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This is the reason I rarely open Apple’s Messages app anymore

March 23rd, 2021 at 5:46 PM
Apple messages app

The SMS messages come with increasing regularity, almost daily now. The Apple Messages app on my iPhone stays loaded up with text messages from Amazon, generally informing me that I’m a winner in the day’s product raffle. All I have to do is click a link within the text message — a message, by the way, whose sketchiness is so embarrassingly obvious, down to the fact that they almost always mention a name other than my own (“Tara” being the supposed recipient of the latest dodgy missive). And the spammers couldn’t even bother to pretend I’d won Apple AirPods, instead of EarPods, like the most recent message says.

There was a time I could mark these messages as “Junk” within my iPhone’s Messages app, but I’m no longer presented with that option. Just a simple delete or block is the best I can do, with the latter being practically useless since the messages come from a different phone number every time. I’m far from alone in this problem — this Amazon link takes you to a question and answer page within where you’ll find a litany of customer complaints exactly like mine, from people likewise being spammed with these text messages. All of which is starting to make me suspect: Because robocalls got so pervasive in recent years, to the point that many of us stopped answering unknown calls altogether, it’s starting to feel like those spammers adjusted their tactics to reach us by text message now.

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This problem has gotten pervasive enough that the Better Business Bureau in recent days sent out an alert about the Amazon raffle announcement text scam. The text messages in question, the BBB warns, also include “instructions to click a suspicious link to arrange delivery of the item.

“Don’t click! The text message is not from Amazon and it is the latest in a long list of impersonation scams that have been happening since the start of the pandemic, often using Amazon’s brand. The bogus raffle and suspicious link are part of a con used to trick people into visiting a phishing website, where they unwittingly share account credentials as well as personal and financial information with fraudsters.”

Here’s an example of what these text messages look like, per the BBB:

Needless to say, this is one of the reasons Facebook’s Messenger app is a superior “texting” option, as far as I’m concerned. Do you know how much junk and how many spam messages have come to me through Messenger this week? None. Not last week either. And even when the odd spam messages or unwanted “hi how r u” arrives, Facebook simply routes that message to the app’s “Message Requests” folder (aka the other inbox nobody ever checks) without me having to be bothered with it.

This is not the only reason behind my preference for Messenger, which I wrote about in greater detail here. Messenger also does a better job, it seems to me, in terms of syncing across devices — plus, you don’t need to know someone’s phone number to send them a Facebook message the way you do with Apple’s Messages app, and you can also message businesses through Facebook Messenger, which I’ve found to be extremely helpful. But the spammy texts coming to my iPhone are a big part of the problem, having gotten so bad that it’s leading me to rarely open the Messages app on my iPhone anymore.

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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