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Prevention: Telephone Tips


Bernd (Bernie) Weiss, Ph.D.

Often , burglars, or rapists will use the telephone to get information about potential victims. We, consequently, recommend monitoring your calls via an answering machine which has a deep voiced male recording. We also recommend avoiding statements like, "there's no one here to take your call..." because this is a clue to the caller that no one is at home. Rather, the message should at least imply that people are at home or are about to be home. A less 'informative' message might be "...we can't answer the phone at the moment...".

Sometimes a caller -male or female- will pretend to be a survey or census taker and ask you all sorts of questions allowing him/her to determine whether you're at home, alone, out, living by yourself, etc. Once such callers have such information they can use it to victimize you.

There is no law requiring you to answer questions over the telephone. Even if the caller claims s/he is a police officer, district attorney, etc., you are not legally bound to talk to anyone on the telephone.

If you think the caller is legitimate and you want to help, ask for a callback number, check on the authenticity of that number via the appropriate agency (e.g., police department) and then return the call. If the callers are legitimate they won't mind waiting for your information.

© 1997 Bernd Weiss

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