When a stranger calls ... with nothing to say

Friday, October 25, 2013, Vol. 37, No. 43

Harassing phone calls. What other term would fit? For months now – more than a year, for sure, two years perhaps – at home, on our land line, we receive up to a dozen nuisance calls per week.

This is in addition to the unwanted marketing calls.

Far more, really, than we ever received before the appearance a few years ago of the Do Not Call List. Or whatever it was called.

These are not hang-up calls. They are calls in which the initiator says absolutely nothing.

What bothers me most happened again just this morning. At 5:14 a.m., I was awakened by an incoming call. The caller ID showed the number: 205 703-2238. I hate that I even play the game, but I don’t automatically remember the numbers from call to call.

“Hello,” I said. On the other end of the line, nothing.

After hanging up, I did go back to sleep. Only to be awakened again, at 5:36. This time caller ID showed 415 889-2797.

This time I picked up but did not say hello. After 10 seconds of silence, I hung up again.

But no going back to sleep this time. I was awake. And I was mad. Really mad! Yet again, someone, somewhere – with or without the aid of a computer program – had robbed me of a sleep cycle.

The above scenario has played itself out in earlier hours of the morning – 1 a.m.-ish – at least a dozen times in the past two years. Though, not necessarily from the same two numbers.

Who’s behind it? What purpose does it serve?

Googling the numbers, I found sites called “Directory of Unknown Callers” and “Phone Call Complaints,” where the following appears:

“Did you get a call from 205-703-2238? Read the posts below to find out details about this number. … Country: USA … Location: Alabama (Birmingham, Clanton, Jasper).”

There was one post: “Received a call from this number at 12:22 a.m. When I called back, it was a quick busy signal.”

“415 889-2797 … Calling every Saturday early morning … says nothing. … Phone numbers in the 415-889 area code exchange are located in San Francisco.”

So, let’s recap. I’ve been receiving annoying calls that wake me up in the wee hours of the morning. The area codes range from Birmingham to San Francisco. No voice is heard at the other end of the line. My intuition tells me the calls are related. Cursory research on the Internet tells me I am not alone.

I need your help to develop a plan to bring this practice to a halt. Would anyone like to share similar stories? Better yet, does anyone have an explanation for these occurrences?

If you have a solution to the problem and consent to having it published in this column, upon confirmation that your solution worked, I will award you with something a cut above complimentary parting gifts.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.