Automatic Text Charges

Not Monzo-related but I appear to be a really uninformed chap on this topic.

So I was browsing the internet on my phone (nothing pornographic, as my colleagues are now joking about) and a new tab opened randomly as a popup and then closed and then I got a text message thanking me for signing up to a learning languages service for £4.50 per week.

I literally entered no details in any website at all. I immediately texted STOP to stop the service, but it is showing on my phone bill now. Only the one charge but still.

Firstly - how could this actually happen? It seems really bad that I can be signed up for a service when I didn’t give my number out or authorise anything.

Secondly - is this even legal?


This will be the charge. A popup can’t gain access to your phone number, no web browsing could accomplish that. By sending a text to some random number you’ve opened yourself up to a charge (yes, you can get charged for sending a text to a number) and also confirmed your phone number.

I hate these things. You can easily sign someone up to one if you know their number.

I had this happen once :grimacing: I was unable to get a refund from Three for this unauthorised charge!

I was on a site and got auto-redirected by an ad or had a large popup (I don’t recall) so I clicked the ‘X’ to dismiss the add and instantly received a text informing me of a £5 charge :grimacing: I didn’t believe it at first but I went to the Three app and the charge had already appeared on my bill :eyes:

The next few days were spent calling Three with zero success. I even had a 3 way call with Three & the company charging me, which was also useless :thinking:

In the end I had to pay the £5 and the 25p “STOP” text as it was a recurring payment :fearful:

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This might not be the case anymore but I can certainly vouch for this being possible. I didn’t enter a single letter into the site I was on :sweat_smile:

I know that Google have been working on making Chrome immune to attacks like this but it happens ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

They already had my number as they sent the original text message saying I had signed up and within that text was the phrase that to stop I had to reply.

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I’m now contacting EE to see what happened.

I literally did not enter my details, number, anything on the website. It was a Google search and clicked on a website and it popped up and closed instantly, followed immediately by a text message.

I certainly didn’t authorise it. I didn’t even click a X like you did - zero clicks! (Other than the one from the Google search page).

The company that run it are - is it worth contacting them? Pretty sure there’s no consent here at all. Well, certain.

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Yes, sorry, I must have missed that. Weird. How do they get your phone number for the initial contact, though? AFAIK it’s impossible to get it via the browser.

Exactly, so this is why it’s a mystery to me. I wouldn’t ever enter my data into a random website. Ever. It’s completely bypassed this and signed me up via a popup or website. I don’t know how.

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EE have filed a complaint to the company and have refunded the charge, and put a block on premium rate subscriptions.

Still no idea how it happened.

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If they’re partners with your carrier, there are ways that they can. :disappointed:


I think there is a program called Charge to Mobile, in which mobile operators will send an HTTP header with (essentially) your mobile phone number when you visit the websites of participating companies.


Yeah O2 cocked up a few years ago and were putting users’ mobile numbers in the header to every website visited on a 3G connection

Perhaps similar? I noticed that it was on 4G and not wifi as usual - I had turned wifi off accidently.

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Are you sure the charge wasn’t from the text you sent?

So this company just trys ‘cold texting’ random numbers to see who replies stop and they are a premium number?

I believe that the Phone-paid Services Authority are the regulatory body to complain to if you wish, who are over at:

One of the first things I did when I signed up for a phone contract was to cap my charges at £5 more than I pay for the contract per month and select that premium calls and texts are unable to be sent or charged.

It wasn’t the text as they texted me initially without me entering any details. They had access to my number.

It came immediately after a popup came up and went away. So perhaps they cold called, but I don’t think that’s legal?

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I suspect it isn’t legal but what is legal and the likelyhood of them being caught are two different things

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Same happened to me, they can charge your number through carrier billing, clicking on some ad was probably the ‘authorisation’


Firstly I don’t think it should be that easy to sign up to something!

Secondly I only clicked on the link direct from Google - no advert was clicked. Anyway I’m sure it was that click that did it but I still think it’s insane that can sign me up for something - is that even vaguely GDPR compliant?