If you’re getting a high volume of spam, there are few things you can do to stop it. However, there are some tricks you can employ which will stop you from seeing this spam, effectively rendering it invisible. Here’s how to stop spam email and text messages. See also: How to recover deleted text messages on an iPhone.
How to stop spam email
The easiest way to stop seeing (and receiving) spam is to get a Gmail or Yahoo email account. It’s perhaps not what you want to hear, but both services - which we’ve covered in our Best free email services roundup – have aggressive and effective spam filters.
The good news is that you might be able to use Gmail to send and receive emails from your existing email address. This will save you from having to tell everyone to use a new address to reach you.
Although you will still end up getting spam at the new email address, chances are that you’ll never see it as it’s automatically filtered into a spam folder (below). In my experience Gmail does a fantastic job and has never – yet – put a genuine, important email into the spam folder.
You can take a few steps to prevent the new email address from being picked up by the spammers. First, never use it when entering an email address for online accounts. If necessary, set up a separate, dedicated email address for things like online shopping, forums, apps and other stuff that’s not related to personal emails that you might actually want to read. And whenever you do sign up or give out your email address, be sure to read the small print and tick – or untick – the box that opts you in to receiving you offers and other emails. Decline all but essential communications.
If you do receive any unwanted messages, don’t open them. If you do, the sender will probably know through tracking pixels and other methods. They will therefore know your address is live and continue to send spam.
How to stop spam texts
Unwanted text messages from companies is the modern equivalent of junk mail. There are ‘legitimate’ marketing messages from companies you may have unwittingly agreed to when creating an account or ordering a product, such as a pizza from Dominos. Usually such texts have an opt out method, such as ‘To opt out reply STOP to 0784339488’. Marketing messages may also come from a short number, between five and eight digits long, and offer a similar shortcode to reply to stop the texts. In theory, doing this for familiar companies will cease the flow of unwanted marketing messages.
However, don’t reply STOP to unsolicited spam messages you definitely didn’t sign up for and from senders you don’t know. These could include: ‘You might be entitled to compensation for a recent accident’ or ‘You’re owed £566 in tax rebate’. Like spam emails, replying simply tells the sender that your number is live, and chances are you’ll get more unwanted messages. If the message contains a link to a website, do not tap on it, as doing so will also confirm your number is valid.
What you can do is to forward such messages to 7756. This number works for all the main UK mobile providers, including EE, O2, Vodafone and MVNOs (virtual operators) such as giffgaff. It’s easy to remember the number as it spells SPAM on a phone keypad.
You can also report the number to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which is responsible for enforcing the rules on spam texts. The number is 0303 1231113.
It can investigate and fine companies that breach the regulations, although it can’t do much to stop messages coming from overseas.
Another option is to block the number sending the messages on your phone.
Spammers will use multiple numbers to send texts, so blocking a single number might not stop the messages. You can, in extreme cases, change your phone number by speaking to your mobile operator.