City of Dallas says 911 “ghost calls” could endanger lives

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DALLAS -- The City of Dallas says it has a ghost problem that could put lives at risk.

The good news?  It's not people who are being haunted - just phone lines.

"We've been receiving a spike of what we're terming 'ghost calls,'" said DPD's Deputy Chief Jesse Reyes. "Essentially what those are is multiple calls from a single device, where the individual who owns that device does not realize those calls are being made."

Sounds a lot like a "butt dial" to us, but these are a little different.  They only seem to come from T-Mobile devices, and they only seem to call 911.

"As they come in, we're not able to distinguish whether these are hang-up calls, ghost calls, or legitimate calls," said Reyes.

And since 911 operators have to return hang up calls before they can move on, call centers that normally answer every call within ten seconds, without having to put anybody on hold, can get backed up fast.

"Monday night we had in excess of 300 holding at one particular time," Reyes said, "With the longest recorded time/wait just under 30 minutes. A person could legitimately be having a life-threatening situation, and they call 911, and they're placed on an extended wait time. They don't get the service they need when they need it."


The city says they're working with T-Mobile to exorcise the 911 demons, and T-Mobile said in a statement that they, too, are committed to solving the ghost call problem.

In the meantime, if you need 911, and get put on hold, Reyes says, "Just continue to hold.  Sometimes people get frustrated from holding and they hang up, and then they call back.  That basically places them back in the queue again, so stay on the line and wait until we can answer your call."

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.