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How to Report and Stop Harassing Text Messages

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

How to Report and Stop Harassing Text Messages

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Harassment is a problem that most people face at one time or another in life. Harassing messages can be merely annoying or frankly terrifying. If you have questions about how to report and stop harassing text messages, this post is for you.

Are you or a loved one facing a harassment charge?
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How to Report Harassing Text Messages to Law Enforcement

Harassment is defined under the law as “repeated or unwanted contact.”

Harassing contact may occur in any form: 1) person-to-person contact, 2) Internet contact, 3) phone contact, or 4) text message contact.

Texas harassment laws say that text messages don’t need to be specifically threatening to consider them harassing.

Harassing text messages may be spam-like or abusive. Regardless of the type of text message, the recipient of these messages has the right to take action.

If the text messages are annoying, you may be able to block the number of your mobile device. That might not prevent the harasser from texting from a new device, or by using burner numbers, but it’s worth a try.

Use these steps to report and stop harassing text messages.

Step 1: Save the Data

If possible, take a screenshot of the text message on your mobile device. If you can’t save a screen shot, use a camera to save images of the harassing data.

In addition, protect or lock the harassing message on your device. However, even if you successfully take this step, create backups to the actual text messages in the event you lose the device or it’s accidentally deleted in a system update.

Step 2: Request Your Mobile Device Records

Go to your mobile account and download your call records. If you have difficulty accessing your records, contact your mobile provider. You can also search for information online about how to retrieve your phone call records by the make and model of your mobile device.

Save and print out the call records that show the harassment you’re experiencing.

Highlight each call on the phone records to tally the number of harassing calls or text messages you’ve received.

Step #3. Compile the Evidence of Harassment

Organize the information in a way that makes it simple for a police officer to review. Creating a file folder may be helpful to make the review of evidence an easy task.

For instance, separate the data by type:

  • Put images in one folder.
  • Place the printouts of calls or text messages in a separate folder.
  • Make a “proof” folder of the steps you’ve taken to stop the harassing text or phone messages. For example, add a screenshot of your explaining to the offender that he or she should “Stop harassing me!”
  • Create a history of your contact with the harasser. Since a former romantic relationship, your current partner’s former relationship, coworker, friend, or juvenile prankster may be the harasser, compile information about the relationship gone wrong and/or your steps to end the relationship. Include any emails exchanged, messages on Facebook, or additional details that show what happened before the harassment.

This information should help police and investigators to review your complaint. You can’t be too thorough. Gather evidence to link what’s happening in a cohesive, understandable way.

Step #4.  Create an Index

An index is one of the ways you can present the information. Lay out the data clearly and make sure it’s easy to read.

After you’ve sorted data into folders, label each according to its contents.

Then, index the materials so that detectives don’t have to think about what folder to find the information they need.

If you need to add explanations or notes to any of the information, prepare the note on an index card-sized piece of paper. Staple this explanatory note to the evidence you believe requires it. For instance, you might add a note about when the harasser began the pattern of harassment. The note could refer the reviewer to the appropriate folder.

When possible, add tabs to the folders so that the reviewer can easily retrieve the right one.

Step #5. Make Copies for Yourself

Before sharing the information about harassing text messages or other harassment data with the police, make identical copies for your file.

Law enforcement agents might not return your originals for weeks or months. If an investigator or detective needs to discuss the evidence, you’ll have no problem pulling out the matching folder copy and refer him or her to “Folder 1, page 6, paragraph 3.”

Step #6. Don’t Forget Your Contact Information

Make sure to add your contact information to each folder (and each page in the folder). Provide your name, phone number, address, email, or alternate contact information.

If you have additional details about the harasser, e.g. his or her nickname, alias, phone, or email, add this information in a separate folder. This data shouldn’t be included on the first page of a folder. Your information might be returned to the harasser by accident.

Step #7: Go to Local Law Enforcement

If you know the address of your harasser, go to the police station in his or her area.

Ask to meet with a detective at the police station. You may be asked by the officer at the front desk about your matter. Keep the response short and sweet.

Speak without emotion. Calling the harasser names or accusing him or her won’t improve the results.

Use keywords. You could say, “Mary Smith started to harass me by text messages on March 15, 20–. I asked her to stop at least four times. The harassment has continued and it’s become worse. I fear for my safety and for my family’s safety. I have the evidence of Mary Smith’s harassment for your review.

If a detective isn’t available, ask for the officer’s business card and request the detective’s card. Alternatively, write down their names and contact details.

If the harassment doesn’t accelerate in the meantime, wait several days and call the detective.

Cyber Bullying is a Crime

It’s important to understand that SMS or text harassment, cyber bulling, cybercrime or internet harassment is a crime. Some people use the internet or mobile networks to threaten or harass others.

When a crime occurs on a mobile network, some law enforcement agents lack the training about what to do next. After all, the mobile network or internet isn’t a specific jurisdiction.

If you’re being harassed by a telemarketer, collection agent, or anyone else by text message or phone, you can register your number of the “Do Not Call” list. Go to to register online or call 1-888-382-1222 (1-866-290-4236 TYY) by phone. Call from the specific telephone number you want to register.

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After You Report Harassing Text Messages to Law Enforcement

A police detective usually decides the next steps. If the police believe that you’re being harassed, the city or state government will press charges if the prosecutor wishes to pursue the matter.

If a harasser sends threatening text messages about murdering you or bombing your car, criminal charges may be filed. However, you won’t file these charges. If the detective believes that nothing can be done about the harassment, your evidence may be returned to you. In that case, it’s up to you to strive for justice.

Harassment is increasingly common in today’s world. Realize that harassment isn’t your fault, but you must do everything possible to protect yourself from a threatening harasser.

If you don’t know the identity of the harasser, you could engage a private investigator or criminal lawyer. They may be able to identify the harasser—and that’s essential to getting a court order to stop the harasser in his or her tracks.

Stop Harassing Text Messages

If you contact your mobile carrier, you’ll probably be advised to file a police report first. This is necessary to get a subpoena (it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get the subpoena you request).

Police may fail to fully investigate your claim. If you know the carrier from the harasser is sending text messages, the carrier probably won’t reveal the identity of the sender without a subpoena.

Once you identify the harasser, you may consider lodging a civil complaint about him or her. You will need an experienced attorney to pursue the harasser through this means.

Contact an Experienced Texas Cybercrime Lawyer

If someone is harassing you by text message or any other means, and you’ve done everything recommended in this post with few results, call an experienced Texas cybercrime text message lawyer now.

If you’re facing harassment charges, know this is a serious criminal charge. You need the assistance of a knowledgeable Texas harassment lawyer as soon as possible.

Call The Law Office of Greg Tsioros in Houston at 832-752-5972 to schedule an initial case evaluation as soon as possible to protect yourself now.

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