How to block text-message spam on your iPhone (AT&T)

Spam texts are not only a hassle, they also cost you money! There are ways to stop them, but ultimately Apple needs to provide a phone-based blocking solution.

Yesterday, out of the blue, I received this text message on my iPhone:

Screenshot by Rick Broida

Annoying, right? Obviously my first instinct was to answer "NO," but just like clicking "unsubscribe" in an unsolicited e-mail, that's a surefire way to prove to spammers that I exist--and open the floodgates to even more spam.

What's more, I have a limited allotment of text messages every month, and I wasn't about to waste one replying to this demon spawn--who'd already cost me a text by sending one in the first place.

Unfortunately, there's no "block" option on the iPhone itself--a feature Apple is long overdue to offer. But if you're looking for ways to stop SMS spam, you do have a couple options. (Both of them are for AT&T users only. If you have a Verizon iPhone and know of similar solutions, please post them in the comments!)

First, head to http://mymessages.wireless.att.com/ and register for an account. (This is different from your existing AT&T account.) After entering the verification code sent to your phone, you'll see various message settings you can modify.

A lot of text spam comes in the form of e-mail sent to your phone's text-message e-mail address (yes, it has one: yourmobilenumber@txt.att.net). Thus, check the boxes for "Block all text messages sent to you as email" and "Block all multimedia messages sent to you as email." Then click Submit.

If you'd rather block e-mail texts on a more granular level (meaning you're OK with some people mail-texting you but not others), scroll down a bit and you'll find AT&T's Block and Allow lists, aka blacklists and whitelists.

Of course, sometimes spam comes from an actual phone number, like the one shown above. In that case you can report the number to AT&T, which is a bit more satisfying. Here's how:

  1. Tap and hold the body of the text message, then tap Copy.
  2. Create a new text message to 7726 (which, incidentally, corresponds to SPAM on a numeric keypad), and paste in the message you just copied. Sending this message won't cost you anything, nor will the replies from AT&T.
  3. AT&T will send you a thank-you message and ask you to reply with the phone number of the sender. Do that and you're done.

These fixes are a hassle at best. Ultimately, it falls to Apple to give users a way to block unwanted text messages (and, for that matter, calls). How 'bout it, guys?

 

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