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Is It Illegal To Prank Call?


See, “Prank calling is one of those activities that existed long ago. Since the telephone was invented, yeah, it has existed ever since. The legality of prank calling is not black and white; it is shaded by a number of federal and state laws in the United States. This article explains at what point a prank call becomes illegal, the penalties involved, and how citizens can protect themselves from prank calls that may do them harm. So yeah, let’s see what the law says about pranking someone on the call. Here we go.

Is It Illegal To Prank Call

What Is Considered A Prank Call Though?

A prank call is any form of phone call made with the intention to deceive, annoy, or joke with the recipient over the call. Though most of the time it remains an innocent form of humor, sometimes they might be annoying or even persecutory. The clear difference is between intent and outcome. Calls that harass, threaten, or use the emergency services inappropriately step firmly into the realm of illegality.

Also read  Is It Illegal To Record Someone Without Their Permission?

In What Situations Or Cases Prank Calls Are Considered Illegal?

Such prank calls would be covered under varied U.S. laws, including those covering harassment, wiretapping, and misuse of emergency services. The nature of the prank call and how serious it is would determine whether such prank calls would be carried by federal or state laws.

  • Harassment and Disorderly Conduct: Repeated unwanted calls might even be constituted as harassment, a criminal offense. If any form of threats or language issued forth from the prank call to make one feel alarmed, harassed, or the content is constituted so as to provoke a breach of the peace, this too is considered disorderly conduct.
  • Wiretapping and Privacy: It is illegal to tape-record a conversation over the telephone without the other parties first being aware of it in most states. This law alone would cause prank phone callers to dramatically decrease, who in many cases have been accused of recording their antics to post on websites or to show friends. Wiretapping laws are a weighty legal consequence if broken.
  • Misuse of Emergency Services: The 911 prank, or any prank calls to an emergency service, for that matter, is illegal and is held as a huge offense. This kind of prank is wasting precious resources and, in one way or another, may even make real situations more dangerous by diverting the focus from them.
  • Hate Crimes: On the basis of racial, religious, sexual orientation, or other identity grounds and any other remarks that are included in law, this is when prank calls can turn into hate crimes.


All in all, even though sometimes a prank call might sound exciting and harmless, do not forget the limits of the law and the potential consequences that might arise from your actions. A law has been enacted in the United States to ensure protection from harassment, threats, and any other malicious acts caused by prank calling. So yeah, it is better to stay away from prank-calling someone, you might get into some legal stuff.


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