Annoying or harassing telephone calls are a common problem on college campuses. Most harassing phone calls do not present a physical threat and the caller often knows the victim. Occasionally, the caller simply contacts the victims at random.
The state and the University consider these to be harassment by communication or address which is defined as:
- Making phone calls without a legitimate purpose
- Repeatedly making anonymous phone calls
- Repeatedly phoning at extremely inconvenient hours
- Repeatedly phoning using offensive, coarse, or obscene language
Harassment by communication or address, a third-degree misdemeanor, is punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500.
How to Deal with Harassing Phone Calls
If you begin receiving annoying or harassing calls, contact UPPS. An officer will meet with you to discuss the situation and to determine the best course of action to be taken. You will be asked to keep a log of your calls, which includes information such as the time of each call, description of the caller's voice, and background noises. Depending upon the situation, UPPS, with the assistance of Verizon, may be able to determine the origin of the calls.
If you receive threatening or obscene calls, contact UPPS immediately, even if you have already spoken to an officer.
Tips for dealing with harassing phone calls:
- Never engage the caller in conversation.
- Never answer personal questions or give out information to an unknown caller.
- Unplug your phone if necessary.
PA Crimes Code
A person commits a summary offense when, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person:
- strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise subjects a person to physical contact or attempts or threatens to do the same;
- follows a person in or about a public place or places; or
- engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which alarm or seriously annoy such other person and which serve no legitimate purpose.
5504 Harassment by Communication or Address
A person commits a misdemeanor of the third degree if, with intent to harass another:
- makes a telephone call without intent or legitimate communication of address to or about such other person as lewd, lascivious, or indecent words or language or anonymously telephones another person repeatedly; or
- makes repeated communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in extremely coarse language.