Are You Getting Texts From Email Addresses? It Could Be a Scam
When Esther Alvarez heard the notification on her phone, the last thing she expected to see was a text message claiming that her Pennsylvania electronic benefit card (EBT) was blocked and she needed to call a number to reactivate it.
Luckily, Esther doesn’t use an EBT card and knew to ignore the message. But what worried her was that the text message looked like it came from an official “pa.gov” email address [*].
Text message scams are among the most popular methods used by scammers to target unsuspecting victims. In the past 12 months:
Nearly 85% of Americans say they’ve received a suspicious text message [*], with victims losing a combined $28 billion to scammers [*].
Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to spot a fake text message — especially when scammers send them from official-looking email addresses.
If you’re worried about text message scams or are just tired of receiving spam texts, this guide will explain how email-to-text scams work — and how to block texts sent from email addresses so that you can keep yourself safe.
Why Are You Getting Texts From Email Addresses?
Spammers use automated email-to-text software to send hundreds or thousands of fake text messages to victims at any time. Sending texts from email accounts is cheaper for scammers and also provides several advantages over SMS spam messages:
- Email addresses can appear more legitimate than unknown numbers. While you may be hesitant to answer a text from an unknown number, scammers know how to spoof email addresses to look like they come from well-known brands, such as Amazon or PayPal. If you look quickly, you could be tricked into responding or clicking on a phishing link.
- Email-to-text scams are cheap and easy to scale. Spammers play a numbers game — blasting thousands of victims at once in hopes that someone will click on a link or respond. It’s much less expensive to send thousands of text messages via email than through the mobile carrier’s network.
- Scammers can create unlimited free email accounts. Getting a new phone number can be costly. With email, there’s no need to register a new phone number or get a SIM card.
- Most people don’t know they can block email texts. Since email texts appear to have more authority, people may assume they can’t be blocked. In fact, you can block an email sender just like any phone number.
- Text messages get read more often than spam emails. The majority of scam emails end up in the junk folder. But 90% of people read text messages within the first three minutes of receiving them [*].
- Text message scams can lead to serious consequences. Clicking on a link or calling the number listed in a fake text message can infect your device with malware, take you to a fake website, or get you on the phone with a scammer who wants to steal your credit card number or identity.
Finally, sending massive amounts of texts from email addresses is, surprisingly, not illegal.
While the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is attempting to crack down on robocalls and spam texts [*], every mobile carrier provides an email gateway through which users can send text messages.
This means that anyone who knows your phone number can find out what carrier you use and send email text messages to you using that carrier’s email-to-text gateway address.
How To Block Text Messages From Email Addresses (iPhone and Android)
- Manually block email addresses on your phone
- Filter out spam texts from unknown senders
- Enable your carrier’s spam-blocking app
- Ask your AT&T representative about “Article 446389”
- Use a third-party app to block spam texts
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to stop spam texts entirely — whether they’re from email addresses or phone numbers. Instead, follow these tips to block spammers and reduce the amount of spam you receive.
1. Manually block email addresses on your phone
You can block email address contacts the same way you block numbers on your phone. All SMS messaging apps include blocking functionality, and nothing prevents you from blocking people who send you scam messages from email addresses.
However, you can’t automatically block all texts that come from emails. You’ll have to manually block each email address as it appears.
How to block texts from emails on iPhone:
- Find the conversation in your SMS messaging app. Start by locating your conversation with the scammer. Be careful not to click on any links in the message.
- Tap on the “Contact” name, and then click on “Info.” Navigate to the menu displaying information about this contact.
- Find and tap the “Block this caller” button. This particular email address is now blocked from sending you additional messages.
You can also report junk and spam text messages directly from the Messages app. If you get an iMessage from anyone who is not in your contacts list, you’ll see the option to “Report Junk.”
A third option is to use Aura's spam call and text protection to block known spam (or scam) callers and filter unwanted messages.
How to block texts from emails on Android:
- Find the conversation in your SMS messaging app. Again, make sure you don’t accidentally click on any links.
