How to Stop Spam Texts: An Easy, Helpful Crash Course
In the ‘90s, we dealt with telemarketers calling the family cordless phone in the middle of dinner every night. Today, phone frustration comes primarily in the form of spam texts sent right to our personal devices, whether we’re watching a YouTube video, messaging a friend, or trying to finish that one last level of Candy Crush after a hard day’s work. No one is safe from these non-stop messages, it seems. Kids with brand-new phones (but whose number used to belong to an adult) can be especially vulnerable to these toxic and potentially dangerous messages. To help restore your family’s sanity, we’ve got some pointers for how to stop spam texts.
The Dangers of Spam Texts
Spam texts come in a variety of flavors, from car warranties and social security scams to hackers trying to trick you into giving over your passwords. These scams are usually attempts to gain access to your credit card information — in good faith or on the sly. Oftentimes, the bad guys will try to intimidate people with the threat of jail time or huge tax fines to get them to pay money.
Another danger of interacting with unknown numbers is malware. Clicking shady links from texts could unload a phone-damaging virus onto your device. While this sort of thing is more common on computers, it can still happen on phones.
Finally, there’s the unexpected danger that comes in the form of inappropriate sales offers. One Bark employee learned this the hard way when her son came to her with a text advertising sexual-enhancement drugs. She not only had to explain that it was a scam — she also found herself having a serious talk about biology earlier than expected.
How to Stop Spam Texts: 3 Things You Can Do Today
Forward Spam to the FTC
Did you know that the Federal Trade Commission encourages people to forward spam texts to them? On both Android and iPhone, you can send these pesky messages straight to the government so they can deal with them on their end. Whenever your family receives a spam message, teach them to copy it and send it to the phone number 7726 (SPAM).
When in Doubt, Block the Number
Blocking is a great option when the same number keeps sending repeated messages to a phone. Be aware though, many scammers will simply use a different number to try and reach you. Another way scammers work around this is by “spoofing” a number. Spoofing occurs when a strange number’s information is made to look familiar — like it’s coming from your uncle or your dry cleaner’s. This tricks people into believing it’s trustworthy so they respond.
- Open up the spam text message.
- Tap the phone number at the top of the screen.
- Three icons will slide out below. Tap info.
- Tap info again on the next screen
- Tap Block this caller.
- Open up the spam text message.
- Tap the More icon.
- Tap Block number.
Enable Built-in Phone Filters
To help prevent scam texts from interrupting your day (and your notification screen), you can enable built-in filters on your phone. This automatically sorts texts from non-contact senders into a separate folder. Keep in mind, though, that it filters every number that’s not a contact — whether it’s a new friend or just spam, so remember to check it occasionally.
- Open the Settings app.
- Scroll down for a bit and then tap Messages.
- Toggle on Filter unknown senders.
- Open the Phone app.
- Tap the three dots, then tap Settings.
- Enable Caller ID & Spam.
Why Is It Called Spam, Anyway?
Back in 1970, British comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus aired a sketch in which chanting of the word “spam” overrides all the other dialogue. In the ‘90s, when bulk email began annoying consumers, it was only natural that “spam” would be used to describe it. Automated emails, phone calls, and text messages share several key features in common: they’re obnoxious, interfering, repetitive, and annoying — not unlike the choruses of “spam!” in the sketch!
Avoiding Spam in the Future
Sometimes, you accidentally sign up for texts from companies, like when a subscription service asks for a phone number. It’s easy enough to leave these types of opt-in messages, especially when they say that you can simply reply “STOP.” However, be careful of responding “STOP” to unknown spam texts — they may actually be counting on you to reply so they can confirm that you’re human (and to keep sending you more texts).
Now that you know of several concrete ways for how to stop spam texts, spread the word! Help liberate your friends and family from these annoying and potentially dangerous messages.
Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.