Jory MacKay is a writer and award-winning editor with over a decade of experience for online and print publications. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Victoria and a passion for helping people identify and avoid fraud.
Are You Tired of Unwanted Texts Taking Over Your iPhone?
When Kelli Hinton received a text message that appeared to be from her bank asking if she’d just attempted a $7500 wire transfer, Kelli quickly responded “NO.” But instead of protecting her savings, Kelli had engaged with a scammer who would eventually fleece her out of more than $15,000 [*].
Spam and unwanted texts are taking over American phones. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), SMS messaging was the top-reported contact method used by scammers last year [*].
By some estimates, Americans received over 66 billion robotexts in the first half of 2022 alone [*].
At best, spam texts are an annoyance. At worst, they can cost you money — or even your identity.
In this guide, we’ll explain how you can block unwanted text messages on your iPhone and protect your phone number from scammers.
Why Are You Suddenly Getting So Many Spam Texts on Your iPhone?
Scammers use spam text messages to trick victims into sending money, clicking on dangerous links, or providing sensitive information that can be used for identity theft or online account hacking.
These scams — also known as “smishing” (short for “SMS phishing”) — can range from fraudsters impersonating government agencies or well-known companies to fake delivery notifications to fraudulent “wrong number” texts that ensnare victims in complex cryptocurrency scams.
In recent years, scam texts have become among the easiest — and most affordable — ways for scammers to target millions of victims each day. Phone numbers are easily found on the Dark Web after they’re leaked in data breaches or scraped from social media sites. Approximately 85% of Americans have received a spam robotext in the past 12 months [*].
With so many spam texts sent each day, cybercriminals only need a tiny percentage of victims to fall for their scams in order to make them worthwhile.
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7 Ways To Stop Unwanted Texts on Your iPhone
Blocking annoying phone spammers is one of the best methods to help prevent identity theft and fraud. Here are seven ways to stop unwanted texts from taking over your iPhone:
Most traditional spam blocking features only allow you to block senders after receiving an unwanted message. But modern AI-powered tools offer a more proactive way to keep spam messages out of your inbox.
For example, Aura’s AI-powered Call Assistant scans incoming calls and text messages for suspicious links, typical scam language, or known spam numbers — and automatically blocks them from your inbox.
Here’s how Aura’s AI-powered Call Assistant helps stop unwanted texts:
Automatically filters out spam and scam text messages. Aura uses AI to scan incoming text messages for common scam language, dangerous links, and known malware signatures. Any potentially dangerous message is sent to your junk folder.
Screens unknown callers on your behalf. When people who are not on your contact list try to call you (such as scammers, telemarketers, or robocallers), Aura will answer on your behalf and screen calls to ensure that only legitimate callers get through. Your phone will hang up on anyone else who calls, or send them to voicemail.
Blocks spam and scam phone calls. When Aura detects incoming scam content, it will automatically block the SMS or phone call. This makes it much harder for scammers to bother you with unsolicited offers.
2. Manually block texts that come from a specific sender or number
Whenever you receive a scam text from an unknown number, you can safely block that numberto avoid receiving messages from it again. This is a short-term solution because scammers still know your phone number, and they frequently switch their phone numbers.
While blocking a phone number won’t completely eliminate spam texts from your phone, it can reduce the overall number of spam texts that you receive.
How to block spam numbers on iOS:
Оpen the text message and tap on the phone number at the top of the screen.
Tap on the Info button and then tap Block This Caller.
Confirm by tapping Block Contact. If you make a mistake, you can also unblock from here.
3. Filter out spam and texts from unfamiliar numbers
You can filter messages from unknown senders by changing your iPhone’s messaging settings. This will create a new folder for incoming messages from people who aren’t already on your contacts list, allowing you to keep them separate from your trusted inbox.
To access this new inbox, go to Filters and click on Unknown Senders. You won’t receive notifications from any messages on this list, but responding to a message will move it to your main inbox.
Keep in mind that your iPhone won’t let you open links contained in the Unknown Senders inbox. You can only open links after you add the sender to your contacts or reply to the message.
How to filter messages from unknown senders:
Go to the Settings app and tap on Messages.
Scroll down to Message Filtering and enable Filter Unknown Senders.
Pro tip: You can also Silence Unknown Callers by going from Settings to the phone menu and enabling the feature. This prevents people who aren’t on your contacts list from calling you.
