance to check the organization with the Better Business Bureau.
Or ask the caller to send you information on the product or service
so you can look it over before making a decision.
If you would like to remove your name and telephone number from calling
lists for national advertisers, write to Telephone Preference Service,
Direct Marketing Association, 6 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017.
Include your name, address, and telephone number in your letter. Or,
contact the National Do Not Call Registry.
There is no charge for this service, which can reduce calls
from national advertisers but is unlikely to affect sales calls
from local businesses.
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Anyone can be the victim of harassing, annoying, obscene, or threatening
telephone calls. These may include random calls by pranksters, calls
late at night, frequent pointless calls, calls where nothing is said,
obscene calls, calls from former romantic interests, or threatening
These calls are intended to upset you, either for revenge
or to gratify the caller’s personal urges. Most can be prevented
or avoided by learning and using some simple techniques to decrease
your potential for victimization.
Your telephone is for your use and service; always use it
on your own terms. If the caller doesn’t speak or if you simply
don’t feel comfortable talking to the caller, hang up. Remember
that the telephone is under your control and you are not obligated
to speak to anyone.
Ask for the caller’s identity or affiliation. If the caller
makes an improper response or does not respond immediately, hang
up. Some “silent” callers are looking for a response
and may want you to become scared or angry. Don’t give them the
satisfaction. If the caller asks, “Who is this?” or
“What number have I reached?” don't give an answer.
Instead ask, “To whom do you wish to speak?” or “What number
did you dial?” If the call is not legitimate, that will
probably end it.
Don’t give out any information to anyone you don’t positively
recognize or who fails to give satisfactory identification or
affiliation. If the caller asks for your roommate or another
member of your family, simply say that you’ll be glad to take
a message and have the call returned as promptly as possible.
Under no circumstances should you give the names of others
living with you to someone who doesn’t already know them.
If you have children, instruct them not to talk to strangers
on the telephone. Burglars or other criminals will sometimes
attempt to obtain useful information from unsuspecting children.
Teach your children to ask for the caller’s name and number so
someone can return the call later.
If a caller persists after you’ve made it clear you do not
wish to talk, the simplest response is to hang up. Other techniques
that may be useful in some circumstances include blowing a police
whistle into the phone or tapping the disconnect button and stating
“Operator, this is the call I wanted traced.”
Remember, don’t speak unless you want to, don’t give out any
information, and don’t respond to questions.
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MSU’s Telephone Services Manager may place
a telephone trap/trace on university telephones in situations where
harassing/threatening calls are received by customers.
Law enforcement or other university officials should refer
a student complaining of receiving harassing calls on a residence
hall telephone to the Director of Residence Life.
The complainant has the option of changing the telephone number. Call
trace procedures will only be initiated if several harassing calls have
occurred over several days, and the customer elects not to select a
telephone number change.
Persons receiving harassing calls on other university telephones should
contact their supervisors. If the supervisor determines that a telephone
number change or a call trace procedure is required, the supervisor
will contact ITC’s Telephone Services at extension 5050.
The availability of call trace facilities may depend upon
the number of complainants already being served and the workload
of the ITC telephone services personnel.
Upon report of a life-threatening situation, the customer should be referred
to the University Police at 911 or extension 2121. The police will either
seek a court order for placement of a telephone trace procedure or, if
determined not to be a life-threatening situation, law enforcement may
refer the customer to the appropriate university office for a voluntary
telephone number change or voluntary customer initiated trace procedure
as outlined above for harassing calls.
Because of statutory restrictions, the customer must request
MSU to place a trap on his/her telephone line. A court order
is required when law enforcement or another governmental entity
places a trap on a telephone line without the customer’s permission.
Written permission from the authorized party on the account
must be provided to establish call trace procedures and release
information to university officials. Once the call trace procedure
has been placed and the customer reports the date and time of
a call that needs to be identified, MSU will search for that
call in the system.
Trace information is not furnished directly to the customer.
If the calls of a harassing nature are determined to have been
generated from a telephone in the residence halls, the call trace
information will be released to the Dean of Students and the
Residence Hall Director. If a student is the perpetrator of harassing
phone calls, he or she may be charged under the Student Conduct
Code, the Residence Life rules, and/or under the criminal statutes
If the calls are determined to have been generated off campus, the call
trace information will be submitted to MSU Legal Counsel. If the harassing
calls are found to have been generated by someone other than faculty,
staff, or students, the University Legal Counsel may, upon request of
the customer, send a deterrent letter to the person to whom the calling
phone is listed. Published and non-published information can be released
if it relates to telephone harassment.
Call trace information is generally not released based on
a single trace. Exceptions are for life-threatening situations
or if the law enforcement agency is acting based on a single
call. Normally, three or more traces from the same number, occurring
over a period of several days, are required.
MSU normally sets traps for a period of 14 days for harassment or threatening
type calls. The trap can remain in place for a limited period of time
but traps cannot be set on a permanent basis.
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IF YOU SHOULD BECOME A VICTIM
In spite of your best efforts, it is still possible that you
could be the victim of a series of malicious telephone calls.
If this should happen, it is important that you do several things
to assist the Telephone Services Manager and the University Police
in resolving the problem.
Notify the Telephone Services Manager (Resident Assistant if you live
in a dormitory) immediately. Although subsequent actions may be coordinated
with the University Police, your initial point of contact is the Telephone
Services Manager in the Information Technology Center, extension 5050.
If you are a victim of a threat to the safety of your person, then contact
the University Police immediately. If you are off-campus, notify either
your telephone company or the local police department depending on the
seriousness of the calls.
Write information down. Using a log, keep a record of the
calls. This information can be invaluable in bringing your case
to a prompt and successful resolution.
Notify others living with you of the problem. Avoid mentioning
the calls to casual friends or in a public place, as the caller
may receive gratification from your public distress. In addition,
the caller may be put on guard by becoming aware that you have
notified the police.
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THERE OTHER PRECAUTIONS I CAN TAKE IN ADVANCE?
As a matter of personal safety and security, it is recommended that you
consider listing your first name by initial only. If yours is a common
surname, you may consider listing it by both your first and middle initials.
It is possible to request that your number be unlisted, but this may
not be effective if others who live with you have their names listed
and may inconvenience callers legitimately trying to reach you.
Electronic answering devices are available that service as
a buffer, permitting you to hear the caller’s voice and message
in response to a tape-recorded greeting before you choose whether
to override the device and answer the caller directly.
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DO I REACH THE POLICE OR THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS OFFICE?
If you are the victim of malicious calls or would like to request
additional information on personal safety and security, contact
the Telephone Services Manager in the Information Technology
Center at extension 5050 or the University Police Services at
extension 2121. Off-campus, contact your telephone company or
the local police agency.
The MSU Telephone Services office is open during regular university
business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to noon and 1:00 to 5:00
p.m. except holidays, and may be reached at 5050. The University Police
are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You can avoid or
end unwanted malicious calls. MSU Telephone Services Manager and the University Police
Services will be pleased to help you!
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