SMS Spam from Emails

Here’s a cautionary tale with a happy ending. My wife’s iPhone has been getting disgusting and offensive spam texts for ages. I’ve done everything I could think of to block them and filter them. Not only were they showing up in Messages, they would show up on the lock screen. So she had to turn off Notifications for Messages, but then she wouldn’t get any of her messages from anyone.

I tried installing Malwarebytes, which promises to filter SMS spam, but it was doing nothing. It turns out the problem is that it’s not really coming from SMS, but they’re originating as emails being sent to her phone number, which is a huge loophole.

The solution for AT&T customers is to call their customer service number, ask for “Advanced Technical Support,” and tell them to turn off the Email-to-SMS gateway for the number. (Verizon, meanwhile, has a switch you can flip on their web site.)

I know it’s not primarily Apple’s problem, but they could have made this less of a problem by (a) providing more granular notifications control by letting us have VIP-only notifications or notifications only from people in Contacts and/or (b) providing some kind of spam filtering. Both of these are features of Mail and have been for ages.

I like all the whizbang features we keep getting in Messages, but I’d like some practical functionality like this as well. Messages is one of the marquee features of iOS and I would think this sort of thing would be a basic function.


I get this s**t all the time and it is infuriating.

Do you have a link to the Verizon page that does this? I have a Verizon phone in the U.S. and the blocking page I see only allow blocking up to 15 specific numbers and only for 30 days for each number.

How do carriers get access to your email in the first place?

It’s spammers, not carriers. This is not about your email account, is about spammers sending messages like: (for Verizon accounts) – this sends an SMS message via Verizon to a phone.

A spammer can generate millions of emails like that in minutes — all they have to do is hit a few numbers that are “live” and that respond with the click-through URL that these messages always contain.

Oh! I read that as your email being forwarded to SMS instead of email being sent to your number, which makes more sense. Pre-coffee moment :grin:

Sorry, I don’t. I’m an AT&T customer, but kept hearing from Verizon people that they could do this on their own accounts.

I think you can do it from the Blocks page, and you can find that linked from Verizon’s FAQ here:

When I select my device and choose “Block emails and domains,” I have these two options:

  • Block all text messages sent from the web.
  • Block all text messages sent from email.

Maybe that will help.

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OK, found it now. Thanks @Helios.