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Premium texts that cost you money - what to do if you receive one

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Nov 7, 2016

People signing up for premium-rate text messages without realising it is a constant problem we come across at A Spokesman Said.

You receive a text you know nothing about and end up paying through the nose for the privilege.

This is an absolute scam and every mobile phone user should be aware of the danger and how to ensure they don’t fall victim.

One thing’s for sure, the network operator won’t be a great help in either stopping the texts or helping you get your money back.

The problem has been highlighted this time by Dr William Wallace, who has lodged a complaint with us about premium texts he’s received from Oxygen 8.

Dr Wallace has had to pay £7.50 for receiving the texts.

The pattern is all too familiar.

People who receive these ‘reversed billed’ texts can usually spot them as the number texted from is shorter than normal with just four, five or six digits.

Those who receive them have usually unwittingly oped to receive them by failing to tick or untick a box or otherwise giving permission when signing up for a game, a gambling site, competitions or weather updates.

They may also receive them after downloading an app with permissions to send these text messages.

So always check the permissions when you download an app, especially from an unknown source.


What to do if you receive a premium SMS

Be on the lookout for texts from these short numbers – they’ll usually cost you £1.50 a pop – and text back ‘Stop’ or ‘Stop all’ but nothing else.  

Keep the message and your reply in case more still come.

If the messages continue, first complain to the company that’s sending them – this is one thing your network provider can help you with.

They can provide you with the name of the company.

Failing that, you can check the number with the PSA Number Checker – the PSA is the Phone-Paid Services Authority.

You should complain in the first instance to the company that sent you the text, but if, like Dr Wallace, you get nowhere trying to reach an outfit like Oxygen 8, then contact the PSA.

This is the regulator for content, goods and services, charged to a phone bill.

They have a free number –  0300 30 300 20.

If you complain and they decide a service is misleading, you may get a refund, but if you did actually sign up, even without realising it, you’re unlikely to get your money back.

Make sure you name and shame the company on A Spokesman Said to warn others. 


Prevent getting more calls and texts in the future

Finally, contact your network provider and ask them to block all premium numbers on your phone.

There's more tips in our guide on unexpected phone charges; if you're receiving cold calls, here's how to block them