- Tap on the “...” button at the top of the screen. This will open a menu that presents several options.
- Select “block and confirm.” Your phone will now block all messages coming from this sender.
On some Android devices — such as Samsung Galaxy phones — you can also one-tap block messages from new senders.
2. Filter out spam texts from unknown senders
Both Android and iOS have spam filters that allow users to filter text messages from unknown senders. This will prevent spammers from using random email addresses to contact you. However, it can also prevent legitimate senders from messaging you if they’re not already on your contacts list.
The good news is that your phone won’t actually delete or block these incoming messages. Instead, they’ll go to a “junk” folder which is separate from your main inbox.
How to filter spam texts on Apple iPhones and iPads:
- Go to Settings, and tap on “iMessage.”
- Go to Message Filtering, and tap on “Filter Unknown Senders.” You won’t be able to click on links in messages from an unknown sender without adding that sender to your contacts list.
How to filter spam texts on Android phones:
- Open the Messages app, and tap the “...” icon in the upper-right corner.
- Select Settings, and enable Spam Protection. Android will put suspicious spam messages into a separate folder for you.
3. Enable your carrier’s spam-blocking app
Most mobile carriers provide their customers with security apps that help detect and block spam texts. Each carrier has its own technology and approach, and some are more successful blockers than others.
Here’s where you can find spam-blocking apps in the app store and understand what they do:
- Verizon’s Call Filter. Once installed, Verizon will filter out known scam texts from your inbox.
- AT&T’s ActiveArmor. Once installed, AT&T will check incoming links and files for known malware threats. It won’t block incoming spam texts, though.
- T-Mobile’s Scam Shield. Once installed, T-Mobile will warn you when you receive phone calls or messages from suspected scammers.
Before you download an app: It’s good to know that these apps focus primarily on blocking unwanted spam calls, and offer limited functionality for blocking unwanted texts. However, they generally include some protection for preventing text scams.
4. Ask your AT&T representative about “Article 446389”
Some AT&T customers online have reported using a special request to get the company’s customer service representatives to block all texts from emails on their phones. However, you should know that this isn’t an official AT&T service and may not always work (or be available to you).
How to use “Article #446389” to block email-to-text messages on AT&T’s mobile network:
- Call AT&T customer service. Use the contact methods on their official website.
- Explain that you want all email-to-text messages blocked. The representative may not immediately comply, or may tell you that this isn’t possible.
- Ask the customer service representative to look up “Article #446389.” This is an internal knowledge base article showing AT&T employees how to disable the email gateway for customers.
💡 Related: How To (Finally) Stop Unwanted Texts on iPhones →
5. Consider signing up for a digital security solution
If you accidentally click on a link in a spam text message or talk with a scammer, you could be at risk of identity theft or financial fraud.
While blocking unwanted text messages is a good start, it’s not enough to keep you safe from scammers. Third-party digital security providers like Aura can protect your phone, financial accounts, and identity.
With Aura, you get:
- Automatic data broker removal to reduce spam and scam messages. Most spammers obtain your phone number from data brokers — companies that collect and sell personal information. Aura can automatically contact hundreds of U.S. data brokers on your behalf and have them remove your information.
- Award-winning identity theft protection. Aura monitors your most sensitive data — including your phone number, Social Security number (SSN), driver’s license, and more — and alerts you in near real-time if your information is being used by scammers.
- The fastest and most reliable fraud alerts. If scammers get access to your information, they could take out loans in your name or empty your bank account. Aura monitors your bank, credit, and investment accounts and alerts you about suspicious activity up to 250x faster than other providers.
- Digital security tools that protect your data, devices, and network. Every Aura membership includes powerful security tools — such as a robust password manager, antivirus software, a virtual private network (VPN), ad-blocking, and Safe Browsing tools.
- $1 million in identity theft insurance. If the worst should happen, Aura covers you for up to $1,000,000 in eligible losses due to identity theft.
What To Do If You Keep Receiving Unwanted Texts
Once scammers know your phone number, you may not be able to prevent them from sending you unwanted text messages. Even if you successfully block contacts that use email addresses, scammers can still use regular phone numbers to send you text messages.
