Any solution for spam SMS texts?

I’m getting maybe a dozen spam SMS texts day and wonder if there’s any info about there about anything that can be done. Reporting to the authorities does nothing (well, it sure seems like it) and is hellishly time-consuming; blocking is no use, the numbers are obviously multiple, randomly generated, no doubt fake. Am getting close to changing to a new mobile number, but maybe that will only work for a short time, if at all. iPhone X.

Edited to add: I had this idea of trying to somehow mute or DND all SMS texts while allowing through iMessages, that way I could look at all the SMS texts maybe twice a day. All my important messages (close family) come via iMessage so it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t get SMS messages right away. But that’s probably not possible.

Edited to add; (sorry) Am trying a ‘focus’ that allows notifications from everyone in my contacts and no one else. See how that goes.


That’s the only solution I’ve seen recommended and is what I use. For whatever reason, I almost never received spam SMS, even before changing the setting.


Wouldn’t that block 2FA notifications?

Yes, it would, but if I‘m looking out for a 2FA SMS text, that should work. I hope. I really want to stop the constant notifications that come with the spam texts so I can deal with them all at once, maybe twice a day. Anyway, work in progress. Will see how it goes.

I am envious. I don’t get a lot, but each one needs to be deleted from each device. I wish I had an option to delete a message, which for spam is usually a conversation, from all devices in one operation.

Since I don’t get many messages, spam or otherwise, I turned off Sounds for message notifications. That seems to work well for me.

If you turn on Messages in iCloud, it will sync deletions across MacOS, iOS, and iPadOS. Unfortunately, watchOS doesn’t yet support Messages in iCloud, but I never use Messages on my watch anyway, except to read notification and occasionally reply when I receive a message, and I believe that iMessage threads get synced.

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Probably it will be clear immediately after I post this, but I cannot find where to turn on Messages in iCloud. Would you give me a pointer?

On the Mac, I would expect to find this in System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud, but Messages is not in the list. System Preferences > Internet Accounts > iCloud seems to present the same interface, again with no Messages. On the iPad, Settings > Apple ID > iCloud does have a Messages line, and the slider is set to On. Settings > Messages doesn’t seem to have anything meaningful for this purpose.

Certainly I get messages on many devices, and that would make me think that Messages is turned on in iCloud. Nonetheless, deleting something on one device does not delete it on other devices. Thanks for any help.

On the Mac, launch the Messages app.

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Ah, there it is, in Preferences > iMessage. Thank you.

I don’t understand the difference between SMS and Apple messages. Now that I turned on Messages in iCloud, will SMS messages sync or just Apple messages?

It is in preferences in the Messages app itself.

See Set up iCloud for Messages on all your devices - Apple Support

They do for me, though on the iPhone you may need to make sure that settings / messages / text message forwarding is turned on. (It is for me, so I don’t know if that’s why they sync or if they would sync anyway.)

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TBH, I don’t get that logic. I would have expected it in iCloud preferences too.

Well, and let’s talk about that for a minute. The details vary, but in general, to report a spam text to AT&T (7726), I have to:

  1. Do a contextual click or a long press on the offending message, taking care not to tap the live link it contains
  2. Select “Forward” or “More…”
  3. Tap or click in the address field of the forward message form
  4. Start typing “Spam AT&T” which is in my address book until it autopopulates (first tiny bit of help!)
  5. Click in the message bubble then press or tap “Return”
  6. Go back to the original spam message
  7. Click an Info button to reveal an information card
  8. Click on another Info button in the information card to get anything editable, because the number or email address displayed in the first card is not selectable
  9. Either long-press the sending address or double-click in the sending address field to “Select All”
  10. Then either select “Copy” from a contextual menu or on Mac press COMD+C because there is no copy button or command available from there
  11. Cancel which takes up to three taps
  12. Go back to the new message to AT&T, which by now has acknowledged the report and replied asking for the offending address which is on your device’s Clipboard
  13. Tap on the entry field and Paste the information
  14. Tap or press Return or its equivalent icon

And as @Pohutu points out, all AT&T can really do is try to discern patterns and sources. With unlimited messaging there’s no longer a visible incentive for them to allow all this traffic, as there was when they were outrageously charging up to 10 cents per every received SMS, for what amounts to free bandwidth for them.

I do think that making it easier to report spam texts is a facility that Apple could implement relatively quickly. I’ve already found the “known/unknown sender” paradigm to be clumsy and unworkable because I do receive SMS from vendors whose sending addresses may not be in my address book. I’m not sure the new “focus” function is going to be any better, or more useful, for the same reason.

