The Rules of Prank Calling

Prank calling is a really fun activity, but it’s very easy to go just a little too far in your calls and end up getting yourself into some kind of trouble. This handy online guide will hopefully help you avoid that.

Most of the rules revolve around trying to keep the authorities uninterested in your prank calls, which is good for everyone. Involving the police in your pranks is not only a threat to your own freedom, but it also ties up emergency services. Follow these guidelines for a long, illustrious, jail-free career in prank calling…

  • Don’t involve emergency services. This should be common sense, because when you start involving emergency services, your local police are suddenly interested in your prank calls and you may find yourself getting fined or arrested. So as hilarious as you think it will be, don’t send the police or fire department to your victim’s house and don’t make silly prank calls to 911 or local police stations.
  • Don’t make threats. Making threats, even when you don’t mean it, is a crime. Threats scare people and then they call the police over a silly prank call. Don’t threaten to kill anyone. Don’t threaten to slap anyone. Don’t threaten to blow up cars and houses. Don’t call Wal-Mart and give them the secret bomb and fire codes. Threats are bad and can result in your arrest, even if the call recipient threatened you first.
  • Don’t impersonate the police. You can’t pretend to be a police officer or an FBI agent over the phone. Not only is this illegal, but once your victim becomes suspicious of your call, they might call back the agency that you’re pretending to be with to confirm your identity and then the police become involved in your pranks. The police don’t like it when ordinary citizens pretend to be them.
  • Don’t call emergency hotlines. Suicide hotlines are off limits. Come on, do you really want to tie up the lines at a place that tries to keep people from killing themselves? Don’t mess with hotlines that are designed to help people. You’re not being original at all when you pretend that you want to kill yourself to a hotline worker. It’s been done a bazillion times before.
  • Don’t cause damage. It’s incredibly easy to trick people into doing stupid things over the phone, but you should never exploit this fact to cause another person damage property or hurt people. Don’t get people to break things, or microwave their cell phones, or set their house on fire, or hit themselves with a hammer. It’s fun to exploit the stupidity of humans, but you should stick to making them do things that are hilarious, rather than things that actually hurt people or damage property.
  • Confess that it was a prank. Prank call recipients will often overreact and call the police even if you’re doing your best by not making threats and not involving the police. When you think this is a possibility with your victim, maybe it’s time to let them know that they’ve been pranked. Explain to them that you’re not really who you say you are and that you’re simply a prank caller who chose them at random and that their calls to the police will be pointless since you’re on the other side of the country. Apologize, laugh at them, and move on.
  • Don’t steal personal data. It’s easy to trick people out of their personal information, but you should be careful when doing this because once the victim finds out that you’re not who you say you are, their imagination will run wild and they’ll assume that you’re an identity thief and that they need to report you. And obviously, talking someone out of their credit card numbers or other account numbers can get you into trouble, even if you didn’t write them down and had no intention of using them.
  • Don’t prank locally. If you call someone in your own area, you’re making it really easy to get yourself into trouble if things happen to go wrong. Mainly because only one police department needs to decide that your call was a problem for them to try and do something about it. By sticking to far away places (and not breaking any of the other rules) you’re making it much more of a hassle for the authorities to show up at your door. Not impossible, of course, but much less likely.
  • Only one call per recipient. Don’t keep calling the same guy over and over and over, no matter how much he makes you laugh when he screams at you. When you keep calling the same person repeatedly, you’re suddenly harassing your victim instead of making a simple funny prank phone call to them. Try to keep it to a single prank phone call, maybe two, and then stop forever and move on to someone else. This will help keep the police completely uninterested in you.

This list is based on the Phone Losers of America’s rules of prank calling, but has been shortened up a bit to be more compatible with 21st century attention spans. Have we forgotten any important tips? Email us your suggestions.