How to stop spam text messages: Prevent, block and report

We all hate spam text messages! And if it seems like you’ve been receiving more of them, it’s not just your imagination – as spam email and spam calls face increasing obstacles in the form of blocklists and government regulations, spammers have been increasingly turning to spam text messages.
Although the Federal Trade Commission now bans unsolicited commercial text messages (AKA spam) in the United States, the numbers have hit a new high. According to one study, more than 87 billion spam texts were sent in 2021. This is in part the result of our shifting communication patterns, as more people prefer texting over calling – and absolutely refuse to answer the phone if they don’t recognize the number – telemarketers and phone scammers alike are having a harder time getting through.

Unfortunately, this variety of spam also exposes you to risks like malware and identity theft. Find out how to identify, prevent, block and report spam text messages.
 
  1. Why spam texts are dangerous
  2. How to tell if a text is spam
  3. How to prevent spam text messages
  4. Blocking text messages on iPhone
  5. Stop spam texts in Android
  6. Report spam texts
Young woman with annoyed expression looks at phone while friends sit in background
Find spam text messages annoying? You can block them on your phone!

Are spam text messages really dangerous?

Some spam texts are simply annoying – like being bombarded with special offers from a legitimate company. Others function like phishing emails: They are designed to trick you into giving away sensitive information like passwords or downloading malware onto your phone. One of the most common SMS scams, accounting for over one quarter of text scams in 2021, are fake delivery notifications that impersonate senders like UPS or FedEx. Such messages contain a “tracking link” or claim that delivery is delayed due to a problem processing your payment, for example. When you click the link you are taken to a website designed to steal your personal information.

How can I tell if a text is spam?

Just like there are tricks you can use to identify a spam email, there are certain clues that give away a spam text message. For example, your bank or other legitimate business won’t text you out of the blue about a “problem” with your account. A lot of spelling and grammatical errors in the text are also probably signs of a scam. You should also look carefully at any links contained in the text. On closer inspection you may notice that what seems like a legitimate company web address contains a misspelling (like gooogle instead of google) and will take you to a fake website. And a final clue: A lack of sender information or a blocked number. A promotional message from a legitimate company will clearly communicate who it is from.

How to stop receiving so many spam texts

Although it is unlikely you can completely cut off the flow of spam texts, there are a few steps you can take to limit your exposure:
  1. Should you reply? It depends! If a spam text is from a legitimate company sending you special offers you aren’t interested in, you can opt out of receiving their texts by replying “Stop” or similar – they are then legally required to stop texting you. A scammer, of course is not really interested in staying on the right side of the law, so you should never reply to suspicious-seeming texts. Replying shows the spammer that your number is active and this will only lead to more spam.
  2. Never open the links! Even if there is no scam involved, clicking a link is also a sign of interest that might lead to more texts or even follow-up calls
  3. Avoid giving out your phone number! Sometimes a special discount or membership deal requires you to enter your phone number. Think twice about whether the extra 15% off is really worth it – the company may sell your number to marketers, opening the door to more spam texts.

How to stop spam texts on your iPhone

It is always possible to block individual message senders in your iPhone. Simply open the conversation in the message app (without clicking any links in the message) and tap the sender’s phone number at the top of the chat. Now tap Info > Block this caller.

You might find it easier to send all incoming messages from unknown numbers into a separate folder. Go to Settings > Messages. Scroll to Filter Unknown Senders and tap the slider so it turns green. Now any text messages from numbers that are not in your contacts will be filtered out. Keep in mind that this may also block texts from wanted but unknown callers, like a message from the furniture store where you ordered a couch. The texts will remain on your phone, however, and can be found in the Messages app by tapping Filters in the upper left corner and selecting Unknown. It’s like a spam folder for text messages!

How to block spam texts on your Android phone

Here you also have the options of blocking individual senders or filtering out messages from unknown numbers. To make sure messages from a particular number don’t reach you, open the conversation in your Messaging app, tap the three dots at the top right, then Details > Block and report spam.

On newer Android versions, you can also enable spam protection in your settings. Open the Messaging app and tap the three-dot menu on the top right. Now tap Settings > Spam Protection and scroll down until you see Enable Spam Protection. Tap to activate – once it is toggled on, the slider will appear blue.

How to report spam texts

It’s easier than you might think to report spam text messages to your mobile carrier. For most major cellular networks in the US and UK, you can forward the text to 7726 – which is easy to remember since it spells “SPAM” on an alphanumeric phone keypad. The carrier may ask you to provide more information and then investigate the case. You can also report text scams to the responsible government agency – in the US, that’s the Federal Communications Commission.

We hope this post will help you avoid the annoyance and risk of spam text messages. If you found it informative, please leave us some feedback below!

Images: 1&1/iStock
 

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