One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that the spammers are hellishly focused on sending messages from both “Apple” and “AT&T”—easily 70 percent of the traffic, as though they got my address from those two sources. “Jack from the DMV” and the various porn spammers seem more generic and random.


Thankfully I get very little SMS spam so I don’t have to do this often, but I hate having to go through all of this when I do decide to report.

Hopefully Apple will work on some spam detection with even a “Is this spam? If so, click here to report it to the carrier” button that will do all of this for you. I’m not holding my breath, and maybe it’s too hard a problem, but that would be nice. (It should be easier in the US, where I think 7726 is universal among all carriers.)

Although looking at an Apple support page, iOS 15 now has a “report junk” at the bottom of a thread from an unknown contact. It doesn’t report to the carrier, just to Apple. And I just looked at a bunch of threads from unknown contacts and I do not see this report junk link on any of them, so maybe there is some sort of machine learning that’s used to trigger this?

SMS is the mobile telephone network’s Short Message Service. Your message is delivered via the mobile phone network to a mobile phone number.

SMS is designed for short text-only messages. An enhanced version of the protocol known as MMS (multimedia message service) may be used for delivering more robust message content (e.g. pictures, sounds, videos) via the mobile telephony network.

iMessage is an Internet service that Apple runs. It provides many SMS- and MMS-like features, plus many Apple-specific features. For the purpose of this discussion, the critical difference is that its messages are not delivered as a part of mobile phone protocols, but are delivered via the Internet. So they will when there is no cellular connectivity (if you have some other kind of Internet access, like Wi-Fi) and it will work on devices with no cellular capability (e.g. Mac computers). But it is Apple-proprietary and (so far, at least), there is no way to use iMessage on non-Apple equipment.

As for how they sync via iCloud, someone else will have to answer. I don’t sync Messages because I want to maintain different retentions on different devices. I delete messages as soon as I read them on my iPod, but I tend to keep them around for a lot longer on my iPhone and my Mac. I explicitly do not want deletion from one device to cause them to be deleted from my other devices, so I make sure to turn this feature off on my equipment.


Yes, exactly, re the reporting process. Impossible and hard to do without, as you say, inadvertently opening/activating a link or, as happened to me once, initiating a call to the sender.

And your comment about unlimited texting makes me think that, yes, this is an unintendend consequence of texting being essentially free now, so the SMS spam is following the pattern of email spam. Surely the Telcos will have to address it (one assumes they must be working on it?!) or SMS texting is going to become simply a non-viable form of communication.

And if it continues to follow the email spam pattern, the reporting is worse than useless since shutting it down at source is just not an option, and it will have to be all about filtering. I’m 50-50 at the moment on whether the reporting is worth anything, since we never hear what action is being taken and if any of it is useful.

What is worse is that most (all?) carriers have email gateways to their customers’ SMS accounts. So you can send a text message to a Verizon customer by sending an email to (or an MMS attachment to

Almost all of my SMS spam comes from random gmail accounts that sending to the email gateways like this (because the sender is listed as the email address.)

It’s possible that the carriers are using SPAM filter on the gateway to reduce the amount that we may get, however.

Thank you. I do appreciate your thoughtful and thorough explanations. What you said is consistent with my understanding, but I could not have articulated it so well, and I wasn’t sure.

Perhaps if I received more meaningful messages, I’d feel the same. Just guessing, I’d say I receive four messages a week, and 3.8 of them are spam. I understand that many people, probably including you, get one or two orders of magnitude more messages.

Right? At one time I was faithfully reporting all my spam texts. I’d usually do it from my Mac with my phone in my hand to cut down on a few of the steps you listed, but lately I’ve quit. I just delete them. Just didn’t see any point (no feedback, no results) in reporting them.

To filter my Messages I have enabled ‘Filter Unknown Senders’ to sort messages from people not in my Contacts into the ‘Unknown’ list, but this doesn’t help with spam SMS. Not everybody can use this, especially if you’re running a business. To filter SMS messages I use the app VeroSMS (‎VeroSMS on the App Store) on my iOS devices in free mode and it helps some. It creates new categories in Messages (Transactions, Promotions, Junk) and it filters SMS messages for you. It has several features that you can read about it on their web page. If you have specific words that keep appearing in your spam SMS messages you can add them to your black list and there’s also a white list you can add to. The only challenge I have is that sometimes I forget that it filters things for me. When I’m waiting for an SMS verification code to come in, such as when signing in to a new website, I suddenly realize that I should check my ‘All Messages’ or my ‘Junk’ categories and, there it is. Unlike some people I have my Messages in iCloud turned on so all my Messages and SMS show up on all my devices. The SMS are filtered into categories by VeroSMS on my iOS devices but they all show up in Messages on my Mac.

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