iMessage spam

iMessage spam accounts for 30% of all mobile spam messages, according to security researcher Tom Landesman. This is part of a growing trend that started in the recent months where spammers collect phone numbers or email addresses linked to iMessage to send Apple users unsolicited messages in the hope they would click on links and purchase whatever the spammers are trying to sell.

According to Wired, who cites Landesman, setting up such a spamming campaign can be as easy as collecting email addresses and phone numbers from around the web, and use AppleScript to write a few lines of codes and automate the mass iMessage spamming.

In this post, we’ll share a few tips about how you can protect yourself and stop iMessage spam.

Block the sender

The first thing you want to do when receiving unsolicited messages is to block the sender. The ability to block someone is a feature that was introduced along with iOS 7 in 2013. We previously went over how to block someone from contacting you. Whether it is a phone call, message, or FaceTime call, iOS gives you the option to make sure this person can never contact you again.

Step 1: In the Messages app, select the spammy message conversation.

Step 2: Tap the “i” icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

Step 3: Tap on the email address of the spammer at the top of the screen.

Step 4: Scroll down and tap “Block this Caller.”

The sender will still be able to send messages, but these messages will never make their way to you.

The downside of this method is that spammers use multiple email addresses to send their messages from, which means that they’ll probably still be able to contact you from a different email address if they want to.

Show alerts from your contacts only

If blocking the sender didn’t work for you, you can start taking more drastic measures by allowing notifications from contacts that are in your address book only. By following these steps, you will make sure that you will only get notifications from the people that are in your address book.

Step 1: Go to Settings > Messages.

Step 2: Scroll down and look for the Filter Unknown Senders option.

Step 3: Activate this option.

There are two downsides to this method. First, you will still receive those spam messages. Your phone won’t ring or show any notification, but every message will still be logged in your Messages app. The second downside is that if someone who’s not in your address book sends you a text message, you might miss it, or at least take a while to realize you received a message from a legit person.

Report spam to Apple

Back in July of last year, Apple introduced a way to report spam messages directly to them. Admittedly, this is a very cumbersome way to report spam, and Apple should definitely find a better way, but here are the steps you should follow:

Send an email to imessage.spam@iCloud.com including:

  • A screenshot of the spammy message
  • The email address or phone number of the spammer
  • The date and time the spam message was received

The downside is obviously that it’s a painful process. According to the Wired article referenced above, it takes Apple several days to act on those spam reports, really questioning the efficiency of this process.

Turn off iMessage

Drastic times call for drastic measures… If you’re Messages app is overflowing with spam iMessages, maybe you should consider turning off iMessage altogether and rely exclusively on SMS to send messages to friends and family.

You can turn off iMessage by going to Settings > Messages > and turn iMessage off.

This will prevent you from sending iMessages over cellular or Wi-Fi, but at least you won’t be receiving spam anymore.

As you can see, there is no real guaranteed way to prevent you from receiving iMessage spam, unless you want to go thermonuclear and turn off iMessage altogether. Hopefully, Apple will work on putting better systems in place that will flag and block spammers, or at least allow you to report spam in a more efficient way.

Photo: Casey Morell