Behind the Front Page
By Maureen Robertson
TELEPHONE TRESPASS—That’s what Barbara Wallace, the crime prevention specialist at the sheriff’s Ramona substation, calls what happened to a Ramona teenager. Someone called the girl about 10:30 p.m. last Wednesday impersonating a reporter and attempting to get personal information from her.
The teen’s mother was in a vehicle with her daughter when the girl answered the cell phone. The mother, who will remain anonymous, said the call came from a restricted number and her daughter said it sounded like a woman who said she was with the Sentinel and doing an article about students going back to school.
The mother said she sensed something wasn’t right when her daughter started giving personal information such as her age and grade in school. When the teenager started to give her address, the mother grabbed the phone and asked who it was. The caller hung up.
“She gave the first two numbers of our street address when I took the phone,” the mother said.
The mother called the Sentinel Thursday to inform the paper of the call and agreed it is important to alert the public to the phone hoax that has the potential of being dangerous. Her daughter was emotionally shaken by the incident, particularly after the mother explained the possible ramifications of giving personal information to an unknown person.
“There’s no reason they would ask your address,” she told her daughter. “…You can never be too careful.”
That’s correct, says Wallace. “We call it telephone trespass, because they’re calling you. You didn’t initiate the call. If you initiate the call, it’s up to you and it’s OK to give information, because you’re in control…You only deal on the phone or computer with people you know or you only give out information if you made the call.”
That message is for all ages, she said, noting that older people have a tendency of not wanting to be rude when they receive a “telephone trespass” call.
“I stress to seniors, you didn’t initiate the call, you have every right to be rude and hang up,” she said. “They’re intruding in your house. It’s sort of like someone is reaching their hand inside your door and retrieving your personal information.”
Wallace is available to talk to groups, classes, organizations and individuals about crime prevention. Those wanting to talk to her about talking to their class or group may call her at 760-738-2425.
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