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How to Report Harassing Text Messages to the Police

Updated on June 15, 2016

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"Harassment" is legally defined as repeated, unwanted contact. This contact can come in any form, from in-person contact to internet or phone communications. Harassment via text message is yet another form that can be very brutal, emotional and scary for the individual being harassed.

Harassment does not have to be threatening to be "harassing."

It can take the form of abusive messages or text message "spam." Regardless of the situation, it is not legal nor justified and you have the right to take action.

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Step 1: Save the Harassment Data

Depending on your phone, you may be able to take a "screenshot" of the data. If your phone is not capable of doing so, you can use a camera to take photos.

You will also want to "Lock" or "Protect" each harassing message. But you still must be sure to have backup copies in the event that something happens to your phone so your data is not lost.

Step 2: Get Your Cell Phone Records

You should be able to login to your account and download your cell phone records. If you do not know how to access them, call your phone provider or Google Search "How to Get Phone Records for (Your Make/Model of Phone)." Be sure to save and also print the records that coincide with the harassment you are experiencing.

I suggest taking a highlighter and highlighting the exact lines on the records that show the harassment.

Step 3: Compile All Evidence

The most important step (besides having all of your evidence) is to organize it in a fashion that makes it easy for police to navigate through. File folders might help.

Lay out all of your data by "type." For example, one folder will be your photo evidence, a second folder will be your print-outs of your cell phone records, a third folder can consist of the proof of all the efforts you have made to stop the harassment; such as evidence via screenshot of you telling the offender to "stop harassing me" as well as any other efforts you have taken.

Another folder can consist of any "history" you have had with the harasser. For example, if the harasser is a former friend or date; compiling evidence of the relationship-gone-bad and your decision to end the relationship is of great use to police. Any email correspondence, Facebook messages or other evidence you have that shows what led up to the harassment is very important.

You can opt to have as many folders as needed to provide police with all evidence in regard to your complaint. Be as thorough as possible. If the individual who is harassing you is also harassing others, it is imperative to gather evidence that links it all together.

Step 4: Make an Index

Image Compliments of www.talkleft.com
Image Compliments of www.talkleft.com

The index above is an example of what is used in court to provide evidence. As you can see, it is laid out very clearly and easy to read. Label each of your folders to match the contents within and create an index similar to the one above that allows the detectives to go directly to the folder they need without digging through mounds of paper.

TIP: If you need to make "notes," write them onto a quarter-page size piece of paper and then staple the paper to the evidence that requires the note. An example of an important "note" would be: "On this page you will see where Mr. Doe began the harassment. In Folder #3 you will see that this is the same date that I ended my relationship with Mr. Doe."

I like to tab my folders so they are mega-simple to go through.

Step 5: Make a Matching Copy for Yourself

It is mandatory (in my opinion) that you make an identical copy of what you are providing to police for yourself. You may not be able to get the files you turn over to law enforcement back for a very long time (if at all), depending on how far your case goes.

In the event that police need to speak to you about evidence, it is a breeze to pull out your matching copy and refer to "Folder #6, page #4, paragraph #2" and so on.

Who Do You Think Is MOST LIKELY to Text Harass?

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Step 6: Contact Information

Make sure you include your contact information on the very front of your binder or folder that contains your evidence. Do not limit your contact information to just your name and phone number. Include your address, email and an alternate contact phone number.

If you have information about your harasser (name, nick-names, aliases, email, address, etc), make this its own folder. Do not include this on the main page, as you do not want your evidence accidentally returned to your harasser instead of you.

Step 7: Going to Law Enforcement

If you know where your harasser resides, you will need to go to law enforcement in their area, not yours, even if they live in the next city over.

When you enter the police station, ask to speak to a detective. Most likely you will need to explain your case briefly to the person working the front desk area. When providing your explanation keep it short and simple.

Speak clearly and without emotion. Stating things like "John Doe is a basket-case and psychopath who needs to be locked up!" is not effective and will not get you help any faster (even if John Doe is indeed a basket-case psycho who really does need to be locked up).

Instead, use keywords that explain your issue, such as "John Doe began severely harassing me through text messages on (date). I have asked him to cease numerous times. The harassment has became worse and I am now fearful for my safety as well as my family's safety. I have brought all of the corresponding evidence of John's harassment with me."

If you are unable to speak to a detective, be sure to get a business card for both the officer and detective. If business cards are not available, record the officer's name and the detective's name as well as the detective's phone number.

