How To Spot A Spam SMS & How To Avoid Them

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Customers may be familiar with email spam, the equivalent of junk mail, including the added danger of being a tool used by scammers to distribute viruses or obtain personal information. But scam also unfortunately exists in the mobile world, with spammers now making use of text messages to disturb unwitting mobile phone owners.  

Scam SMS’ are often disguised as legitimate text messages, and they are usually either someone promoting a product or service, or attempting to scam you into providing your personal information. If you’ve received a text message that doesn’t identify the sender or you didn’t consent to receiving, or the offer seems to good to be true, it’s likely to be a scam.

In this article, Chatti will help you identify the difference between scam v spam SMS and how to avoid them.


Scam SMS are usually sent automatically in bulk, often to randomly chosen or generated numbers. More often than not, you will be asked to respond to an ameail address or phone number that does not actually correspond with the supposed identify of the sender.

Spam texts are usually the initial stages of an outright scam, beginning to gain personal information by fraudulent means.

Sometimes scammers pose as financial institutions or a government agency like the ATO or they pretend you’ve won money in a lottery you didn’t enter and sometimes, you receive a notification regarding a delivery of something you actually didn’t order.


What It Looks Like:

  • Received from a suspicious number
    • Includes a suspicious link
    • Promises something that is too good to be true (some sort of prize / money)
    • Claims to be from the government, bank or even Australia Post
    • Message begins with 5-9 random lowercase letters or numbers, then saying you had a missed call, voicemail message or directs you to a website link


  • Do not reply
  • Do not provide any personal details
  • Do not click on any links
  • Do not show any interests in what the spammer is requesting or promoting
  • Do keep any unwanted SMS as you may need to refer to them later if you continue to receive messages and need to take further action


What It Looks Like:

  • Received from a legitimate business
    • Advertising a sale, offer or a business event
    • Doesn’t ask for personal details
    • Should include an option to unsubscribe or opt out


  • Unsubscribe or opt out from receiving communications from this business. It’s a legal requirement for businesses to make it easy to unsubscribe.
  • Report the organisation to the ACMA if spam texts continue after you’ve unsubscribed


If you continue to receive scam SMS even though you haven’t responded, we suggest actioning the following steps:

  1. Make a complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
    1. You can forward spam texts directly to the ACMA at 0429 999 888. You will receive an acknowledgement SMS in reply including a reference number if you wish to make further enquiries or compaints
    1. Note, contacting the ACMA won’t actually stop the unwanted messages immediately, but it will help with investigations that may lead to the spammer being shut down.
  2.  Report the messages to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)
    1. The ACCC would like all unsolicited messages to be reported to its “SCAMwatch” service via the SCAMwatch website, or calling 1300 795 995.
  3. Block the number
    1. Blocking a phone number will also prevent phone calls from that number.

*Sources: Australian Communications and Media Authority, Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, SCAMwatch*

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