We are the UK regulator for content, goods and services charged to a phone bill.

What are phone-paid services?

Phone-paid services is the name given to all content, goods, or services charged to a phone bill. In law they are referred to as premium rate services.

Phone-paid services range from older types of telephone services like directory enquiries to newer services like in-app purchases, charity text donations and subscriptions to digital content like games or music. Click to tweet

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.

There are many different types of phone-paid services and the PSA’s rules require that the cost of the service, and how the service works, are clear. Here's a quick guide to what phone-paid services are and how they work:

When you search the internet for the helpline numbers of well-known companies and public organisations, you might end up calling them via a third-party company on a 09, 087 or 084 number. We call these Information, Connection and Signposting Services (ICSS). These services can make it quick and easy for you to reach the organisation you need but can be more expensive than calling the company you want directly.

All ICSS services must clearly state the cost, explain what their service does, and make it clear that they are a third party, not the company you might have been looking for.

You can find more information about ICSS here: Call connection services: What are they and how to spot them

Many charities now accept donations by text. This is a great way to give money to good causes. Charities use short codes beginning 70xxx.You can also sign up to donate monthly. If you do this, you also have the option to skip donations by texting the word SKIP to the charity’s short code. You can find this in the text messages you would have received from the charity.

These can include chat lines, horoscope services, information about crosswords or competitions, weather forecasting, and a range of other information or advice. These services can be charged to your phone bill.  

If you are looking for a telephone number, you can call a number starting 118 for Directory Enquiries. They will provide you with the number you’re looking for and other information. These calls cost a lot more than normal phone calls.

Some Directory Enquiries services will give you the option to be connected directly to the number you wanted. You are likely to be charged for this on top of the cost of the initial call.

These can include music streaming services, videos, films and television programmes. Examples include Spotify and Apple Music. When these are charged to a phone-bill, they are phone-paid services. Some of these are charged as a subscription.. Find out more about subscription services.

There are now a lot of online and mobile gambling services. These can only be used by people over 18, and the cost and type of service must be made clear. If the gambling service involves charges to a phone bill, this is covered by PSA rules. There are also extra rules for gambling services that are set by the Gambling Commission.

Mobile games are a very popular service type. Some games may include in-app purchases, where you can choose to pay for extra content within the game with real money. These charges can be added to your phone bill. Service providers must make it clear that there is a cost. Sometimes access to games is charged on a subscription basis.

Some apps and websites now offer lifestyle services, such as fitness and exercise information, recipes, diet and health tips. These can also be charged to your phone bill, sometimes on a subscription basis.

You may have seen adverts offering you the chance to win prizes online. Sometimes you need to pay to enter, and that cost can be charged to your phone bill. These can be charged as a subscription.

Many popular TV programmes give you the option to vote for your favourite contestant, enter a competition, or get involved in some other way by texting or calling in. The numbers to call or text, and details about entering, are usually provided during the show. Examples of programmes that do this include Strictly Come Dancing, Love Island and Britain’s Got Talent. When you vote or enter the competition using your phone, you will receive charges on your phone bill.

Adult entertainment and chat services for over-18s only, can also be charged to your phone bill. These can include chat lines and dating apps.

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