What’s more annoying than getting in the 10 items or less lane to watch the customer in front of you unload an entire cart? What’s more frustrating than leaving work during rush hour to sit idle in traffic? For many, the answer is simple. It’s receiving robotexts and spam messages on your smartphone.
While the solution to your checkout and driving woes may seem inconvenient, it can be accomplished. On the other hand, finding reliable options to end the deluge of junk messages delivered to your smartphone seems to be nothing but a lesson in futility.
Although you make every effort to avoid receiving spam messages and robotexts, they continue to find their way into the mix of legitimate communications. Understanding how telemarketers and other companies come across your cellphone number can help you eliminate future contact from these organizations. Let’s take a look at ways you can take control.
How companies get your cellphone number
Social media sites track you – Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google keep track of your online activity and provide that information to advertisers. If your phone number is public on social media it could end up in the hand of marketing companies.
You provide your number – There are a variety of occasions in which you offer your number to companies. Whether it’s filling out a signup form, contest entry, or enrolling in in-store rewards programs, you willingly hand over your cell number. Unfortunately, this practice allows for your number to end up in the wrong hands.
You have called an 800, 888 or 900 number – When you call phone numbers with these prefixes, your cellphone number is collected by an Automatic Number Identification (ANI) system. In addition to identifying and storing your number, the ANI system can match it with other digital data associated with you.
You are targeted by automated dialing – Many telemarketing firms rely on automatic dialing devices that are capable of discovering and dialing all landline and cellphone numbers, including those that are unlisted.
Related: FTC shuts down 4 telemarketers responsible for billions of illegal robocalls
Blocking robotexts and spam messages
Some say robotexts and spam messages are a fact of life and you should simply ignore them. However, this practice does very little to deter offending companies from continuing to fill your smartphone with annoying and potentially dangerous messages in the future.
Tip in a tip: Never click a link or attachment in a robotext or spam message as this can trigger malware and infect your phone. Also, do not respond to any suspicious text or message to avoid having your phone number tagged and distributed to other scammers.
1. The STOP option
Many legitimate companies offer you the chance to opt out of receiving messages from them. But, be wary, as scammers use this same technique to lure you into replying STOP to their messages, which can help verify you and your number.
2. Block numbers from contacting you in the future
(Note: The following instructions may vary according to the manufacturer, model, and operating system of your mobile device.)
If you are an iPhone user, one method of reducing your robotexts and spam messages is to block the sender’s number. Please know that scammers tend to change numbers, so blocking one number does not mean the company can’t message you again using a different phone number.
Open the text from the number you wish to block and tap on the sender’s number. Click on the info (i) icon. Under the Details screen, click on the phone number, choose Block this Caller and Block Contact.
The following instructions will block both calls and messages from specified callers. Go into your phone app and tap on the three-dot icon in the upper right corner and choose Settings. Tap on Block numbers. You will find several options including unknown callers, recent call, or from your contact list. Choose or manually enter a number you wish to block.
3. Report spam to your mobile carrier
Reporting a robotext or spam message to your cellular carrier is an additional step you may want to take in the fight against robotexts and spam messages. Copy and forward the original text to 7726(SPAM), free of charge. You can use this method if you are a Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint or Bell subscriber.
4. File a complaint with the FTC
According to the Federal Trade Commission(FTC), it is illegal to send unsolicited commercial email messages to wireless devices, including your cellphone unless you consent. It is further unlawful to send unwanted text messages from an auto-dialer.
The only two exceptions to this law are transactional or relationship type messages, or non-commercial messages such as political surveys or fundraising messages.
If you receive unwanted commercial text messages, file a complaint using the FTC complaint assistant.
5. Filter out spam using your mobile device
You can help eliminate spam messages and robotexts by filtering out spam using your mobile device.
If you are an Android user, open your phone app and tap on the three-dot icon and choose Settings. Under Settings enable Caller ID & Spam.
Filtering out spam on an iPhone is equally simple. Go to Settings and tap on Messages. Scroll down to Filter Unknown Senders and toggle the setting on.
6. Use a third-party app to deny spammers
There are several third-party apps to help you against spammers. Two popular apps, Nomorobo and RoboKiller, are both available for iOS and Android. Although each requires a subscription, they are efficient at blocking and filtering suspected robotexts and spam messages.