911 Pranks Are No Joke 


(Innisfil/Bradford, ON)  A prank involving Apple’s digital voice assistant has prompted us to issue a warning to iPhone users: Don’t fall for it. 

The prank involves saying a particular statement with a number to Siri. Instructions baiting you to try the prank are posted on social media platforms including twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  

It’s no joke.  

What iPhone users don’t know is that they’re unwittingly dialling 911, accessing our Emergency Communicators and tying up a line for a real emergency. And even if the iPhone caller hangs up in a panic, the call doesn’t end there. When someone dials 911 and hangs up, the Communicator is obligated to call the phone owner back to establish whether or not there is a legitimate emergency.  Without more information, there is no way to tell if the 911 call is a prank or real.  The process of re-establishing contact can involve several tries and can tie up resources that could be needed for people who really need emergency services. In the most serious cases, where a person misleads police and causes them to enter into an investigation, there could be a criminal charge.  

One Bradford man was recently caught up in the hoax when he saw an Instagram post suggesting users should try it to find out what happens. Officers wound up at his door and he had to explain that he had no intention of calling 911 but was intrigued by the social media challenge.  

This prank is not new but South Simcoe Police Service is reminding people to be aware of the consequences.  We’re fortunate, so far, that there haven’t been real 911 emergencies where help has been delayed.  Our Communicators answered 26,611 calls for service in 2017. There is no time for pranks when seconds count and could save a life. 

“When lives are at risk, we cannot afford to tie up a 911 line. 911 is for real emergencies. Not jokes and pranks,” said Deputy Chief Robin McElary-Downer. 

We thank you for your assistance in this matter.