Providing the harassment doesn't get "worse" (meaning John Doe doesn't make a threat like "I am going to kill you tonight"), wait a few days then follow up directly with the detective.

One Issue with Cyber Crime

Unfortunately, many cities and/or states are still learning how to address cyber bullying, internet harassment, SMS / text harassment, and so on. The reason for this is because before the internet become a tool to harass and threaten, police were given "jurisdictions" and each law enforcement agency operated within their jurisdiction.

When a "crime" occurs on the internet, many law enforcement officials do not know how specifically to deal with the issue since the crime occurred online. "Cyber space" is not in a specific jurisdiction.

For more information, read What Happens After Text Message Harassment is Reported to Police.

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    • emily blackson 2 years ago

      What if the messages are not threatening? A guy I know has been sending me 30-40 text messages a day consisting of copied and pasted news articles for over a year now. When I do not answer he says things like "Why don't you answer my text messages?" or "You are very quiet" or "are you mad"? It's very annoying and I have repeatedly asked him to stop sending me so many messages.

    • mk waukters 2 years ago

      Iam getting scary and nasty text nessages i don't know this person .what can i do

    • Jen 24 months ago

      My x bf Danny Funicello age 44 addrs 520 bostwick Daytona fl has been stalking texting all for over a yr police reports etc I'm now scared for my life !

    • Bart 22 months ago

      I'm getting weird messages from someone off of Craig's list that I decided not to meet at a hotel because it was sketchy and unsafe. Now they text me everyday saying I need to read a book, I missed out on a $1300 tv and I'm stupid and they wish the best of luck to my family and they are better so, so...

    • Peggy 19 months ago

      I received some very nasty text messages from my step nice calling me everything but a white woman I tried to get her to stop one day there was something on the Internet and it was a joke so my brother was here with me I told it to him so he went along with the joke and said he said it but I was using my phone on my Facebook well my step nice took it in wrong context and started to hurasse me about it and said when she comes to ky she's going to press charges against me and I'm miss treating my mother and her grandpa when I have tried to do so much for the both of them I'm the only one here who's been in the family who has helped what can I do about the hurassment she has given me it has up set me greatly

    • zottmann 14 months ago

      I have a situation were an X-friend wont stop calling me on my cell phone and on Google voice, leaving rude and mean comments all most non stop. He also calls my friends and makes lies up about me to try and turn them against me. I'm disabled and suffer from panic disorder. These calls are driving me to the point of not being able to sleep, relax or concentrate. This man that calls me also has a illegal stolen hand gun in his home and shows signs of being extremely mentally unstable, which in turn causes my panic attacks to be unbearable. Please help me.. Thank you

    • Shali 13 months ago

      ABUSING LANGUAGE BY UNKNOWN CALLER

      i am getting repeated calls from +91 9066509315 abusing languages day and night. i dont know who is he please help me.

    • Yes 6 months ago

      He's an ex. He texted me to kill myself, after I blocked him for saying unneeded comments on my facebook messages, such as calling me names and blaming me for everything that goes wrong. He was never physically abusive, but mentally? Lying, games, everything. And it didn't stop once we were broken up. He says he's been nothing but nice, but that is a lie, it's gotten worse. He now has all of his friends sending me the same message, putting me down on something he knows I love to do and calling me out on bloking him. I texted him to stop and just leave me alone and that was when he told me to kill myself followed by a declaration of non-adulthood, implying he can do and say whatever he feels like to me.

    • Crow 6 months ago

      No clue who it is, since it seems like a cell number, but it could very well be a texting app. Those close to me have been getting stalked by some people for a few days now, and they're becoming rape and death threats.

    • skcamper 6 months ago

      My roommate brings guys home from plenty of fish.Last one has been here about 9 times now staying over weekends.We just got an eviction notice thx to my roommate not complying with the lease.Meanwhile this guy is a complete 24 hr drunk and crackhead who was homeless in clearwater and is now in cape coral.He has told my roommate that I want him and has been blowing up my text and phone.I reported to the police and they do nothing. She supposedly stopped talking to him but she said she saw him yesterday on the way home from work. She has a rifle in her closet.I am trapped here as there is nowhere for me to go.I have a 13 yr old cat I'm afraid for when I go out to the store. David Rudolph age 55 in cape coral fl. is the harasser. I have packed my things but need a place to go.This is insane. I don't socialize with people and all this is happening. I just don't understand. I don't know what the ending of all this will be,but I just want to say I am scared,and getting no help from the police,I may be a statistic soon.

