Is Prank Calling Illegal?

Prank calling, otherwise known as nuisance calling or crank calling is a type of joke that is played over the phone with someone. However, is prank calling illegal? Well, prank calls might not impose direct harm on the individual’s freedom but it all depends on what kind of prank one practically plays. Also, it is important to check the state’s laws. To help you know more if prank phone calls are illegal or not, read the details given below.

is prank calling illegal

Is Prank Calling Illegal?


Prank calling in most states is an illegal offense, especially if the prank involves crime, harassment, bullying, stalking, or threatening a person. It depends on the severity of the prank. If it is just for trolling around, then the prank calling is certainly safe and legal. Also, it is vital to consider the number of calls one has made; if it outnumbers and has made the victim distressed or annoyed, prank calling is illegal.

What Prank Calls Are Illegal?

Learn as to what prank calls are illegal and can get a person arrested or land him or her in jail.

1. Prank Calls That Involve Stalking & Threatening

According to majority of the state laws, a person can be easily charged for cyber-stalking if he or she repeatedly makes unwanted calls to another person. Obscene language, abuse, and making threats fall under the laws of cyber-stalking. Also, even if you don’t speak with the dialed recipient, repeated phone calls are a criminal offense too.

2. Prank Calls That Involve Harassment

Based on most state laws, a prank call that intends to cause a dialed recipient emotional distress is chargeable. It is okay to call someone at night and talk something stupid. But frequent calls like this that also includes threatening remarks is against the law.

3. Prank Calls That Involve Unruly Behavior

Certain state laws define unruly behavior, abusive language, or arousing anger in a person (over the phone) to be illegal. So, be very careful while playing a prank.

4. Prank Calls That Involve Wiretapping

It is illegal in various states to record telephonic conversations without the recipient’s consent. Even then, many teens violate the law by recording the prank calls and sharing it with friends. Be careful because recording calls can represent a felony.

5. Pranks That Involve Bullying

If the joke involves bullying the person over the phone, then it falls under the category of cyber-bulling and it is illegal to make such calls to someone.

The Consequence or Punishment Of Such Prank Calls…

Based on the state a person resides and the severity of the prank played on a victim, the following punishments are applicable:

  • Jail time
  • A fine of so-and-so amount
  • Both of the above

Note: According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 1996 Act, if a prank call falls in any of the above-mentioned categories, the person is punishable for a fine amount of $1000 along with a custody or imprisonment for 6 months to 2 years.

Is It Illegal To Prank Call Emergency Numbers?

Yes, prank calling emergency numbers is completely illegal and against the law.

  • Dialing 000 and making up as if there is an urgent situation is law violation and punishable. The penalty is an imprisonment of 3 years.
  • Dialing 000 for an unwanted reason is also against the law. The penalty is an imprisonment of 3 years.

Note: Prank calling the emergency services can become serious.


Prank calling is good only if it is not serious or just carried out for trolling a friend or a family member. Unless it is enjoyable and harmless, it is legal to prank call someone. Never make repeated calls or do something that lands you in an unsafe legal territory.

Category Misc