Tired of getting unwanted text messages on your phone? Automated message spam is illegal, but that isn't stopping the scammers from sending out endless offers for free gifts, cheap mortgages, or debt relief services. We loathe unwanted messages, and we hate text spam just as much as you do. Really. 

Here are 5 tips to help protect yourself from unwanted messages.

1. Don't Reply To Messages

If you don't recognize the sender or the number you should ignore instructions to text "STOP" to prevent future texts. While it may be tempting to reply back with a strongly worded message asking the sender to stop, this is a common ploy to verify your number is actively in use. Never dial call-back numbers either.

2. Block the Sender

One of the easiest ways to stop scammers is to block the number. Here's a great article on how to block a number on any phone.

3. Forward Texts to 7726

Forwarding the message to 7726 (SPAM) will notify your carrier so they can investigate.

4. Anti-Spam Apps

If you have a smartphone, there may be apps you can download to prevent spam. Search your app store and you'll see a lot of options come up.

5. Protect Your Information

Treat your personal information, including your phone numbers, like they are your most valuable treasure. Don't give your number out to anyone you don't know. Don't put it down on that sweepstakes form at the local fair. Just don't.

Want to learn more about group texting for business?

How To Stop Spam Texts on iOS or Android

That spam text you just got can be more than just annoying -- it can be dangerous. The good news is that modern smartphones can stop spam texts before they interrupt your workflow or day; you just have to know where to look. But knowing how to stop spam texts on your personal handset means knowing the right process for the operating system that your phone uses because both iPhones and Android devices do things slightly differently.

One giveaway of spam texts is that there's usually no sender information. Brands and companies that communicate via text will include context such as their name and why they're reaching out, which is a far cry from those spam texts that are cryptic and designed for you to click on a link without thinking. Those links also tend to not be recognizable by the URL since they often use bit.ly or another URL shorter to obfuscate the real destination. If you don't recognize the link or the sender, don't click it.

Note that most businesses won't contact you out of the blue unless you already have an open issue, and virtually no one will be rushing to give you a cash award or free products for clicking a link -- they're typically after your information.

How To Stop Unwanted Texts

If you do happen to get a spam text, it's important not to respond or click any of the links. If you do, it'll verify that your number is active and you'll probably start getting more spam just when you're looking for ways to get them to stop. You can always download an app such as Nomorobo or RoboKiller, but nowadays most phones have the capability to manage spam texts natively. However, if you need extra features and your phone's capabilities are lacking, you can try your luck with a third-party app.

On iPhone, you can stop spam texts at the source by opening the text, tapping the arrow next to the contact number at the top of the screen and clicking the gray "Info" button. Next, hit the blue "Info" button and scroll down to "Block this Caller." That will prevent the specific number from being able to call or text you, and you won't even get a notification if it happens.

On Android phones, open the messaging app and tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right of the screen. Next, tap "Details" and then "Block Contact" to complete the task. Some Android phones may have a slightly different process -- for example, Samsung Galaxy phones have a convenient "Block" option in the three-dot menu.

For those that want to filter spam texts automatically, here's what you need to do. 

On iPhone, open Settings and click on "Messages." Scroll until you see the "Filter Unknown Senders" and activate the setting by swiping to the right. Now, all messages outside of your contact list will be send to the "Unknown Senders" tab under "Filters."

On Android, you can also stop spam texts by opening the Messaging app and clicking the three dots at the top-right of the screen. From there, click "Settings" and then "Spam Protection." In the next menu, scroll down to the "Enable Spam Protection" setting and activate it. If your phone is on an older version of Android or doesn't have this feature for some reason, you may need to install a third-party app. 

Certain carriers may also have spam blocking capabilities, such as Verizon's Call Filter, AT&T's Call Protect and T-Mobile's Scam Shield. Most are free, though you may need to pay for advanced capabilities.