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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, these are referred to as premium rate services. These range from older types of fixed line telephone services, to content purchased while using apps, charity text donations, and subscriptions to digital content. Big brands like Amazon, Spotify, Google, BBC, ITV, Global Radio, Children in Need and Cancer Research all use phone-paid services in one form or another.

Don't ignore texts from service providers
Service providers are required to contact you 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 give you.

There are many different types of phone-paid service available. Here's a quick guide to what they are and how they work:

There are a wide range of digital subscriptions available, including music streaming, videos, films and television programmes, and other types of content. Popular examples include Spotify, Apple Music, and some video streaming services. When these are charged to a phone-bill, they are counted as phone-paid services and covered by PSA regulation. Some of these are charged on a subscription basis. Find out more about subscription services.
Adult entertainment and chat services, restricted to over-18s, can also be charged through your phone bill. This can include chat lines, dating apps, and digital content. 
Directory enquiries are a long-established service type. Users call a number beginning 118 and are put through to an operator. They can provide information, another phone number, and onward connection. These calls can cost more than you think and providers can also charge additional fees if you choose to connect directly to the number you’re seeking. Consumers are advised to check pricing before making a Directory enquiries call – prices vary significantly.
Entrance to an online quiz or competition can be charged to your phone bill. Services are required by PSA rules to make it clear what these charges are and how they work. 
Some apps and websites now offer lifestyle services, including exercise information, diet and health tips, and other functions. These can also be charged to your phone bill, sometimes on a subscription basis. The pricing should be clearly stated. 
Mobile games are an extremely popular service type with many consumers. Some may include in-app purchases, where consumers are billed for extra content via an in-game mechanic. These charges can come to your phone bill and service providers are required to make it clear that consumers will be billed. This is also true if the game itself requires a subscription to access. 
Online and mobile gambling is increasingly popular. Age access should be limited to over-18s only, and wider rules for gambling services are set by the Gambling Commission. If the gambling service involves charges to a phone bill, this is covered by PSA regulation. It’s required that services make the nature of these charges clear to consumers. 
Many charities now accept donations by text. These have been a highly successful means of raising money for good causes. The PSA regulates them to ensure that the payment process works effectively. Donation lines are operated on short codes beginning 70xxx. If you agree to a recurring donation (for example, on a monthly basis), you have the option to skip donations. Just text SKIP to the relevant shortcode.

When you search for customer helplines or switchboards for well-known companies and public organizations, you may call via a third-party. We call these Information, Communication and Signposting Services (ICSS). These offer convenience and speed in finding numbers but can also be billed at premium rates. Services of this type on 09 or 087 numbers are regulated by the PSA. They are required to clearly state the pricing, explain the nature of their service, and make it clear that they are a third party on their website.

Call connection services: What are they and how to spot them

There are a range of information-based phone-paid services available. These can include chat lines, horoscope services, information about crosswords or competitions, weather forecasting, and a range of other sources of information or advice. All of these are regulated by the PSA and are required to label their pricing clearly.