How to stop spam calls, texts, and emails?

Knowledge is power. Understanding how spammers got hold of your contact details is critical for getting rid of spam. Here are some general tips on how to make your information a little harder for them to find. Whether it’s spam text messages, emails or calls that you’re getting on your Android phone, iPhone or Gmail, we have an anti-spam guide for you.

How spammers (and scammers) are getting your phone number

A huge step towards stopping spam is understanding how it’s finding its way to your devices in the first place. Here are the main ways your personal information is getting into the wrong hands:

Web scraping

Also called web harvesting, this is the process of collecting personal information from websites whenever this information is publicly available (otherwise, the process would be illegal). Companies and scammers use scraping software (including scraping bots) to collect vast amounts of information and create long spam lists. 

What you can do: 

  1. Think twice before leaving your details and contact information anywhere, especially on internet forums, where anyone can access them. Otherwise they will eventually be collected by a web-scraping bot.
  2. Use an alternative, masked, or disposable email address when signing up for services or shopping online. 

Data breach

Your data, such as your phone number and email, could have been stolen in a data breach and sold on the dark web. A data breach is a security violation that gives a third party access to your mailbox, LinkedIn account, or device, like your phone. This can happen, for example, when someone hacks into your account, you click on a malicious link, or when you allow someone to physically access your device by leaving it unlocked in a public space. The perpetrator will usually steal your data to sell it online, and spammers are eager to get their hands on it.

Our advice: 

  1. Use secure passwords for your accounts and make sure each one is unique. If this is too much to memorize, get a tried and tested password manager like Bitwarden or NordPass
  2. Lock your screen each time you leave your desk when working in the office, a library, or cafe.

Data brokers

If you live in the US or Canada, your information could be publicly available on various people search sites. These websites help you find your college sweetheart’s address and phone number. However, they also act as data brokers, selling your data in bulk to marketing companies. 

The good news is that you can opt out of these lists by simply making a request. We’ve compiled detailed guides on how to remove yourself from virtually any people search site out there. Submitting each request should take you 5 – 20 minutes, how many you’ll have to submit in total will depend on your particular circumstances.

You’ll have to re-submit each opt-out request once your data finds its way back to these sites. Or you can let Incogni take care of it for you. Incogni is an online privacy tool that can send data removal requests on your behalf to data brokers and people search sites, significantly reducing the risks of spam, scams, identity theft, and more.

You responded to spam

If you’ve responded to a spam email, clicked on a link, picked up a spam phone call, or responded to a spam text, you have inadvertently agreed to receive more spam.

Every time you answer a spam call or reply to a spam message, it sends a clear message to the spammer: first, your number or email is active and, second, you are gullible enough to respond and so can be easily manipulated and taken advantage of.

Our tips:

  1. Don’t pick up the phone or reply to unknown numbers or senders. 
  2. If you have accidentally replied, block and report the spammer. You will find all the details on how to do this in our guide below.
  3. Stop spam calls on mobile and landline phones.

According to the Truecaller Insights 2022 US Spam & Scam Report, Americans received an average of 31 spam calls per month in 2022, with an average of 21.5 of these calls being robocalls. These spam calls continue to be a significant problem, with nearly 3 in 5 Americans reporting an increase in spam calls or text messages compared to the previous year. And we all know how annoying spam calls can be.

Here’s what you can do.

How to stop spam calls

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get the number of spam calls you receive all the way down to zero, but just imagine what a difference it would be to get one or two calls a month instead of 30. Imagine what it’d be like to have your phone ring and know that it’s probably not a spam call. This is how you get there:

Add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry

There is one thing you can and should do regardless of whether you are getting suspected spam calls on your landline or a mobile device: register your number with the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry. This registry allows you to opt out of receiving telemarketing calls. While it won’t eliminate all spam calls, it can significantly reduce the number of unwanted solicitations you receive.

Do not reply to potential spam calls

A straightforward rule that works for all types of phones: do not pick up unknown calls, let them go to voicemail instead. Legitimate callers will leave a message. Additionally, be cautious of calls from familiar-looking numbers, as spam callers often disguise their true identities by spoofing numbers.

How to stop spam calls on a landline

The use of landline phones is rapidly declining worldwide. The Washington Post states that about 73% of American adults lived in households without a landline at the end of 2022, a figure that had tripled since 2010. If you are one of the few who still have one, we have a detailed guide on how to stop spam calls on a landline. Here are some general guidelines: 

Contact the service provider

Contact your landline phone service provider and inquire about their call-blocking features. Many providers have call-blocking services that can be activated to filter out known spam numbers.

Use a call-blocking device

Consider investing in a call-blocking device specifically designed to stop spam calls. These devices use a vast database of known spam numbers and automatically block them from reaching your landline.

