How To Stop Spam Texts (on Android and iPhone)

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J.R. Tietsort

Chief Information Security Officer at Aura

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    Are You Tired of Receiving So Many Spam Texts? 

    Americans are drowning in spam texts with no end in sight. Scammers sent out 11.94 billion spam texts in May 2022 alone. That’s the equivalent of 43 spam texts per person. [*]. 

    For most people, spam texts are an annoyance. But for many others, they lead to serious financial losses. Last year, nearly 75,000 Americans fell for scams sent via text messages, with victims losing $1,000 on average [*]. 

    Scammers know you’re more likely to open a strange text than answer a phone call coming from an unknown number. They also know that 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of delivery, making them the perfect method for scams [*]. 

    So, how do you protect yourself from their schemes and stop the floodgate of scam and spam texts in your inbox? 

    In this guide, we’ll explain how to block spam texts on both Android and Apple iPhone devices as well as examples of the most common spam texts that may slip past your filters.

    What Are Spam Texts? Are They Really That Dangerous? 

    Spam texts include any unwanted and unsolicited SMS messages sent by hackers or scammers. This could include fake package delivery notifications, fraud alerts, and numerous other common text message scams (also known as “smishing.”)

    Example of a spam text claiming to be from Chase bank
    An example of a spam text designed to get you on the phone with a scammer. Source: Aura team

    While just receiving a spam text isn’t that dangerous, scammers have become masters of human psychology and know what to send that will trick you into acting. 

    Even worse, scammers can use phone number spoofing to trick your caller ID into thinking they’re texting from somewhere they’re not, while “robotext” technology allows them to send millions of automated messages a day.

    But what do these scammers want? 

    Depending on the scam, a spam text is designed to get you to:

    • Click on a link to a phishing site. Scammers want you to go to websites they’ve built that will steal your personal information. These sites could look like legitimate login pages for service providers such as your bank or Netflix.
    • Accidentally download malware onto your device. Some links are specifically intended to download malware onto your phone. This gives hackers access to all of your files and can even allow them to spy on you remotely. 
    • Get on the phone with the scammer. Many spam texts include phone numbers to call. Scammers know that once they get you on the phone, they can pressure you to give them personal information or send money. 
    • Divulge sensitive information. Some spam texts will claim your accounts are at risk or you’re going to be charged money if you don’t “verify” your identity by providing your passwords, two-factor authentication (2FA) codes, Social Security number (SSN), and more. 
    • Give scammers access to your phone. Scammers can even hack your phone or take over your phone number — and then spam everyone on your contact list with unwanted texts.

    Engaging with a spam text in any way can put you at risk of financial losses, account takeovers, or even identity theft. So how do you spot and stop spam texts?

    Take action: If you accidentally give scammers your personal data, they could take out loans in your name or empty your bank account. Try an identity theft protection service to monitor your finances and receive fraud alerts.

    How To Identify Spam Texts: 5 Warning Signs

    There are a few clear warning signs that indicate you’re dealing with a spammer. Here’s what to lookout for if you receive a strange text:

    1. The text doesn’t make sense to you

    Spammers send millions of messages hoping that someone will click on their links or call them. That means that many spam messages won’t make sense to you. An example would be if you receive a fraud alert from JP Morgan bank — but you don’t have an account with them. 

    Example of a spam text claiming to be from JP Morgan

    2. The message contains spelling and grammar errors

    Legitimate organizations have proofreaders and editors who review messages. Spelling errors are a major red flag that you’re dealing with a spam message. If you have a hard time reading the text, it’s most likely a scam.

    Example of a spam text with spelling errors

    3. The message creates a sense of urgency to get you to act without thinking

    Spam text messages will often try to get you to act quickly by threatening you or creating a heightened sense of urgency. These social engineering attacks are highly effective; 43% of people say they’ve clicked on links in texts to check if their passwords are compromised [*]. 

    Example of a MV text scam

    4. Links in the message send you to a phishing website

    If you click on a link in a spam text message, it most likely will send you to a phishing site. These are fake websites that are designed to steal your passwords or sensitive information. 

    For example, cybercriminals built a fake website that looks like the California DMV and used it to harvest victims’ personal and financial information. 

    Example of a fake DMV website from a phishing link
    This fake website was designed to steal your personal information by pretending to be the DMV.

    Clicking on a spam link could also lead to your phone being hacked or infected with malware. At a minimum, it means you will receive even  more spam (as the scammers now know your phone number is active and that you respond to their attacks.)

    💡 Related: How To Block Websites on iPhones and iPads [4 Ways]

    5. The text is sent from a strange phone number

    If the text message originates from a lengthy phone number that isn’t the regular five or six digit short code or 10-digit phone number, it’s probably a scam text message. 

    Example of a spam text using an email address to mask its source
    Sometimes scammers use spoofing technology to disguise the number with a legitimate-looking email address. 