    • Ana 6 months ago

      I am getting nasty text from this # 917-599-5383

    • Brian 6 months ago

      If someone is harassing you make sure you get video cameras and set them up at and around your house in very key locations. Including enterances and exits, side doors, your backyard and have the cameras facing windows of your home. Another very key tactic you can do is get a court order restraining order against your stalker or harasser. If the said person breaks the law and is in violation of the restraining order you can simply call the police and then show them the video evidence of the violation and have your stalker/harasser taken into custody. Another very useful option you can take full advantage of is if your stalker/harasser is sending these acts over the phone you can call your phone provider and have that specific number blocked. Depending on your phone you should also be able to do it yourself by choosing the number you want blocked and pressing the Block This Number Button towards the bottom of the page. I can't express enough how crucially important it is for you to get the video cameras set up as soon as humanly possible. Also make sure that the cameras you chose can be remotely viewed via a cellphone, tablet or computer. A quality security surveillance system can run you from anywhere to $300 to roughly $700, of course some are beyond the prices I have stated but trust me when I say that it is beyond worth spending the couple hundred dollars to protect yourself. Stay safe everyone !!!

    • arrhian nichole cabical 5 months ago

      please help me to find the guy from monarch australia,i am from philippines, and he is making blockmail to me,he is abbusing me...his name in facebook is Sam Philip ..please he is not good man..he abused me......please help me..i need to stop him from posting photos in my timeline...please can anybody help me..??

    • HenryWright55 5 months ago

      ive gotten harassing text messages from my ex and her friends, threatening me about how they are going to make my life a living hell, and calling me different things/teasing me. I will probably be going to different websites to try and sort this out because I have had enough. If you could help it would be amazing. Thank you

    • EasyE 4 months ago

      I've recently received about 15-20 long text messages threatening me. He's said he has NSA connections and police connections to locate me via satellite, etc... and is going to devote time to ruining my life. I don't even know the guy personally bit know who he is. His vendetta against me is unwarranted and ridiculous, not to mention invalid. However I've not responded to anything he's sent and just stayed silent. But it's beginning to get extremely degrading and violent involving my family in his threats. What should I do about this. Trust me, I'm a country boy from WV and if i got ahold of this fella he'd be noT able to type for a long time. But I've kept my cool so far but am running out of patients. Please help me figure out what to do and how to handle this situation. Thanks.

      -easyE

    • Laura Casale 4 months ago

      My ex got an FRO against me and is misusing it to threaten me. He tries to force me to break it. He's harassing me now.do I have any recourse?

    • tony haru 3 months ago

      hiroo,is gettling lots of prank calls,and text messages on his cellphone! even from Washington dc area code 202,703,even nyc

    • autumn 3 months ago

      a girl on my cheer squad is threatening me text and she is threating to beat me up and says she is going to tell everyone at school stuff and wont stop texting me

    • Karena 2 months ago

      Yes my whatever you want to call him his name is Glenn D Taylor and he stole my car I paid for insured and registered with no problems and he and I had a fight and he stole it from me demanding the title the car is at his place locked up on his property and he is saying it's not paid for and is going to sue me for it and I just don't get why he is like this. Back in July we had a fight and he repeatedly abused me by throwing me across the room and also chocked me twice and I got a restraining order. How stupid I was to take him back during the restraining order and I dropped the case and the restraining order against him and he also got me the car through a friend and now won't give it back. His number is 845-423-3559 don't hire him he is a theif and sleeps with his customers as well and only claims $5,200 a year with medical insurance and internal Revuenue so I guess I'm not over with abuseive men in my life not sure why he does this with every woman he ever dated too going back to his first marriage and first set of kids of 10 and no one wants nothing to do with him.

    • Anna 2 months ago

      My ex landlord is saying that I owe him 275 dollars for painting the walls a color that he did not like. He wanted green, not white so he repainted them and is trying to charge me for the green paint. I told him that I will pay him and be patient but he took it to another level. He calls me whore, bitch and tells me that he is going to kill me. He repeatedly leaves messages telling me that he is going to get me and just wait. This has been going on for three to four months. He texted that he is going to kill me so I am saving the texts.

    • sean 2 months ago

      646 513 6935 keeps calling and calling and calling.. I didn't do anything to his girl and I really wish it would stop. This clown is calling all times during the night. 646 513 6935 Would YOU PLEASE STOP CALLING ME - FOR REAL. GET A LIFE DUDE!

