ONE has received a lot of queries recently about premium SMS Services, so we wrote this article to explain the dangers of Premium SMS, and how you can avoid running up large bills.
What is Premium SMS?
Premium SMS are message services provided by third party content providers or service providers.
They require the mobile phone user to send a message to a premium number (such as a 19 or 190 number) in order to receive a response message back. These responses usually contain multimedia content or confirmation of enrolment into a program or subscription.
On other occasions, you may enroll into a Premium SMS subscription via an online promotion (popular examples are advertisements for dating and matchmaking found on Social Networking websites), and you can even sign up over a phone call (usually through an automated message system).
Enrolling into an SMS program the user is giving the company permission to charge premium rate charges for all the messages that they send to them. Even though the SMS is being received by the user, they will be charged a premium rate by the company that they have enrolled with.
Premium SMS messages generally relate to:
- Voting lines for TV services
- Dating and Adult Services
- Ringtones, Mobile games
Some premium service providers send multiple messages, and the services are charged on a per-message basis, so therefore if a provider charges $4.95 per message, and they send three messages, the total charges are $14.85 plus the original cost to initiate the receipt of premium SMS messages.
Why do people use SMS, what are the traps?
People use Premium SMS for all sorts of reasons, and often the use of the premium SMS is a once-off charge for say, entry into a competition.
Other times users subscribe to receive multimedia objects such as Ring-tones, mobile games, videos, music and more.
Unfortunately there are occasions where users may unwittingly subscribe, or may be enticed to send a message to a premium SMS service promoted on the television, where the promoter of the service may not be forthcoming with the fine-print. Fine print often includes a regular subscription, ,where a premium SMS is sent back to the subscriber on a regular basis (and on some occasions, many messages are sent on a daily basis) resulting in high phone bills.
What are the costs associated with Premium SMS?
Premium SMS incurs per-use charges. The charges depend on the promoter/operator engaging in the sending of SMS or content delivery.
On some occasions, the Premium SMS may involve a single 55c fee, and other occasions, the mobile user may subscribe to regular subscription, with multiple charges of up to $5.50 per message.
In addition to the cost of the message, there may be other data charges associated with use of your mobile service (such as mobile data/internet) to retrieve the content you’ve subscribed for (such as video, games and ringtones etc).
How do I find out which Premium SMS Provider I’m subscribed to?
If you are receiving messages that you suspect are premium SMS (eg: originating from 19 numbers, appear promotional in presentation, or include multimedia content), you can look up the number on http://19sms.com.au/ and it will provide you with the name of the content provider.
How do I stop premium SMS
If you are receiving Premium SMS messages that you have subscribed to, and you wish to end that subscription, then you should send a message back to that number with the single word STOP inside the message. The provider will then be legally obliged to stop sending you the messages.
Some content providers may also have a phone number you can call to request removal from a Premium SMS subscription.
How do I avoid running up high bills with Premium SMS?
The best way to prevent large bills is to ensure that only you have access to your mobile phone, and you use caution when sending messages to premium 19 numbers.
Always read the fine print, and if you’re unsure, or if the promoter does not seem reputable, then the best option is to not send the message in the first place, and seek other forms of communication or access (such as the Internet or E-mail).
You may also request your ONE Mobile service to have Premium SMS blocked. You should call our customer service team on 1800 222 256 if you wish to have Premium SMS blocked.
Where can I get more information?
For more information about your ONE account and Premium SMS, refer to myONE Mobile Access Features
Another great source is the ACMA Website: ACMA Mobile Premium Services Page – Information for consumers
See also 19SMS – Lookup for Premium SMS Vendors