PRS barring service provided to protect consumers

We thank Mr Ng Chee Kheon for his feedback (Stopping unsolicited premium rate services; June 28) and Tiffany Fumiko Tay for her report (It's time to stop unwanted phone bill charges; July 11).

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has required mobile operators to offer the premium rate services (PRS) barring service since 2012.

For those unfamiliar with PRS, they are a form of micro-payment for content, data services and value-added services that are subsequently charged to a consumer's telephone bill.

Consumers who activate this barring service will not receive PRS or be billed even if they have accidentally subscribed to the PRS.

Consumers will not be charged the first time they activate the PRS barring service.

The PRS barring service is provided on an opt-in basis as there are consumers who subscribe to PRS to receive news updates or other content over their phones.

To minimise the risks of accidental sign-ups for PRS, all PRS messages must be prefixed with "1460" to allow consumers to better identify these chargeable messages.

We urge consumers to read the pricing, terms and conditions carefully before activating any PRS, and not to sign up when in doubt.

Consumers can also activate the PRS barring service on their family members' behalf.

Providers of PRS, Internet or mobile apps may arrange for mobile operators to bill subscribers on the providers' behalf.

Under such circumstances, mobile operators have to assist subscribers to help resolve any dispute with these providers, in accordance with the PRS code. This includes putting in place complaints-handling and dispute-resolution procedures to address any consumer complaints, ensuring that consumers are not charged for unsolicited services, and not collecting payment for disputed charges before the dispute is resolved.

IMDA will continue to review and refine its regulatory measures for PRS.

Further, IMDA plans to introduce a dedicated and independent alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme for the telecommunication and media sectors next year.

It will allow consumers to escalate protracted disputes with their telecommunication and/or pay-TV operators, including those relating to PRS, to IMDA's appointed ADR operator for mediation and/or adjudication in a quick, convenient and affordable manner.

Karen Low (Ms)

Director, Communications & Marketing

Infocomm Media Development Authority

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2018, with the headline 'PRS barring service provided to protect consumers'. Print Edition | Subscribe