How to Report Spam Text Messages
With the rise in popularity of SMS messaging services, there has also been an increase in the number of unsolicited or suspicious text messages being sent and recieved around the globe.
With over 6 Billion text messages sent every day,(that’s 27 Trillion texts a year) there are bound to be those that are unwanted, or worse yet, text messages that are malicious. This article will dive in to how to report these spam text messages as well as how you can protect yourself from further smishing or spam text messages.
How to Determine if a Message is Spam
The goal of most spam text messages it to exploit or scam the spam text message receiver into revealing personal information about themselves. Sometimes the retrieval of information can seem harmless at first, simple questions about your first name or address confirmation, however any information that is gathered is being used for illicit means by the scammers and thus should never be given out.
In considering whether to reply to suspicious texts, it is strongly advised not to engage with them. Responding to such messages may inadvertently confirm the legitimacy of your phone number, making you susceptible to an influx of further spam or fraudulent texts. Taking a cautious approach and refraining from replying is the best course of action to protect yourself from potential scams or unwanted communication.
This is a similar tactic used with email, known as phishing. Oxford defines phishing as “the fraudulent practice of sending emails or other messages purporting to be from a reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personalin information, such as passwords and credit card numbers”. This definition is the foundation for the definition of ‘Smishing‘ which is defined as “phishing using SMS technologies”.
One of the most common tactics used by scammers is to send a spam text message (smishing) with a link, and inviting you to click on the link for a reward or in order to prevent a false emergency situation. We will go over examples of these types of messages shortly, but for now know that it is crucial that you don’t click suspicious links for any reason.
Examples of Spam Text Messages
- A fake delivery notification for a package
- An offer for a low interest or no interest loan or credit card
- An offer to help with student loan debt
- Free prizes, free gifts, gift cards and coupons
Typically, spam texts are relatively easy to spot. When reviewing unfamiliar text messages, it is essential to be cautious of potential signs of spam.
1. Questionable offers: Be wary of messages that promise unrealistic deals, exclusive offers, or prizes that sound too good to be true. Scammers often use enticing offers to lure unsuspecting individuals.
2. Urgent requests for action: Be cautious of messages that demand immediate action or create a sense of urgency. For instance, texts that urge you to click on a suspicious link, provide personal information, or make a payment urgently should be thoroughly reviewed.
3. Unsolicited messages: If you receive a text from an unknown sender without any prior interaction or expecting any communication, it could be a red flag. Unsolicited messages often indicate spam attempts.
4. Poor grammar or spelling errors: Many spam messages contain grammatical errors, misspellings, or awkward phrasing. These mistakes can be an indication of illegitimate sources.
5. Suspicious attachments or links: Messages that include attachments or links from unknown sources should be treated with caution. Clicking on such links or downloading unknown attachments can expose your device to malware or phishing attempts.
6. Requests for personal information: Be cautious if a text message asks for personal information such as login credentials, social security numbers, or financial details. Legitimate organizations usually don’t request sensitive information through text messages.
For a more in depth look at examples of spam text messages, check out our full article here.
What are spam texts and what risks do they pose?
How can individuals protect themselves from spam text messages?
To protect themselves from spam text messages, individuals should be cautious of unknown contacts or messages from unfamiliar numbers. It is important not to engage with or provide personal information to these messages. Additionally, not clicking on suspicious links and regularly updating device security measures can help mitigate the risks associated with spam texts.
What tactics do scammers use in spam text messages?
Scammers often use various tactics in spam text messages to trick recipients. One common tactic is to send a message with a link, enticing users to click on it for a reward or to prevent a false emergency situation. It is crucial not to click on suspicious links in spam texts, as they can lead to harmful consequences.
What are the potential consequences of falling for spam text scams?
Falling for spam text scams can have serious consequences. It can result in financial loss or identity theft. Scammers may use the information obtained through these texts to exploit individuals for financial fraud or to download malware onto their devices.
How are spam texts a greater risk than unwanted robocalls?
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), spam texts can be an even greater risk to consumers than unwanted robocalls. This is because spam texts can contain links that direct users to malware or trick them into starting conversations with criminals who want to steal money or commit identity theft.
Who sends spam text messages and why?
Spam text messages are sent by scammers or illegitimate businesses. They send these messages in hopes of tricking recipients into giving them money or sensitive information.
Forward Spam Texts to 7726
Reporting spam texts can help protect yourself from unsolicited and potentially harmful messages. There are several methods you can use to report spam texts effectively.
Firstly, you can forward the spam text to 7726 (SPAM) established by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA). This simple step allows wireless providers to detect and prevent similar messages from being sent in the future. Just copy the message you received and send it to 7726.
To further safeguard yourself and others from spam or smishing text messages, it’s effective to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Both agencies have reporting options on their websites specifically designed to combat unwanted or harmful spam texts. By filing a complaint, you contribute to the protection of potential victims and aid in the fight against smishing. You can easily file a complaint with the FCC and the FTC through their respective websites.
Blocking the sender’s phone number is a straightforward method to prevent scammers from accessing your personal information. Most cell phones offer a simple ‘block sender’ option within the messaging app. However, if your phone doesn’t have this feature or you’re cautious about accidentally opening the message or clicking a link, there are resources available to block suspected spam numbers from contacting you. iPhone users can find detailed instructions on blocking and reporting spam texts on Apple’s support website, while Android users can follow specific instructions provided by Android support.
