What Is Considered Phone Harassment?

By Mary Jane Freeman - Updated June 16, 2017
Sad teenager checking mobile phone

Depending on where you live, phone harassment may fall under the state's general harassment laws or a law that specifically addresses harassment by phone. Regardless of which harassment law your state has on the books, it is typically illegal under both types to call another person with the intent to scare, threaten or intimidate her.

General Harassment Laws Often Ban Abusive Phone Calls

Harassment, whether or not by phone, is behavior meant to intimidate, annoy or threaten another person, or place that person in fear for their safety or that of their family. Many states don't have a specific phone harassment law. However, using your phone to harass another person is often one of several prohibited activities. For example, calling someone without identifying yourself solely to alarm, abuse, threaten or abuse that person is harassment under New Hampshire's general harassment law. Similarly, Missouri's general harassment law includes anonymously calling someone to intimidate, frighten or cause emotional distress.

Some States Define Phone Harassment

In states that do have specific phone harassment statutes, similar language is used. For example, Ohio's phone harassment law includes such acts as calling another person to threaten such acts, calling another person to threaten, harass or abuse her, not identifying yourself when you call, continuing to call when told not to, and proposing sexual activity. Washington state's phone harassment law is similar, outlawing calls meant to torment, harass, intimidate or embarrass the recipient. Illinois' phone harassment law bans much of the same behavior, but also calls meant to harass a child under 13.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

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