Both Android and iPhone users can always forward spam messages to 7726 (SPAM). This sends a screenshot of the message to your phone carrier’s fraud team, which can then verify it and take action against scammers abusing their network.
The Apple iPhone lets you also report spam directly through the Messages app. iOS devices flag suspected spam messages with a “Report Junk” button. Simply tap on the button to send a copy of the message to Apple.
Pro tip: iPhones and iPads will automatically delete and report junk messages when you report them this way, so make sure you forward messages to 7726 before you click on the “Report Junk” button.
6. Block numbers in other messaging apps (WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.)
Facetime and iMessages aren’t the only messaging apps on your phone. If you use third-party apps like WhatsApp or Telegram, you should block unwanted contacts through them as well.
Although these apps use your phone number to identify you, they don’t run on the same networks as your built-in SMS inbox. If you block people on iMessages, they may still be able to contact you through WhatsApp and other chat apps.
The same is true for your social media profiles. If someone knows your telephone number, they may be able to look you up on social media and send you direct messages on those platforms. You will have to block them on each platform individually.
If your phone number is already included in multiple databases used by hackers and scammers, changing it may be the best way to prevent them from contacting you.
Removing your number from all of these databases may not be feasible, which means you’ll continue to receive unwanted messages as long as the number belongs to you.
However, unlike Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, and other Android phones, Apple allows iPhone users to send messages to each other using their Apple IDs. Changing your phone number may not prevent hackers from launching phishing attacks that target your Apple ID.
How to change your phone number:
Through your mobile carrier app. Many carriers allow customers to change their numbers for free. For example, Verizon gives users the option to change their numbers directly through the My Verizon app [*].
Through your carrier’s customer service line. You can also change your phone number by contacting your mobile carrier’s customer service line. Be aware that this may incur a small charge to your account.
Don’t forget your other Apple devices. If you also receive SMS messages on your Mac computer or iPad, scammers may be sending unwanted text messages to your Apple ID. You will have to change your ID separately with Apple.
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How To Protect Your Phone Number (and Personal Information)
Spam texts aren’t dangerous on their own. However, responding to them in any way will encourage scammers to keep trying – and eventually they might succeed.
That’s why it’s always better to keep your phone number and other personal data private whenever possible. Preventing fraud from landing in your inbox is much more effective than trying to avoid every scam attack that comes your way.
Here are some actions you can take to keep your information away from scammers and hackers:
Never respond to spam texts or click on links. Don’t engage with scammers. Even responding with “STOP” can tell them that you’re a viable target, which means you’ll start receiving even more spam.
Remove your contact details from data broker lists. There are many different types of data brokers, and not all of them are legitimate. However, you can reduce your exposure to unwanted messages by asking the largest data brokers to delete your information.
Try not to give out your primary phone number. When signing up for services that request a phone number, try to provide a secondary contact method such as Google Voice.
Secure your online accounts with strong passwords and 2FA. Hackers often use smishing attacks to gain access to sensitive account information. Protect your login credentials by using unique passwords and enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) on all of your accounts.
Use Safe Browsing tools to warn you of fake websites. Hackers may gain access to your data by spoofing websites to look like institutions that you know and trust. Aura’s Safe Browsing tools can warn you when you enter an unsafe website.
File complaints with the FTC. If you suspect you are a victim of fraud, make sure to report the incident at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or IdentityTheft.gov (if your identity has been stolen or compromised). The Federal Trade Commission will help protect you from additional damages stemming from identity theft and credit fraud.
Block ad trackers on websites. Malicious advertising pop-ups and ad trackers can provide scammers with valuable data about your online behaviors. They may use this information to impersonate people and brands that you trust.
Clean up your social media profiles. Make sure your social media profiles don’t offer more information about you than absolutely necessary. Check the visibility settings for each platform that you use, and make sure your profile isn’t publicly visible for all website visitors.
The Bottom Line: Don’t Let Unwanted Texts Take Over Your Inbox
Your SMS inbox can be the starting point of many different text message scams. Suspicious messages from unknown senders aren’t dangerous if you ignore them, but it can be hard to avoid every single scam text.
Instead, preventing your iPhone from showing you scam messages offers better protection.
Aura safeguards your identity, devices, and data with comprehensive security solutions that block scam messages from arriving in your inbox entirely. Plus, every Aura account includes award-winning identity theft protection, 24/7 U.S.-based support from Fraud Resolution Specialists, and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance for every adult on your Aura plan.