TikTokers Are Creating Fake Phone Calls to Keep You Safe

TikTok users creating safety call videos.

Verywell Health

Key Takeaways

  • Creators on TikTok are creating videos with the tag #safetycall to guide viewers through fake conversations.
  • By giving the impression that someone is checking in on the viewer, waiting for their arrival, or tracking their location, the videos are meant to ward off possible aggressors.
  • The safety calls are another tool people—and especially women—can use to stay safe in uncomfortable situations.

Have you ever been in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation and wish you had an easy out? Perhaps you’re being followed by a suspicious character while walking late at night or found yourself stuck on an awkward date.

To help people in scenarios like these, social media content creators are recording fake phone calls that make it seem like the viewer is having a conversation with a concerned family member or friend. People are uploading the videos on the social media app TikTok using the hashtag #safetycall.

Some creators come from the perspective of mothers or fathers telling the viewer to come home, brothers who threaten to pick the viewer up if they don’t get home soon, and friends offering to meet up at the viewer’s location.

Jake Goodman, who uses the account name, started making safety call videos last year. As a psychiatrist-in-training, he recognizes how sexual violence, domestic assault, and abuse can contribute to mental illness and wanted to provide people a tool that is always at their disposal. He’s now made more than 30 videos which have reached millions of viewers.

“It's a way to give people an out,” Goodman tells Verywell. “It basically provides them a tool in their toolkit to feel safe and comfortable in potentially dangerous, unsafe, or uncomfortable situations.”

How the Videos Work

Creators make videos for situations in which people are in potentially dangerous situations, like a sketchy Uber ride and walking home alone at night to uncomfortable parties or dates. They typically provide a script for the viewer to follow and come complete with realistic ringtones and cues to pause the video to mimic hanging up a call.

One of Goodman’s most-watched videos is made for people who are looking for an out from an awkward date experience.

“So many people, with online dating becoming such a commonplace thing, may not really know the person they're on a date with,” Goodman says. “This video really resonated with people.”

Mendy Perdew, a TikToker who uses the tag @mendyperdew, told ABC News she was inspired to create the videos after she was unavailable to take a phone call from a friend who was in an uncomfortable situation. Now, she creates videos with scripts that viewers can follow if they fear they’re being followed in a parking lot, walking late at night, and more.

Creators make videos for a variety of situations so that they can seem as realistic as possible. In one video, creator Craig Conrad, who goes by @Budget_JasonStatham speaks from the perspective of a father checking on his daughter as she walks home from class. He asks if the viewer is carrying pepper spray and prompts her to agree to call back when she arrives safely at her dorm.

Goodman sometimes includes other actors in his videos, including his mom, cousin, and fiancé. Having others walk through the frame and including a variety of people vocalizing concern for the viewer’s safety, he says, makes the videos appear more realistic.

What This Means For You

Safety call videos can be a helpful tool in keeping would-be aggressors at bay. Creators recommend saving the video to your camera roll so you can access it quickly without the audio automatically repeating. It’s also important to note that these videos are not a substitute for calling 911 or reaching out to someone you know if you require emergency help.

Violence Against Women

These videos come at a time when public safety, especially for women, continues to be an issue. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, 37% of U.S. adults say they would not feel safe walking alone near their home at night. 45% of women said they feel unsafe walking alone at night compared with 27% of men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three women experiences sexual violence at some point in their lives, as do one in four men.

“These are really staggering statistics and they’re scary,” Goodman says.

Earlier this year, Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old British woman, was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by a British police officer while walking home from a friend's house at night. The event set off a wave of grief and outrage around the world, as women resonated with the lack of security they often feel when traveling alone in any situation. 

Tips for Staying Safe in Uncomfortable Settings

When using the videos, Goodman says it’s best to download them from TikTok to your camera roll. This makes them easier to access should the need arise and ensures that when you play one of the videos, the audio won’t repeat, as it typically does on the TikTok app.

It’s important to remember that these videos, while a useful tool, are not a replacement for emergency services. If you feel that you’re in real danger or an aggressor is becoming violent, it may be best to call 911 or try and reach a real family member or friend who can help you.

You can also use apps on smartphones that allow you to report your location to friends and family. If you’re entering an Uber or Lyft, be sure to check the license plate number before getting in and learn how to use the app's safety features.

Help Save the Next Girl, an organization that promotes safety for women, suggests:

  • Walking with a buddy when possible
  • Choosing to travel in well-lit spaces
  • Staying alert of your surroundings, even if you are looking at your phone to use a safety call

Goodman notes that while the safety calls may appear realistic, it’s safest if you tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to arrive so they can keep a lookout for you too.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Gallup. In U.S., 37% do not feel safe walking at night near home.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing sexual violence.

  3. Help Save the Next Girl. Safety tips.

By Claire Bugos
Claire Bugos is a health and science reporter and writer and a 2020 National Association of Science Writers travel fellow.