Apple’s iMessage is a big boon to regular senders of text messages, especially those who use the service to communicate with their families and circles of friends, colleagues, and clients. For one thing, iMessage is free of charge, since it works over Wi-Fi or cellular data and messages sent through the service, aka iMessages, do not count against users’ text messaging plans with their carriers. For another, iMessage can be used with email addresses as well as phone numbers. But for the same reasons, iMessage is also a boon to text spammers and scammers. It’s not uncommon, then, for legitimate iMessage users like us to receive iMessage junk, such as texts promoting certain products and more malicious messages that are meant to defraud recipients.
Its being free of charge and usable with email addresses as well as phone numbers makes iMessage conducive to spam, but there are easy ways to fight back
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to filter out iMessages from unknown senders, or people who are not saved in your contacts list and are most likely to send you iMessage spam or scam messages. What’s more, there’s an easy way to report iMessage junk to Apple, so that iMessage accounts belonging to purveyors of iMessage spamming and scamming will eventually be blocked from the service.
Filter out iMessages from unknown senders
By default, the Messages app on iOS displays a single list of all message threads, regardless of whether these threads contain SMS texts or iMessages and regardless of whether they involve saved contacts or unknown senders. And for most users, this setup is all right.
But if you find that you’re frequently on the receiving end of iMessages from unknown senders, and you want to view them separately from iMessages from your contacts and messages sent through SMS, just follow these quick and easy steps.
Note: These steps are applicable only to devices running iOS 8.3 or later.
Launch the Settings app from the home screen of your iOS device.
Find the option labeled Messages and tap it.
Find the option labeled Filter Unknown Senders and tap the switch for it to turn it on.
There is no Step 4.
That’s it. You’re now ready to separate the wheat from the chaff in the Messages app. When you open Messages, you’ll see two category tabs: one labeled “Contacts & SMS,” for iMessages from your contacts and messages sent through SMS, and another one labeled “Unknown Senders,” for iMessages from senders not saved in your contacts.
In the Unknown Senders tab, you can sift through the iMessages to see which are junk and which are texts from legitimate senders like clients, customers, and friends whose numbers or email addresses are not saved in your contacts.
Important Clarification: The Unknown Senders tab shows iMessages only; SMS messages from unknown senders are included in the Contacts & SMS tab. Note that iMessages are indicated with blue chat bubbles while SMS messages are indicated with green ones.
Important Caveat: When Filter Unknown Senders is turned on, you won’t get notifications for iMessages from unknown senders. So it’s probably best to keep Filter Unknown Senders off if you frequently receive legitimate iMessages from senders not saved in your contacts, such as clients and customers.
Report iMessage junk to Apple
While going through the iMessages in the Unknown Senders tab, you may see something that reads like spam or looks like it’s meant as a scam. In that case, you’re probably just going to delete the iMessage and leave it at that. But you should know that you can do more. Specifically, you can report the iMessage as junk by sending it to Apple.
There are two ways to report iMessage junk to Apple: the involved way and the straightforward way.
The involved way
The involved way requires you to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org that includes the following information: a screenshot of the message, the phone number or email address from which the message was sent, and the date and time the message was received.
The straightforward way
The straightforward, and hence recommended, way simply requires you to tap the “Report Junk” link right below the iMessage and tapping the “Delete and Report Junk” option on the pop-up menu that appears. Doing so lets you effectively delete the message and send the message content and information along with the sender’s phone number or email address to Apple, in hopes of ridding iMessage of at least one spammer or scammer.
Report iMessage junk to Apple the quick and easy way.
Note: The “Report Junk” link shows up on iMessages that you receive from unknown senders even when Filter Unknown Senders is turned off. However, like the Filter Unknown Senders option, the “Report Junk” link is available only on devices running iOS 8.3 or later.