Neighbour Hood Support

Stopping accidental or hoax 111 calls

Every year, Police, Fire and Ambulance receive thousands of unintended, hoax and other misguided calls. These non-emergency calls all add to the load on the 111 system and make it harder for emergency services to do their job because they're tied up dealing with inappropriate calls.

Simple tips to prevent accidental or hoax calls

  • Use the keypad lock on your mobile phone. It's been known for 111 to be accidentally called when phone keypads get knocked or squashed while in a person's pocket or bag without the keypad lock on.
  • Don't pre-programme the 111 number into your home or mobile phone. It doesn't save you any time and helps prevent accidental 111 calls.
  • Small fingers can cause big problems - don't let children play with your mobile, portable or landline phone. It's easy for them to accidentally dial 111.
  • When teaching your children how and when to call 111, unplug the phone and emphasise that 111 is for emergencies only.

Penalties for abuse and misuse of the 111 system

There are a range of penalties and actions that can be taken against people who abuse or misuse the 111 system. Under the Telecommunications Act 2001 (Section 112), misuse of a telephone device carries a maximum fine of $2000 or up to 3 months imprisonment. If Telecom receives more than one false 111 call in a month from the same Telecom phone they can charge for the second and any subsequent 111 call. In extreme cases of repeated misuse or abuse the phone provider can disconnect the phone.

Dealing with Malicious Calls

If you receive a threatening, abusive, obscene or hoax telephone call, contact your local police station for advice. If you receive a life-threatening call, contact the police immediately.

If you are receiving on-going calls that you consider to be a serious nuisance, contact the Telecom Call Investigation Centre on 0800 809 806 during the hours of 9am - 4pm, Monday to Friday. You will need to provide the date, time and nature of the call to an Investigator who will assist with your complaint.

Telecom provides a form (PDF 118kb) for logging malicious calls.

Telephone answering precautions

There are 5 basic precautions to take to discourage malicious or unwanted telephone calls:

  • When answering the telephone do not answer giving your telephone number or full name. This includes your personal message on your Call Minder or answer machine.
  • Do not volunteer information about yourself, number or address to unknown callers.
  • If you do not want to converse with the caller, politely disconnect the call.
  • Don't be drawn into an argument that can't be solved on the telephone.
  • Let the phone ring more often before answering it. This gives you some control over the stress of answering a call you expect to be hostile

For further advice from Telecom on dealing with malicious or unwanted telephone calls, click here.

 Download this fact sheet as a PDF (179 kB)

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