Dealing with Unwanted Calls and Text Messages
If you are receiving calls or text messages of a harassing or annoying nature, here are some steps to help you handle them, and what you can do if they do not stop.
If the calls are of a life threatening nature, contact the Police immediately.
- Record the date and time of at least three examples of unwanted calls or texts and enter them into the Nuisance Call Log.
Important: Do not respond to the text or call, or no action can be taken.
- Once you have at least three examples of unwanted calls or texts in the log, call our Call Investigations Centre (CIC) Team on 0800 809 806 (Weekdays 8:00am to 5:00pm, excluding statutory holidays).
- CIC will use these details to trace where the calls or texts came from. Unfortunately, they are unable to locate the content of the calls or texts. Any information related to the investigation is kept confidential.
Discouraging Unwanted Calls
There are five basic precautions to take to discourage unwanted telephone calls:
- Do not give your full name when answering the telephone / replying to a text / or on your voice mail message (Call Minder or answer machine).
- Do not volunteer information about yourself, your number, or address to unknown callers.
- If you do not want to converse with the caller, politely disconnect the call.
- Don't be drawn into an argument that can't be solved on the telephone.
- Let the phone ring more often before answering it. This gives you some control over the stress of answering a call you expect to be hostile.
Reporting spam text messages
You can now report any spam text messages you receive by doing the following:
- Forward the spam message to 7726
- You will receive a reply asking for the number the spam message was sent from
- Reply to the message from 7726 with this number
The spam and sending number will be entered into a registry and investigated by the Department of Internal Affairs.
Tips on handling unwanted calls / text messages
A large number of unwanted calls/texts are to randomly selected numbers where the caller continues to dial that number and annoy the recipient of that call.
Stay calm and try not to show any agitation or distress if the call is malicious or abusive.
What to do
- Log all calls by noting the date, time and duration of calls. This helps establish a pattern.
- Try to determine whether the caller is male or female, their approximate age, any accent or if there is any background noise.
- Try to think of anyone you may suspect of making the calls.
- Issue a formal warning to the Offender "I will be laying a complaint with the Police. Do not call me again". Note the date and time of the warning in the log.
- If the calls are of a life threatening nature, contact the Police immediately.
- Consider having your telephone number changed to not published e.g. unavailable with directory assistance. If you have an unpublished listing be careful about giving this number out. Changing your number without making your new number not published with directory services means it is available anyone through directory services (018).
What not to do
- Do not reveal shock or anger, in most cases this is what the caller wants.
- Do not blow a whistle into the mouthpiece, the caller may do the same to you.
Continuing unwanted calls and/or texts
More advice on dealing with specific situations is available below:
If you have received a call of a serious nature, contact your local Police station for advice. Such calls or text messages could be considered a criminal offence, or may involve criminal activity and should be discussed with the Police.
A call of a serious nature may include:
- A threat to kill or seriously injure a person
- A threat to damage property
- Sexually explicit language, behaviour or pictures
- If you have received a life-threatening call or text message contact the Police immediately.
If the calls you are receiving are the subject of a Protection Order, we advise you to contact the Police, as the calls may be a breach of the Protection Order.
If you receive an unwanted message, don't reply, even if you know the number. Sometimes the best advice is to ignore it, but this depends on the circumstances. You can find out more information about mobile bullying below.
We take mobile bullying seriously and there's no need for you to put up with it. There are a lot of things you can do to help yourself and others to stop mobile bullying. Here are some tips to follow if you are receiving text messages or calls that are bullying.
Netsafe and Spark recommend that you take the following steps to keep safe:
- Only give your mobile number to trusted friends and family.
- When using chat services, remember people are not always who they say they are.
- Talk to your parents, a teacher or counsellor before a problem gets too bad.
- Keep any horrible messages on your mobile or make a note of the date, time, originating number and content. You may need this information if the problem gets out of control.
- If you get a message from an unknown number, don't reply.
- If you get a nasty message, don't reply even if you know the number.
- Don't send anything that could offend others. Before sending a message, ask yourself - could that person be hurt or offended by this message?
- Don't send a photo or video message of others without their permission. Always ask first!
If the bullying persists, or you are worried you can:
- Call us on *123 from your mobile and we can change your number.
- Contact us with the dates and times of contacts that have not been replied to over the last seven days via the Nuisance Call Log.
