The ring of a spam call or the ping of a junk text may be a small interruption, but as their frequency skyrockets, they quickly snowball into a major hassle.
Thankfully, there are a growing number of ways to counter the overwhelming onslaught of spam. With a few tips, tricks, and tech solutions, you can protect your phone and your day by blocking these unwelcome intrusions.
Above all, don’t engage!
Rule number 1? Never answer. Do not pick up calls from unknown numbers, and do not respond to unwanted texts from unknown origins. Doing so only confirms to spammers that your number is legitimate and may even prompt spammers to sell your contact information to other junk senders.
That said, we’ve all accidentally answered a spam call, so when that happens, hang up right away. And don’t be tricked into pressing a button if the caller or recording instructs you to opt out of such calls.
The same goes with robotexts, those annoying, automated messages sent to phones out of the blue. Unwanted spam texts can take the form of appointment reminders, phishing attempts, and political calls to action, among countless other guises. Never click on links or attachments in spam texts, as you’ll likely wind up with malware on your device as a result.
Manually block pesky numbers.
It takes a little work, but for the worst and most frequent robocallers or texters, you can simply block their numbers. However, this may be a temporary relief as you can still get spam texts from the same sender using a different number—it’s a common spammer practice called spoofing.
On an iPhone, open the text message, tap the phone number at the top, then hit “Info.” button. You’ll then see an option to “Block this Caller.”
Faced with a junk message, Android users can go to the three dots toward the top right. Depending on your phone and OS, you will tap “Block number” or “Details,” and then “Block and report spam.”
Turn on your phone’s spam filter.
Be sure to take advantage of the built-in spam-fighting tools that come on your device.
Android users can leverage Google’s Messages app to thwart junk text messages. Tap the three-dot icon in the upper right of the app and select Settings, then Spam protection and turn on the Enable spam protection switch. Your phone will now alert you if an incoming message is suspected of being spam.
Some Android phones help you block unfamiliar callers as well. Different devices have slightly different processes, but you can start by going to Setting in the Phone app. Activate the option that allows you to block suspicious numbers.
On Apple iPhones, in the Messages app, unknown senders’ messages can easily be sent away into a separate folder. Go to Settings, select Messages, then Filter Unknown Senders. iPhones also have an opt-in Silence Unknown Callers call-screening and blocking feature.
Install a third-party app.
Given the demand for solutions to curb spam overload, many tech ventures have arisen to fill the need. Here are just a few third-party apps designed to help you identify and block unwanted robocalls and robotexts.
Robokiller, costing $3.33 per month based on an annual plan, employs predictive call-blocking and SMS-blocking technology to determine if an incoming call or text is spam. In fact, Robokiller promises to eliminate 99% of robocalls and texts.
Nomorobo, at $1.99 per mobile device per month, offers protection from robocalls and spam text and SMS phishing. To detect new robocallers, Nomorobo analyzes millions of calls made to hundreds of thousands of phone lines every single day, as well as texts from unknown numbers to sort out the junk.
Hiya partners with Samsung to offer a call-blocking solution called Smart Call to label potentially unwanted calls. The Hiya app identifies calls you want and blocks numbers you want to avoid, and comes with options like auto-blocking and reverse phone lookup.
SpamHound SMS Spam Filter is a popular, free choice for text protection for both Android and iPhone users. The app helps block unwanted text messages and MMS by creating an unlimited number of spam filters.
While reporting offenders isn’t a silver bullet, it does help authorities hone in on prolific sources of spam in the long run—while providing a little taste of revenge. You can always file a complaint with the FCC to crack down on illegal calls or texts, or if you have been the target of a spoofing scam. Report online or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC.
Don’t forget basic cybersecurity.
Blocking spam is worthwhile, but your efforts will only make a difference if fundamental measures are in place to safeguard your information and uphold basic cybersecurity.
Of course, it can’t be overstated that you should never provide your personal information to unknown callers—if indeed action may be needed, hang up and go to the company’s official website or call the company’s official customer service number to confirm validity. The same goes for links in unverifiable texts or emails. If you’re at all unsure or unfamiliar, delete or report as spam to avoid potential phishing or other fraudulent schemes.
Find out if the businesses you rely on have policies that include your implicit permission to sell or share your personal information. This could be a huge source of unwanted calls and texts, so you may decide to ask to be removed from their database.
Be aware that the AARP offers a service delivering Fraud Watchdog Alerts. Sign up to say on guard and informed about known scams that attempt to trick victims through spam calls and emails.