Managing costs on your smartphone - advice from PhonepayPlus

Posted on 07 October 2014

We caught up with PhonepayPlus to hear about their top tips for using premium rate services safely and how to avoid accidentally running up big bills on your phone.


What is the role of PhonepayPlus?

PhonepayPlus is the UK regulator of premium rate services, this means any service that can be charged to a phone bill or pay-as-you-go account and can include app purchases, charity donations, quizzes, competitions or voting for TV shows.

We have a Code of Practice which is approved by Ofcom and we work to protect consumers.

You can buy a wide range of valuable content in very convenient ways and understanding the associated costs will prevent unwanted concerns.


What are your top tips for pay for by phone and what you should watch out for online?

  1. Check your phone bill and look for strange numbers or costs to stay on top of your phone bill payment. In case you spot anything unusual, you can check the number with our Number Checker to see if there is any information about the service.
  2. Treat your phone like your bank card – payments can be charged to your bill.
  3. Don’t give away your phone number if it doesn’t clearly state how your number will be used (when filling in forms, do ask how your number will be used).
  4. Pay attention to what you tap on when browsing webpages or social media; online promos can sometimes be misleading.
  5. Know the numbers you are dialling (premium rate numbers begin with 087x, 09xx or 118 xxx; premium rate text messages numbers that can charge you start with 6xxxx,7xxxx, 8xxxx) and only use them if you know the charges they will incur.
  6. Know how your child is using their mobile phone; educate and set limits to prevent issues (set up passcodes, prevent the giveaway of personal data, phone numbers or payment info, restrict access to certain websites)


What can I buy with my phone and what should I look out for?

There are several things to look out for when you use a premium rate service to make sure you are aware of the costs involved and here are a few examples:

Quizzes, prizes and competitions asking you to enter your mobile number, call a number or send a text message to enter or claim your prize

Tip: Read the small print and check what you are buying

Social media or mobile games where you are asked to ‘buy your way’ to the next level
Voting for entertainment shows (e.g. X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing) or charity donations 

Tip: Check with the bill payer before you text or call

Adverts on web pages, within apps or social media channels displaying ‘too good to be true’ services or products

Tip: If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Think before you click.

Spam texts or unsolicited calls that you get charged for receiving 

Tip: If you want to stop, text ‘STOP’ back.


Where can people go for more advice about these issues?

Very useful information and advice is available on our PhoneBrain website, specially created for young mobile users and their parents.

You can also get in touch with one of our advisors in case you have any queries on 0800 500 212* or online at


*Free of charge if you call from a landline; if you call from a mobile phone, check the charges with your provider

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