Authored by a Symantec employee

 

They’re the ugly stepsibling of robo calls and the annoying cousin of junk mail: spam text messages.

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It’s not just that they show up as unwanted and unexpected text messages on our phone screens (although that is aggravating all by itself). It’s also because someone is usually sending you a spam text message because they’re trying to defraud you. Even more frustrating, most spam texts aren’t even coming from another phone. Instead, they’re usually originating from a computer and being delivered to your phone (at no cost to the sender) via an email address or an instant messaging account.

But don’t despair: you can greatly reduce unwanted text messages and prevent them from showing up on your phone or any other mobile device. Here are some quick dos and don’ts.

Don’t reply directly to any spam text message. 

Directly replying to a spam text message lets a spammer know that your number is genuine.

Do treat your personal information like it’s cash.

Remember, legitimate companies don’t ask for answers to personal questions, or request passwords or account numbers via text messages.

Don’t click on any links in the message.

Links can install malware and take you to spoof sites that look real but are only trying to steal your information.

Do report any spam texts to your carrier.

Send any suspicious or spam messages to 7726 (SPAM) so that your carrier can start an investigation. (Don’t worry, messages forwarded to 7726 are free and don’t count toward your text plan.)

Do review your cell phone bill regularly.

Depending on your mobile device, you can also block spam messages.

Do check your phone’s settings.

Your phone probably has built-in features to help block unwanted calls and text messages. Type in “block” using your device’s search function.

Do place your cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Adding your number to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) National Do Not Call Registry will opt you out of receiving most telemarketing calls.

Do check to see if your carrier offers a call blocking service.

Most major carriers offer call blocking services or plans that will let you block calls from unknown numbers for a specific period of time. You can also see if one of the third-party call blocking apps and services will work your carrier’s wireless service.

When it comes to text messages and security, using a little common sense and making the most of your phone’s and carrier’s privacy features can help make sure the only exasperating text messages you’ll get will be the ones your family and friends send to you.

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