If Someone Harasses You with Text Messages

by | Oct/22/2014

People regularly report that some person is harassing them by sending unsolicited text messages at all hours of the night. Might be a co-worker, an ex-boyfriend or spouse, etc. The situation can be exasperating. What you should do if this happens…

  • Above all, document and backup all correspondence, including dates and times. You may need that as evidence later.
  • Just as important, do not reply. Many states have laws that if you reply, you are giving them permission to answer back, and now you approved the conversation. If you feel that you need to reply, then do so only once, with a message such as, “Stop contacting me.”
  • After they send enough messages to which you do not respond, perhaps they will give up anyway. They don’t receive any satisfaction from knowing they are upsetting you.
  • If they persist, and especially if you are in business of some kind, send them invoices for your time. Just receiving an invoice may stop them.
  • Many states have laws that categorize the text messages as harassment, and that would mean that they are breaking the law.
  • I am not a lawyer, and you need to talk to your own legal counsel about anything law related.
  • You might choose to contact the police (on their non-emergency line please).
  • You may be able take the case to court and sue them.
  • This is where the invoices you send them help even more. If you sue them later in civil court, part of the settlement may be that they have to pay you the invoiced amounts.
  • Consider having your legal representative, or a manager in your company, send a letter explaining that you intend to sue them if they do not stop immediately.
  • If you know the person is assigned to a caseworker, contact that caseworker and tell them about the problem.
  • Contact your phone provider. They deal with these problems all the time and can often provide you a solution by, for example, blocking certain texts from your phone.
  • It is common that the harasser is using a service to obfuscate their own phone number, so that you receive the text messages from random source numbers. Some online reverse-lookup tools will allow you to detect the service that owns the numbers. Contact whatever service they use, such as pinger.com, and report the abuse. It is possible that they will cancel the harasser’s account and block any future messages.
  • Sometimes you can change your mobile phone number, and keep it secret, but these days it is common practice to share your mobile number on business cards, your website, etc. Changing the number won’t help – the harasser will find out the new one.
  • You can use a service that forwards your old phone number that people know, to a new mobile number that you won’t give out. The text messages won’t make the transition through the hop (forwarding process). Of course, if you do want to receive text messages from other people, you’ll need to provide those people (but only them) with your new mobile number.
  • If you feel that they may hurt you in any way, you should take whatever steps you feel are appropriate – including contacting the police.
  • Sometimes hiring a private investigator can help you.

It is a horrible situation to be in, but now you know some steps to take.

Please share this with your friends so they can tell their friends and associates too!