What should I watch out for?

    Most things in life cost something. So while the web is mostly free, many websites make money from signing you up to products, services and digital goods.

    Sometimes, we’re so busy clicking away, we don’t always realise what we might be signing up to. If you don’t look for the signs, you could end up paying for something on your phone you didn’t want to.

    Here’s what to watch out for:

  • Ener to win

    Anything asking for your phone number

    Think of your phone as being like a credit card: if you give out the number, you can be charged.

    Unless you are really confident you know how a website will use your number, don’t enter it online.

  • Win win win

    Quizzes, Prizes, Competitions – "Win the latest phone!"

    "Win a new tablet or phone!", Don't be tempted by something that sounds good to be true – it probably is.

    When you come across adverts claiming you can win prizes, be careful if you enter them, and never give out your phone number.

  • Installing apps

    Installing apps

    Some mobile apps including games can send text (SMS) messages from your phone to a premium rate number. So before you click that download button to get your app,

    • make sure you check what the app really does!
    • don’t download apps from non-trusted app stores
    • always check the list of “app permissions” before you download

    Some apps may offer something simple such as a wallpaper or ways to personalise your phone. These may place icons, adverts and messages on your phone to encourage you to sign up to something.

  • Games

    Gaming, buying credits and unlocking new levels

    Earning coins, credits or other currencies for your favourite games and apps can sometimes get you to sign up to things you don’t intend to and in some cases, cost you money on your phone. Always be careful!

  • Adverts


    You may see ads on your desktop, on your mobile phone home screen, in an app, on a website and on social networks.

    Visiting a webpage may open adverts.

    When you download software and apps, you may start to notice ads on your desktop or phone, as well as advertisement icons and messages.

  • Profile

    Posts and media on social networks

    Facebook and other social networks are great for sharing with friends. But sometimes, you’ll see post or ads that look like they are from your friends, but they are not, they are ads.

    It’s not just Facebook – social media sites such as a YouTube, Twitter and Tumblr contain posts advertising services charged to a phone.

    • Not something a friend would say? It might be best to avoid it.
    • Too good to be true, such as a prize or free cheats? Steer clear!
    • Facebook apps – understand what you are getting and what control the app has over your account. For example, some apps can post to your feed on your behalf.
  • SPAM emails and text messages

    SPAM emails and text messages

    SPAM emails and texts may come from someone you don’t know or mailing lists you don’t recognise. They may contain web links, offer something too good to be true and are targeted often at over 18s.

    If you receive a SPAM text, do not reply and don’t click on any links. Find out from your phone network if you have been charged to receive it. Follow this link, if you’ve been affected.

  • Fake webpages

    Fake webpages

    When clicking on a search result, check the page that loads is the genuine page that you expected. You can look at the URL in the address bar to check. There are some fake pages that look very similar to the websites they pretend to be! These may mislead people to sign up to phone charges they don’t want.

  • Phone search

    Looking for something online?

    Want something quickly and for free? Accessing something for free online which is often paid for (films, games) can sometimes not only be breaking the law, it could also end up costing you money. If you are asked to enter your phone number before you can access the thing you are looking for, it may charge your phone for unlocking the film or download.

  • Downloading


    Always download software and apps from trusted sources and know exactly what you are downloading before you do.

    Updating software? If you see a message telling you to download or upgrade software, do a bit more research and only download from official sources.

  • Need help?

    When a problem occurs online or on a smart-device, you need to know where to go.