Premium Rate Content & in-app purchases
Buying content for your phone - apps
Mobile phone downloads and apps are very popular among young people and are easily available from websites and online services such as Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
Often when one emerges it can quickly becomes ‘the thing’ to have and talk about in the playground. A lot of popular apps are free to download, but this does not mean they won’t charge you later on – many games are free up to a point, before then asking for a payment in order to continue onto the next level or to access additional features.
When involved in the game and eager to progress further, it’s easy for a child to click to ‘pay and continue’ despite any messages asking them to confirm this, and for them not to consider the cost. The charge of ‘playing on’ or getting to the next level may be less than a pound per time, but this can mount up very easily. Some transactions can cost considerably more. You can read further information about apps and mobile devices in our Apps Hot Topic and our Parents' Guide to Technology.
Tips for avoiding in-app charges
Encourage your child to ‘think before they click’. Do they know exactly what they are clicking on? Do they know what the terms and conditions say and what this means in practice?
Talk with your children about what in-app purchases are and that buying virtual items or currency can actually cost real money.
Make sure your child knows to check with the bill payer before buying anything from an app store or within an app.
Always check your bill for the credit/debit card or other payment method linked to the device and query anything strange
Buying content for your phone – premium rate services
There are a number of services available that allow users to sign up via their mobile phone number to download ringtones, music, video and other content. These are very popular amongst young people, but it is important to be aware that by signing up for the service, they may have signed up for a subscription. Rather than just paying one charge for access to new content, they could be charged over and over again without realising.
Tips for avoiding premium rate service charges
- Encourage your child to ‘think before they click’. Do they know exactly what they are clicking on? Do they know what the terms and conditions say and what that means in practice?
- Talk with your children about what a premium rate service is, how it could affect them and what the hidden costs are.
- Make sure your child knows to check with the bill payer before buying anything or using a premium-rate service.
- Always check your phone bill and query anything strange.
- Look up any numbers or services that appear on your bill that you don’t recognise.
Read more top tips from Phone Brain, an organisation that helps Ofcom regulate premium rate services. Their helpful guide to prevent your child from buying premium rate content on their phone is also good to read.