If you are receiving harassing telephone calls/text messages/e-mails, there are steps you can take to resolve the problem. First, you must understand the difference between a "nuisance" call and "harassing" call/text/e-mal.
A "nuisance" call may be an occasional wrong number, an unwanted sales call, or a misdialed number.
A "harassing" telephone call/text message/e-mail is one in which the caller/sender has a clear intent to disturb or alarm the person receiving the call. Continuous calling without speaking, obscene calls/text messages/e-mails, heavy breathing, and threats are examples of telephone harassment.
In order to identify and potentially prosecute persons responsible for making harassing telephone calls the Neptune Beach Police Department suggests that the following steps be taken:
1. Report the harassment to the Neptune Beach Police Department as soon as possible. An officer will file a report and provide you with a Case Number.
2. The calls/text/e-mails should be reported to your service provider. They will ask for the police report number, be sure to have it available. The telephone company can place a trace on your telephone line. Internet providers may be able to provide IP addresses.
3. Begin keeping a log of the calls including the date and time. Report these calls/text messages/e-mails to your telephone /internet providers. Also keep any and all text messages and e-mails that are sent. If you are able to print out the text messages or e-mails, do so as well.
4. The telephone/internet providers should advise the victim and the Neptune Beach Police Department when their investigation is complete. The investigating officer will contact you for follow-up on the complaint.
If a suspect is identified and there is probable cause to believe this suspect committed the crime, charges may then be filed. You may receive a subpoena from the Office of the State Attorney to give a deposition and/or appear in court to testify.
If you receive a telephone call on your telephone (does not work for cellphones) that you are concerned about and do not have a trace on the line use the following procedure:
1. As soon as you receive the call, simply hang up and dial *69 immediately from your telephone. Listen to the recording, the telephone number will be provided. The call should then be reported to the Neptune Beach Police Department. It should be noted, there is a charge on your telephone bill for using *69.
2. If the calls continue or become more frequent you should contact your telephone carrier to report the problem. They can then place a trace on your telephone line.
Not all persons making harassing telephone calls/text messages/e-mails will be identified. There are a number of reasons why the trace will not be able to identify the offending party. Positive identification of the caller is also difficult to prove, particularly if the caller says nothing during the call or just breathes heavily. Often the matter of proof is reduced to the caller's word against yours.
Neptune Beach Police Officers will be able to offer advice that will maximize your chances of successful resolution of these problems.