Country Focus: UK

As you know by now, premium rate services are a form of micro-payment to pay for content, data services and other value added services. Subsequently they are charged to your telephone bill.

Usually operate on numbers beginning 09, 118, 087 or five or six digit mobile voice and text shortcodes.

Phone payment is a popular and easy way of paying for a range of content, goods and services, including music subscriptions, games, donations to charity and voting on TV talent shows. You should not be charged for any phone-paid service without your consent.

Big brands like Apple, Google, Spotify, Sony, ITV, Heart, Capital FM, Children in Need and Comic Relief all offer services you can pay for through your phone bill. 

Don’t ignore texts from companies that have charged you
Service providers like Apple, Google or Spotify are required to inform you of any charges. These messages aren’t spam!  It’s important to read them and understand them. Also bear in mind: you can text the service provider to stop charges, but don’t just hit reply. Text ‘STOP ALL’ to the number which they have given you.

The premium rate industry in the UK incorporates a diverse number of services, such as:

  • Directory Inquiries;
  • 087 business information lines;
  • Mobile games;
  • Competitions and quizzes;
  • Charity donations;
  • Adult entertainment; and
  • Chat services. 

To avoid unexpected charges, make sure you:

  1. Watch what you click on: Be careful of pop-up ads, buttons, and other promotions when browsing the internet, especially on a phone or tablet. Look out for the Ts & Cs. Not everything is free, and some purchases are subscriptions.
  2. Don’t ignore texts from service providers: Companies making charges to your phone bill are required to inform you of charges. These messages aren’t spam! It’s important to read them and understand them. Also bear in mind: you can text the company to stop charges, but don’t just hit ‘reply.’ Text ‘STOP ALL’ to the number which they have given you in the text message. This may not be the same number as the number the message came from – read the message carefully.
  3. Be careful when blocking texts: If you’re getting texts from the same number a lot, don’t assume it’s spam. If you block the number, you may still be charged if the texts are for a phone-paid service. Blocking the texts won’t stop the charges, it just means you won’t get any information about them. 
  4. Ask your mobile network if they can help you stay in control of charges: Your mobile network operator can provide you with information about unexpected charges. They can also stop any more phone-paid services from being charged to your phone bill. Be aware, however, that this might prevent you from using phone-paid services that you do want, such as in-app purchases, voting on TV talent shows, or donating to charity by text.  
  5. Know your numbers: Be aware that numbers starting 09, 087, 118 and some beginning 070 are charged at premium rates. Check the call costs before dialling if you can.
  6. It might not be you who signed up: Take care when handing your smart phone or tablet to children. Children may sign you up to charges without realising. 

What to look for on your bill:

  • SMS (mobile text) short codes: Mobile text short codes are usually 5 or 6 digits long and start with a 5, 6, 7 or 8. You can use the PPP service checker to find out more information about who has charged you.
  • Charges might be listed as ‘Payforit’, ‘Charge-to-mobile’, ‘Operator Billing’, ‘Direct Carrier Billing’ or ‘Google Play’ on your bill
  • Fixed line numbers; these include 118 numbers which are used for directory enquiries. 09, 087 and 084 numbers are often used for customer helplines, information and chat lines, and competitions or TV voting. Seeing these numbers on your bill might mean you’ve been charged for a phone-paid service.