WTOP Answer Desk: How can I stop spam texts?

Evan Haning, wtop.com

WASHINGTON — “Does anyone know how to block text messages on a cell phone? I have been getting text messages from a number that I do not know and have ignored them. Finally, I texted back ‘WRONG NUMBER. Stop texting.’ Now today I have two messages that are highly sexual in language and the last one threatening. You can imagine I am afraid to say who I am and where I live. Help, please.”

Rule No. 1. Never answer spam. Someone was fishing for targets and you let them know that you exist.

Rule No. 2. Stopping spam SMS text messages is not a science. It is an aggravation.

Blocking text messages is complicated and time consuming.

There are different solutions for iPhones, Droids, non-smartphones and for different carriers.

If you have a Droid, try a free app such as Easy Filter, Handcent, or Anti SMS Bomber. Customer reviews range from “excellent” to “useless,” so it’s up to you to decide.

Most experts we checked said that blocking texts altogether is the only sure fire solution to the problem, and you can find numbers of major carriers at Lifehacker.com.

Crooks, spammers and social networks can get away with all these scams and intrusions because there is often no single answer and when solutions exist, they can be very hard to explain and understand.

For $5 a month, AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless provides a service that can block specific numbers and allow users to set various limits. But this will only help you block repeat offenders who are texting from the same identifiable source, Macworld explains.

Another way to block texts is by going online and creating an account with your carrier that sets up an alias.

This allows you to block all texts to your regular number, but accept texts under your alias. It should work as long as you only give that alias to your friends and family and others from whom you want to accept texts.

A lucid and thorough MacMost Now 115 video tells you how to do it.

Unwanted texts are problematic both ethically and financially. Depending on the plan you have, you are paying for these irritating, intrusive messages.

They are also a security risk. A lot of spam contains viruses that will infect your smartphone if opened.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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