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Stop spam texts

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There are some apps that can help with getting spam text messages. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) There are some apps that can help with getting spam text messages. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Kimberly White-Young has received spam text messages and finds them annoying. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Kimberly White-Young has received spam text messages and finds them annoying. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Your phone’s text notification goes off and you think, “I wonder who’s trying to reach me?” 

Oh no, it’s another spam text!

Spammers now know how to find you on your cellphone. What should you do if you get a spam text? What’s at stake? And how can you stop it?

They are all questions familiar to busy, working mom Kimberly White-Young. She always pays attention when her phone goes off. Is it a text about her daughter? Her job? When it turns out to be spam she says, “It's very annoying.”

How annoying are spam texts?

FCC data we sorted reveals there were more than 10,000 complaints about unwanted robocall and telemarketing text messages.

“Spam texts are actually very prevalent,” Morey Haber, a cybersecurity expert with BeyondTrust, said.

How’d they get your number? You may have given it to them.

“People will often opt in for text messages and not realize they've done so. This could be anything from buying something online to even going to a sporting event where the big board says, ’Text your favorite something to this number,’” Haber said.  

But sometimes, Haber says, texts are being sent from an auto dialer just looking for a response.

“There are a wide variety of text message hacks that can occur today. Everything from hacktivism to actually owning your phone with viruses and malware,” Haber said.

Once that spam text is there, White-Young told us she felt helpless.

 “I don't feel like I know what I should do,” White-Young said.

She’s not alone.  

Experts say if you don’t remember “opting in” for texts from the sender: Don’t click on attachments or links and don’t hit “opt out.”

“When receiving a spam text, or any text that's questionable, a user should never reply to the text itself. If they do and it’s an auto dialer, a hacker, or a scammer, you've basically acknowledged the number is active and given them a dialogue to continue the conversation or potentially target the attack,” Haber said.

How do you stop it?

  • Block the number the text comes from
  • Report the text as “spam” to your carrier, the FCC and the FTC. (Some spam texts are illegal to send—so the Feds want to hear about ones you get.)
  • There are also apps like: Mr Number, SMS Blocker and Text Blocker

White-Young says she’s now planning to fight back.

“It’s really scary actually,” White-Young said.

One other note: If you get a text claiming to be from a retailer and you want to “opt-out”, you may want to go to their website or give them a call. That way you’ll know with whom you’re dealing.  

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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