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Cell Phone Premium Text Message - What Is It and How To Stop It

Updated on November 12, 2011

Have you ever seen on your cell phone bill a charge of $2, $5 or $more for a “premium text message?” If you have, then you may be wondering what premium text messaging is, why you are being billed for it, and how you can stop receiving premium text messages.

This article covers these cell phone questions, plus gives you other useful texting information to help prevent you from falling prey to unwanted text messages and third party sms advertising scams. There are also links to relevant Canadian government agencies for further information on premium text messaging services.

In today’s society of get it, want it and do it fast, text messaging (socially called "texting" or "Short Message Service / SMS" in the telecommunication industry) has become the new and popular way to quickly communicate with friends, business and family using a cell phone’s keypad or touch screen.  Any cell phone user, including sms premium services providers, can a send text message from their cell phone to another cell phone subscribed to a cell phone provider’s sms service. This is where new generation scams come easily into play.

Promo SMS text message
Promo SMS text message

Premium text messaging, also known as “Premium Short Codes,” or "Common Short Codes." or just “Short Codes,” are a way third party companies like product advertisers, government, media, entertainment and service providers interact wirelessly with customers through their cell phones.

The term "short codes" stems from text marketers' use of short digit numbers, usually spelling out a short word, instead of using the longer 10 digit telephone number. Using cell phone short codes (text messages) means customers can remember the number easier, it's catchier, the sent text messages can be done from anywhere and is receive almost instantly.

Listed as four to six digit trademark numbers on your cell phone statement, for example VOTE, third party billers and sms premium services providers send you entertainment products by text message or invite you to participate (you texting them) by way of your cell phone and charge you, through your cell phone provider, for each text message.

Premium text messages incur extra charges in addition to the standard fee charged for a regular text message.

So how does one end up subscribing for this sms text messaging?

Well, when you, or anyone else who has access to your cell phone, subscribe (unknowingly, inadvertently or otherwise) to premium text messaging services, you are billed for every text message you receive, be it a one time or a recurring (monthly) charge.

For example,

  • When you watch a competition television show, and they ask you to text in your vote to participate for only costs x cost, you may be signing up for a third party premium text message.
  • When you do an "IQ test", or "celebrity quiz", or a “who’s interested in you” match, or any such gimmick on Facebook, MySpace or other social networking sites, and you enter your cell phone number at the end for the results, you may be signing up for third party text message services.
  • When you fill out an online contest, and the contests asks for your cell phone number, you may be subscribing to premium text message products.
  • When a website, television show, newspaper advertisement, social network, or other such asks you to send a text to INFO, HELP, RADIO, JOIN, GIVE, DONATE, LOVE, etc., or to a specific 4, 5 or 6 digit number, you may be subscribing to premium text messages.

Other sign-up areas include texting services for chatting/dating sites, daily horoscopes, trivia quizzes, entertainment and joke alerts, sports updates, voting or competition texts, celebrity gossip, Lotto results, music and ringtones, and even government text. All of these may sign you up for premium text messaging billings collected through your cell phone service provider.

Now of course, there are many respectable text messaging services and customers who voluntarily sign-up for premium text messages. If you happen to be one of those customers who willingly signed up for the premium text message services, and are fully aware of and happy to pay the $1 - $300 a month charge for it, then that’s fine.

As usual though, bad apple sms billers, and deceitful sign-up practices ruin it for everyone. These shady and deceptive marketers take advantage of un-savvy, cell phone customers by not being truthful about the actual text message cost, deceitfully offering a "free" texting product while not mentioning the fact that a monthly subscription is attached, claiming a one-time billing, but billing monthly knowing that most customers rarely check their cell phone bill’s every detail.

Unfortunately, social text messaging scams are happening to many people, and there really are no proper laws to protect consumers from deceptive third party text messaging practices.

Even the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) won’t help much, because as far as they are concerned, third party text message charges are fine as long as the messaging advertiser informs the cell phone user up-front and provides the cell phone user with a way to cancel the premium text message service (note that informing includes barely readable, tiny, fine print on the bottom of the page, or somewhere on a page).

Ever notice how this kinda conflicts with your consumer rights under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 which reveals that all contract information must be prominent, clear and easy to understand, and any disputed language understanding must be interpreted in favour of the consumer.

In the CRTC’s words, SMS “industry self-regulation mechanisms... include safeguards that serve the interests of consumers.” Who are they kidding? Only when lots of people are scammed royally and get pissed-off enough to demand changes will consumers see some ethical practices ensue.