Blocking unwanted texts is especially difficult if you’ve already fallen victim to scams in the past. If data brokers and fraudsters already have your information, you’ll have to work harder to remove your personal data from their lists.
Here are some steps you can take if you constantly receive unsolicited scam text messages:
- Stop responding to spam texts, and never click on links. Don’t engage with scammers — even if you’re frustrated. Just responding with “STOP” tells them that you’re a viable target, which means you’ll only start receiving more spam.
- Remove your contact details from data broker lists. Data brokers may share your phone number with scammers and telemarketers. You can manually remove this information — although the process isn’t always easy.
- Clean up your social media profiles. Your social media profiles can provide cybercriminals with lots of data about your interests and relationships. Avoid making this information public so that scammers can’t impersonate people or businesses that you know.
- Try not to give out your primary phone number. You don’t have to give out your phone number to keep in touch with acquaintances. Try using a smart voice calling solution like Google Voice, or maintain relationships through social media channels.
- Secure your online accounts with strong passwords and 2FA. Many email-to-text scams send victims to spoofed websites designed to steal login credentials. Use strong, unique passwords and activate two-factor authentication (2FA) to prevent scammers from accessing your digital accounts.
- Use Safe Browsing tools to warn you of fake websites. Aura’s Safe Browsing tools can notify you when you’re about to navigate to a fake website. This gives you a chance to avoid getting scammed before it’s too late.
- File complaints with the FCC and FTC. You can file an informal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission by calling 1-888-225-5322. You can also report fraud attempts to the Federal Trade Commission on its dedicated website: ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
- Report spam messages to telecom providers. Forward all suspicious messages that you receive to SPAM (7726). This gives mobile carriers useful information about how new scams spread — and it may help prevent scammers from reaching you in the future.
Did You Click on a Link in a Spam Text?
Spam texts aren’t dangerous if left alone. However, if you respond to them in any way, you make yourself a target for more scam attempts. Eventually, a hacker may succeed in stealing your sensitive data or gaining access to one of your accounts.
Here’s what to do if you accidentally clicked on a link or called a number in a fake text message:
- Disconnect your mobile device from the internet. Scammers may try to hack or steal data from your cell phone. Turn off your mobile connection, and take the device off your local Wi-Fi immediately.
- Back up your sensitive files. Copy all of your valuable photos, videos, and documents to an external device. It must be a physical device like a computer, since you can’t connect to the internet.
- Scan your device for malware. Use a virus scanner to find out if your device has been infected. To be safe, continue to scan your device regularly for a period of time after clicking on any spam text links.
- Change all your passwords. Create new, unique passwords for every account you use. Ideally, each password should be at least 10 characters long and include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. For added protection, store your passwords in a secure password manager.
- Safeguard your accounts with multi-factor authentication (MFA). Dual-factor authentication makes it much harder for hackers to gain access to your digital accounts. Enable 2FA on every account that supports it.
- Report the scam. Forward the text to SPAM (7726), and fill out a scam report with the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov. If you’ve sent personal data or money to scammers, consider filing a police report with local law enforcement as well.
- Sign up for identity theft protection. Clicking on a link in a spam text may infect your device, allowing it to send your personal information to scammers. Signing up for identity theft protection will give you early warning if someone uses your information fraudulently.
The Bottom Line: Block Spam Texts and Stay Safe
Receiving spam texts sent from email addresses is more than an annoyance. Fraudsters are constantly searching for new ways to lure people into clicking on links, calling back numbers, and giving up cash and sensitive information.
But the good news is that as long as you don’t reply to them, text message scams pose no harm to you or your device.
Ignore and block spam texts as much as possible. And for added safety, consider signing up for Aura’s all-in-one digital security solution. Aura can help shield you and your family from fake websites, cybercriminals, and identity thieves.
And if you do accidentally get scammed, Aura provides up to $1 million in insurance coverage for eligible losses due to identity theft, along with 24/7 access to a skilled team of Fraud Resolution Specialists.