Email harrassment

Communicating with others in annoying or offensive ways is not only in bad taste but it is a crime as well. In New York State any communication that meets the following standard is a crime punishable by up to one year in jail and $1000 fine:

"with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she: 1. Communicates, or causes a communication to be initiated by mechanical or electronic means..." (NYS Penal Law Sect 240.30)

Tips in handling annoyance electronic communication

  1. If you engage in communication with someone and it becomes harassing or annoying, *tell him so*, then do not reply to his communications. If he persists see the remainder of this list.
  2. Do not respond. The subject is attempting to get some kind of response from you. If he does not get a response he will probably give up or move on to someone else.
  3. Don't talk to strangers. Be careful when the subject says he is taking a survey. If you have any concern about the legitimacy of a survey, ask the person his name, firm or university name, and telephone number. Say that you will reply after you verify the authenticity of the survey.
  4. Don't play detective. Don't extend the communication trying to figure out who the subject is. This or any type of reaction is exactly what the caller wants and needs.
  5. Keep cool. Don't let the subject know you are upset or angry.
  6. Don't try to be clever. A witty response may be interpreted as a sign of encouragement.
  7. Don't try to be a counselor. The annoyance or obscene message originator certainly needs professional help, but he will only be encouraged by your concern and will continue the calls.
  8. Don't tell everyone about your messages. Many messages of this type are actually made by friends, family members, even your closest girlfriend or boyfriend.
  9. Report annoyance communication to the System Administrator and/or to the University Police. Report all threats against your physical safety to the police.

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