Want to stop receiving spam messages? Read this. (Photo: RobinOlimb via Getty Images)
“Hi Pooja, it’s Bob from your bank. Your payment cannot be processed. Please reprocess by clicking the link below.”
Chances are you’ve received some iteration of this text message recently. Gone are the days when spam messages were limited to phone calls and emails. While it was usually obvious that a voice on the other end of the call was trying to collect sensitive personal information from you or that another Nigerian prince’s email request was fake, spam text messages are not always immediately recognizable.
ninety seven percent of Americans own some form of telephone. And as mobile usage is increasingly our main connection point, there are more and more spam tactics, scams and phishing attempts that are taking a toll on consumers, which means we all need to be on the lookout and not always get involved when receiving random or unusual texts.
“Any avenue of communication is abused by bad people. Text has become one of the most common ways for people to communicate, so that’s where intruders go. Unfortunately, it is effective,” said Kevin Johnson, Security Analyst and CEO of Secure Ideas.
Receiving spam text messages is not only extremely annoying, it can be dangerous as it spammers may be phishing to collect your personal data or send malware. Here are some expert-backed tips on how to identify and stop spam text messages and ensure their safety.
1. Read messages carefully and ignore unknown contacts
Be diligent when receiving messages from unknown contacts or, in Johnson’s words, “Don’t fall for the scam.” When you receive a message from someone who is not on your contact list, look for spam tips such as incorrect spelling or grammar. There are likely to be misspelled links or brand names within the message, as well as unexpected free offers such as gift cards, free vacations or loans, or inquiries supposedly from government agencies.
Pro Tip: Government agencies will never initiate text contact. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The same goes for messages from people pretending to be someone else. “When you get a message demanding something (eg, ‘This is your boss and I need your help’ messages), think before you react. If you’re saying you’re your boss, aren’t you? Probably not. Especially if it’s not their number. Is it from your bank? Then call your bank directly; do not interact with the SMS message,” Johnson added.
You can protect yourself by simply not opening messages from unknown numbers and blocking unknown contacts.
2. Put yourself on non-text lists
Grant Gibson, an instructor at MyComputerCareer computer training school with 20 years of cybersecurity experience, recommends joining do-not-call and text-messaging lists to avoid unsolicited calls and messages from telemarketers.
For example, you can register your home or cell phone number online for free with the National Do Not Call Registry, administered by the Federal Trade Commission, or you can call to register at 1-888-382-1222. If calling, be sure to do so from the phone number you wish to register. These methods will also prevent telemarketers from texting you.
3. Consider using an alternate number
Alternate numbers are a simple step you can take to protect yourself, Gibson said.
“Another option is use a Google Voice number, or any other alternate burner number. You can forward this number to your email or to a secondary email you created, which can greatly reduce the number of texts you receive on your primary number. An example of this would be using this alternate number when creating online accounts, shopping or entering contests online,” suggested Gibson, adding, “Think about how much information you share with your friends and family via text. Imagine if that person on the other end was a bad guy?
Signing up for the Do Not Call list and using an alternate number can help a lot, because once your number is found or dialed, you could be inundated with messages. Practice being diligent to protect your primary line.
4. Never share personal information by text
If you receive spam text messages, please make sure that you do not respond to any of them and, if you do, do not share any personal information such as your social security number, bank account details, address, or any other identifying information.
To take it a step further, Gibson suggested utilizing an identity protection service or credit monitoring service that can alert you to changes to your accounts. Monitoring services usually charge a fee, but you can probably check your own credit for free through your bank or credit card company, as well as receiving a complete credit report for free once a year via Annual credit report. with.
Johnson also recommends moving normal communications to Signal, a free privacy-focused voice and messaging app that you can use on Apple and Android smartphones and via desktop. Communications in Signal are end-to-end encrypted. This means that the content of the messages you send and the calls you make are private, unlike SMS posts, which are standard text messages of up to 160 characters that are sent using a cellular signal instead of an internet connection.
“Stop using SMS for regular communication,” Johnson said. “That way, any unsolicited text message will stand out as strange to you, so you’re more likely to think about the message before reacting to it.”
In addition to SMS messages being limited in size, they are usually unencrypted and sent over open networks.
5. Involve your service provider and change this important setting on the phone itself
Both Johnson and Gibson recommend pushing carriers and carriers to provide more protections when it comes to receiving spam text messages. These entities are getting better at identifying and removing spam phone numbers. You must forward all suspicious messages to 7726, which means “SPAM”. Most providers – including AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon – will launch an investigation and take steps to prevent you from receiving any more spam messages.
Service providers often have additional steps that you can also review. For example, if you are at AT&T and cannot see the phone number of a spam message, you can forward the entire message to this AT&T email address. verizon has an internal service that you can contact if you click on a link or provide personal information in response to a suspicious text message and mobile teeprovides protection from scams with Scam ID and Scam Block.
In addition to these carrier steps, there is also the option to filter out unknown messages on the phone itself so that they are moved to a different folder where you can review them.
if you are a Litter user, go to your iPhone settings, choose Messages and scroll down, tap on Filters and tap to enable “Filter unknown senders”. if you are a android user, go to your messaging app, click the three dots icon in the top right corner of the screen, and tap Settings. In Settings, go to Spam protection and select “Turn on spam protection”.
Filtered spam messages are still a nuisance, but at least you’ve saved them somewhere so you can delete them in bulk and not risk accidentally replying or clicking a suspicious link..
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.