    10 Ways To Stop Spam Text Messages on Androids and iPhones

    1. Never reply to spam text messages (even with “STOP” or “NO”)
    2. Use anti-spam apps to keep spam texts out of your inbox
    3. Block all spam phone numbers
    4. Report spam texts to your mobile carrier
    5. Report and send spam texts to the FCC and FTC
    6. Don’t open links in spam texts
    7. Consider protecting your devices with antivirus software
    8. Be selective about where you share your phone number
    9. Turn on call filters on your phone
    10. Add your phone number to the National Do-Not-Call Registry

    It’s impossible to stop all spam messages from getting into your inbox. But by following these steps, you can vastly reduce the amount of spam you get on your phone and protect yourself against smishing scams.

    1. Never reply to spam text messages (even with “STOP” or “NO”)

    Legally, organizations must give you an option to unsubscribe from their texts (typically by replying “STOP”). However, scammers use this method as a ruse to confirm your phone number is active so they can pursue their scams.

    If you receive a spam text message that asks you to reply, don’t — it will only increase the amount of spam text messages you receive.

    Example of a spam text that tries to get you to respond

    2. Use anti-spam apps to keep spam texts out of your inbox

    There are numerous third-party apps and tools you can use to help block spam texts and robocalls. Here are a few you should consider:

    • Truecaller. Automatically identifies robocalls, text scams, and fraud. Truecaller runs in the background of your Android phone to detect if incoming calls and messages are from scammers. Pricing starts at $2.99 per month.
    • TextKiller from RoboKiller. TextKiller claims to eliminate 99% of spam messages with its filtering system that blocks malicious text messages from unknown phone numbers. Pricing starts at $2.99 per month and is only available on iPhones.
    • Nomorobo: Nomorobo allows you to filter spam text messages and automatically block robocalls from any source. Pricing starts at $1.99 per month.
    • Carrier-specific spam filters: Most mobile carriers include anti-spam tools including: Verizon Call Filter, AT&T Call Protect, U.S Cellular Call Guardian, and T-Mobile Scam Shield.
    • Aura’s Data Broker Opt-Out: Aura’s all-in-one digital security solution includes a Data Broker Opt-Out feature. Data brokers collect and sell your contact information to marketers and scammers. Aura sends requests on your behalf to remove your data so that you stop receiving spam texts and calls.
    Aura data broker opt-out (spam filter)
    Aura can remove you from major data broker lists and reduce the amount of spam you receive

    3. Block all spam phone numbers

    When you block a spam number, scammers might just switch to a different number. While this might seem pointless, it can help eliminate some of the spam you receive. 

    • To block spam phone numbers on iPhone: Scroll to the top of the conversation and tap the number or name. Click Block this Caller from the list of options. You can manage your blocked contacts under Settings – Messages – Blocked Contacts.
    • To block spam phone numbers on Android: Open the spam text and tap the number or name at the top of the screen. Next, click the three-dot icon on the top right corner of the screen. Finally, select Block Number and check Report as Spam.

    4. Report spam texts to your mobile carrier

    You can report smishing to your mobile carrier by forwarding the text message to 7726. Forwarding spam texts to 7726 works for any U.S. mobile carrier, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.

    • On iPhone: Press down on the spam text, click More, and tap Forward to send it as a new text.
    • On Android: Press down on the robotext, click the three-dot icon on the top right, and select Forward from the options. 

    💡 Related: How to Stop Spam Emails (2022 Guide)

    5. Report and send spam texts to the FCC and FTC

    Reporting text scams to the government doesn’t stop fraudsters from spamming you, but it helps the government keep an updated record of scam attacks. The more scammers you can help shut down, the less spam you’re going to receive. 

    Here’s how to report spam text messages to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

    6. Don't open links in spam texts

    When you click on phishing links in spam texts, it helps scammers establish that you’re a potential target. Or worse, it can infect your phone with malware that allows scammers to spy on you. 

    Never click on links in spam text messages. And if you do by accident, don’t provide any personal or sensitive information on the website you’re taken to. 

    If you’re unsure if a link is legitimate, visit the site directly. For example, if you get a text message that you think is from your bank, don’t click on the link in the message. Instead, go directly to the bank’s website or use its mobile app. 

    💡 Related: How To Tell If Someone Is Scamming You Online

    7. Consider protecting your devices with antivirus software

    Antivirus software protects your phone against malware, spyware, and Trojans. For example, Aura’s antivirus software scans your Android and IOS devices to block and remove malware. Aura also offers a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your online data and privacy.

    Aura antivirus

    8. Be selective about where you post your phone number (especially on social media)

    The more your phone number is available online, the more spam texts you’re going to receive. Exercise caution when sharing your phone number, especially on: 

    • Social media: Many platforms ask for your phone number as part of your profile. If this is optional. Don’t give it to them. 
    • Shopping sites: You may be offered a discount in exchange for your phone number — but this also opens you up to more spam texts. 
    • Security (such as 2FA codes): Don’t use your phone number or SMS for two-factor authentication codes. Instead, use an authenticator app like Authy or Google Authenticator

    Sharing your phone number makes it easy for scammers to find. Or worse, a company could be hit by a data breach, and your phone number will be leaked onto the Dark Web where hackers can purchase it for pennies.

    Treat your phone number like an expensive piece of jewelry — don’t lend it out or leave it lying around where anyone can find it. For added security, use temporary phone numbers from services like Open Phone and Google Voice. 

