Press

Our Press team can be contacted on 0207 940 7440 from Monday to Friday or emailed at pressoffice@psauthority.org.uk. We do not offer a 24-hour press office, but if you leave a message we will return your call. 

Please note that the Press team only handles enquiries from the media. Any enquiries from consumers will not be forwarded.

Media centre

Our media centre includes information for journalists to use in articles and for their understanding of the PSA and its role, including portrait shots of chairman and chief executive.

What are phone-paid services?

Phone-paid services are additional services that you pay for using a phone bill. Your phone has a payment account attached to it, and you can make purchases this way. 

The phone-paid services market was worth £646.1 million in 2019-2020, and in the same year we estimate 52% of the UK population (aged 16 or above) used at least one phone-paid service.

Common examples of phone-paid services include TV voting lines, charity text donations, competitions, music streaming, in-app content and game downloads. It also includes services that have been established for longer, like directory enquiries and chatlines. 

A lot of major brands use phone-paid services, for example Spotify, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Google. Large charity fundraising events – for example Comic Relief and The Big Night In – also use donation via text.

What is the Phone-paid Services Authority?
The Phone-paid Services Authority, or the PSA, is the regulator of content, goods and services, charged to a phone bill. 

The PSA’s role is to make sure that consumers are protected when paying for phone-paid services and it acts in the interests of consumers. In the last financial year (FY 2019/20), the PSA received 13,914 complaints from consumers about phone-paid services.

The PSA brings enforcement action against phone-paid service providers that break the rules. In 2020, the PSA’s independent Tribunal heard 17 cases, issued over £2.6 million in fines against companies that broke the rules, and banned 16 companies and individuals from the market.

Consumer advice
Here is some general advice for consumers about avoiding unexpected phone charges and what to do if you find one. If you require any consumer advice on a specific issue, please email the PSA’s press team on pressoffice@psauthority.org.uk who will be happy to provide this.

  • Tips to avoid unexpected phone charges
    When browsing the internet using your phone, be aware that you can charge content to your phone bill. Be careful what you click on – be that ads, pop-ups or links. And make sure you read all the Terms & Conditions and understand what you’re doing if you do want to make a purchase using your phone bill, to ensure you’re not inadvertently signing up for a recurring charge.

    When you ring a phone number, it’s worth checking what it starts with. Official helplines usually begin 01, 02, 03 and 080, which are either free or billed at low or standard rates. Numbers starting 09, 087, 084 and 118 are billed at premium rates – rates higher than standard rates. The service charge for these numbers varies between a maximum of 7p per minute for numbers beginning 084 up to £3.60 per minute for numbers beginning 09.  

  • What to do if you find a charge on your phone bill that you weren’t expecting
    Check your phone bill regularly and make sure you understand what is on your bill.

    If you find an unexpected charge on your phone bill from a phone-paid service, contact the company that runs the service first. You can also use our Service Checker or contact your telephone provider to find out the contact details of the service provider.

    You can also contact your mobile network if you need further information about charges, or to ask them to block all premium-rate charges to your account (though be aware that this can prevent you from accessing services that you do what).

    If you’ve taken these steps and still need help, get in touch with us. You can submit an enquiry online at www.psauthority.org.uk or call us on 0300 30 300 20 (Monday - Friday, 9.30am – 12.30pm).

    Before you call us, make sure you have the name of the service provider or their phone number, a copy of the text message confirming the charge/subscription (if applicable), and any other information that might help us identify the service.

Glossary/definitions:

The amount you are charged for a premium rate voice call is split into two elements – the service charge and the access charge. The access charge is charged by and goes to a consumer’s network provider to pay for the delivery of the service over their network, for example BT, Vodafone or O2, and for premium rate numbers can be up to 55p per minute.
The PSA’s Code of Practice sets out its rules and regulations that phone-paid service providers must follow. The PSA is currently developing its 15th Code of Practice.
Directory enquiry numbers begin with 118 and are designed to provide assistance obtaining listed phone numbers. Perhaps the most well-known directory enquiry service is 118 118. BT and Yell also run 118 directory services and there are many more less well known services registered with the PSA.
This stands for Information, Connection and/or Signposting Services. These are premium rate services which provide telephone numbers for connecting consumers to specific companies and organisations, such as HMRC, and/or which provide information, advice and/or assistance relating to such specific organisations. The service charge for calling an ICSS can be as much as £3.60 per minute. Access charges (see above) are applied to ICSS in addition to the service charge.
The company that owns and operates a mobile telecoms network and provides services to the consumer. There are four MNOs licensed by Ofcom to operate in the UK - EE, Three, Vodafone and O2.
Companies that provide mobile services to consumers using the network of one of the four MNOs – examples include Giff Gaff, Sky Mobile, Tesco.
These are numbers where the service charge (see below) is higher than the standard rate. Premium rate numbers begin with 084, 087, 09 and 118.
The amount you are charged for a premium rate voice call is split into two elements – service charge and access charge. The service charge is the charge for the service and goes to the service provider (minus any revenue shared with the network operator and other parties involved).
The company providing the service that the consumer is charged by, for example a gaming service or music streaming service.
A service which incurs a recurring premium rate charge, for example £3 being charged to a phone bill every week.
Tribunals (Code Adjudication Tribunals) hear enforcement cases brought against companies by the PSA. The Tribunal decides whether the company has breached its Code of Practice, how serious the breaches are and what the appropriate sanctions should be.