We use cookies to make this website work better for you. Find out more

Why have I been charged?

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.

So, I can be charged on my phone without entering my bank details? Yes. Your phone is billed regularly, so it’s a payment account in its own right: think of it like a bank account or a credit card. Click to tweet

This means that when you use the internet, make calls to some numbers, download apps from an app store, use games and send higher rate texts on your phone, you can add the costs to your phone bill. This can be a convenient way to pay for things you want, but if you aren't aware that you've made a phone payment, it can be confusing.

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. Be careful when looking for customer helplines
    You can sometimes be connected to helplines for companies or government services via a third-party service that you’ve found online. A third-party service will charge to connect you to the helpline, even though it’s often free to call these helplines directly. Check the website that you’re using and the first number that comes up from a web search. Learn more about customer helplines.  
  6. 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.
  7. Take care when handing your smart phone or tablet to children
    Children may sign you up to charges without realising. The PSA has created Phonebrain for children and their family and carers to learn more about phone payment and how to avoid unexpected charges.

Want to know more?
Take a look at What are phone-paid services to learn more about phone-paid services and how they work.  The more you know about these services, the more you will be able to enjoy using the ones you like and be able to avoid the ones you don’t want.