- Report severe bullying, especially if the bully is threatening to harm, to the Police.
These calls are dialled randomly making no number immune to receiving them, even numbers that are not published by Directory Services. These callers may present themselves as representing valid companies in an attempt to obtain personal details or access to your computer. Detailed examples on some of the latest scams can be found at the Department of Internal Affairs website http://www.dia.govt.nz/Services-Anti-Spam-Reported-Scams.
These calls mainly originate from overseas call centres and are made via the internet, making them difficult to stop them coming through. If you have the Caller Display service, the number displayed may appear as invalid number i.e. they may be 3 - 5 digits in length or be unusual number ranges e.g. 0881234567.
The best way of dealing with these calls is to not engage in conversation and immediately hang up. Do not provide any personal information. If calls persist, you could
- Unplug your telephone for a period of time
- Set your Call Minder answering service to zero rings to answer your calls for you, and authentic callers can leave a message for you Call Minder - How To Manage
- consider changing your telephone number as the last option, if the calls persist
These are automated calls made by an overseas computer to random numbers. When the phone starts ringing the computer transfers the call to a person in a contact centre to talk to you. If there is no agent is available, and you answer the call, you will hear a moment of silence followed by a computer voice saying 'Goodbye'.
As these calls are computer generated, numbers are dialled in clusters for a defined period of time. As with international telephone scams, if the calls are originating via the internet they are difficult to stop. If you have the Caller Display Service, the number displayed may appear as invalid number i.e. they may be 3 - 5 digits in length or be unusual number ranges e.g. 0881234567.
The best way to manage these calls is to hang up as they should naturally stop.
These are calls where either there is just background noise, the sound of breathing or the call is hung up shortly after you answer. These are usually a result of a wrong number being dialled or a child playing with a telephone. If you are experiencing these types of call, simply hang up and ignore them. If these calls persist we can investigate them. Dates and times of calls received over the last seven days must be provided to our team in order for us to begin an investigation. It is important to note, that if a return call is made to the number we may be are unable to assist. You can contact us by completing the Nuisance Call Log.
These are commonly fax or modem calls and are easily recognised by the distinctive 'beeps' and 'screeches'. These calls tend to occur as a result of mis-dialling when trying to send a fax or access a computer network. Often there is a pattern to the calls as the machine redials repeatedly before alerting the issue to the originator.
The best way to deal with these calls is to:
- Unplug your telephone for a period of time
- Set your Call Minder to zero rings. It will answer your calls for you & authentic callers can leave a message for you Call Minder - How To Manage
As with all non-speech type calls, we can investigate if they are causing you ongoing concern. You can contact us by completing the Unwanted Call Log form. If the calls originate from the Internet, and are causing you great concern you may need to consider changing your number.
What Happens to the Makers of Unwanted Calls?
In the case of unwanted calls, Spark makes the lessee of the originating telephone number aware of the situation (complaint) and advises that continuing to make such calls/texts could be illegal and is a breach of the Spark terms and conditions. The aim is to prevent further calls being made and the Lessee is asked to investigate. If the calls continue, further action may be taken, such as issuing a formal warning or temporary disconnection of telephone service. In serious instances the Police may be involved and may pursue prosecution.
Services Which May Assist
While changing your number is one sure way to stop unwanted calls, this solution comes with its own frustrations and due to the large majority of calls being randomly generated, is no guarantee they will not continue in the future. Spark has a range of smartphone services which may assist you to manage unwanted calls, like Call Minder, Caller Display, and FaxAbility.
Call Minder gives you the ability to set your phone to 0 rings. This may help if unwanted calls are disturbing your sleep.
- This option means your phone does not ring at all and all calls go straight to Call Minder.
- Genuine callers can leave a date and time stamped message.
- If the nuisance caller leaves a messages it can form part of evidence chain if needed.
Caller Display gives you the ability to see the number of the caller, so you know whether to answer it or not.
- You'll need a Caller Display compatible telephone, or a separate display unit attached to your existing phone.
- Caller Display is not available in all areas or it may be limited due to network constraints and incompatibility with other products and services.
FaxAbility gives you a second phone number (on the same phone line) which rings with a distinctive ring tone.
- You can also have Call Minder so you can still get messages.
- Allows you to give family and friends a different number to call so you know it's a legitimate call.
- FaxAbility is not available in all areas or it may be limited due to network constraints and incompatibility with other products and services.