Data Doctors: when not to answer ‘STOP’
If you feel like you’re getting a lot more text messages these days, both legitimate and questionable, it’s not your imagination. Does responding with “STOP” interrupt these messages?
Q: Does responding with “STOP” to unwanted text messages really work?
A: If you feel like you get a lot more text messages these days, both legitimate and questionable, it’s not your imagination.
Every text messaging study shows that people respond at a significantly higher rate and much faster to text messages than to phone calls or emails.
To illustrate this difference, check how many unopened e-mail messages you have versus your unopened text messages.
This data encourages both legitimate businesses and scammers to step up their texting activities.
When it’s sure
In many cases, the message may include instructions to respond with “STOP” to stop receiving messages from them in the future.
If you know you signed up for the service through your pharmacy or bank, for example, responding with “STOP” will work.
When it’s not sure
If the message is clearly a scam or phishing attempt on your part, responding with “STOP” is not only ineffective, it is an invitation to be bombarded with many spam messages in the future.
Scammers imitate legitimate marketing verbiage in the hope of getting you to respond.
When they receive a “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 which is being sold and resold countless times among the bad actors.
It’s kind of like the “unsubscribe” spam scams I’ve talked about in the past.
When you are not sure
Since there is no foolproof method to determine if a text message is legitimately from someone you are dealing with just by reading it, when you are unsure, you will need to do a little investigation first. to decide what to do.
If the message is from what’s called a short code (5-6 digits) instead of a standard 10-digit phone number, there are ways to find the owner of that short code.
Unlike regular phone numbers, short codes are much more difficult to forge, so looking for them in the US Short Code Directory will help you determine who is behind the message.
Another option is to perform a Google search using the short code such as “text from 93733”, which in this case would provide links indicating that this is a code used by Wells Fargo.
If you can’t figure out who is behind the shortcode, the safest approach would be to block it in your email app and delete the message.
Report scams and spam
One thing we can all do collectively to combat this growing problem is to report bad messages to carriers by forwarding the message to 7726 (which is SPAM). This is a universal reporting system, so it works with all US carriers.
It is important that you forward the message exactly as it came to you without adding or removing any part of it. The faster we do this, the faster carriers can block the message from reaching others on their network.
Ken Colburn is Founder and CEO of Data Doctors Computer Services. Ask any technical question on Facebook or Twitter.
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