Even more incredulous and ridiculous is the fact that all cell phone providers are fully aware of the corruption surrounding unscrupulous, premium text messaging practices and the short code scammers, but refuse to do anything to help their cell phone customers. These phone companies claim that the customer subscribed to the premium messaging service, and should have read all the information, fine print or not, before signing up.

They lay the blame squarely with the customers, don’t want to hear the extenuating circumstances surrounding signing up, and will try to force their customers to pay for any premium text messaging charges received until either the customer can prove that they really don't want the subscription or the customer can get the corrupt billers to stop the service (Yeah right, like a thief will give back the money he stole from you and then stop ripping you off).

After a conversation with one of the two big phone companies in Canada, their call representative told me that the phone company is not responsible for third party text messages, because they do not have a contract with you for the subscribed text message service you enrolled in, and so they have no obligation to offer you consumer protection. They say that they are only the collection agent for the third party fraudsters and crooks: an evasion of responsibility if you ask me. Might this explain why every cell phone company’s contract offers free, unlimited text messages except, wait for it, (in very fine print) for premium text messages!? Hmm.

What can and must you do to protect yourself and your money from unethical text messaging and premium text message services?   Here are some ideas on how to stop, prevent and block premium text messages on your cell phone.

1) Don’t give out your cell phone number.  If a websites, contest, television, or any other event/product asks for your cell phone number and will not complete the contest, vote, purchase or whatever activity without it, run like heck, because this is most likely a sign-up for a text messaging service.

2) Inspect every cell phone bill you receive carefully. Look for any mention of the words “premium text message,” “short code message,” "SMS" or calls from four to six digit numbers on your monthly bill. If you find one for this month, be sure to check every monthly bill before that. Premium text messages are usually billed monthly, so if there is one charge there is usually more somewhere.

3) Unsubscribe from the premium text message service. If you find a premium text message on your cell phone that you did not authorize, unsubscribe from it immediately. You can unsubscribe by replying to the message with the word STOP, or UNSUBSCRIBE or END (or ARRET in Quebec). Once you've unsubscribed, the third party biller may send you a final “successfully unsubscribed” text message and then stop sending messages to you. Be sure to keep the STOP text message you sent to the third party biller (DO NOT ERASE IT from your cell phone). This is your indisputable proof that you requested the service be stopped.

4) Use the opt-out instructions. Find the first couple of text messages that the third party biller may have sent to you with instructions on how to opt-out, and follow it. This opt-out is usually a five number code that you send a STOP text message to. By law, these third party text message advertisers must provide you with the way to stop receiving their services. Again, keep the OPT-OUT text message you sent to the them (DO NOT ERASE IT from your cell phone). This is your irrefutable evidence that you requested the service be stopped.

5) Escalate the issue to other authorities. if your STOP or OPT-OUT text message doesn’t work, and you continue to receive texts, find and contact the text message biller by locating them through the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). If you can’t find them listed there, call your cell phone provider to get the third party biller’s contact information. If the third party biller makes it difficult to reach them by suspiciously having their line always busy, disconnected or in other ways unreachable, show your cell phone provider your evidence of trying to stop the subscription, and demand that they do something to either stop it or reimburse your charges. If this doesn’t work, make a complaint to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS).

6) Block text messaging on your cell phone. If you do not text regularly or don’t plan on texting in the future, call your cell phone provider and request they block texts on your cell phone. Note that Bell Mobility does not just block premium text message services. All text messages, incoming and outgoing, to everyone is blocked.

7) Watch out for “don’t reply” text messages. If you receive a text message that says that you don’t have to reply to it, send a STOP reply message to the originating text, because these "don’t reply" messages are most likely a reverse sign-up trick to get you to sign-up.

8) Read everything and especially read the fine print before you sign up for or click accept to anything. It may be very tedious to read one or more pages of legalese on the screen or on paper, but since no one is looking out for your rights except you, it literally pays to read everything.

9) If all else fails, visit a local media reporter and your government official elect. In Canada, consider talking to you MP about Bill C-27, the Electronic Commerce Protection Act and Bill S-220, the Anti-Spam Act.

Quick Cell Phone Facts:
  • Cell phones first came to Canada in 1985.
  • Text messaging first started in Canada in April 2002.
  • SMS-Short Message Service or Common Short Codes began in July 2003.

Remember, you are responsible for all cell phones in your name, for any charges acquired on them and for paying the FULL amount of those charges.

Treat your cell phone number as if it is a part of your personal identity. Guard it dearly, because charges can easily be racked up on it by unscrupulous, text message services potentially resulting in credit problems or landing you in conflict with your cell phone service provider.

