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February 8, 2023

A proposal to force cell phone companies to block certain spam messages is gaining support. In the meantime, there are some simple steps you can take right now to stop spam, which I’ll get to shortly.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta expressed support for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposal to end illegal and malicious text messages. In doing so, he joins the attorneys general of 49 other states and Washington, D.C., who have previously expressed support for the proposal.

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What exactly does this proposal hope to achieve?

In a letter to the FCC, signed by all 51 attorneys general, backing their desire to require cell phone providers to block illicit text messages from invalid or unused numbers, as well as block any phone numbers found on a list of “non-sources” , numbers that have previously been shown to be used in fraudulent activity.

However, the attorney general is pushing the FCC a step further, urging them to develop identity verification software that can help determine whether a text message is a known or possible spammer, similar to how many spam or fraudulent calls were listed as a result of the 2021 STIR/SHAKEN technology implemented in 2009, “potential spam” on smartphones.

SMS scams cost millions

A report by the Federal Trade Commission estimated that U.S. mobile phone users lost $131 million in 2021 to fraudulent text messages—those that contained phishing links or downloaded malware and other harmful software.

How to Watch out for Spam Messages

They are easy to fall for because they often appear to be completely harmless and usually come from a trusted service such as your wireless provider or UPS. In some cases, they may also pose as the IRS, warn you that a warrant will be issued if you don’t pay your outstanding taxes, or conversely, that you’ve been awarded a relief payment.

always remember, Anyone from the IRS or government Never get in touch with you by text message and rarely even by phone. Likewise, legitimate services like UPS, or trusted stores like Best Buy or Amazon may not contact you via text message unless you specifically ask to.

Before you click on a link sent to you via text message it is wise to ask yourself if you are requesting to be contacted via text message and then look carefully at the phone number it should be clear if they claim to be who they say they are. If you receive Spam or suspicious text messages, follow these steps to further protect yourself:

  • Report attempted fraud to the FCC by forwarding them to 7726
  • Never type STOP to prevent them from contacting you again.Because doing so won’t block them, but may cause you to receive more text messages
  • When in doubt, never click on a link sent to you by a number you think is suspicious

How to Stop Spam Text Messages on Your Phone

Thankfully, both Android and iPhone allow you to block any unknown or potentially dangerous numbers from texting you.

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iPhone

iPhone gives you options to filter unknown numbers and block them.

Filter unknown numbers:

  • Open set up
  • tap message
  • Open Filter unknown senders

  • When you open your messages, you will find that your text messages are divided into three categories, “All Messages”, “Known Senders” with “Unknown sender
  • All messages from unknown numbers will be sent to unknown senders and you will not receive notifications.

Note that this may also include new acquaintances to whom you have just provided your contact information. So, if you want to receive a text message from them that they didn’t receive, check to see if it’s in that folder. Likewise, if someone new has given you their phone number and you want to hear from them, be sure to enter them into your phone as a contact.

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If you receive a text message that you know is suspicious, all you have to do is block the number and prevent them from contacting you again.

To block spam numbers:

  • open spam
  • Click on the profile icon with a number below it
  • click information
  • Click to block this caller

android

Android also offers two services to help you avoid spam text messages, spam protection and simply block certain numbers

To enable spam protection:

  • Open message application
  • Click on the tree dot icon in the upper right corner
  • tap set up
  • tap Spam Protection
  • tap Enable spam protection

To block a phone number:

  • open spam
  • Click on the three dots icon in the upper right corner
  • tap add to blacklist

Spam blocking application

There are also several highly recommended apps designed to block malicious text, of which our most recommended are:

Nomorobo:

  • Winners of the FTC Robocall Challenge
  • Protects you from spam text messages and callers
  • $2 per month per phone
  • 14-day free trial
  • can be used android with iPhone

post office

  • Free for Android and iPhone
  • Transcribe voicemails so you don’t have to listen to them
  • Free Reverse Phone Number Database
  • Caller ID, even weeds out suspicious numbers
  • get mail

text killer

  • Focus on blocking spam text messages from unknown numbers
  • Allows you to create keyword-specific blocks
  • Email address and phone number ranges are also blocked
  • Create separate folders for known senders, unknown senders, and spam
  • get text killer

Invest in a trustworthy antivirus program

Another way to protect your phone from any possible malware sent to you via malicious texts is to install a trusted antivirus program on your phone.

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Our highest recommendation, Total AV, including real-time anti-malware protection and advanced artificial intelligence-powered cloud protection to protect your PC, Mac, Android and iPhone devices from the latest zero-day threats. Their products are packed with features to keep you safe from malware and protect you while browsing the internet, including ransomware protection, real-time antivirus protection, virus and malware removal, tools to free up space on your computer, and more.

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Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson is an award-winning tech journalist with a love for technology, devices and gadgets who contributes to Fox News and FOX Business on “FOX & Friends” mornings that make life easier Better. Have a technical question? Get Kurt’s CyberGuy newsletter and share your voice, story idea or comment on CyberGuy.com.



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