Sheriff to iPhone users: Avoid the potentially deadly or criminal Siri prank

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The Douglas County Sheriff's Office's Division of 9-1-1 Emergency Communications is passing along information about a prank spreading throughout the country in recent days.

iPhone users are aware of Siri, the virtual assistant that can dial numbers for you, look up area restaurants and send text messages, among other tasks.

It can be a great tool, but authorities say that if you see a social media post or if someone tells you to ask Siri about the number "108" and wait a period of time before doing anything else, don't do it.

When you do, your phone believes you need emergency services and you will be connected with the 9-1-1 emergency communications center nearest you, the sheriff's office says.

These prank calls tie up 9-1-1 lines and waste the time of emergency services, officials say. Oregon Law strictly prohibits misuse of the 9-1-1 system and it can result in criminal charges.

The iPhone is able to recognize the emergency number 9-1-1 and take action, but it is also programmed to recognize the equivalent of 9-1-1 from other countries, such as 108, which is an emergency response number in India.

Other numbers to avoid are 112, 110, 999 and 000. The 9-1-1 Communications Division tested these numbers and can confirm that dialing or asking Siri about any of these numbers will result in a call being placed to the emergency communications center.

"The prank, which has become popular on social media, is a very serious and potentially criminal act," the sheriff's office said in a news release. "Even if you believe you have terminated the call in time, your prank call may still ring into the 9-1-1 center."

Authorities are encouraging everyone to share this information with friends and family.

"Help us spread the word and make our community safe by ensuring those who need the life or death assistance of police, fire or EMS have access to them quickly when they call for help."

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