    • anon 2 months ago

      My sons half sisters mother keeps texting me from different numbers warnig me to sto bringing my son over to his grandmothers on the days her sister is there and texts me often. I never respond. The kids are two months apart my son is the oldest. His father and I grew up together went to prom everything. This young lady is delusional. Sadly my sons father and his family were complete jerks throughout my pregnancy. They did not tell me about the girl until my 8th month. I was devastated. I got over it moved on and i take care of my son. I have a distant relationship with the family but always allow my son to come over when they ask. Idk how she got my number and his family say they are sorry. Its like they accept her behavior just so she wont keep her daughter away. I didbt ask for this. She is directing her anger at the wrong person. She needs to stop and grow up.

    • Talaminianna 7 weeks ago

      Been harass for 3 years and I'm so tired I been busy working, idk who this person is but he claims he seen my facebook page and stared texting me and looking through my pictures and calling me names and constantly messaging me even when In ignore him he send me some pictures of myself telling me he wants to make me famous, I want this person to leave me alone. I changey number last night he said he will always find me. His number is 678 616 1176, he claims we also know each other but he never confirm to me who he was so I don't know him.

    • Le,kimanh 7 weeks ago

      my name is Le,KimAnh ..he my ex boyfriend after I devoid he used my he borow my mother $45.000.00 then he cut he phone so I can't contact him .now i have my new boyfriend he try to tell me give him another change. I sey No now he said he have me sex picture Necked with him in the pass... He harassing me and try to send dirty emails to my and my new boyfriend....

    • Caitlin 7 weeks ago

      I'm 12 and this person has been saying stuff about me and threatening me and bullying me because of my race and it's been going on for 3 weeks

    • rick roberts 6 weeks ago

      as far as buying a camera set up, i needed to catch a thief, so i bought a complete 4- camera set up with dvr, transfers to a cloud for storage, plus interweb accessable, 24/7 . also has motion sensor alarm for detection of intruders or some one in the field of sight. total cost $129.00. available at HARBOR FREIGHT. Best thing for deterent to burglars, stalkers, and general human vermin. works! plus if they think there on video they generally back off. 'dummie cameras' might help also

    • Erin 6 weeks ago

      People please, if someone is harassing you, either by phone, Internet, messaging app, Facebook, etc.....just follow the tips in this article. My 14 year old sons "friend" from school has been harassing me through a messaging app for several hours now for seemingly no reason. I just got a message from this kid out of the blue. He is showing no signs of stopping, either. I asked him to stop. He responds by saying "I know who you are!!" Well good for him *sarcasm*..... I then said I would be speaking to his parents about his behavior, again asked him to stop harassing me and that I would no longer respond to his harassing messages. And I HAVEN'T! The thing is, if you ask someone to stop harassing you and they keep doing it, do NOT respond any further because that is what they want. They want to get a reaction out of you and they will try to get you to lash out at them any way they can so that they can make it seem like YOU are immature, crazy and that YOU are the one that's harassing THEM. So again I say.....follow the tips in the article! It does help.

    • Verena 4 weeks ago

      Someone who I have no idea who it is, 214-919-5428 saying they are my husband of 30 years girlfriend is harassing me, with watch your back, don't start your car, threatening everyone in my entire house. At first I ignored it when they said for me to leave their husband alone as I figured they had wrong person....but then they gave personal information, our names, address, etc....told me to kill myself....i may have even thought seriously it could be a real girlfriend so I responded with personal questions that anyone with my husband would have to know, and they couldn't answer those so figure it's someone playing games with our lives. My phone, and ipad have both been hacked by someone for months now, and someone goes in my FB too, not to mention I see numerous stuff in my browsers that I never looked up. Most of this information this person has told me could have been found out if they have hacked my stuff. I've tried unsuccessfully to do reverse lookups.

    • Christy 4 weeks ago

      I have a number texting me just "Hey" every time & i've told them to leave me alone several times. he said if we can date. i said ur not dating my 7 yr old daughter. he still won't leave me alone, hes out of atlanta ga. Ive told him im going to report him & he still won't leave me alone.

    • hiroo 3 weeks ago

      this blond haired,woman who goes to heanue's in white plains lives in mt.vernon but says lplanning,to live in fleetwood harassed about christmas present and godiva chocolates at westchester mall she knows i got money for christmas she is trying to emblezze me!

    • Tata 2 weeks ago

      That someone accusing me by the sin it wasn't my fault in fact i don't even that people at all

    • Chris 13 days ago

      Good article

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