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Kids warned of premium-rate phone charges

Website aims to boost awareness of costs

Texting on a mobile phone

A new website will be launched today which aims to make children more aware of premium-rate services.

The Phonebrain website tells youngsters how to spot high fees charged by some phone lines, TV quizzes and ring tone subscriptions.

It was developed by the premium-rate regulator Icstis to help children make ‘educated choices’.

Icstis says that children have more exposure to premium-rate charging than ever before as services become increasingly mainstream and popular in the media.

Ringtones and wallpapers

Typical services include those offering ringtones and wallpapers, voting on interactive TV shows and the chance to enter competitions to win fabulous prizes.

The website explains the costs of premium-rate services so youngsters know how much they are paying and what they will get in return.

It also explains about mobile phone subscription rates and about premium-rate landline numbers.

ICSTIS says 65 per cent of children aged eight to 15 years own mobile phones, with the same proportion having internet access at home. Nearly three quarters also have access to digital TV at home.

‘Canny consumers’

ICSTIS Chairman Alistair Graham said: ‘Premium-rate services are becoming more and more popular – it’s virtually impossible these days to open a newspaper or magazine, or turn on your TV, radio or computer, and not see a promotion for a service.

‘We want to ensure that young people become canny consumers and know exactly what they are spending their money on. This, in turn, will hopefully reduce the number of parents facing nasty surprises when they receive their telephone bills.

‘It is a fun, interactive and relevant site that will help children learn about premium-rate services, be able to recognise them and the different ways of accessing them, and appreciate the costs involved.’

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