By Kim Komando, Signal Contributor
If you thought robocalls were annoying, get ready. Spammy text messages promising free gift cards, low credit card interest rates, debt relief services or other scams are the next nuisance taking over our phones. The goal is the same, though: steal your money.
Unfortunately, stopping the onslaught of robotexts is up to you. The process starts with understanding how telemarketers, hustlers, and other outfits get your cellphone number in the first place.
How companies get your cellphone number
Social media sites sell your data: Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google keep track of your online activity and provide that information to advertisers. If your phone number is public on social media, assume it’s in various marketing company’s databases.
You called an 800, 888 or 900 number: When you call phone numbers with these prefixes, your cellphone number is collected by an Automatic Number Identification (ANI) system. In addition to identifying and storing your number, the ANI system can match it with other digital data associated with you.
You did it: There many valid reasons that you’d give your number to companies. You fill out a sign-up form, contest entry, or enroll in an in-store rewards program. Whatever the reason, you willingly hand over your cell number, and this practice allows for your number to end up in the wrong hands.
You didn’t do it: Many telemarketing firms rely on automatic dialing devices that are capable of discovering and dialing all landline and cellphone numbers, including those that are unlisted.
How to block robocalls and spam messages
1. Block numbers
Blocking numbers is easy to do.
On an iPhone, open the text from the number you wish to block and tap on the sender’s number. Click on the info (i) icon. Under the Details screen, click on the phone number, choose Block this Caller and Block Contact.
On an Android, open your phone app and tap on the three-dot icon in the upper right corner and choose Settings. Tap on Block numbers. You will find several options including unknown callers, recent call, or from your contact list. Choose or manually enter a number you wish to block.
2. Use your phone’s secret setting
This setting isn’t exactly a secret. It’s so obscure you probably never thought of it. You can help eliminate spam messages and robotexts by filtering out spam on your mobile device.
Filtering out spam on an iPhone is simple. Go to Settings and tap on Messages. Scroll down to Filter Unknown Senders and toggle the setting on.
If you are an Android user, open your phone app and tap on the three-dot icon and choose Settings. Under Settings, enable Caller ID & Spam.
3. Get some extra help
There are several third-party apps to help you against spammers. Two popular apps, Nomorobo and RoboKiller, are both available for iOS and Android. Although each requires a subscription that costs a few dollars a month, they are efficient at blocking and filtering suspected robotexts and spam messages.
Hopefully, we can put a stop to robotexts much quicker than anyone did with robocallers.
For information on Kim Komando on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks, visit her at Komando.com.