Why you should not always reply ‘STOP’ to unwanted text messages | Arizona News

PHOENIX (Data Doctors) — If it feels like you’re getting a lot more text messages these days, both legitimate and questionable, it’s not your imagination.

Every study on text messaging shows that people respond at a significantly higher rate and much quicker to texts than phone calls or emails. To illustrate this difference, check how many unopened email messages you have versus your unopened text messages.

This data is encouraging both legitimate companies and scammers to step up their texting activities.

Fake text message stop

Q: Does replying with “STOP” on unwanted text messages really work?

A: The short answer is sometimes. And in the cases where it does not work, it could increase spammy, scam-laden texts.

When it’s safe

In many cases, text messages include instructions to reply with “STOP” to stop getting messages from them in the future. If you know you signed up for the service — through your pharmacy or bank, for instance — replying with “STOP” will work.

When it’s not safe

If the message is clearly a scam or an attempt to “phish” information from you, replying with “STOP” is not only ineffective, it’s an invitation to be bombarded by lots of junk messages in the future. Scammers are mimicking legitimate marketing verbiage in hopes of tricking you into responding.

When they get the “STOP” response from you, they will know that your phone number is both active and responsive. This will lead to your number being placed on an active list that is sold and resold countless times amongst the bad actors.

It’s very much like the junk email “unsubscribe” scams that I’ve written about in the past.

When you aren’t sure

Because there is no bulletproof method to determine if a text message is legitimate just by reading it, you’ll need to do a little investigating before deciding what to do.

If the message came from what is known as a short code (five or six digits) instead of a standard 10-digit phone number, there are ways to search for the sender. Unlike regular phone numbers, short codes are much more difficult to spoof, so looking them up in the U.S. Short Code Directory¬†will help you determine who is behind the message. Another option is to do a Google search using the short code, such as “text from 93733,” which in this case would provide links that show it’s a code used by Wells Fargo.

What are short code text messages and how do they protect me online?

If you can’t determine who is behind the short code, the safest approach is to block it in your messaging app and delete the message.

Reporting scams and spam

One thing that we can all do collectively to fight this growing problem is to report bad messages to our carriers by forwarding the message to 7726 (which spells SPAM). This is a universal reporting system, so it works with all of the U.S. carriers.

It’s important that you forward the message exactly as it came to you — without adding anything or removing any part of it. The quicker we all do this, the quicker the carriers can stop the message from reaching others on their network.

More stories about text message scams

Scam Alert: ADOT warns of scam text messages trying to get your personal information

Do not fall victim to these clever phishing text scams

Fake bank texts scam continues to dupe Phoenix area residents

Fake bank texts scam continues to dupe Phoenix area residents

Scam Alert: ADOT warns of scam text messages trying to get your personal information

Fake text messages that look like real bank alerts

Copyright 2021 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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