While spam texts aren’t as prevalent as robocalls, there’s no arguing that unsolicited text messages are the worst. They’re irritating, they clog up your texting inbox and they can expose you to malware or identity theft. But before you learn how to stop spam texts, it’s helpful to know why they happen in the first place.
Why am I getting spam text messages?
There are many ways your phone number could have made it into the hands of annoying spammers, but here are some of the most common reasons.
- You may have given your number to a business and not remembered.
- The business you gave your number to may have sold it to other businesses.
- The text messages may have been sent from an auto dialer that’s just looking for a response.
- If you called an 800, 888 or 900 number, an Automatic Number Identification (ANI) system may have collected your mobile number.
Suggested reading: How to Identify a Text Scam
While there are ways to reduce the number of unsolicited text messages you receive, it’s not easy to stop receiving spam texts altogether.
“It’s difficult to stop spam texts because spammers are really smart about where they buy your number and the different ways they can send spam messages,” says Carter Harris, senior deliverability and fraud analyst at Zipwhip. “Because there are multiple pathways for a spam text to get to a phone number, spammers have options on how to get to your phone.”
How to stop spam texts and scam texts in 10 Steps
Just because it’s almost impossible to stop spam texts completely doesn’t mean you can’t take action in minimizing them. Here’s how to stop receiving spam texts in 10 steps.
Step 1. Be cautious when handing out your phone number
This first step is the most important to help stop spam texts. Prevent spammers from texting you by staying vigilant when giving your number to companies. It’s easy to hand out your phone number without thinking twice for all sorts of things, such as contests, setting up online accounts, filling out forms and making purchases.
Here’s how to go about sharing your number more cautiously to help stop unwanted texts.
- Take your phone number off social media profiles (if your number is publicly available, it’s up for grabs).
- Before providing your number in a form or pop-up, check for language that explicitly states what your phone number will be used for. You could be opting into marketing messages when you only want your number to be used for delivery updates, for example.
Step 2. Get a VoIP number as a secondary number
This option is like using a separate email account to keep marketing and junk emails out of your main email inbox. Harris recommends getting a second, disposable VoIP number to use with companies you’re not familiar with or when you’re asked to provide your number to purchase something.
Step 3. Don’t reply to the text
Spammers may be sending out unsolicited text messages to random numbers. If you reply to their message, you’ll only confirm that your number is legitimate and that it can be used to reach you with more unsolicited texts in the future. Telling the sender to stop texting you or even asking a question about the message is only going to leave you vulnerable to more spam messages. Resist the urge and don’t reply. An exception to this is explained in Step 4 below.
Step 4. Reply STOP only if you know the business is legitimate
If the spam text is from a real business, you can get them to stop texting you by replying STOP. Legitimate businesses will follow TCPA guidelines and offer customers the option to reply STOP to automatically unsubscribe from a texting list.
You may have signed up for the business’s texts and forgotten about it or the business may have shared your number with another company. Google the phone number to see if the text is coming from a real business, and if you feel confident that it is, reply to the message with STOP to opt-out of receiving more text messages.
Step 5. Don’t tap on any links
Tapping on a link could expose you to more spam. Your number could be sold to other bad actors or you could unknowingly download malware.
It can be tempting to tap on a link if a text message sounds urgent. Scammers want to spook you into taking action with false scenarios: Your bank account is about to be suspended or a package delivery requires your immediate attention. They could also do the opposite and try to lure you into tapping on a link by offering something exciting: You’re getting a free year of Netflix or you just won a large sum of cash. Read through this article about how to identify a fake text message so that you can spot them in the future.
Step 6. Block the number
You can block SMS spam from a specific number. The downside to this step is that the scammer may use another phone number to reach you, but it’s worth the effort if you’re continually getting messages from the same sender.
How to block random texts on iPhone
- Tap the contact card at the top of the text message
- Tap on Info
- Tap on Info again
- Scroll to the bottom and tap Block this Caller
How to block random texts on Android
- Go to Messages
- Tap on the text from the number you’d like to block
- Tap on the three dots in the upper right corner
- Tap on Block Number and then Block to confirm
Step 7. Report the spam number and text message to your carrier
Let your carrier know about the unsolicited text message by forwarding the message to 7726 (SPAM). They’ll investigate, and if the text is fraudulent or illegal, the carrier can block the number from reaching others.
How to report spam text messages on iPhone
- Copy the sender’s phone number; you’ll need to provide it later.
- Tap the number
- Tap Info then tap Info again
- Long press the phone number (Don’t tap the number; it will place a call).
- Tap Copy
- Tap Done
- Long press on the text message
- Tap More
- Tap the arrow in the bottom right corner
- Enter 7726 in the To: field
- You’ll get a reply from your carrier asking you to provide the sender’s phone number. Paste and send the number you copied earlier.
- Your carrier will reply with an acknowledgement of your text
How to report spam text messages on Android using Messages
- Go to Messages
- Tap the Contact icon on the far left
- Tap Report in the bottom right
- Select General Spam and tap Okay
Step 8. Report the spam text message to the FTC
Another reporting option to stop spam texts is to get in touch with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This step won’t resolve your case specifically but reporting your spam text to the FTC will benefit the greater good of the community.
Your report will go into the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database, which is available to more than 3,000 law enforcement partners around the county. They’ll use your report to identify trends, educate the public and bring cases against fraud, scams and bad business practices.
Step 9. Use your phone’s message filter settings
This option won’t stop spam texts from reaching your phone, but it will help quiet the notification by filtering messages from unknown numbers or numbers not saved on your phone. These filters aren’t perfect. iPhone will only filter iMessage spam texts, not SMS, but the apps are still helpful in keeping your text message app a little less cluttered.
How to enable the Filter Unknown Senders on iPhone
- Go to Settings
- Go to Messages
- Scroll down to Filter Unknown Senders and tap the toggle on
How to enable Spam Protection on Android using Messages
- Go to Messages
- Tap the three dots in the upper right corner
- Tap on Settings
- Tap on Block Numbers and Messages
- Tap Caller ID and Spam Protection
- Adjust your setting to On
Step 10. Use an app to block spam texts or filter them
If you’re getting tons of spam texts and you don’t want to block everything manually, you can download a third-party app to help silence or filter them. Two popular options are Nomorobo and Robokiller. These apps analyze text messages from unknown numbers or numbers that aren’t saved to your phone. If the number is illegitimate, the spam text will be moved to an SMS Junk Folder in your text message app. These apps also filter out annoying robocalls.
- Nomorobo. Free 14-day trial, then $1.99 per month.
- Robokiller. Free 7-day trial, then $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year.
Both of these options are available for iOS and Android and are well-reviewed.
Is your business interested in keeping your customers safe from spam texts?
Texting is the most effective way to communicate with customers, and the team at Zipwhip wants business texting to remain a powerful medium. We apply TCPA compliance to our software and include state-of-the-art data encryption to secure customers’ sensitive information both in transit and in the archives.
Plus, our direct partnerships with carriers helps us block spam and monitor phishing attempts to better protect your customers on a network and platform level.