In this modern era of cellphones, text messaging services give spammers and telemarketers even more ways to annoy you than a home phone. Since your cellphone is usually on hand at all times, an unwanted text bugs you no matter where you are.
Fortunately, there are ways to filter message notifications from unknown contacts and even block spam message sender numbers outright.
Here are the steps for stopping those annoying cellphone junk text messages for good.
Block the spam sender's number
The first step is to block the sender of the spam text message.
On an iPhone, tap the "i" icon in the upper-right corner of the text message, then on the next screen, tap the displayed sender number. This opens up a bunch of options but for this purpose select "Block this Caller."
Optionally, you can also turn off notifications for iMessages from senders that are not on your contact list. To do this, go to Settings >> Messages >> toggle Filter Unknown Senders to on (green indicator on).
Keep in mind that even though texts from a particular number won't be delivered when you block it on an iPhone, they can still leave a voicemail (but you won't get a notification). Also, the blocked sender won't receive a notification that the text message was blocked.
On Android, while on the text message, tap the three vertical dots in the top-right corner of the screen to access the menu. Select "People & Options" then Block.
Report to your Carrier
The second vital step is to report the sender to your carrier to help stop other spam messages.
It doesn't matter if you're an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon or Sprint subscriber, Here are the steps to report spam text messages to your carrier.
On an iPhone, open the spam text message, then on the message thread, hold down on the offending text. A new menu will appear. Here, select "More...", tap on the arrow on the bottom right then and on the next screen, type 7726 (SPAM) in the "To:" field then send.
Note: You can also report an iMessage as junk or spam to Apple. If you get an iMessage from a sender who's not saved in your Contacts list, a "Report Junk" link will appear under the text message. Tap that link to delete the message and report it to Apple as junk.
On Android, open the thread that contains the spam message you want to report. Tap and hold the message, then select the Forward icon on the bottom-right corner (looks like an arrow). Forward the message to 7726 (SPAM) to report as junk to your carrier.
Why text spam needs to be blocked
Text Message Spam is Illegal
According to the FTC:
"It’s illegal to send unsolicited commercial email messages to wireless devices, including cell phones and pagers, unless the sender gets your permission first. It’s also illegal to send unsolicited text messages from an auto-dialer — equipment that stores and dials phone numbers using a random or sequential number generator."
There are these few exceptions to this law:
- Transactional or relationship types of messages. If a company has a relationship with you, it can send you things like statements or warranty information.
- Non-commercial messages. This includes political surveys or fundraising messages.
Protect yourself against text spam
The FTC recommends these pointers to protect yourself against spam text messages:
- Immediately delete unsolicited text messages that ask you for your personal information. According to the FTC, "Legitimate companies don’t ask for information like your account numbers or passwords by email or text."
- Never reply to the text message nor click on any attached links. Malware can be installed on your gadget via poisoned sites or they can lead to phishing sites designed to steal your information.
- Your personal information is extremely valuable and you must "treat it like cash." Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name.
- Place your cellphone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
- You can file a complaint with the FTC or the FCC.
- Review your cellphone bill for unauthorized charges, and report them to your carrier.
- Always report spam text messages to your carrier with the steps we outlined above.