Text Message Spam

Text message spam is to your cell phone what email spam is to your personal computer. Both may try to get you to reveal personal information.

Text message spam is a triple threat: It often uses the promise of free gifts or product offers to get you to reveal personal information; it can lead to unwanted charges on your cell phone bill; and it can slow cell phone performance.

Text Message Spam is a Triple Threat

  • It often uses the promise of free gifts, like computers or gift cards, or product offers, like cheap mortgages, credit cards, or debt relief services to get you to reveal personal information. If you want to claim your gift or pursue an offer, you may need to share personal information, like how much money you make, how much you owe, or your bank account information, credit card number, or Social Security number. Clicking on a link in the message can install malware that collects information from your phone. Once the spammer has your information, it is sold to marketers or, worse, identity thieves.
  • It can lead to unwanted charges on your cell phone bill. Your wireless carrier may charge you simply for receiving a text message, regardless of whether you requested it.
  • It can slow cell phone performance by taking up space on your phone’s memory.

Text Message Spam is Illegal

It’s illegal to send unsolicited commercial email messages to wireless devices, including cell phones and pagers, unless the sender gets your permission first. It’s also illegal to send unsolicited text messages from an auto-dialer — equipment that stores and dials phone numbers using a random or sequential number generator.

Exceptions to the law:

  • Transactional or relationship types of messages. If a company has a relationship with you, it can send you things like statements or warranty information.
  • Non-commercial messages. This includes political surveys or fundraising messages.

Can the Spam

Here are a few steps to can text message spam:

  • Delete text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information: Legitimate companies don’t ask for information like your account numbers or passwords by email or text.
  • Don’t reply, and don’t click on links provided in the message: Links can install malware on your computer and take you to spoof sites that look real but whose purpose is to steal your information.
  • Treat your personal information like cash: Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. Don’t give them out in response to a text.
  • Place your cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
  • If you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or Bell subscriber, you can report spam texts to your carrier by copying the original message and forwarding it to the number 7726 (SPAM), free of charge.
  • Review your cell phone bill for unauthorized charges, and report them to your carrier.

File a Complaint

If you receive unwanted commercial text messages, file a complaint with the FTC.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also accepts complaints about unwanted text messages.