Does it ever feel like text spammers are getting better at their jobs? That's because they are.
Text message spam is increasing across the United States, and it's quickly becoming difficult to escape. While carriers and phone providers are cracking down on text spam, there are still a lot of fake text messages flying around.
As part of our efforts in the war on spam, we've taken it upon ourselves to round up the most up-to-date information on the state of spam, including how to prevent becoming a victim of text phishing.
Topics featured in this statistical roundup include:
Why Are Spam Texts Increasing?
The TRACED ACT
On Dec. 30, 2019, former President Trump signed a bill called the TRACED Act. This bill put rules and requirements in place to deter criminal robocall violations, but many scammers are working around this bill by sending out text messages instead. Some of the requirements include:
- The FCC must require voice service providers to develop call authentication technologies.
- The FCC must initiate a rulemaking to protect a subscriber from receiving unwanted calls or texts from a caller using an unauthenticated number.
- The FCC must implement consumer protections for exempted classes of robocalls.
What Are Authorities Doing to Fight Text Spam?
With spam texts on the rise, authorities, carriers, and communication services are taking a few different measures to crack down on spam. One of these measures (the one that will affect our customers the most) is the decision to require all toll-free numbers to be registered.
The toll-free verification process is not currently required, but we expect it to be in the coming months. The process is designed to reduce unwanted messages and spam, which is something we already strive for at Text-Em-All and the reason 70% of our existing toll-free numbers are already registered.
Is Text-Em-All Doing Anything to Fight Text Spam?
At Text-Em-All, we've made the conscious decision to stand up against bad traffic not because there's some business incentive hidden somewhere. Quite the opposite, in fact. Our Customer Experience team says "no" to new business on an almost hourly basis when parties call in asking how to get started with spamming their call lists.
We do this to try to make a real difference in the lives of those who need to communicate with their audiences.
- We're standing for our users who are sending messages people want to receive.
- We're standing for what we believe is right.
- We're standing to help people communicate.
Spam Statistics for 2022
You're probably wondering how bad the text spam problem actually is, and after reviewing the stats, we can honestly say that it's pretty bad. Not convinced? Take a look at our up-to-date statistics on the state of text spam.
How Often Do People Get Spam Texts?
Over the last year, on average, there have been:
- 376,032,773 spam texts per day
- 2,632,229,413 spam texts per week
- 555,467,785 spam texts on weekends
- 261,133 spam texts per minute
The top 5 states that received the highest amount of text spam in 2021 were:
- Texas: 10,095,771,312
- California: 9,093,288,416
- New York: 7,866,422,408
- Florida: 4,711,701,088
- Ohio: 4,004,379,666
However, the top 5 states that received the highest text spam per capita in 2021 were:
- West Virginia: 515
- Idaho: 491
- New York: 483
- Texas: 422
- Nevada: 420
Sources: Robokiller 1, Robokiller 2
Are Spam Texts on the Rise?
Spam texts are definitely on the rise. While COVID-19 and the TRACED Act have contributed to the rising text spam rates, the growth of technology is also making it even easier for individuals to get scammed. Here are some comprehensive statistics on the growth of text spam in the last few years:
- In March 2022, spam texts rose 28% from February 2022 and increased by 1,024% from April 2021.
- In 2021, spam texts rose by 58%.
- In 2020, the average number of spam texts received by an individual was 14.7. The average rose 15% in 2021 to 16.9.
- Scam text messages outpaced scam calls in 2021. While there were 72.2 billion scam calls in 2021, there were 87.8 billion scam texts.
- In March 2022, text spam growth outpaced robocall growth. While robocalls rose 20%, text spam rose 30%.
- 38% of individuals received a suspicious text message in 2021.
- A 328% increase in smishing attempts was tracked in the third quarter of 2020 as the move to work from home pushed more people onto their phones.
- The Federal Communications Commission saw a nearly 146% increase in the number of complaints about unwanted text messages in 2020.
Sources: Axios, New York Times, Proofpoint, Truecaller, Statista, Robokiller 1, Robokiller 2
Which Types of Text Scams Are Most Common?
The top 5 text scams of 2021 were:
- Delivery: 23,076,811,343 (26.3%)
- Covid-19: 5,696,455,112 (6.5%)
- Bank: 3,071,087,772 (3.5%)
- Apple + Hardware Sweepstakes: 2,601,735,612 (3%)
- Healthcare: 1,060,272,839 (1.2%)
Is Falling for Text Scams Common?
- 59.4 million Americans have fallen victim to a phone scam in the past 12 months.
- Only 65% of Americans said they would delete a text they received from an unknown number.
How Much Money Are People Losing from Text Scams?
- In 2021, it's estimated scam texts cost Americans over $10 billion.
- In 2020 alone, scam texts cost Americans $86 million.
- From January 1, 2020, to April 14th, 2022, people have lost $16.01 million to text scams related to Covid-19 and Stimulus.
- From January 1, 2020 to April 14, 2022, 25,859 individuals aged 30-39 lost $91.2 million in fraud related to Covid-19 and Stimulus, and 21,124 individuals aged 60-69 lost $165.8 million.
Sources: FTC, NPR, Robokiller
How Much Money Are People Losing to Scams and Fraud Overall?
