Your Rights and Recourse for Phone Harassment

Unwanted calls are a nuisance, but harassing phone calls can be downright frightening. If you’re on the receiving end of repeated, threatening, or obscene calls, you have rights, and the law provides avenues to stop the harassment and hold the perpetrators accountable. This article explores your rights regarding phone harassment and the legal recourse available to you.

Understanding Harassment

Not every unwanted call qualifies as harassment. Here’s what defines phone harassment in a legal sense:

  • Frequency and Severity: Harassment involves repeated, unwanted calls that cause you distress or invade your privacy. A single call, even if annoying, might not be enough.
  • Threats and Obscenity: Calls containing threats of violence, intimidation, or obscene language are clear examples of phone harassment.
  • Unwanted Contact: Even if non-threatening, persistent calls from someone you’ve requested no contact from can be considered harassment.

Federal and State Protections

Federal and state laws provide protections against phone harassment:

  • Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA): This federal law restricts telemarketing calls, robocalls, and automated text messages. You can register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce telemarketing calls.
  • State Anti-Harassment Laws: Many states have specific laws against phone harassment, which may include additional protections or lower thresholds for what constitutes harassment.

Reporting Mechanisms and Legal Options

Once you have documented the harassment, there are several actions you can take:

  • Contact Your Phone Carrier: Inform your phone carrier about the harassment. They might offer solutions like call blocking or tracing.
  • Consider Legal Action: Depending on the severity of the harassment, consulting with an attorney might be necessary. They can advise you on legal options like:
    • Cease-and-Desist Letter: An attorney can draft a formal cease-and-desist letter demanding the harasser stop contacting you. While not legally binding, it can serve as a deterrent and document your efforts to stop the harassment.
    • Restraining Order: In some cases, you might be able to obtain a restraining order against the harasser. This court order legally prohibits them from contacting you in any way, including by phone.
    • Lawsuit: If the harassment is severe or continues despite other efforts, a lawsuit might be necessary. An attorney can help you pursue damages for emotional distress and other losses caused by the harassment.

Understanding the Exceptions

It’s important to distinguish between phone harassment and legitimate calls from debt collectors or apartment shooting lawyers. These entities have legal rights to contact you, but there are regulations governing their behavior:

  • Report Spam Calls: Immediately report spam call to the FTC. This helps track scam activity and potentially
  • Debt Collection: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) restricts the time, frequency, and manner in which debt collectors can contact you. If a debt collector is harassing you, report them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
  • Lawyers: Lawyers, including apartment shooting lawyer, must adhere to professional ethics codes regarding communication with potential clients. If a lawyer’s calls become harassment, you can report them to the state bar association.


If you’re being harassed by phone, it’s crucial to document the calls to build a strong case:

  • Record the Calls: If possible, record the harassing calls following your state’s laws on call recording. These recordings serve as concrete evidence.
  • Note Details: Keep a detailed log of the calls, including the date, time, phone number (if displayed), and the content of the calls (if safe to do so).
  • Screenshots and Voicemails: Save screenshots of caller ID displays (if possible) and any threatening voicemails.