Feel like you get as many spam text messages as real ones these days? There’s good reason to believe that.
A popular anti-spam app called RoboKiller estimated Americans received 78 billion spam texts in the first half of 2023, costing us $13 billion through fraud. That’s roughly 235 messages per American — perhaps not a daily occurrence, but close enough.
While there’s no surefire way to end this nuisance, there are several steps you can take to minimize it.
1. Do not interact
It may be frustrating, but never respond to a spam text message or click on any links contained within. This includes trying any keywords you might use to opt out of legitimate text messaging services, like “STOP,” “UNSUBSCRIBE,” “CANCEL” or something similar.
The only thing responding is guaranteed to accomplish is letting the spammer know your number is active. Instead of stopping, that could make them redouble their efforts or even sell your number to other spammers, says antivirus company Norton.
Clicking the links could open you up to malware (that’s short for malicious software) that could steal your information, slow down your phone or lead to unexpected charges.
2. Only share your number when you have to
Many companies’ online forms ask for a phone number, but if you don’t have to share it, you shouldn’t, according to another antivirus company, Kaspersky. Likewise, avoid posting your number on social media.
3. Block senders
While you might see the same spam message from multiple numbers, each one you block should help at least a little. Norton explains the process:
To start blocking text messages on an iPhone:
- Tap the phone number at the top of your screen.
- Press the Info button.
- Select “Block This Caller.”
- Press “Block Contact.”
To begin blocking spam texts on an Android:
- Press the three-dot icon at the top right corner of your screen.
- Select “Block Number” or “Details,” then “Block & Report Spam” (depending on your specific device).
- Tap “Block & Report Spam.”
- Select “OK.”
Depending on your phone and operating system, you might not even have to go through all these steps. A block option may be displayed at the top of any message from an unknown sender.
4. Report messages to your phone provider
AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile all use the number 7726 (SPAM) to inform their spam prevention efforts. Any texts you forward to that number are free and will not count against your text plan.
To forward a message, tap and hold on it (being careful not to tap on any links it contains) and look for a menu option to “Forward Message” or the symbol for forwarding, a curved arrow pointing to the right.
5. Turn on spam filters
If you’re using an Android or iOS device, you should have access to some built-in — but perhaps not enabled — spam protection.
6. Try an app
If you’re willing to pay for additional protection, there are third-party apps such as RoboKiller. Those apps can also help with robocalls, a related nuisance we cover in “8 Easy Ways You Can Stop Robocalls.”