Also, be aware that a lot of third party text messaging service providers aim their ads towards children and teens. It is a good idea to explain to them too about premium text messages and how to stop or prevent them.

___________________________________, my pen is a mighty sword!

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    • profile image

      Futamarka 5 years ago

      У неё было столь не понятное состояние... она была готова кричать, рыдать и ругаться матом... совершенно необычное состояние... и кажется звуки издавала молящие... По спине стекает пот, смешилки трутся об стол... со всех сторон искры... ноги подкашиваются не смотря на опору стола... Ее губки плотно охватывали его скраб, заставляя его двигаться все быстрей и мощнее...

    • profile image

      Anadirunika 5 years ago

      Наверное, оптимальный вариант – совмещать покупные средства и снадобья, изготовленные самостоятельно. Это поможет восстановить кожу в наиболее короткие сроки. Для каждого участка тела требуется свой уход. Но сами действия идентичны: очищение, питание, увлажнение.

    • profile image

      Carrier Petition 5 years ago



      Cell Phone Carriers continue to extort hundreds of millions of dollars monthly from their own customers by applying fraudulent and miss leading charges to Carrier Customers monthly cell phone bills. Over the past several years these Felons have extorted hundreds of billions.


      • Insist Your Carrier block “Third-Party Billing” on your cell phones immediately.

      • Insist Your Carrier block “Cellular Data” on your cell phones immediately.

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      • Inform Your Carrier of their fiduciary responsibilities to comply accurately with your requests.


      • Fight Back. Complain to Cell Phone Carriers, Authorities, Everyone. COMPLAIN OFTEN.

      • STOP the VICTIM cycle. Join this Petition:

      • Got a question? Need Help? Get support TODAY. Email:

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      • Download Power Point Presentation:

      Please don’t be the silent majority. Your vote counts. STOP WHITE COLLAR CRIME TODAY

    • profile image

      optlwhspiz 5 years ago, можно тут брать! я полностью доволен, работа слаженная, на вопросы отвечают чётко, считай я ваш постоянный клиент!

    • profile image

      Carrier Petition 5 years ago


      Everyone must contact their Carriers today to Block these scams and Audit for Victim Fraud.

      Insist Carriers block “Third-Party Billing” on your cell phones immediately.

      Insist Carriers block “Cellular Data” on your cell phones immediately.

      Insist Carriers provide audits of all “Third-Party Billings” on your cell phones immediately.

      Inform the Carriers of their fiduciary responsibilities to comply accurately with your requests.

      Visit this site: Phone: 1 702 421 3511.

      STOP the victim cycle. Get support confronting Carriers: Email:

    • profile image

      farengayts 5 years ago

      Ко мне порох c шел всего три дня по мажор экспресс... С корешами замутили миксов из него и куранули - веррриии гудд.. буду брать у вас еще..

    • profile image

      Ark 5 years ago

      just checked my bills for several months back

      in May was charged 9.99 three times for a total of 29.97

      just called that mobShack (real good name for them)

      told them I never subscribed the guy promised to return the money

      definitely, Fido (my provider) are part of the whole scam, otherwise how would they make money? besides, Fido plan says received text included (regular, picture, video) NOTHING is said about any premium texts - so I think I will get a refund from Fido, and next let them deal with mobShack/voxtel themselves

    • profile image

      emma 6 years ago

      hi i got a txt back in jan from this number +18133847727 and ive notice on my 3 bill from feb i keep getting charged for premium shortcodes sent and recerived. ive never been charged for this before,, does anybody know what these shortcodes are and where they have come from and why ive started being charged for these

    • profile image

      Jo 6 years ago

      Hi all I had no Idea what this MOBSHACK is but I got a bill for 3x9.99 on my cell bill I call this number(888-985-2233 today Thursday May 17 at 8:21 PM and man with a with no name told me with a bad accent,he told me he had now unsubscrided me i told him i did not subscrided to this he told me to send a e-mail to all this on a Thursday night May 17/12 at 8:21 PM I just need my 29.97

    • profile image

      John 6 years ago

      I had no idea what Mob Shack was until I got a 3 x 9.99 charges to my cell bill. Called the number and was hung up on 3 times. Called my cell provider they made a call and got someone on the line. A woman (southern accent, maybe Georgia) came on the phone and reluctantly took my info and assured my I was unsubscrided and a refund on its way (holding breath). We should be email Apple because it is their Apps these people are piggy backing on.