    💡Related: How to Protect Your Personal Information on Social Media

    9. Turn on call filters on your phone

    Call filters create a separate inbox for messages from people you don’t know or potential spammers on your smartphone. 

    • On iPhone: Go to Settings – Messages – Toggle switch for Filter Unknown Senders.
    • On Android: Navigate to the Message App, and click on the three-dots in the top right corner. Next, select Settings from the options and click Spam protection. Make sure Enable spam protection is turned on to receive spam alerts.

    10. Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry

    If you’re receiving unwanted spam calls as well as texts (such as telemarketing calls), you can add your mobile number to the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry. Wait 31 days after you’ve registered before reporting unwanted calls to the FTC. 

    What Should You Do if You’ve Responded or Clicked on a Link in a Spam Text?

    • Disconnect from your mobile network and Wi-Fi to stop hackers from spying on you. 
    • Use antivirus software to detect and delete malware. 
    • Clear your browser history, cache, and downloads folder to remove lingering malware.
    • Uninstall any strange or unrecognized apps. 
    • Restore your phone to its factory default settings. 
    • Check your bank and credit card statements for suspicious charges. Or, sign up for Aura and get 24/7 credit monitoring for your bank, credit, and investment accounts. You’ll get a notification if anyone is trying to steal your money or use your credit. Plus, if the worst should happen, you’re covered by a $1,000,000 insurance policy for eligible losses due to identity theft. 

    💡 Related: What is Credit Monitoring and Do You Need It?

    If you gave sensitive information to a text scammer:

    • Freeze your credit to stop scammers from opening new credit accounts in your name. 
    • File an identity theft report with the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov.
    • Change your passwords and security questions to be more secure.
    • Enable 2FA on your online accounts. 
    • Contact the fraud department at your bank and credit card issuers and tell them what happened.

    💡 Related: Should I Change My Cell Phone Number After Identity Theft?

    FAQ: Everything Else You Need To Know To Stop Spam Texts 

    Why am I getting spam texts? 

    You receive spam texts when a scammer gains access to your phone number. Considering how often you share your email address and phone number with online stores, websites, and businesses, there’s a good chance it’s been leaked online. According to one report, 22 billion records (some including phone numbers) were exposed in 2021 alone [*]. 

    Are spam text messages legal?

    Federal law in the United States prohibits smishing and spam texts. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 covers all commercial messages sent to promote commercial services or products. Under the act, the FCC created a set of rules to protect consumers from unwanted messages that made it illegal to:

    • Use misleading header information.
    • Use deceptive messaging that doesn’t reflect the intent of the message.
    • Hide your location.
    • Not provide details on how to opt out of messaging.
    • Not honor opt-out requests immediately.

    Organizations that violate the CAN-SPAM Act could be liable for up to $46,517 in penalties. 

    Does replying “STOP” to spam texts work?

    Only reply with “STOP” when you receive a text message from a service you know (for example, your internet provider, pharmacy, or gym). Replying “STOP” to spam texts confirms that your number is active and invites fraudsters to flood your phone with junk messages.

    What are the most common spam texts that I might receive?

    Spammers will say anything to try and get you to act. But if you receive a text message that includes any of these phrases or demands, it’s most likely spam:

    • You’ve won a prize or sweepstakes you didn’t enter.
    • You have a pending tax refund from the IRS.
    • Your phone number was “randomly selected” for a free gift.
    • You have a package delivery or you missed a package delivery.
    • Your account has been temporarily locked.
    • Your bank has identified potential fraud.
    • You’re going to be charged for a purchase or subscription service.
    • Your device has been infected with a virus.
    Example of a spam text that claims your computer has been infected with a virus
    • There’s an issue with one of your accounts (such as Netflix, Amazon, or Apple).
    • DMV text scams – such as missed appointments or overpayments.
    • Text scams from mobile payment services such as Cash App, Zelle, Venmo, and Apple Pay
    • CEO Fraud – someone posing as your boss or colleague in a text message.
    • Texts claiming there are issues with your credit card.
    Take action: Protect yourself from the risks of identity theft and fraud with Aura’s $1,000,000 identity theft insurance. Try Aura free for 14 days and see if it’s right for you.

    The Bottom Line: Don’t Fall Victim to Spam Texts

    Scammers are not satisfied with merely bombarding your phone with spam. They also want to steal your identity and empty your bank account.

    You can avoid falling prey to fraudsters by staying proactive. Aura’s all-in-one digital security solution identifies spam, malware, and viruses and can protect you from phishing attempts, identity theft, and financial fraud.

    Shut down spammers now. Try Aura free for 14 days.

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    1. Financial identity theft and fraud
    2. Medical identity theft
    3. Child identity theft
    4. Elder fraud and estate identity theft
    5. “Friendly” or familial identity theft
    6. Employment identity theft
    7. Criminal identity theft
    8. Tax identity theft
    9. Unemployment and government benefits identity theft
    10. Synthetic identity theft
    11. Identity cloning
    12. Account takeovers (social media, email, etc.)
    13. Social Security number identity theft
    14. Biometric ID theft
    15. Crypto account takeovers