How to Stop Spam Texts on an iPhone or Android

Watch out! An unexpected text can go from simply annoying to malicious, which is why you'll want to know how to stop spam texts once and for all.

Pretty much all of us are used to robocalls, info-marketers, and spam in our emails—and now scammers are targeting another form of communication: spam text messages. Don’t worry about deleting the messages, because there is a way to get rid of them for good. Here’s how to stop spam text messages and everything else you need to know about protecting yourself from phone spammers.

How to recognize spam text messages when you see them

There are some key signs that a text message isn’t legit. First, is the company’s name is in the text? Legitimate brands will let you know up front when they’re reaching out to you.

Second, look at the link. Is the name of the company in the link? If so, it’s probably legit. If the email contains a shortened link (scammers often use a link), then don’t click it.

For example, lets you know that it will take you to a UPS tracking page.

On the other hand, the link gives you no clues, and could be from a scammer.

Scammers often use urgency to get you to take action without thinking. Catching you off-guard makes it easier to get you to click a link or answer with information.

Here’s an example of a smishing text that is vague, uses urgency tactics, and has a shortened link:

  • “You have a package that needs to be claimed ASAP.

Other clues to look for include misspellings, bad grammar, slang, emojis, and typos. If the text doesn’t look professional, then it probably isn’t from a brand or company you trust.

Recent and ongoing text scams

Transaction Network Services (TNS), a robocall detection company, shared scams they have recently encountered with Readers’s Digest.

  • Promises to remove negative information in your credit report for a fee
  • Products offers, esp health and beauty products, iPhones and MacBooks
  • Weight loss polls and research surveys, often with a gift card offer for participating
  • Fundraising for a political campaign
  • Free cash or quick loan offers, specifically $5,000
  • Claims the recipient’s license is about to be revoked, and you must click a link to fix it.
  • Get-rich-quick and be-your-own-boss offers

What is a phishing text?

Phishing texts, also called smishing, are attacks from cybercriminals to trick someone through text messages. Often these texts are aimed at stealing personal information or scamming the recipient out of money by asking for information about credit cards or bank accounts. Some will encourage you to click on a malicious link that will download malware to your phone. The malware then goes to work to steal your personal information.

What to do if you get a spam text

Your best step is to block the text sender—don’t click any links!—and report the spam. Then, delete the text from your phone.

Silence is always the best policy. Never respond to spam texts, not even with “stop.” “Many times, spam texts are sent by programs that send them out en masse,” explains Burton Kelso, chief tech expert with Integral, a computer and laptop repair service. “When you respond to a text message, you’re letting the spammer know that your number is legitimate and that encourages the spammer to continue.” Then, your verified number could be sold to other text spamming companies, which is why “silence is always golden,” he says.

How to block spam text messages

Block spam texts on an iPhone:

To block a text on your iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Open the text.
  2. Tap the arrow next to the contact number that’s found at the top of the screen.
  3. Tap the gray “Info” button.
  4. Tap blue “Info” button.
  5. Scroll down and tap “Block this Caller.”

Block spam texts on an Android:

To block spam messages on an Android follow these steps:

  1. Open the text.
  2. Tap the three-dot menu in the upper right of the screen.
  3. Tap “Details.”
  4. Tap on “Block Contact.”

Note: Sometimes, Android phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S20, have a simpler process where all you need to do is tap on the three-dot menu and just tap on “Block.”

How to filter phishing texts so they don’t reach you

Filter text messages on an iPhone:

Your phone may also have the ability to filter out spam text messages automatically. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Settings app and tap “Messages.”
  2. Scroll down until you find the “Filter Unknown Senders.”
  3. Turn it on by swiping the button to the right. All messages from a number not in your contact list will be filtered to the “Unkown Senders” tab found under “Filters.”

Filter text messages on an Android:

To filter spam messages on an Android follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Messaging app and tap the three dots icon in the upper right-hand of the screen.
  2. Tap on “Settings,” then “Spam Protection.”
  3. Scroll down until you find “Enable Spam Protection.”
  4. Turn it on by swiping the button to the right.

If you can’t find the “Spam Protection” option, your phone doesn’t have a spam filtering feature. In this case, you’ll need to install a third-party filtering app.

Now that you know how to stop spam text messages, find out why you need to stop commenting on those viral Facebook memes.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest