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: text messages. Here’s how to stop spam texts and everything else you need to know and how to protect yourself.

What is a phishing text?

Phishing texts, also called smishing, is using text messages to scam someone. Often these texts are aimed at stealing personal information or even 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 personal information. (If you ever hear this phrase, it’s a phone scam.)

How to recognize spam texts

There are some key signs that a text message isn’t legit. First, look to see if the company’s name is in the text. Usually, brands will be sure to let you know a text is from them.

Second, take a look at the link. The link should give you an idea of where it’s taking you. Check to see if the name of the website 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.

For example, the link 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 a link from a scammer.

Third, scammers use urgency to get you to take action without thinking. Catching you off-guard makes it easier for them to get you to click a link or answer with information. (Here are the four other things hackers can do with just your cell phone number.)

Here’s an example of a couple of smishing texts that are vague, use urgency tactics, and have a shortened link:

  • “You have a package that needs to be claimed ASAP.”
  • “We selected your phone (61452511147) and email as winners. Obtain your prize here in 1 hour:”
  • “Reminder: Your parcel: YF-2521555 is still not shipped. Verify it within 2 hours or we will send it back:”
  • “Your IRS tax refund needs review. Must review within 24 hours:”

Some 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.

A representative from Transaction Network Services (TNS), the robocall detection company used by some of the top carriers in the nation, including Verizon, tells Reader’s Digest that the company recently were alerted to these types of robotext scams:

  • Promises to remove negative information in your credit report for a fee.
  • Messages offering health and beauty products, iPhones and MacBooks, or weight loss pills.
  • Scammers pretending to be from a political campaign fundraiser.
  • Offers of gift cards for participating in research surveys.
  • Texts offering free cash or a quick loan. These texts often offer a specific amount of $5,000.
  • Messages claiming the recipient’s driver’s license is being revoked. To “fix” the problem you have to click a link.
  • “Get-rich-quick” and be-your-own-boss messages.

What to do if you get a spam text

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. (Never link your phone number to your Facebook account—here’s why.)

Your best steps to take is to block the text sender and to report the spam. Then, delete the text from your phone.

iPhone with screen displaying fake, scam text messagesPhoto:, Getty Images

How do I block unwanted text messages?

There are many good apps on the market that can filter and block spam messages. Ray Walsh, a digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy, recommends Nomorobo and RoboKiller. These two apps are available both for iOS and Android and filter out and block spam messages and robotexts. You can also block spam using your phone settings. (This is why you should never call back an unknown number.)

How do I block spam texts?

How do I block spam texts on my 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.”

How do I block spam texts on my 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 text messages

How to filter text messages on my 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.”

How to filter text messages on my Android

To block 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 an app such as the ones mentioned above.

Next, beware the cyber security secrets hackers don’t want you to know.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest