How to Fight Spam Text Messages (SMS Spam)

Threats to mobile devices are on the rise. But it’s not just malware, worms, and other viruses that pose a danger — mobile phone spam, a new spin on an old nuisance, is emerging as a problem. Mobile phone spam, also called short message service (SMS) spam, sends unwanted text messages, usually advertisements, to a user’s mobile phone.

Unlike traditional spam that targets an email account, mobile phone spam can have an immediate, direct impact on a user’s wallet. This type of spam can be costly for the recipient because many mobile phone users are charged for each text message they receive, including spam. This spam can also cause big problems for a user with their mobile device carrier. An infected phone can also send spam text messages — which frequently results in the victims’ accounts being closed by the cell providers.

McAfee Labs threat researchers expect to see a rise in mobile spam, including advertisements for pills and other pharmaceuticals and various phishing schemes that attempt to lure a user into clicking on a potentially malicious link. These text messages appear to have been sent from a legitimate company, tricking the recipient into providing personal and financial information.

How can you protect yourself from mobile phone spam? Here are three ways you can lessen the impact of spam on your mobile device:

  • Report spam messages to your cell phone carrier by forwarding them to SPAM (7726) so that the company can block them.

  • Register your cell phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. Once your number is registered, it is illegal for telemarketers to text or call you, unless you have given them permission.

  • Review your cell phone bill to make sure you weren’t charged for unwanted spam. Most carriers will remove charges for spam text messages if you call them immediately.