How to Identify Spam Text

spam text

According to the FTC, about $86 million was lost in 2020 in fraud related to spam text.

Spam texts also known as SMS spam are messages sent by spammers, hackers, and other malicious actors to illegally obtain information or steal money from targets. They are usually sent as part of a massive campaign to trick unsuspecting victims.


Why Spam Text?

Spammers are increasingly using SMS over other spamming methods because people respond quicker and at a higher rate. 

Text messages are also subjected to less scrutiny, unlike other spam methods.

In addition, SMS is used by legitimate advertisers and businesses giving spammers a good cover.


How to Spot Spam Texts

Spam texts vary in content and style. While there is no universal method of identifying spam text messages, there are telltale signs that you can use in identifying suspicious SMS. These include:

Service Subscriptions

While SMS-based subscriptions have significantly reduced, it is still used by spammers.

Services that are marketed to victims via SMS are often scams. On replying to such messages, targets are automatically subscribed to expensive services and are then billed. 

Unfortunately, canceling such a subscription is usually difficult leaving the victims with huge recurring bills.


Long Phone Numbers

Legitimate business SMS usually originate from shortcodes of 5 to 6 digits. They can also be sent local business phone or standard 10 digits numbers.

If you receive an SMS from an unusually long number, you should be suspicious of such messages as they are likely from spammers regardless of who the sender claims to be.


Messages from Own Number

A recent trend of spam SMS involves sending messages that appear to be from the victim’s own phone number. 

By spoofing the receiver’s phone number, spammers are able to bypass many email filtering systems and applications and get their spam messages delivered directly to the victims’ message inbox. 

Even security-conscious users can fall for this trick as users believe that SMS with the receiver’s number as sender could only have originated from the carriers.


Irrelevant Messages

Spammers don’t tailor messages to each recipient. Instead, they compose a message and send it en masse to potential victims in the hope that some target will fall for it.

If you receive an SMS that is completely random and has no connection to you or any of your current activities, then such text message is spam. A message about your birthday at the wrong time of the year or a vacation update when you are not planning for one should be treated as spam.


Incorrect Grammar and Spelling

Another sign of fake text messages is the use of poor grammar.  

The awkward use of English and misspellings in an SMS body means either the spammer did not bother to correct the text or they lack the knowledge to spot and correct grammatical and spelling errors.

Legitimate business text messages will use proper grammar, correct punctuations, and spelling.


SMS with Suspicious Links

Spammers often include suspicious links in text messages. The malicious links point to websites controlled by the spammer. The websites may be designed to steal users’ personal information, serve harmful content to victims or install a malicious app.

If you receive any message containing any suspicious link, it is likely spam.  Do not follow the prompts of the message. 

To increase their odds of success, spammers may mask the destination URL to hide the real target website.


Rewards Text Messages

In order to increase conversion rates, spammers promise certain rewards or offer important information in spam text. These rewards can entice victims to follow the hacker’s instructions.

Some examples of reward spam texts include refunds from the IRS and notifications about a big prize win.


Ways to Fight Spam Text

When you respond to spam SMS in any way, you are telling the spammers that your number is active. 

Consequently, your number will be added to the active spam list and sold to other spammers who will use it in future campaigns.


Never Reply to a Spam Message

When you respond to spam SMS in any way, you are telling the spammers that your number is active. 

Consequently, your number will be added to the active spam list and sold to other spammers who will use it in future campaigns.


Use Anti-Spam Apps

iPhone and Android smartphones have inbuilt app settings for blocking unwanted messages. 

There are also third-party anti-spam applications in various app stores. These apps often have more customization and advanced anti-spam filters than inbuilt ones.

Using any of these options, you can block spam messages from reaching your SMS inbox.


Report all Spam messages 

Before deleting any text messages you can help with the fight against spam text by forwarding the message to 7726 which is the universal spam reporting number for US carriers.

Doing this will help carriers protect other users from receiving the message.


Safeguard Your Phone Number

Don’t submit your phone number to random websites. Also, avoid sharing your phone number with untrusted people.

 If you indiscriminately share your phone number, it can end up in the hands of malicious actors who would flood your phone with spam messages.


The incidence of spam text is increasing because of its efficiency and rewards. A report by Robokiller revealed that Americans receive about 87.8 billion spam text messages in 2021 which is a 58 percent increase over the previous year.

There are various ways scammers can weaponize spam text against businesses such as in smishing attacks.

The tips above will help you identify, report, and delete spam text messages from your phone.

Be on the lookout for spam texts and do not reply or supply the information requested by suspicious senders to stay safe. 

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