    • profile image

      RRSI-7 6 years ago

      Cell Phone Premium Text Message-What is it and How to Stop it . There toll free yes toll free to all callers in CANADA & the US of A, GOD BLESS both 1-uknow77-744-1287 that gets you to mobSHAKE, that is the tickit to there down fall HEHE! Keep callin it over&over&over&OVER, on hold is good, keep them talking as long as possible about any thing,this cost them money every time you call or are on hold,they are in NEW YORK phone $$$$ keep adding up&up&up&UP KEEP THEM PINNED !! If we all do this 10mins a day they will go down&down&down&DOWnnnnn......................

    • profile image

      Lise Loubier 6 years ago

      je ne désire plus recevoir sur mon cellulaire les textes messages STOP Lise Loubier 907 2 iême avenue Québec g1l-3c2 veuillez tenir compte de mon email. Thank You STOP PLEASE

    • profile image

      Rose 6 years ago

      I was online looking for something and pop-up window invite came up to do a survey and win an iPad. So I thought why not. I had cell phone close-by and entered my cell phone no. instead of land-line. I then got a text message that said I was being charged $9.99. I immediately called my cell provider, Rogers, and advised them of scam and to either block and/or reverse charges. The Rogers lady told me unfortunately the 1st charge already went through, nothing to be done about that now, but she'd block them from then on period. As I was doing this I Googled Mobshack and was reading the reams of complaints about them. So 25 days later I get my phone bill and lo and behold they've charged more, from 9.99 to 29.97 - no info re date or time (conveniently for them) I immediately call Rogers again to complain. Was on phone for an hour and a half, went through 3 people, going higher each time in the chain of command and was like talking to a brick wall - they DON'T care, kept telling me I had to cancel with Mobshack directly. I kept repeating I'd called them immediately on the day of and lady at Rogers said she'd blocked them. Why am I getting more charges? They, Rogers, obviously are getting a piece of the action so don't want to stop this and Rogers are now giving me the runaround. After a lot of yelling and frustration I finally said to Rogers that I was cutting them off by advising my credit card provider to take Rogers off my list of pre-approved authorized payments. The Rogers lady then said she'd credit my account. I have to wait until next month to see if this is true.

      It's unconscionable that cell providers are in bed with these thieves and are complicit in this fraud. This 3rd party billing practice is a license to steal and nobody seems to care, not our cell providers or our regulatory agencies. Hum, is this what is to come for consumers?


    • profile image

      E.Martin 6 years ago

      I have been scammed by MOBSHACK 10 times at $9.99each time, I didn't realize it as by cell bill is automaticly paid per credit card.I never authorized this!this is theft. how do I get my money back?

    • callmefoxxy profile image

      callmefoxxy 6 years ago

      Hi Humphy. VICTORY at last! Yeah! Good for you! You pursued them until they gave you what you wanted and what you deserved: a refund. Plus, an extra $10 ain't bad for your troubles. Ok it's not enough, lol, but it's something. Yep, you've proven yet again that sometimes Goliath's colossal power can be curbed by sheer persistence and right on your side. Way to go! Thanks much for returning and posting your updates on how you succeeded., my pen is a mighty sword!

    • profile image

      Humphy 6 years ago

      Although I was charged $9.99 on two separate occasions, I have finally been credited $9.99 + HST by mobshack (via VoxTel) AND $20 by my cell phone carrier (since I told them that cancelling my phone was an option). For those being charged, keep calling the number that appears with the charge on your bill, and your carrier. Thanks again!

    • profile image

      Jim 6 years ago

      I also received 3 charges on my Telus account from these idiots from mobshack.. They had sent out a survey for a free ipad or somethong and I foolishly gave them my cell number. Now they are charging me for some friggin texting service and I never text anyone. What a friggin scam. I hope someone fines them or shuts this business down.

    • callmefoxxy profile image

      callmefoxxy 6 years ago

      Hi T, thanks for leaving a comment. Yes, they tend to withhold refunds under some pretense or other. Don't let it go though, or you really will not get anything back. Consider calling them (or their service operator) every 3-5 days and leave the message about your refund, and that you have not received it yet. Two can play that annoying game too ;D Let us know how it goes...

    • callmefoxxy profile image

      callmefoxxy 6 years ago

      Hi Samee, thanks for the comment. Let's hope they don't, but you know what to do, if they do.

    • callmefoxxy profile image

      callmefoxxy 6 years ago

      Hi Ying, thanks for leaving your comment. While it may be too late for those ones, I'm sure you'll receive others in the future, but now you'll know what to do!

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      I finally got through and like a previous poster I got an answering service Operator who took my refund request..... not holding my breath when does a theif return stolen money??? it seems if you ignore the messages you are charged and even if you try to stop them it's the same you are charged.

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      I received $50.00 in charges from Mobshack, not responding to their texts or signing up for anything, trying to get a hold of anyone is worse that a root canal....

