How to stop spam on your iPhone in 3 easy steps

A young man is sitting at home, feeling depressed and trying to think of the bad news he read online with a smartphone

Photo: Ivan Pantyk via Getty Images

Are you receiving a lot of unwanted text messages? How annoying is it to be interrupted by a notification on your iPhone, only for it to be another junk message? Like phishing emails, these messages are often the starting point for scammers who target potential victims.

Here’s a secret: You can turn this off with a feature already in iOS. It’s just a little hidden.

also: This hidden iPhone feature can help you fall asleep faster

Here’s how to do it.

How to stop random text messages on iPhone

Spam messages on iPhone

Maria Diaz | ZDNET

Open the Settings app on your iPhone and scroll down and down until you find it Messages. Click on it.

Screenshot with the highlighted messages inside the Settings app

Tap on Messages to access the settings of the Messages app.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

This is the magic. Turn it on. You will have to scroll about three pages to find this thing, but it will be worth it.

This option is turned off by default, so you will need to switch it to the On position to enable it.

Screenshot of message settings with highlight

Scroll to the bottom of the Messages settings to find Filter Unknown Senders.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Now, if you go to your Messages app, you will see tabs at the top of the screen. On the left you will find “Contacts and SMS” which will contain messages from known contacts in your address book. On the right will be the new “Anonymous Senders” tab.

When you receive a message from a sender who is not in your address book, you will not receive a notification. Instead, it will be dropped into the Unknown Senders tab. To find this, open your Messages and you’ll see “Filters” in the top left corner of your screen. When you go to filters, you can filter by known and unknown senders, as well as unread messages.

Screenshot of messages with appropriate filters

Your Message Inbox will now default to showing only messages from people in your contact list.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Warning: Once you enable Filter Unknown Senders, it becomes very important to add all legitimate senders to your address book. Any message from a number that is not in your contact list will go to the “Anonymous Senders” tab. If you’re expecting a text from someone you know, make sure they’re entered in your address book. Otherwise, you’ll have to scan through this list to see if there’s anything new you need to watch out for.

Related warning: Gig workers from services like Door Dash, Uber Eats, and InstaCart often use rotating custom text message numbers to reach customers during the shopping or pickup process. If you’re expecting a delivery from one of these services, be sure to check the Unknown Senders tab during the delivery window.

also: How to configure Android to handle incoming spam calls

Perhaps this need for extra care in certain cases is why the feature is turned off by default. For new iOS users with an empty Contacts app, all messages will necessarily be from contacts that aren’t in the address book. However, this is a huge benefit that deserves a little extra care to add contacts from whom you want to be able to get text notifications.


How do I stop spam calls on iPhone?

Incoming spam calls are a nuisance, if you are facing this issue, you can either block specific numbers via your Phone app, you can add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry, or you can block all incoming calls from unknown numbers. To do the latter, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your iPhone settings
  2. Choose Telephone
  3. You find Silence unknown callers

When you do this, unknown callers will go straight to voicemail and have the option to leave you a message. You will only receive incoming calls from people in your contact lists and recent outgoing calls.

Keep in mind that this may cause you to miss important calls if someone calls you from a number that is not saved in your contacts.

How do I stop spam on my iPhone calendar?

Apps you download on your phone ask for permissions to access different things, such as your camera, microphone, contacts, or calendar. You would think that some apps have no business accessing your calendar and you would be right, especially those that later add unwanted events to it. If you are experiencing this problem, follow these steps:

  1. Unlock your iPhone Calendar
  2. tap on calendars at the bottom of the screen
  3. Click the info button next to the calendar name
  4. Choose Delete the calendar

Why am I getting so many unwanted text messages?

Remember the “extended car warranty” calls that were so popular a few years ago? Well, this nuisance has government agencies like the FCC and cell phone companies taking drastic measures to stop it.

Some phone companies have begun to flag an incoming call as a “spam caller” or “potential fraud”, making it easier for individual users to refuse calls and block numbers. People blocking incoming calls from unknown numbers made scammers turn to other methods, which is partly why spam text messages are at an all-time high.

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