How to stop annoying and dangerous spam text messages
Spam text messages — they’re certainly annoying and definitely dangerous, as scammers are using more sophisticated techniques to get your personal information and take your money.
And the number of spam texts sent to phones across the country is skyrocketing. Scammers are on track to send a whopping 86 billion spam texts this year, with a projected financial loss of $101 million to consumers.
With a little bit of preparation, savvy and trusting your instincts, you can do your part to stop these spam texts and protect yourself from scammers. Check out a few ways to keep yourself safe from these annoying texts today.
Common spam texts
First, let’s go over some common spam texts that you might receive. These can range from an offer for free perk from a cable provider, a message from an “acquaintance” who wants to meet up, a notification from a bank that your account is closing or your credit or debit card is locked, or even a request to set your FedEx delivery preferences.
Spam texts are almost always unwanted and unprovoked messages from senders you don’t know, so be on high alert when you receive a message from someone not in your contact list. If it feels like a spam text, it’s probably a spam text.
Never, ever click the link
In the above scenarios, which are called “smishing” or text phishing, the scammer wants you to reply to the text or click a link that directs you to a malicious site, which looks like an official website, to steal your data or install dangerous software to your phone. The sender may even be using a fake phone number to look like it came from the official source or from within your area code.
Whatever you do, do not reply or click the link, unless you are absolutely certain that the sender is who they say they are. Legitimate companies will never ask for your account information over text message. If you think the message may be real, call the company directly using a phone number you know is real or from its official website (not any number provided in the text) and inquire whether the text message was authentic.
Be careful replying with STOP
In the past, if you’ve received a text message from a business and didn’t appreciate it, you may have replied with “STOP,” the way a legitimate business will unsubscribe you from their texting program.
But if you’ve received a spammy text, you’re likely dealing with a scammer, who is probably attempting to break the law, so it’s pretty unlikely you will be removed from the scammer’s texting list. In fact, replying to the scammer could flag your phone number as active and open you up to more spam messages.
If you are sure the text originated from a real, ethical business (Google the number it to find out), you can reply with STOP. However, if you are uncertain, your best bet is not to reply to the text at all, and jump down to the next step.
Block the number & delete the message
You’ve received a spam text. You didn’t reply or click the link. Now what? Block the number then delete the text, so you don’t accidentally click or reply in the future.
All newer phones have the option to block a phone number from contacting you. However, this can turn into a game of whack-a-mole, since scammers can switch up their phone numbers frequently, but it’s still worth blocking the number from contacting you again. Here’s how to block a number on Apple and Android devices.
Use a Third-Party Spam Call & Text Blocker
If all else fails — and it might — a third-party app to identify and block annoying spam texts is a great option.
These apps enhance the caller ID functions of your phone, employ large blacklists of spam numbers to automatically block calls and texts in real time, along with other blocking features. Some apps are free with limited bells and whistles, while the paid apps have more robust features and customer service, which also comes with a monthly or yearly user fee.
Some popular spam blocking apps include Hiya: Caller ID & Spam Blocker (Free on iOS & Android), Nomorobo ($1.99 per device, per month + a 14 day free trial), and RoboKiller ($39.99/yr + 7 day free trial).
Report the spam message
You can report the message right from your messaging app to your device manufacturer, which in theory should help them improve spam blocking, as well as reporting the message to the authorities.
For Apple devices, if you receive a text message from someone not in your contacts, you may have the option below the message that reads “Report Junk” which will report the message to Apple, but will NOT block the number. You will still need to block the number.
For Android devices, open the Messages app > Touch and hold the conversation > Tap Block > Report spam > OK.
You can also report the spam text to Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov.