Tech & society

Text spam is illegal, just like spam email and robocalls

Got a SPAM text this election season? Annoyed about it? You’re not alone, but recourse is limited. Learn more about SPAM text messages.

Got a SPAM text this election season?

Spam text messages (like spam e-mails and robocalls) are illegal to send to consumers who haven’t opted in or who don’t have a business relationship.

However, generally speaking, politicians have exempted themselves from both DoNotCall and DoNotText rules.

Non-profits and charities (“noncommercial” messages) are also exempt from DoNotText rules.

But you can still report those texts (so long as it’s not an opt-in message, ok?) as SPAM — if it makes you feel better.

AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or Bell customers:
Forward/copy the unsolicited text message to SPAM (7726).

Got an iPhone?

Report iMessages as spam with the Report Junk link that appears below any message from someone who’s not in your Contacts.  You can also email Apple at “” and include a screenshot of the message as well as the email address or phone number that sent it and the date and time you received it.

iMessage spam


You can filter text messages so that the only ones that appear “on top” are from people in your contact list (iOS 11). All others are sorted into a separate list, accessible via a new tab in called “Unknown Senders.” Good news, Apple will not send notifications for these messages.

Head to Settings > Messages and then scroll to Message Filtering. 

filter text messages

If you want to block texts and calls from someone who is in your Contacts list, to go Settings > Messages > Blocked and then tap Add New. 


Got Android?

Go to Menu > People & Options > Block.

Then check “Report as Spam” option.


Change the law

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) accepts complaints about unwanted text messages.

In a perfect world, every political or non-profit/charity organization would also be bound by the DoNotCall/DoNotText list — turning that into database into a truly useful public service.

The world is not perfect, so we need to work together to get the law changed!

  • Every political or non-profit/charity text MUST include clear identification of the sender. No spoofed phone numbers.
  • Every political or non-profit/charity organization MUST make it easy to opt-out of receiving texts, phone calls and/or email. Opt-out action must be prompt (a day or two not weeks). [This is pragmatic; prohibition is an uphill battle.]
  • Penalties must be substantive enough to make violating the rules a deterrent, whether the bad actor is a business, politician or non-profit. Nothing about this law should be voluntary.







By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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