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Telephone Appropriate Use

Annoying, Harrassing, and Threatening Calls

Telephones are a useful and pleasurable tool for living. However, when your phone becomes either an annoyance or an object of fear, it's time to take action.

Types of Annoying Calls

In general, there are three types of annoying calls:


  • When used properly, selling and surveying by phone provides a useful service for companies and their customers. When used in a thoughtless or fraudulent manner, these calls become an annoyance.
  • Don't feel obligated to answer questions just because the questioner sounds "official". Don't ever answer questions over the phone that you wouldn't answer if a stranger asked them to you on the street.
  • Always find out who is calling: ask for the name of the caller and the company they represent.
  • If you are interested in the product they are selling, find out the company's phone number and mailing address. Offer to call back or ask them to call you again after you have had time to contact the Better Business Bureau.
  • If you are responding to a survey and the caller becomes too personal, becomes abusive, or uses inappropriate or obscene language, this could indicate a fraudulent call. HANG UP! Most surveys don't ask personal questions.
  • Don't give the caller a friend's phone number. Offer to take the caller's number and have the friend contact them.
  • If you are not interested, say so. If the caller is rude enough not to let you go graciously, HANG UP!!!


  • Surprisingly, nuisance calls don't just come from strangers. They also come from acquaintances, neighbors, and past/present boyfriends or girlfriends. Generally such calls are made randomly. If you get such a call and give the caller no satisfaction, the person will usually give up after one or two attempts.
  • Always use the telephone on your terms, not those of the caller. Don't talk to anyone unless you want to.
  • Ask callers to identify themselves.
  • If the caller asks "Who is this?", don't give your name. Instead, ask "Who are you calling?".
  • If the caller says they have dialed your number in error, don't give them your name or number. Instead, ask for the number they dialed, and let them know if they misdialed.
  • If the caller remains silent after you answer, HANG UP!


  • Calls of this nature are often meant to infuriate or terrify you.
  • As with milder nuisance calls, this caller may remain silent for a while.
  • If the caller makes an obscene or improperly suggestive remark, HANG UP! The caller would like nothing better than for you to show your shock, anger, or fear, by your demanding to know who they are, what they want, or why they are doing this. HANG UP!
  • Most calls of this type are made to receive a response. If the only response they receive is a dead line, they will usually give up and quit calling.

Threatening Calls

Calls in this category include the extreme cases--bomb threats, threats on your life or property, bodily harm to you or a member of your family. Often you will know the caller and the reasons for which they are making these calls--anger over a broken relationship, an argument between friends, etc. Sometimes these calls are made a few times to express the caller's anger and they stop. Other times they are repeated over an extended period of time to harass and frighten you. If the calls continue, contact the Virginia Tech Police at 1-6411.

Prevention Tips

  • Never tell a caller who you are. They should know whom they are calling.
  • Never list your name when advertising something for sale. List a phone number only.
  • No matter what precautions you take, there may come a time when you receive an annoying or threatening call. If that should happen, the best response is to HANG UP!! If the calls persist, contact the Virginia Tech Police at 1-6411.

Phone Games

Because of Virginia Tech's unique phone system, some individuals have learned how to play annoying games with the phones. If you receive this type of call, don't hesitate to contact the Virginia Tech Police at 1-6411.

Procedure for Reporting Annoying and Threatening Calls for Students

  • To help stop abusive calls, CNS Student Network Services will give full cooperation and technical assistance to legal authorities in enforcing the law.
  • Questions and/or complaints relating to abusive or annoying calls should be referred to NI&S Student Network Services at 1-3000, 120 Student Services Building, 8:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M. and 1:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M., Monday
  • Friday. A Student Network Services representative will verify your identification and address, and provide the proper forms for processing a complaint.
  • After 5:00 P.M. or on weekends or holidays, annoying or abusive call complaints should be referred to the Virginia Tech Police at 1-6411.
  • EXTREMELY URGENT OR EMERGENCY annoying or threatening call problems may be referred to the Virginia Tech Police, at 1-6411, at any time. You will still need to visit  Student Network Services at 120 Student Services Building (8:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M. and 1:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M., Monday - Friday) as soon as possible thereafter to have your identification and residence hall address confirmed, and to obtain the necessary forms for processing your complaint.

Procedure for Reporting Annoying and Threatening Calls for Faculty and Staff

  • Questions/Complaints relating to obscene, harassing or annoying telephone calls should be referred to the Virginia Tech Police, Investigations Division. They may be reached at 1-6411.
  • The Virginia Tech Police will be the point of contact for the faculty or staff member throughout any investigation and will also seek the local telephone company's cooperation to investigate external calls.

Telephone Fraud

Fraudulent use of the telecommunications system is a State and Federal offense and Virginia Tech will exercise the right to prosecute anyone who abuses and/or fraudulently uses telecommunications services. Accessing and using the telecommunications system in a manner other than its designated use is prohibited and is considered fraudulent use of the system. This includes the obtaining, attempting to obtain, or assisting another to obtain long distance message service by rearranging, tampering with, or making connection with any facilities (telephone, data, or video, including wiring), with intent to avoid payment of the regular charge for such services or use of the system.

FRAUDULENT USE OF THE SYSTEM BY ANYONE, AUTHORIZED USER OR NOT, WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. FRAUDULENT CALLS WILL BE TRACED, AND ABUSERS WILL BE IDENTIFIED AND TURNED OVER TO THE PROPER UNIVERSITY AUTHORITIES FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION. Students found guilty of fraudulent use of the telecommunications system will be charged for any relevant installation, use, and administrative investigation fees. Individuals found guilty of fraudulent use of an authorization code will be charged the cost of the call(s), investigation fees of $5 per call ($20 minimum), plus any other collection costs.

Students found guilty of tapping into unauthorized voice, data or video connections will be charged normal installation and use fees, as well as labor and materials costs, to return the connection to its original state. Additionally, an administrative investigation fee of $20 will be charged.

Please be aware that students may not accept collect calls at residence hall phones.

How to avoid being the victim of telephone fraud

  • When using your calling card, make sure no one sees you key in your number or overhears you stating it to the operator.
  • Beware of individuals calling you at home requesting calling card verification. Telephone companies NEVER call you to request this information. They may request such information if YOU call THEM.
  • Report a lost or stolen card immediately.
  • Protect and memorize your calling card and PIN number.
  • When you are at home, don't accept third party or collect calls that are suspicious or from someone you don't know.
  • Telephone companies and law enforcement agencies NEVER ask customers to accept collect or third-party calls as part of an investigation.
  • If you receive a phone call and do not understand what is being said (i.e., the caller is speaking in a foreign language), HANG UP! Do not press any buttons or say anything. You may unknowingly accept a collect call.
  • The risk of toll fraud increases during vacation and year-end holiday seasons. Please be extra careful during those times!
  • Be wary of transferring callers to an outside line as this may result in many dollars worth of charges!
  • There are ways to commit telephone fraud by using a voicemail system. Should you receive an odd message, perhaps asking authorization to accept collect call charges, you should notify NI&S at 1-6460.

If you feel you have been a victim of telephone fraud, please contact NI&S at 1-6460