Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Tuesday, January 11, 2000

GTE explains how
nuisance calls handled

Question: How do you go about stopping anonymous, harassing phone calls? Situation: Call comes in, answered, silence, then the caller hangs up, never saying a word. Day in and day out. Used Star 69 to trace the last number called. Privacy block. Called GTE and instituted Anonymous Call Block service. No number blocked for "privacy" can come through unless they remove the block. Failed. The anonymous caller still gets through and still remains anonymous. Calls may be coming from long distance. GTE says the next step is the Call Trace Service. Homeowner reports time and date of calls to GTE, which sends info to HPD. If calls are from out of state, then it's an FBI matter.

Then what? Can authorities trace calls coming from long distance or through a computer, a network? What percentage of strange callers are traced down? What are the penalties, if any, for harassing calls? What is the likelihood that there will be further retaliation from the anonymous caller?

Answer: Your situation is not uncommon, with GTE Hawaiian Tel fielding such complaints every day, said Keola Siafuafu of GTE's Nuisance Call Bureau.

GTE spokesman Keith Kamisugi wasn't able to provide a figure, but said the majority of such nuisance calls are identified through long-distance carriers.

"Most of the time," he said, the nuisance calls are from telemarketers and "we can take care of the problem right away." Siafuafu explained the process:

When calls come in long distance (not placed through the GTE trunk), a trap is set on the GTE switch to identify which long-distance company is involved.

"Then we contact the long-distance company and have them set a trap in their switch to identify the actual calling number," Siafuafu said.

What usually happens, Siafuafu said, is that a solicitor will call many numbers at one time. The first person who answers will get the pitch, while the rest of the calls are "dropped." That's when you end up with "silent calls," Siafuafu said.

Asked if there was a penalty attached to employing such methods, he said, "not necessarily." If the calls are coming through GTE, "We identify them and try to take care of the problem ourself," he said.

If another long-distance carrier is involved, "They tell us they will take care of the problem and that's basically the end of it."

Customers usually are satisfied because the calls cease at that point, he said.

However, when a nuisance-call complaint comes in, the first assumption is that the calls are malicious, Kamisugi said. So, customers are told to file a complaint with police.

"If we find that it's something other than a telemarketer, we turn the information over to HPD (misdemeanor division)," Kamisugi said.

If the calls are from the mainland, HPD will refer the case to the FBI. However, Kamisugi said the FBI will not act "unless it's a life-threatening situation."

If you have a problem, call the Nuisance Call Bureau at 1-800-257-2969.

'Live Aloha' update

Update Kokua Line's list of handy numbers and addresses printed Jan. 5 by noting this change. To get a "Live Aloha" bumper sticker, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Live Aloha, 165 Waokanaka Place, Honolulu, HI 96817, or to The Hawaii Community Foundation, 900 Fort St. Mall, No. 1300, Honolulu, HI 96813. Free, but donations are welcomed.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
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