Spam Text Messages: How to Stop!
Everyone with a phone knows the burden that is receiving spam text messages. No one likes them, no one wants to receive them but they keep on coming. They are the mobile equivalent of junk email, only that your phone cannot filter them as such. Granted some text messages may come from a legitimate source that you subscribed for; it is, however, not always the case. Spam text messages are often unsolicited, unwanted from people you did not give your number to. Most of the time your phone number is chosen at random, coupled with hundreds or thousands of other randomly generated numbers.
Spam text messages serve multiple purposes for the people sending them and most of them are fraud related. These messages are more often than not sent by unidentifiable senders with the goal of obtaining your personal information in hopes of scamming you. They often contain email addresses or phone numbers which you are prompted to respond to and which never match the real identity of the sender.
Constantly getting spam messages can be tiring.
They never stop. It is only logical you may be wondering if there is a way to block spam text messages. While text messages from real companies that you subscribed for can be stopped, spam text messages with no number—or a number that is not identifiable—are hard to unsubscribe from. There is no simple way of getting rid of them, however you can take extra measures like blocking the number in an effort to stop them.
Spam Text Messages Examples
By now most people know what a spam text message looks like. Those can be spotted from a mile because of how inappropriately odd their content is. For the clueless few, who still have a hard time distinguishing between what is legit and what is spam, we have compiled a list of examples of spam text messages so you can get familiar them. Bear in mind these are only a couple of examples of spam SMS messages—they can come in different formats, so be careful.
- Verizon Account Phishing. In 2012, Verizon users were being sent spam text messages from unverified senders posing as Verizon. The text message contained a link which they were prompted to follow. The link directed to what was an imitation of Verizon’s mobile website and asked the unsuspecting customers to put down their login credentials to update their account information in order to continue their Verizon services. The following is the text message sent by the scammers using a spoofed number,
“(User’s Number) V-E-R-I-Z-O-N, To continue using our services please go to update.vtext02.net and update your account.359394.”
- Spam Contest/Prize Offer. It is a fairly common practice to send spam text messages announcing you won some kind of bogus contest that you did not participate in. Usually, you will be promised a prize to claim. In these kinds of text messages, you are asked to call a certain phone number to claim your prize (for which you will be charged a huge sum of money) during a limited window of time (typically 12-24 hours). Here is an example of such text message,
“URGENT! We are trying to contact U.Todays draw shows that you have won a 2000 prize GUARANTEED. Call 090 5809 4507 from a landline. Claim 3030. Valid 12hrs only.”
- IRS Tax Scam. This is an extension of the same scam run through phone calls or emails. You will receive a message telling you to have undue tax to be paid. Moreover, you will be threatened in some capacity in case you fail to take action by responding to their number. Remember that IRS or any other tax revenue system does not request personal or financial information through phone, text message or an email. Hence, if you are on the receiving end of this kind of text message, consider it spam and ignore it.
- Frozen Bank Account. Scammers are a creative bunch. They use all the available means to illegally obtain your information. Sometimes you may receive an SMS from your “bank” notifying you that your bank account was frozen. When you call the number, they will ask you to provide all your personal information associated with the account and will then scam you.
Reporting Spam Text Messages
Most people ignore spam messages as they are used to them. Yet, what a lot of people do not realize is that these text messages pose multiple threats—from leading to unwanted/unintended charges on your cellphone bill to potential viruses that affect phone performance.
Spam text messages are illegal in most countries and there are relevant bodies in place that monitor such activities. In case you ever find yourself receiving one too many spam messages—and trust me, you will—make sure to contact and notify the relevant authority. They are much more equipped to handle the situation and resolve the issue than you are.
Also remember not to engage with spam SMS messages, regardless of how enticing that prize you supposedly won may be to you. Ignore the message and file a complaint with the local telecommunications authority.
How to Stop Spam Text Messages
As discussed above, stopping spam text messages is difficult for an individual user. Despite its difficulty, it is not an impossible task. There are certain measures you can take to ensure you stop receiving spam text messages or, at the very least, decrease the number.
- Report to your mobile carrier. If you receive a text message that you deem as spam, make sure to report it to your carrier. You can do it via a phone call or by simply forwarding the message to them. Additionally, some mobile carriers have a designated keyword for this kind of occasion: the big networks use the numerical keyword 7726 which spells SPAM on a mobile keyboard. Forward the spam SMS to your carrier with the keyword and the phone number, and let them take care of the situation.
- Report to the relevant authority. Every country has a relevant body dealing with telecommunications issues and regulations. Since in most countries spam texts are illegal by law, there are harsh punishments in place for those who breach the rules. You can make an official complaint using this channel, including all the important details to your case, and wait for them to investigate and take action.
- Block the number. This is the obvious choice here. Some spam texts come from legitimate numbers, so blocking them on your phone should be no problem. Nonetheless, as spam texts get more elaborate, it is becoming increasingly hard to stop them through this method. The reason blocking the number is not effective is simply due to the fact that spammers use cheap third-party services to send their text messages.
- Unsubscribe or Opt-Out. As annoying as spam messages may be, not all of them are exclusively malicious in intent. You may have subscribed to a marketing campaign somewhere that you do not remember. In this case, you are offered a clear way out, usually through a keyword of some sort. Simply reply to the text message you received using the keyword and you will no longer get any text message from that particular marketing campaign.
Spam Text Messages: iPhone
“I keep getting spam text messages on my iPhone,” – trust us, you are not alone in this. Almost everyone is susceptible to spam text messages on iPhone devices. Nevertheless, it is not an end of the world situation. There are methods out there to stop spam text messages on your iPhone device (see the section above). Additionally, there are certain apps on the Apple store that you can download and use to block spam text messages on iPhone.
Spam Text Messages: Android
Spam text messages on Android devices are just as prevalent as they are on iOS devices. Yet, contrary to iOS devices, the process of getting rid of spam SMS is a bit trickier. The Android system does not give you the ability to block numbers which makes things more complicated for users. This, however, does not imply that you are helpless. On Google Store, you can find lots of third-party apps that do the job of blocking spam text messages. And with the latest Android software update, there is a built-in feature that can help you block spam SMS messages.
Viber Spam Text Messages
Viber is one of the most used messenger apps on mobile devices, in fact, it ranks among the top five in the world. Given that you use your phone number to sign up for Viber, you are prone to receive spam text messages from this app too. There are two types of spam messages on Viber: messages from unknown senders and business messages. The latter is not really spamming in a strict sense because you have agreed to receive the messages.
Stopping spam text messages on Viber is as simple as blocking the number and being done with it. To ensure you never receive similar spam messages, screenshot the content and report it to Viber’s customer support. Furthermore, Viber has a spam detection software which is continuously working to keep spam to a minimum.