What if I receive a text message and don’t know who it’s from?

If you receive a text message and don’t know who it’s from, don’t delete it.  Read it carefully as it may contain important information (such as a helpline number for the company who has sent the message).

If the message comes from a five-digit short code, you can use our online Service Checker to find out the name of the service and the name of the company providing that service as well as their contact details.

If the message does not help you to identify the sender, and there is no identifiable short code, call your mobile phone company to see if they have any information on the sender and whether it cost you anything to receive the message.

If you were charged for the text and don’t think you agreed to receive it, contact the premium rate service provider to raise the issue with them.

If the issue is not resolved by the premium rate service provider, contact ComReg. You will need the number that the text message came from and its contents when you make your complaint

Premium rate SMS/text services

Before you sign up to a premium rate SMS/text service, check that your handset is able to receive the service (not all handsets can receive all services offered e.g. video).

Also check whether you’re signing up for a one-off service (where you’re billed once) or whether you’re signing up for a subscription service (where you’re billed on a regular basis).

Companies providing subscription services must make it clear to you that you’re signing up for a subscription service and must supply you with the following details:

  • how many texts you will receive as part of the service,
  • how much each text received will cost, and
  • how you can stop the subscription

Entering competitions

Always check carefully to see if the competition you are entering has a free route of entry (postal, internet or similar), age or other restrictions, or any limitations that may make you ineligible to win a prize.

The advert says it’s free

Be careful!

  • Sometimes you get the first in a series for free or you get one for free if you buy something else.
  • Know what you are signing up to and read the terms and conditions carefully.
  • If you have asked for something that claimed to be free, keep the advert.
  • If it turns out that it isn’t free then contact the premium rate service provider to report your complaint.

Can I be charged for receiving a PRS text?

Yes. If you want to stop the charges and unsubscribe from the service, type the word STOP and text it to the mobile five-digit short code number associated with the service (note that a standard network charge will apply for this text).

Can I get a refund?

Firstly, you need to contact the premium rate service provider directly and discuss the matter with them. You may need to lodge a formal complaint with them and get a complaint reference number.

If you don’t get a satisfactory resolution, ComReg will investigate whether the company has breached the Code of Practice. If ComReg finds that there has indeed been a breach, we will request a refund on your behalf from the service provider and will advise you of this. However, we cannot insist that an operator provide a refund.

General advice and tips

  • Know how to recognise a premium rate service (‘PRS’). They either operate on ‘15xx’ numbers or five-digit short code numbers (e.g. 53XXX or 57XXX) for mobiles.
  • Always read the small print in any advertisement before deciding whether or not to take part.
  • Be wary of ‘free’ offers or fabulous prizes. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Be careful about who you give your telephone number to. Providing your number can sometimes mean that you are agreeing to a regular (subscription) service which may cost you more money.
  • Never respond to ads on your phone that you haven’t agreed to receive. Genuine companies don’t promote their services in this way.
  • Check you are old enough to enter a competition. You will always be asked to provide proof of your age, so even if you win, you cannot get the prize.
  • If you’re signed up to a subscription service on your mobile phone but want to quit, simply text the word STOP to the five-digit short code number associated with the premium rate service (please note that a standard network charge may apply for this text).
  • Keep an eye on your phone bill (or call credit) – talk to your phone company if there are any charges you don’t recognise. If you want to prevent premium rate calls being made from your phone or computer, speak to your phone company.
  • If your parent or guardian pays your mobile phone charges, check with them before you purchase any product or service.
  • Keep your phone private. Don’t give it to people that you don’t know.