How to Handle Anonymous Text MessagesWe’ve all been there: getting a random text from an unknown number and not knowing what to do with it. Is it someone you know but just forgot to write down the number? Is it a friend trying to mess with you? Or is it a scammer targeting you? You pause, not sure what to do.
Relax, we got this. There are ways to handle this kind of situation without sacrificing your privacy but also making sure you don’t offend the person who is texting you (if that’s someone you know or who made a genuine mistake, of course). Here’s what you should and should not do when you get an anonymous text message.
What Not to Do
- Don't Ignore
Yes, we see you raising your eyebrows. This might be the most natural reaction to just ignore the message from an unknown sender. But hear us out: just because you don’t know the number, doesn’t mean you can ignore the message. After all, it can be your boss or the love of your life. Not to mention that it’s just plain annoying not to get a reply to your text.
- Don't give any personal information
Even if we think that now knowing the person who is texting you is not a reason to be rude or ignore them, doesn’t mean you have to be naive. If someone is asking you for any personal details such as a phone number of a “common” friend, your ID number or anything to do with your bank account (duh!), make sure you find out who it is first.
- Don't click any links that were sent to you
We would not recommend this even if you know the sender. In case the message seems even a little bit weird, do not click any links before you make sure that it’s really your friend sending you the link. We’ve heard many stories of scammers hacking into people’s phone to take advantage of those not careful enough, and it’s not pretty.
- Don't ask someone else call or text them to find out who it is
This is simply a childish and disrespectful behavior. If you didn’t have the number by mistake, the sender can be seriously offended by you asking someone else to contact them. Man up and use a different approach!
What to Do
- Opt out
If you became a subscriber of any kind of text messaging service without knowing, opt out! Many supermarkets, airports or online services use the details you provide for the free WiFi or client card registration to send you their news and offers later. Adding you to any kind of text message subscription without your consent is illegal and you have the right to opt out any time. If you have no idea how you got on that list or even what this service is, we suggest you do so immediately. Usually, all you need to do is type “unsubscribe” or “stop”.
- Sync your contacts
There’s a chance that you have this contact on your Facebook or email. Sync your contacts to make sure that you didn’t lose any when switching to a new phone or an app.
Here’s how you can do it on the onoff App:
- Use an excuse of having a bad connection and ask to send an email
This is a no-brainer, really. It is easier to identify a person who is sending you an email. You can find out who is texting you. If they say they don’t know your email, give them your backup address, just to avoid confusion if it’s someone you don’t want to talk to.
- Ask friends who might know
If you’ve had a wild night with a group of friends and in the morning get messages from an unknown number, your friends might have a better idea who it is. But please, do not post it on social media and ask if anyone know the number. If you have the sender on your friend list, that will be just awkward.
- Use an excuse of losing your phone
This is such a cliché, but it is a cliché for a reason. If you’re afraid to offend the sender by admitting that you don’t have their number, say you have lost your phone. Chances are they won’t believe you, but it will make the situation a bit less awkward.
- Ask to send you a photo
That’s an option for those situations when you got the name but still have no clue who’s texting you. It’s difficult to continue a conversation not knowing if it’s your colleague Mike or that Mike from Tinder. It’s time to admit your phone is a mess and be honest.
- Add them to your Contacts
Once you have identified the mysterious sender, make sure you add their number! We know people who systematically forget to add a new contact and keep asking everyone who texts them who it is. Don't be that person!
Marta @ onoff