How many unknown calls from the state of South Dakota did you receive last month? I received 13. Cell phone spam is annoying and on the rise, raising your risk of identity theft and exposure to malware. Both phone calls and spam text messages are a growing nuisance, according to statistics:
In March 2022, 11.6 billion scam messages were sent on American wireless networks, up 30 percent from February – NYT / TelTech
Spam creates vulnerabilities for users
According to web security experts, Norton, these billions of calls and messages aren’t coming from other cell phone devices. Instead, they are being generated by a computer via email or instant messaging account, making them harder to stop. The internet security firm also says that the increase in unwanted phone calls and text increases the likelihood of identity theft, access to your personal information and installation of malware. Basically, spam serves no one. So, what can you do to slow the spread of it?
5 spam-blocking ideas
1. Never ever click on, answer or reply to unknown numbers
According to the FTC, clicking on a link in a scam text could lead to a fake website exposing your log in credentials. Clicking could also infect your phone with malware, especially if your operating system is not up-to-date. Don’t reply to unwanted texts, even replying with “STOP” leaves you open to more. Scammers often have bad grammar or spelling – a good tip-off to a scam. If you see something suspicious, just leave it be. Delete those text messages immediately.
2. Place your cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry
The registry provides an easy and efficient way for consumers to tell companies they do not want to receive their telemarketing sales calls and robocalls. If a consumer receives a call that violates the Do Not Call rules or the FTC’s Robocall Rule, the call can be reported to the FTC. During fiscal year 2021, the FTC received over 5 million Do Not Call complaints and the Registry included over 244 million active registrations.
This DNC registry service from the FTC allows you to register both home or mobile phone for free. Register here.
3. Report calls to your mobile carrier
The major carriers (AT&T and Verizon) allow users to easily identify spam texts via text reply. See something that seems questionable? Simply report any suspicious message to 7726 (which spells SPAM) allowing your carrier to investigate it.
4. Make sure your settings are updated
Just as you protect your desktop with software, phones need increased security, too. Regularly checking that your operating software is up-to-date is one of the best ways to protect your device. Enabling features on both Android and Apple phones that allow you to silence or block callers is another easy way to keep your phone line quiet. With iOS 13 and later, you can turn on Silence Unknown Callers to avoid getting calls from people you don’t know.
5. Download spam blocking apps
Often the default features available aren’t enough to block unwanted calls and texts. That’s where apps can step up filtering. There are many different options for both iOS or Android phones. These apps can help filter texts and detect spam phone calls and have the ability to analyze and identify calls or texts received as spam or fraud. Here’s a review of a few options.
Starting with discretion
The best way to protect your privacy is by guarding it from the start. The next time you are asked to provide your cellphone or email address at a local retailer or on a website, opt out. If that isn’t an option, consider using a smart phone number, like those provided by Google Voice. Simple sign up for a free number and then begin sharing that number instead of your true mobile device number. Google voice allows you to forward calls to any device and have spam calls silently blocked. With Google Voice, you decide who can reach you and when. And isn’t that the ultimate goal of spam blocking, after all?