Report unwanted calls

Whenever you receive spam calls on your landline, report them to the appropriate authorities. Provide as much information as possible about the call, such as the time, date, and caller ID information. By reporting these calls, you contribute to identifying and stopping spam callers.

How to stop spam calls on your mobile

Whether you use an Android phone or iPhone, myriad options are available to block or silence spam phone calls. You can refer to our articles for advice and instructions for iOS and Android devices:

Block spam calls from individual numbers

Most mobile phones allow you to block unwanted calls by blocking specific phone numbers. Both iOS and Android offer the possibility to send unknown callers to voicemail. If you’re an iPhone user, you can also silence unknown callers instead. If you consistently receive spam calls from a particular number, use these options to prevent future contact.

Block all calls from unknown numbers

Enable the option to block calls from unknown numbers on your mobile device. This will automatically stop any call that doesn’t display a caller ID or is not in your contacts. While this is great for blocking unwanted calls and spammers, it could also accidentally block a call from a recruiter or an old friend. 

Using a phone app

There are numerous phone apps available that specialize in blocking spam calls. Research and choose a reputable app that suits your needs. These apps utilize extensive spam number databases and community reports to identify and block potential spam calls.

Head to our dedicated article on spam filtering apps for more details.

Need detailed instructions on blocking spam calls? Check out our dedicated guides

How to stop spam texts

When it comes to spam texts, I find that they are much more challenging to eradicate. I frequently receive it again, even after I took the time to report it. And so, our section on stopping spam text messages is extensive, as we tried to cover all possible scenarios. You will notice that most of the solutions we outlined in the previous paragraph also apply to spam texts.   

Report your number to the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry

Report your phone number to the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry to reduce unwanted spam calls and text messages. This registry allows you to opt out of receiving telemarketing calls and messages from legitimate companies.

Contact your mobile service provider

Reach out to your mobile service provider to report spam texts. They may have specific measures to assist you in blocking or mitigating unwanted messages. They can provide guidance on how to deal with the issue effectively.

If you use AT&T, make sure to check our detailed article on How to stop spam texts on AT&T

Block spam text messages

Use the blocking feature available on your mobile device to prevent spam texts from reaching your inbox. Blocking spam texts on iPhone, Android, or Samsung devices is a simple process, and you can find detailed instructions in the following articles:

Report spam texts

Most carriers and all mobile operating systems provide a way to report spam texts. 

Moreover, with spam on the rise, many countries have introduced designated numbers to report spam for free. Forward spam messages to 7726 (SPAM on a traditional phone keypad) in the US, 33700 in France, or 1909 in India. UK carriers like Vodafone and Three use codes 87726 and 37726, respectively.

If nothing else works, I recommend you try this. Watch me report my meal kit delivery service, which has been bothering me for a year now, to the French spam reporting number.

How to report spam texts by forwarding a text

Head to Adam’s article on How to report spam text to learn more. 

Use a third-party app to filter spam text messages

Consider using a reputable third-party app designed to filter and block spam text messages. We recommend several, depending on the devices you own. Before installing any app, check its privacy policy and make sure to review its permissions once it’s up and running.

What if you are receiving spam texts from an email address?

We’ve still got you covered. A text from an email is a peculiar type of spam, where a spam email is converted to a text message format and delivered to the recipient’s mobile device as a spam text. To find out how to block these, read our article on How to block texts from emails.

How to stop spam email

Email spam can feel like an ongoing battle. You block it, filter it, and move it to junk and, somehow, new irrelevant offers, phishing attempts, and unsolicited messages keep coming in.

Stop spam emails by opting out of everything

Act at the source and opt out of mailing lists directly. You might be surprised how many of them you never signed up for. This approach, though drastic, is very effective. Take the necessary steps to opt out of the Data and Marketing Association, Catalog Choice, as well as other direct marketing firms. Additionally, remove your name from lists for pre-screened credit and insurance offers. To find out how to do all this, read our detailed article on How to Stop Junk Mail

Stop spam emails by unsubscribing

Let’s face it, you’re responsible for some of the junk messages flooding your mailbox. Fortunately, you can unsubscribe. Take the time to carefully review your received emails and identify any subscriptions that no longer interest you. Locate the unsubscribe link, usually found at the bottom of the email, follow the instructions, and opt out of receiving future messages.  

Block and report spam email

Most email providers offer spam filtering and blocking tools. Learn how to find them if you use Gmail, iOS Mailbox, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, or AOL on your iPhone in this article: How to stop spam emails on iPhone. For a step-by-step guide on Gmail’s junk email options and spam filter, head to How to stop spam emails in Gmail.

How to stop spam mail

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