Literally. Our phone rings off the hook. In fact, if I engage the receiver of our disconnected phone and then plug it into the jack, there is usually someone on the line.
Sometimes I hear a telemarketing operation at work, or someone hears me, says "oops" and hangs up. Sometimes I hear faint muzac like you hear when you are put on hold. Sometimes I hear a phone sex call with someone saying, "If you are gay, press one. If you are lesbian, press two" and then I hear someone pressing the buttons. I usually hang up before I have to hear the rest.
The other day I picked up the phone and the person on the line said, "Hello? Can you hear me?" So I told him I could hear him. Then he asked if he could speak to Michael. I told him he certainly may not (there isn't even anyone named Michael in our house.) He then started arguing with me. "Why not?" he asked. I told him I didn't appreciate all the harassing phone calls and then he denied harassing me. Perhaps he had no idea he was working for some kind of criminal employer using someone else's phone lines. I hung up.
We tried calling the phone company to have a technician take a look. The first time I called, they said it was a nuisance bureau issue, but the nuisance bureau was not helpful at all. The only thing they could offer was to give us a new phone number. We did not want to do that because we've used this number a long time and lots of people have the number. Also, I think we are interested to find out what is going on and nab the crooks.
The second time, calling a technician worked because we now had a history. And also because I just picked an easy issue from the phone jail press one, press two nonsense just so someone would come out. The technician tried to fix the problem by switching us to a different cable. She acknowledged that she could hear traffic on the line even when the line was not ringing or being answered inside the house. She said it was an odd problem she had never encountered before. She could see no evidence that anyone was physically connected to the line. How could someone use our line if they were not physically connected to it somewhere? We didn't know, either.
The calls continue to come in. So we've decided to escalate by taking our trouble to the police. Our phone line will be traced. We'll see what happens after that.
My hope is that they discover that there's some new kind of phone hack coming from evil spam companies overseas (all the people on the line have accents) and that they'll nab them. It would be an interesting story and very satisfying to know I helped bring down evil spammers. I hate spammers.
At the very least, I hope the police can stop it because the phone is ringing constantly and I'm supposed to let it ring, according to the police.
Update: Shortly after I wrote this, I got a call from my boyfriend. He was at the post office talking to the postmistress who said the same thing happened to her once. It turned out an ex-boyfriend who had hired a service to make harassing phone calls to get even with her. I hope that the police can find this service and put them out of business. It is a felony. I wonder if it is a felony to use a service like this. If so, the person we suspect may have done this could end up in the news.