Hello...uh...is your refrigerator running?

Is there any law or regulation (FCC or otherwise) that makes it illegal to make a prank (crank) phone call?
Tune in to any “morning zoo” type radio program and you can just about guarantee that at some point you’ll get to laugh your ass off while they humiliate some poor slob on the telephone.
One show I’ve heard will routinely play various recordings of one of their staff members badgering folks on the phone. When they hang up…he calls back (“uh, hello, we seem to have been disconnected”)…several times. This can go on for quite some time (same victim), and the host of the program is always quick to note, “You people out there in radio land only heard about 10 minutes of that bit. He actually tortured that old woman with phone calls for over an hour.”
Seems to me this might constitute some sort of harassment, yet it seems a staple of the American “Shock Jock”.
Don’t get me wrong, I often (not always) find that stuff pretty funny.
But how can they get away with it?

I can certainly imagine cases where litigation would be forthcoming, if a prankee was particularly distressed. I’m sure radio stations have been sued many times, at a guess.

I heard recently about a woman who was candidly filmed being ‘chased’ by ‘aliens’ for a sci-fi program. I think she is taking action for the distress caused.

As to being illegal, well not being in the US, I have no idea on your laws. I would guess that unless you are prank-calling one of the emeregency services, its OK -dunno though.

I heard recently on a local radio station that there was a law passed forbidding the radio stations from doing those prank calls without the other party’s consent. Basically they said that the person on the other line knows what is going on and is in on the prank. They said this law was passed fairly recently. I don’t beleive everything I hear on the radio, but I can send the person who said this an email asking him for proof. He usually takes a while to answer (up to a week or two) but he does always answer.

Don’t they even have a show with puppets acting out real prank calls on the comedy channel named “Crank Yankers”?
I’ve often wondered about the legality of doing this… kids are always told it’s illegal and so forth; is this just scare tactics seeing as how it’s so very common, and some adults even make a (partial) living at it?

BTW my favorite prank calls to download are the Arnold Schwarzenneggar calls… can’t beleive how many people don’t recognize the voice, or the lines from his movies.

oh i assure you it is indeed illegal…in my freshman year of high school a few friends and myself got in trouble w/ the cops for pranking our one teacher…there were 5 of us involved and we each had to pay a fine and do 40 hrs community service…not to mention the punishments from our parents…i was grounded for 2 months…lol scary back then but quite humorous in retrospect:P


I love those Schwarzenegger bits too!

AS: “Who is your daddy, and what does he do?”

Unsuspecting dupe: “huh???”

AS: “Dammit, I’m a cop!!!”

Okay I sent the guy from the radio an email and this is how he resoponded.

“I don’t have an article. I have been told that.”

So my source has no proof either.

Prank calls and telemarketing are not illegal, unless it’s harassing (calling multiple times).

An open phone line is an open invitation, and if the resident can hang up and not get a call back, all is good.

I’d bet Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez probably wishes prank phonecalls were illegal, then maybe he could’ve done something about this .