Home > The Monday Musings Column > dealing with prank callers

dealing with prank callers

Hoax calls made the news last week in circumstances that turned out to have tragic repercussions. They are, of course, not a new phenomenon, so how are facilities management teams geared up to handle these sorts of things?

There are two primary types of hoax call; the malicious and the prank, but then there is another factor to consider, and that is whether the calls are inbound or outbound.

Organisations should have a well-accepted process in place for dealing with threat calls and this should be used for the malicious inbound call because you will not know whether or not it is a hoax and all such calls should be treated with respect, triggering the laid down response that you have a process for. I’m not going to get into specifics here because I have no control over who will be reading this and don’t want to aid the sort of people who make such calls, hoax or otherwise.

Whether or not you see a difference between malicious and prank calls is possibly a matter of personal opinion. I have my own views as will become apparent in a moment, but the issue of such calls coming in is potentially a problem and there should be a process in place to ensure that whoever deals with your press or external relations is told if you find that you have been on the end of one of these calls. If they have come from some form of media; TV, radio or printed then they will probably want to use whatever they got. Even if they got nowhere, then you have still been targeted and the right people within your organisation need to know.

The point of the prank call is to make someone appear stupid so that others can be entertained and so they are all, for me, malicious. Especially where the intention is that the “someone” who is made to look stupid is the organisation on the receiving end of the call. The problem for the recipient is that most such calls may be genuine and you can’t take the chance of offending a genuine caller or customer.  Providing training on this type of problem call is a part of some organisation’s process and it may well be worth thinking about if you haven’t considered it.

Prank calls are a form of theft in that the people who perpetrate them are stealing the time and resources of the victim as a minimum and, where it involves a public sector victim as many cases do, it is our money as taxpayers that is being stolen. This is just the financial impact on the recipient, let alone any emotional ones, hence the need to have a process in place to ensure that such calls are being reported so that you can deal with them in the most appropriate way.

If the calls are coming from your organisation then you have a different problem to deal with and one that should be covered by the disciplinary processes that you have in place. It isn’t necessarily as common a problem in these days of IT driven technology where calls are easier to track, but there are still those who get bored and like to wind up colleagues. There all the time being wasted is your organisations.

As with any incident we should try to learn, so in the wake of last week have a think about how your team handle such calls. And if you’re one of those who enjoy pranks, just consider how much that might be costing if you were the victim.


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