You think the possibilities are endless — then you see it’s just junk, and the smile slips from your face. The average American gets about 15 spammy text messages per month, according to research from Statista. Tap or click here for ways to block spam messages on your phone. There’s another way to save yourself from the onslaught. If you’ve ever sighed at the sight of spam, you’ll love this. We found the biggest secret to throwing spammers off your trail.

The two words you shouldn’t say

Ever replied to a spam message with STOP or UNSUBSCRIBE? If so, you’re setting yourself up for even more annoyance. You think you’re putting an end to the noise, but you’ll just make it worse. Never respond to a text or email with these words. Spammers are hitting up tons of people in search of working contact information. When you interact, you’re saying, “Yes, this phone number belongs to someone!” That’s great news for them. It lets them know you’re a real person they should target more often. Instead, take these steps:

For an email: Mark as spam, then hit delete.For a text: Block the phone number and mark the message as spam. Then hit the delete button. 

You can also forward spam texts to 7726, which holds spammers accountable. It’s part of a centralized database that collects spam complaints. In other words, every time you forward a text to 7726, you help phone carriers crackdown on bad guys. Whether you use Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile or AT&T, forwarding texts to 7726 is part of your civic duty. Follow these steps if you have an iPhone: 

Find the spam message. Press down on it until a new menu pops up.Press More in the lower right. Then, tap on the arrow icon. Now you’ll see a forwarded message. Tap on the to field. Then, enter 7726 and send the message. 

Here’s what to do if you have an Android:

Hold down on the spam message.Hit the forward arrow.Send the message to 7726.

Now, you’re helping carriers recognize that number as malicious. If you want to go above and beyond the call of duty, you could contact the FTC and file a formal complaint. While this requires more time and effort, it’s a good way to fight against spammers. Consider it your good deed for the day.

Don’t forget to set up spam filters in your email inbox

We’ve all had this moment: You’re searching your inbox, and suddenly you see a weird ad for pills or another product you have no interest in. Or maybe someone reaching out with a substantial investment opportunity. Statista data found that spam emails accounted for almost 54% of e-mail traffic in March 2020. Most email services do a decent job of detecting spam messages, but you can help the sorting process by confirming or denying the automatic spam detection. When you get a spam message that wasn’t labeled as such, don’t just delete it. Hit the “report spam” button to train the algorithm to recognize these malicious messages better. You can even do the opposite if you find innocuous emails in the spam folder. Label it as “not spam.” This is a great way to set yourself up for success in the long run. Tap or click here for four other ways to put an end to email spam.

Follow these final tips to cut down on spam

Spam can be a huge annoyance, but you don’t have to accept it as inevitable. If you’re still getting countless messages that throw a wrench in your daily workflow, follow these steps from the Federal Trade Commission.

Create two email addresses: Use one for personal use and the other for things like shopping, newsletters, surveys and chat rooms. You may even want a disposable email address that forwards messages to your permanent address. This way, if spam starts to hit your extra email, your main hub is clean. Never display your email address in public: Scammers trawl social networking sites, forums and blogs for emails. If you do want to post your email address somewhere, write it out, so it’s hard for a bot to pick up, like “name at domain dot com.”Creating an account online? Read through the privacy policy: Some websites may sell your email address to third parties. You can find this in their privacy policy, so don’t skip it!Uncheck boxes for email updates: Sometimes, when you make an account on a website, you’ll be signed up for marketing emails. Check “no” on the boxes asking for permission to send you updates if you’re not interested. Otherwise, you’re looking at a bloated inbox.Use an original email address: Did you know spammers try to create probable name combinations? They’re always trying to come up with valid addresses for large email addresses. In other words, folks with common names are like magnets for spammers. Try to create a truly unique address that spammers won’t think up.

Remember, you should never interact with spammers. Since they shoot out millions of texts and emails every day, they may not know if your contact information is even valid. When you respond, that’s a green light for them to keep chugging towards you. For your own peace of mind, get off the tracks. MORE LIKE THIS: Is your email address spreading spam? Tap or click here to see if a Russian cybercrime operation has control of your account.