My landlady, Monica is staying in the flat below mine for a few weeks and we got talking, about my favourite subject, food! I was going to the shops and she asked me to get her a can of sliced peaches. Which reminded me about a spam text message I got, more on why this reminded me, later…

This is the tale of how I learnt to report spam text messages. I wrote this article and then found I’d got a little carried away and started writing a dictionary. At the point I started writing the dictionary for this journal post, I stopped. And wrote this short summary:

Basically I got some spam Text Messages to my phone. And found out that I can report it to my mobile phone provider (O2, Vodafone, EE etc…), by forwarding the spam Text Message to the phone number 7726.

Read on to get the full back story…

Dictionary:

‘TXT’, ‘Text Message’ or ‘SMS’. All mean the same thing. A text messages received on a mobile phone. (I know, never use the thing you’re explaining in the description, I’ll look it up in our actual dictionary one day).

Spam. Junk messages you didn’t opt into or ask for. Often trying to sell you something. Also, a meat product that comes in a can. (I should work in marketing!).

Phishing. Usually, a website that pretends to be something it isn’t (a fake login page for Microsoft for example). Used by scammers to get login or other personal details to use for evil.

Scammers. Horrible people who send out spam and phishing emails or txt messages.

‘SIM Card’ or ‘SIM’. This is the small card that goes in your phone which gives it your phone number and which mobile network provider to connect to.

‘SIM Swap’. Moving your phone number from one SIM card to another. Often done if you change mobile phone network provider (O2 to Vodafone for example). Also if you lose/ break your current SIM card.

7726. The number you forward text messages to when you want to report them as spam**.

I love the song Peaches, (music video below) it’s by a group called The Presidents Of The United States of America. One of the lines is “peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man, in a factory downtown”

For some reason every time I end up with spam email in my Inbox I think of this song. Maybe because spam comes in a can? This is also the reason I thought of spam when Monica asked for a can of peaches.

It’s very rare that I get spam emails in my inbox. Maybe 2 a month. I get about 50 spam emails in my spam box every day. I don’t even check it anymore as I have much more important things to do (like buying peaches for my landlady)

But. The other week I had some text message spam. And text messages don’t have a spam folder.

The spam txt message I got:

Quite scary. I’ve read a lot about how someone can steal your phone number with a sim swap and then use it to reset passwords for your online accounts and even get into your bank account! But let’s not worry about that for now.

I was quite tired when I got this text and my initial thought was, wow, this isn’t good. I should log in to my Giffgaff account and stop this SIM swap.

Just as I was about to tap the link in the text message, I realised that was a bad plan.

So I did what I recommend to everyone and stopped. Then I googled Giffgaff and logged in on their website. Which is not that different from the fake one in the txt messages.

Once logged in (to the real website) I raised a support ticket saying I’d had this message and was just checking my number wasn’t being moved (SIM swap) anywhere. (It wasn’t).

What I did next

I opened up a secure web browser window and typed in the address from the txt message. The website design looked identical to the real Giffgaff website…  (one has a purple top because I was using a different web browser to keep myself safe from the spam).

I typed in some utter gibberish in the username and password boxes and clicked enter.

Then I got asked for loads of security questions.

These could then be used by the scammers to get into my Giffgaff account for real.

How did I know this was spam

I’m not really sure I did know it was spam. But by following my own advice of stopping, not panicking and going to the website directly (ok I googled it) I could be sure that I wasn’t being conned.

Once I’d (safely) gone to the scam website there were some subtle things that were wrong. Some of the images were a bit stretched. I typed in rubbish on the form and it let me log in even though I typed gibberish. But that’s about it. It was also missing the top menu button, but  It was all very convincing.

Reporting spam txt messages

With spam email, there is a handy “mark as spam” button you can tap and off the email goes to be analysed and marked as spam. But what about txt messages? As I said earlier there isn’t a spam folder, so I googled what to do…

… turns out that you can report spam txt messages by forwarding them to the phone number 7726. You are then asked for the phone number or name the spam came from. You can see my txt conversation in the image below…

And there you have it. If you get a spam txt message, forward it to 7726. I’ve added this as a contact in my phone with the name “Report Spam”. That way I can find it easily.

Bonus points for Mike 

Because I’d verified it was a spam website address I decided to report it as spam to a whole host of places including Google and Microsoft.

Within an hour of me reporting this website address, it was marked as a dangerous site in Google Chrome and Firefox (I didn’t test Microsoft Edge) which means other people going there will be warned.

I won’t go into reporting phishing/scam websites here as it’s a whole other kettle of fish, or can of peaches if you will…

So, in summary, if in doubt stop, go directly to the website and login like you would normally, don’t click/tap the links in the message. If your tired, stop and do it tomorrow.

As ever, if you have any questions or want to know more about reporting spam drop us a question on The Club room.

Mike =)

*It says thanks from O2 in my txt conversation because Giffgaff runs on the O2 network. It’s also owned by the same people who own O2 which is Telefónica. Totally crazy!

** Why 7726? On older phones that show the letters on the number keypad, it spells out SPAM. 🙂

Photo by Pau Casals on Unsplash