6 Ways to Block Text Bots and Spam Messages on Your Phone
What could be more boring than standing in a queue of 10 or less items to watch the customer in front of you unload an entire basket? What could be more frustrating than leaving work during rush hour to sit idle in traffic? For many, the answer is simple. It receives text bots and spam messages on your smartphone.
While the solution to your checkout and driving problems may seem awkward, it can be accomplished. On the other hand, finding reliable options to end the deluge of spam messages sent to your smartphone seems like a lesson in futility.
While you do everything you can to avoid receiving spam messages and text bots, they continue to find their way into the mix of legitimate communications. Understanding how telemarketers and other businesses find your cell phone number can help you eliminate future contact with these organizations. Let’s take a look at the ways you can take control.
How businesses get your cell phone number
Social media sites follow you – Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google keep track of your online activity and provide this information to advertisers. If your phone number is public on social media, it could end up in the hands of marketing companies.
You provide your number – There are a variety of occasions in which you gift your number to businesses. Whether it’s filling out a registration form, entering a contest, or signing up for in-store rewards programs, you’re happy to share your cell phone number. Unfortunately, this practice allows your number to end up in the wrong hands.
You called an 800, 888 or 900 number – When you call phone numbers with these prefixes, your mobile phone number is collected by an Automatic Number Identification (ANI) system. In addition to identifying and storing your number, the ANI system can match it with other digital data associated with you.
You are targeted by automated dialing – Many telemarketing companies rely on automatic dialing devices capable of discovering and dialing all landline and cell phone numbers, including those that are not listed.
Related: FTC Shuts Down 4 Telemarketers Responsible For Billions Of Illegal Automated Calls
Blocking text bots and spam messages
Some say that text bots and spam messages are a reality and you should just ignore them. However, this practice does little to deter offending companies from continuing to fill your smartphone with annoying and potentially dangerous messages in the future.
Tip in a tip: Never click on a link or attachment in a robotext or spam message as this can trigger malware and infect your phone. Also, do not reply to any suspicious text or message to prevent your phone number from being tagged and distributed to other crooks.
1. The STOP option
Many legitimate companies give you the option to opt out of receiving messages from them. But beware, as scammers use this same technique to trick you into responding STOP to their messages, which can help verify you and your number.
2. Block numbers from contacting you in the future
(To note: The following instructions may vary depending on the manufacturer, model and operating system of your mobile device.)
If you are an iPhone user, one method to reduce your robotexts and spam messages is to block the sender number. Be aware that scammers tend to change numbers. Therefore, blocking a number does not mean that the company cannot send you a new message using a different phone number.
Open the text of the number you want to block and tap the sender’s number. Click on the information (I) icon. Under the Details screen, click on the phone number, choose Block this caller and Block contact.
The following instructions will block both calls and messages from the specified callers. Go to your phone app and tap on the three dots icon in the top right corner and choose Settings. Press on Block numbers. You will find several options including unknown callers, recent calls or from your contact list. Choose or manually enter a number you want to block.
3. Report spam to your mobile operator
Reporting a robotext or spam message to your mobile carrier is an extra step you may want to take in the fight against robotexts and spam messages. Copy and forward the original text free of charge to 7726 (SPAM). You can use this method if you are a Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Bell subscriber.
4. File a complaint with the FTC
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it is illegal to send unsolicited commercial electronic messages to wireless devices, including your cell phone, unless you consent to it. It is also illegal to send unwanted text messages from an autodialer.
The only two exceptions to this law are transactional or relationship type messages, or non-commercial messages such as political polls or fundraising messages.
If you receive unwanted commercial text messages, file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Wizard.
5. Filter spam using your mobile device
You can help eliminate spam messages and robotexts by filtering spam using your mobile device.
If you are an Android user, open your phone app and tap on the three dots icon and choose Settings. Under Settings to allow Caller ID and spam.
Filtering spam on an iPhone is just as easy. Go to Settings and press messages. Scroll to Filter unknown senders and activate the setting.
6. Use a third party app to deny spammers
There are several third party applications to help you against spammers. Two popular apps, Nomorobo and RoboKiller, are both available for iOS and Android. While each requires a subscription, they are effective at blocking and filtering out suspicious spam bots and spam.