- In 2021, the average reported loss was $502 - up from $351 in 2020. This is the highest average amount of money lost to phone scams.
- In 2021, 2.8 million people filed reports and one in four (25%) described losing money.
- In 2021, individuals lost more than $5.8 billion to fraud — a $2.4 billion jump in losses in one year.
- In 2021, imposter scams, where someone pretends to be a trusted person or business, led to losses of $2.3 billion.
Sources: FTC, Truecaller
Who is most likely to fall for scams?
- While people aged 0-39 are most likely to fall for these scams, people aged 60-69 are most likely to lose the most money.
- People ages 20-29 reported losing money to fraud more often than people ages 80 and over. While younger people lost money 41 percent of the time they experienced fraud, older adults lost money only 17 percent of the time. But when older people did lose money, they lost a median amount of $1,500, or three times the median amount younger people lost.
- From June 2020 to June 2021, 59.4% of those who have been a victim of a phone scam were men and 38.3% were women. The rest, 2.3% of those who participated, identified as non-binary or preferred not to reveal their gender.
Sources: FTC, Truecaller
Are Many Spam Text Messages Covid-Related?
- 59% of Americans have received spam calls and/or unwanted text messages related to COVID-19 between June 2020 and June 2021.
Are Text Scams More Common Than Other Kinds of Scams?
- According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, 21% of fraud reports that were filed in 2021 involved smshing – that’s 377,840 out of the total 1,813,832 reports that identify a contact method.
How Are Scammers Targeting Organizations and Companies?
- 74% of organizations faced smishing attacks in 2021, versus 61% in 2020.
- 10% of organizations in the U.S. received over 100 text phishing attacks in 2021.
Sources: Proofpoint, Venturebeat
How Aware of Text Phishing are Consumers?
- When asked, “what is phishing?” — 53% of workers answered correctly in 2021, down from 63% the year before. The same question about smishing yielded correct answers 23% of the time (down from 31% in 2020).
- Only 30% of organizations in the U.S. cover text phishing attacks in their security awareness training program.
How to Block or Report Spam Texts
Once you receive a spam text, it's important to either block or report the number. This will protect yourself, and may save others from phishing attempts.
When it comes to reporting spam texts, you have a few different options.
1. Block or Report Spam Texts on Your Phone
How to block spam text messages on your iPhone:
1. Open the conversation in your Messages app.
2. Select the name or number at the top of the message.
3. Scroll down, and click Block this Caller.
You can view and manage your list of blocked contacts and phone numbers by visiting Settings > Messages > Blocked Contacts.
How to block and report spam texts on your Android:
Androids now have built-in spam protection, but you have two options to block the texts if the spam text bypasses the security.
1. In the main menu, long-press the text. Select the "No" symbol, make sure "Report Spam" is enabled, and then select "OK."
2. To block the spam text from inside the chat, tap the three-dot icon in the top-right corner of the screen and select "Details." Select "Block & Report Spam," tick the "Report Spam" box, and press "OK."
2. Forward Texts to 7726
Forwarding the message to 7726 (SPAM) will notify your carrier so they can investigate.
3. Add Your Phone Number to the Do Not Call List
To add your phone number to the Do Not Call List, visit DoNotCall.gov.
4. Report the Spam Texts to the FTC and FCC
To report the message to the FTC, visit the website: ReportFraud.ftc.gov. From there, you'll answer a few questions about the type of message you received, how much money you sent the scammer, and details you have about the scammer.
To report a spam message to the FCC, you'll visit The Consumer Complaint Center. Here you'll be able to file a complaint about receiving spam messages, or if your phone number is being spoofed, blocked, or labeled as potential spam.
5. Enable Spam Protection on Your Mobile Device
If you have a smartphone, there may be apps you can download to prevent junk messages. These apps will often automatically block unknown callers or texters.
Other Common Questions About Spam Texts
The increase in text spam combined with the financial implications of text scams rightfully triggers nervousness in individuals. Here are some answers to some of the most-asked questions regarding spam texts.
What is a phishing text message?
A phishing text message is a spam text message designed to gather personal and financial information from its target. Phishing through text is also referred to as "smishing."
Can you get scammed by opening a spam text?
You cannot be scammed just by opening spam text messages. However, if you take further action in the text message, you could be at risk of getting scammed or hacked. The best rule of thumb to follow is to avoid engaging with or to filter unknown senders.
Can you tell if your phone is hacked or has malware?
Many of the signs that your phone has been hacked or has malware are obvious. These signs include bright and/or flashing pop-ups, text messages and calls sent from your phone that you did not make, a quick-draining battery, and apps exhibiting weird behavior.
Can you get hacked by answering a text message?
You can be hacked by answering fake text messages. Malware that can collect your personal or financial information may be installed if you respond to the text message. DO NOT respond to SMS spam.
What happens if I click a link in a phishing text?
If you click a link in a phishing text, malware, spyware or ransomware may be installed onto your mobile phone. If you've clicked a link in a phishing text, disconnect your device, back up your files, scan your system for malware, change your passwords, and set up a fraud alert. Read more about what to do after clicking on a phishing link here.
Can a spam text infect my phone?
As long as you do not respond to the text message or click on any links in the message, the spam text message will not be able to infect your phone.