To further prevent receiving spam text messages, consider registering for the Do Not Call Registry. The Federal Trade Commission’s Donotcall.gov is specifically designed to combat the rise in robocalls and robotexts, including spam text messages and phone calls. You can easily register your home phone or mobile phone for free. If you are unsure whether you are already registered, you can also verify your registration status.
Why should I report spam texts?
Reporting spam texts is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, while reporting might not stop the scammer from sending more texts directly to you, it plays a crucial role in alerting the authorities about the issue. By reporting spam texts, you are enabling the authorities to become aware that there is a problem, allowing them to take appropriate actions.
Carriers can utilize the information provided in the reports to block further messages from the sender. This means that by reporting, you contribute to halting the transmission of spam texts to not only yourself but also potentially to other cellphone users. Taking collective action against spam text senders can make it harder for them to continue their fraudulent activities.
Moreover, governmental bureaus can take action based on the reports received. They may employ various measures to prevent the scammer from targeting other cellphone users. This could potentially include imposing fines on the offending party, reducing their motivation to continue sending spam texts.
Your contribution doesn’t stop there, as submitting a report helps the authorities gather valuable data on the volume and trends of spam texts. By analyzing this information, they can gain a better understanding of the scope of the problem and identify any patterns or increases in spam text activities. This knowledge can then be used to develop corresponding legislation to address and mitigate the issue more effectively.
In summary, reporting spam texts is essential because it not only alerts the authorities, but it also assists in blocking the sender’s messages, taking legal actions against offenders, and enables the creation of legislation that can combat the problem on a broader scale. By reporting, you become an active participant in the fight against spam texts, helping protect yourself and others from falling victim to scams and unnecessary disturbances.
File a complaint with the FCC & FTC
The Federal trade Commsission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) both have reporting on their websites to help protect citizens from unwanted or harmful spam text messages. Filing complaints of suspected spam or smishing text messages is an effective way to help protect yourself and other potential victims of smishing in the future.
You can file a complaint with the FCC here.
You can also file a complaint with the FTC here.
For a more comprehensive look at examples of spam text messages, take a look at our full coverage blog here.
Block the Sender’s Phone Number
Blocking the spam text message sender is one of the most straight forward and simple methods to preventing scammers from retrieving personal information from you. Most cell phones have the ability to simple select ‘block sender’ in the app. However in case your phone does not have this option, or you are wary of opening the message or clicking a link by accident, here are resources for blocking suspected spam message phone numbers from contacting you again.
For Iphone users, detailed instructions blocking and reporting spam text messages can be found here.
For Android users, detailed instructions on blocking and reporting spam text messages can be found here.
Register For a Do Not Call Registry
The final method you can use to prevent receiving further spam text messages is to add your phone number to a Do Not Call Registry. Donotcall.gov is the Federal Trade Commisions attempt at combating the rise in robocalls and robotexts sending spam text messages and phone calls.
The registration is easy and straight forward, and if you are not sure if you are already registered, you can also verify your registration. The registry is open to both home phones as well as mobile phones for free.
Spam Text Messages Are On The Rise Video from The Today Show
Avoiding Future Spam
To effectively prevent spam texts in the future, there are several best practices you can follow:
1. Be cautious with sharing your number: Nowadays, many websites and businesses ask for your phone number. It is crucial to pause and consider whether you trust the brand to keep your data safe before providing your number. Sharing your number can potentially give scammers access to personal information, so be selective in whom you share it with.
2. Utilize a secondary number: Consider creating a secondary phone number through a provider like Google Voice. This can offer an additional layer of privacy and security. If you’re registering for something and have doubts about the brand’s trustworthiness, use the secondary number rather than your primary one.
3. Refrain from responding to spam texts: By responding to spam texts, you inadvertently confirm that your number is legitimate, potentially leading to more spam messages. Although the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requires businesses to stop texting you immediately upon receiving an opt-out keyword, illegal scammers often disregard this law and may continue to message you or even exploit your response for fraudulent activities. It’s best to avoid responding altogether.
4. Block the spam numbers: Once you receive a spam text, promptly block the sender’s number. Most mobile carriers and device manufacturers offer built-in blocking tools that you can utilize. Additionally, there are numerous third-party blocking apps available for iOS and Android devices, which can provide another layer of protection. It’s worth noting that some of these apps may require a fee for their usage.
For Apple users, Their article advises that when you receive a spam text, you have two options at your disposal. You can either report the text as junk or block the contact responsible for sending it. To report a text as junk, simply open iMessage and select the conversation. Beneath the text message, you will notice text indicating that the sender is not in your contact list. Directly below, you will find blue text saying “Report Junk.” Click on “Report Junk” and proceed by pressing the “Delete and Report Junk” button. Should you wish to block a contact, open iMessage, select the message from the user you want to block, tap on the contact at the top of the screen, and locate the “Block this Caller” button at the bottom. Click on it to effectively block the contact.
For Android users, the process is equally straightforward. Their article suggests opening the Messages app on your Android device and selecting the specific message you would like to report. Holding down on the message will prompt a menu to appear, where you can choose the options “Block” and “Report Spam.” Confirm your request by pressing “OK.”
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