Rewards and Donations
Chapter 6

Checklist: Selecting a Tipline for Leads

Selecting a phone number for people to use to call in leads for the reward requires careful thought. Your home and business telephones should be reserved for your personal use. NCMEC operates a toll-free telephone line. However, NCMEC staff are prohibited from supplying information about rewards. Moreover, callers with leads have specific needs that must be addressed.

Callers must be able to give anonymous tips. Some people will not call unless they can be assured of anonymity. Some tiplines assign a special number to each caller to ensure that a particular caller gets credit for the tip.

Callers must be able to call 24 hours a day. Some people prefer to call after regular business hours. The telephone number you list should allow people to call at any hour of the day or night.

Callers must be able to phone long distance without having to pay for the call. Some organizations offer an established toll-free telephone number you can use to gather tips or other information about your child. Crime Stoppers is one such organization that answers calls 24 hours a day, provides anonymity to callers, and has a good working relationship with law enforcement. Contact your local office of Crime Stoppers to learn more about that organization’s system. Also, your local law enforcement agency and your state missing children’s clearinghouse may be able to provide further guidance.

The person who answers the phone must be able to handle this type of call. Answering a telephone tipline requires a special set of skills. People who answer tiplines need to know how to keep callers on the line, what questions to ask, and how to write down important information.

Tips must be furnished to law enforcement immediately. Law enforcement is responsible for evaluating and following up on all tips—not parents, family members, or friends. For this reason, all tips and lead information should be passed on immediately to law enforcement, including the circumstances surrounding them—how they were made, who received them, at what time of day, and so forth.


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When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide OJJDP Report • May 2004