A prisoner in my own house

Ever since I told this teenager to stay the hell away from my daughter, I get anonymous phone calls every night between midnight and 3:00 A.M. Yesterday I decided that I would now put all the phones on mute before I go to bed.

However, I’m also a guy who doesn’t go to bed that early, especially when I happened to nap from 5pm to midnight. So here I am, half past midnight, sitting in the living room, phone ringers off, when I see this on my TV screen:

Yes, my TV provider offers HD TV, but for some reason their cable box is WLD (Way Low Def).

Call display on the TV. Brilliant.

That happens to be “the number and name” of the person making the anonymous phone calls. How do I know that, you may ask, seeing as anyone who calls my house and has the “block my name and phone number” option would be displayed exactly like this? There’s a few reasons why I know.

  1. Nobody calls my house at half past midnight to “not talk”. If there’s an emergency of some sort, people are happy that I pick up the phone, even if they dialed a wrong number.
  2. There is a history of some kids in my daughter’s class – including the current friend – calling my house in the middle of the night, but at that time they did it from a listed number. I tracked them down and got them to admit it was them. This time they figured out I couldn’t track them from an unlisted number. Hey, at least they are learning.
  3. It so happens that three days ago, my daughter received a call from that friend from an unlisted number. But since it was before I told her to stay away from my daughter, they had a decent conversation.
  4. The first night those kids started making anonymous phone calls to my house, they called three times within 15 minutes. The machine got the first call, but they didn’t leave a message. I picked up the second call, and they hung up after I said hello a few times. On the third call, I just picked up and said nothing. After a few seconds, I heard one of them say: “I don’t hear anything”.

In a surprisingly lucid and calm moment between the bouts of rage I called my phone service provider to ask them what could be done about this situation. Basically, I wanted calls from that person intercepted before they ever got to my phone. I was happy to settle for “no one with an unlisted number can call me” if that was a possibility.

Unfortunately, I was told that the phone service provider can’t take on himself to block incoming calls from a specific number, even if they have the technology to do it, even if I specifically ask them to do it. WTF?

The normal procedure is to *57 all anonymous calls. That command sends to the police the time and phone number of the last call received from the number who dials *57, at a cost of 5.00$ every time I use the option – to a maximum of 10.00$ a month.

Then I have to call and complain to the cops that I’m getting anonymous calls. They can then go the *57 registry, and match the times and my phone number with the phone number of the person who placed those calls.

But what would the cops do about this? Would they even consider doing anything about kids calling my house and hanging up? I had my doubts, so I called them. Not on the emergency number, on their other number for less important stuff. My suspicions were confirmed. Unless I received actual death threats during those phonecalls, the case would not even be considered. The cop who answered me was really nice, and seemed genuinely sorry to not be able to do anything about this.

What did I learn about this whole thing? Knowing that:

  1. My phone service provider has some technology that they are not willing to use, for no apparent reason;
  2. The cops will not do anything regarding this matter since no death threats have been issued.

I can safely say that my options are limited to these:

  • Call all the parents of the suspected anonymous callers and ask for their cooperation in the matter (doubtful that will go smoothly and resolve anything).
  • Get a new unlisted phone number (The cost to get a new unlisted phone number is around 100.00$, plus having to distribute that phone number to people I actually want calling me).
  • Move to a different continent (May be a little extreme, but might be worth it in the long run).

None of those are particularly attractive options. It looks like I’m condemned to receive anonymous phone calls for the rest of my life or until those friends grow up / get a life.

On the other hand, I learned that I can place anonymous phone calls from my house, and that as long as I don’t issue death threats, I am absolutely not exposing myself to any form of consequences.

Now the only question that remains:

How long will I choose to take the high road before I finally snap? 

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12 comments

      1. I’ll look into this, but I thought blocking call was carrier-dependent… I know there’s no real way to block incoming calls on an iPhone. 😦

  1. I don’t know if this works in Candadia, but if you port your number to Google Voice ($5 fee to port, I think) and then forward it back to your (new) home number, you can then use Google Voice to block these types of calls. I believe this is probably the cheapest option but it has the drawback that if you call people directly from your home phone rather than using Google Voice to initiate the call, then they will see your new number on their caller id. This can either lead to confusion or result in people gaining access to your “private” number.

    Another option is to switch to a provider with similar features. I believe Vonage and Ooma (premiere, probably) offer this type of feature, and there’s a good chance they’re both cheaper than what you’re currently paying.

    I should’ve added that if you go with the Google Voice option, while you’d still potentially pay the $100 fee for a new private number, you wouldn’t have the inconvenience of distributing it to people. Alternatively, you could get a new non-private number and perhaps have it listed with a less obvious name? I don’t know if that really works or not, but I’ve had at least some flexibility in choosing how the number is listed in the past. People that are persistent enough to do a lookup by address would likely bypass this feature, and I believe the Internet has made that fairly trivial to do. This is likely an argument in favor of switching to a VOIP provider like the two I mentioned above.

    (Edited to put the two comments into one)

    1. (I edited your comments to make them one, hope you don’t mind)

      Unfortunately, Google Voice is not available in Canada. As far as phone providers are concerned, we really only have two options here, and I left Option A (pure landline) to go with Option B (a VOIP option).

      My hope now lies in somehow making my current phone service provider use that technology to block those calls for me. Either that or I can get the call forwarding option for 2$/month and forward all the calls to my house between midnight and 6 am directly to 9-1-1. 😉

  2. Dude. I would just start returning the favor! Call those little fuckers late at night! Get an airhorn and blow it loudly. Fart in the phone. Whatever!
    But yeah – there are just little assholes in life, just like there are adult assholes. It really sucks. I think the best thing, really – is to talk to your daughter, and come up with a plan to help her deal with these assfaces. I know it’s upsetting to her (and of course it would be!), and I know you want to fix the problem, but she’s going to encounter bitchy kids like this for the rest of her life. Eventually, she’ll learn to navigate the assholes, but not without some heartbreak (unfortunately) and experience.
    I had a friend who would randomly HATE me – for no reason whatsoever. I was about… 12 or 13 the first time she really pulled it on me. (I’d known her since I was 9, though – and frequently she’d try to make me choose between her and our other friend – and I never would – and I’d play alone or with other kids until things got back to normal.) Anyway, once day, at school, she HATED me – wouldn’t talk to me, blatantly ignored me – made it VERY clear that she HATED me. I asked her why, and – no answer. I started crying, and went to my next class, and then went into the bathroom, because I was this bawling mess. One of my fellow cheerleader friends was there, and I told her what was wrong, and apparently, at some point, she let the bitchy girl HAVE it. Ripped her to shreds in front of people for being mean, etc. By the end of the day, the bitchy girl was apologizing to me, even though she admitted she never HAD a reason to be pissed at me. I learned a couple of things that day – 1) never trust that bitchy friend fully, again; 2) I was definitely more popular than I’d previously thought, and definitely more than the bitch; and 3) the next time she pulled this stunt – and she did, along with other girls, randomly – I didn’t care. I survived. They taught me some great lessons, and also taught me NOT to be like that toward anyone else.
    Sorry about the long comment!
    But really – young, hormonal girls – some of them – can be sooo mean and relentlessly BITCHY – and for no discernible reason whatsoever. It’s gonna happen, probably, for quite some time. Sucks, but true. But your daughter will be okay – and probably a complete badass, like me, after it’s all said and done. 🙂

  3. Dude – don’t you have the crank caller app for your phone?

    You can convince these kids’ parents that their kids fraudulently used their credit card, all sorts of things.

    I’m with your brother – snap snap snap.

    Also, what Sybil said 🙂

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