    • profile image

      samee 6 years ago

      I've just replied stot to the second one hope they not gonna bill me that 9.99$

    • profile image

      Ying 6 years ago

      I guess it's too late for me, I have already deleted the messages after I replied stop to them. This article is very helpful, I wish I would have read this earlier. Thank you though.

    • callmefoxxy profile image

      callmefoxxy 6 years ago

      Hi Humphy. Darn those little sneaks...battle on... charge! Don't give up, get that refund if you can. lol, yes you are not alone. There are many of us. Good luck! Keep us informed... :)

    • callmefoxxy profile image

      callmefoxxy 6 years ago

      Hi JAY. Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, it is: huge scam in my opinion...

    • profile image

      Humphy 6 years ago

      Alas, not only have I not been credited the initial $9.99, I have been charged another $9.99 the following month. The battle continues... Looks like I'm not the only one.

    • profile image

      JAY 6 years ago


    • callmefoxxy profile image

      callmefoxxy 6 years ago

      Hi MAD MOM. Thanks for the comment. Power to the people...

    • callmefoxxy profile image

      callmefoxxy 6 years ago

      Hi Humphy. You're welcome. Glad it was helpful...

    • profile image

      MAD MOM 6 years ago

      MOBSHACK. 1 877 7744 1287. CALL TO STOP THE TEXTING. It is a total scam, the keep stealing money from the cell phone user, even if you text STOP. I spoke to a Kelly S at the above number, she refused to give out her full name or supervisors name. She denied that she is Mobshack, but only a call centre. I then tracked down another Mobshack number 1 877 909 6622, I called and the same Kelly picked up.

      Stay away, pass it on. Let shut these people down. FACEBOOK it ... warn people. If the carriers or regulatory bodies will not help let do it ourselves ......

      Power to the people ....

    • profile image

      Humphy 6 years ago

      Thank you, thank you. MobShack got a hold of my cell phone# - sent me a premium text without notifying me that they were going to charge $9.99 or an option to unsubscribe. I ignored the text on Jan 2nd. Jan 9 I received a 'thanks for using mobSHACK. Your access has been renewed for only 9.99 (notice there is no $ sign), next rebill 2012-01-16 17:37:17, STOP to end or (call teh 800#)'. I was advise by my cell phone carrier to reply with 'STOP'. I also have a texting block on my phone, but did not know this didn't apply to premium messages. The reply I got was 'Requested facility not subscribed'. Today I see that I was charged $9.99 on Jan 2. I called my carrier - they said call MobShack's # or the number on my bill. I called the number on my bill and got VoxTel. They said call Mobshack (their client) - I called them and spoke to a third party answering service. They asked for my name and number. I gave them that much and they requested the unsubscribe. When I asked about a refund for the $9.99, they said I had to give them my address to send a cheque, and my email for status on whether I even will get a refund. When I asked the answering service what their company's name was, they said they weren't authorized to release that information?!? I hung up and called my cell carrier to ask for their fraud dept. They said I had to give my personal info for the cheque and that there was no other way I could be refunded. Nervous about giving my info to an unknown co., I looked up your article and called VoxTel back letting them know that I thought that their client was conducting business fraudulently. At first they stated I had to deal with Mobshack and provide my info., but then relented and told me my bill would be refunded. I got the person's name and extension and will follow up if I do not see the refund - I believe they relented because I was 'informed', courtesy your article. Thanks again.

    • callmefoxxy profile image

      callmefoxxy 6 years ago

      Hi Doug. That just sucks. I agree, the carriers are a major part of the problem/scam. Hope you don't end up having to pay. Let me know how you resolved the situation...

    • profile image

      Doug 6 years ago

      They got me, tried to bill me $150.00 thru Sears Connect.I will cancel everything I have with Sears before I pay a cent. I don't know where they got my info or how the scam works. I do know however that Sears Connect wants to collect the money for the SMS text messages I received. If the carriers stop collecting money for these crooks the scam ends. Put pressure on your carriers to stop the scam. They must be part of it as that's who we send the money to.

    • callmefoxxy profile image

      callmefoxxy 7 years ago

      Thank you Chris Eddy111. This texting thing and premium text messages caught me by surprise when I was looking to change cell phones and also when I was filling out some online contests. Damn near suckered me in it did. I figured if this happened to me, then it probably happened to others as well. Glad you found it useful, and thanks for the feedback comment.

    • Chris Eddy111 profile image

      Chris Eddy111 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Well done!!Lots of valuable info for everyone with a cellphone and I'm sure there are many of us. Thanks callmefoxxy.


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