Canning spam texts

Spam texts are frustrating.

You hear a ping and scramble for your phone, only to find it’s from an unknown number, asking you to give out personal details in exchange for either more spam, unwanted messages you have to pay to receive, or worse, it’s just plain fraud.

Spam texts are as frustrating as not knowing who Kat Moon’s having an affair with on EastEnders. Perhaps even more so.

Over the last seven days, my mobile has been buzzing away night and day with messages.

I’ve been:

  • given advice on how to reclaim £2,046 "I’m owed for mis-sold PPI"
  • "awarded £576 in compensation for my recent accident"
  • "won five free lines for the £27m Euromillions lottery"
  • sent a 10% Interflora discount code
  • chosen to do mystery shopping for £350
  • asked to confirm a new payee on my NatWest account.

There’s as much truth in some of these statements as there is to say Phil Mitchell is taking up ballet.

So, should I reply to the spam senders? Should I keep, delete or call back?

Spotting a spam text

Sometimes, spotting a phoney text is easy. I’ve never been mis-sold — or even legitimately sold — PPI. So that was spam, and I deleted it.

Fortunately, I haven’t had any accidents recently, so I knew this one was a fake too.

I definitely don’t play any online lottery games, so wasn’t going to claim my five free lines (despite the lure of £27m).

My mum and dad’s wedding anniversary is 27 September, and every year I buy mum flowers from dad, in case he forgets. So I knew the text from Interflora was genuine.

The text from NatWest was also legit, as I was logged into my online banking trying to add my new current account as a payee.

If I hadn’t been, I would have immediately gone to the nearest branch to ask about its validity – phishing scams aren’t just via email, after all.

The one I was dubious about, though, was the mystery shopping assignment. Years ago I did some mystery shopping, and have been on GfK’s mailing list for a while. Could this be genuine?

A bit of Googling told me all I needed to know: There’s no such company as TheMysteryShoppers.org, and there were no £350 mystery shopping assignments in my area. I promptly deleted the text.

Spotting a spam text is not always easy, though. And stopping them can be even harder.

Stop spam texts

The golden rule is to never reply. Once you hit that ‘send’ button, even if it’s to say STOP, the spammer knows your number is active, and it’s likely you’ll get more.

Your number may also be sold to another firm which may send more spam.

Be careful who you give your number to when filling in online forms. Make sure it’s not available online anywhere such as Facebook or Twitter. And read the small print when ticking those boxes at the end of any online registration page.

If you continue to receive spam messages, report them to the Information Commissioner and your network provider. See our Stop Spam Texts guide for full details on how to do this, and more tips on how to stop those frustrating messages.

Share your spam text stories in the comments box below or in our forum.