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Woman shocked at phone bill

Six ways to stay in control of your phone bill

It’s one thing to be careful of your contents of your wallet. But if you’ve got your phone connected to your bank account, it’s important to be aware of how you use your phone too so you can avoid any shock bills. Don’t be one of the ones who are caught out.

We asked Jo Prowse, CEO at PhonePayPlus, the UK’s independent regulator of phone services, for her tips on protecting your phone from bill shocks.

Spot the premium rate services

How often do you check your phone bill? If you’re like most people you sometimes do, and when you do you might spot charges for premium rate services.

Premium rate services are used to pay for digital content or services that get charged directly to your phone bill.

Charge to Mobile (also known as PayforIt, Operator billing or Direct-to-bill) offers one way to make small payments instead of using your debit or credit card or Paypal account for purchases on your mobile.

These can vary from in-app purchases (e.g. purchasing virtual items within games, such as coins or extra lives) to charity donations, voting in a TV show or entering quizzes and competitions.

Avoid phone bill surprises

To stay in control of your phone costs while enjoying the perks of digital content and services keep the following in mind:

  • Do look for the price - promotions need to make clear the costs involved before you call or text a premium number
  • Do pay attention to what you tap on - sometimes we’re so busy tapping away, we don’t always realise what we might be signing up to or purchasing
  • Do check your phone bill regularly - it should always be made clear to you before you enter your mobile number, or text to sign up, whether it's a subscription, or a one-off service
  • Do look up numbers you don’t recognize - If there’s a charge on your bill for a premium rate service you are unsure about, check with PhonepayPlus’ Number Checker to see who is providing the service
  • Do find out how you can leave a service if you want to - if you’ve signed up for a subscription service, the text message should indicate how you cancel your subscription. If it doesn’t and you wish to cancel the service, reply “STOP ALL” to the shortcode provided
  • Don't rush when downloading apps - read the "permissions" before installing to see if in-app purchases might be made after the app is installed.

This is a guest post from PhonePayPlus and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Money Advice Service. You can find out more about PhonePayPlus and more consumer advice over on their website


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