The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) has issued fines totalling £750,000 to three different companies in separate cases – all for billing consumers’ phone bills without their consent.
The PSA said Prime Platform Solutions, IT Zone, and Web Data were each banned from the phone-paid services market for five years and ordered to pay refunds to all eligible consumers who request one. Each company was fined £250,000.
The three companies had operated services charging £4.50 per message on a subscription basis. This was in exchange for text message alerts about horoscopes, online shopping vouchers and Lotto number draws.
Many consumers reported that they had not signed up for the services or given consent to be charged.
Joanne Prowse, chief executive of the PSA, said: "We’ve taken action in several similar cases recently and this sort of practice is clearly not acceptable and damaging to the reputation of the phone-paid services industry. We are taking steps to address this problem by introducing new rules from next month, which should also support the robust growth we’re seeing elsewhere, driven by good services which consumers enjoy.
"We also aim to send a message to the industry with sanctions like these – if you break our rules, we will take firm action to protect consumers."