How Google Detects and Warns about Premium SMS Messages


Billions of textual content messages are despatched annually. Although the service is extremely dated by trendy technological requirements, the SMS has endured as among the many hottest strategies of communication. Google is pushing exhausting to get carriers on board with a brand new commonplace generally known as Wealthy Communication Companies (RCS), however with so many competing messaging interfaces it’s going to take a while earlier than the ever present textual content message is put to relaxation.

Since there are such a lot of customers sending and receiving SMS messages every day, it’s a profitable marketplace for unscrupulous actors trying to make a fast buck. Premium SMS messages have been for a very long time abused to spam messages to unwitting customers who’re unaware that every message they obtain is charged to their month-to-month invoice. Fortunately, carriers banded collectively to do the precise factor (for as soon as) and refused to cost prospects for reverse SMS scams. At present, although premium SMS companies aren’t actually utilized by most individuals, sure companies like cell ticketing present customers a straightforward approach of paying sure payments through textual content message. On Android gadgets, everytime you ship your first SMS to a recipient that expenses for receiving messages, you’re met with a warning.

Google warns you earlier than you ship a premium SMS to sure recipients. Very similar to setting different default choices, you’re in a position to set Android to recollect your alternative for future messages to that very same recipient. In case you by chance set a default you have to undo, you’ll be able to management the textual content messenger app’s permission to deal with Premium SMS messages by going to Settings –> Apps –> Permissions (hit the gear icon) –> Particular Entry –> Premium SMS Entry. However how precisely does Android know when to warn you that you just’re sending a message to a premium SMS service? We determined to look into this clearly crucial query to seek out out.

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Google’s SMS Blacklist

Because it seems, Google maintains a publicly-viewable database of SMS brief codes that it blacklists. The record is sorted by nation so it solely checks for premium SMS companies which might be truly utilized in your nation. For instance, right here is the record for the UK:

 <!-- United Kingdom (Nice Britain): 4-6 digits, widespread codes [5-8]xxxx, plus EU:,
         visible voicemail code for EE: 887 -->
    <shortcode nation="gb" sample="d{4,6}" premium="[5-8]d{4}" free="116d{3}|2020|35890|61002|61202|887|83669|34664|40406" />

What’s listed underneath every nation is a daily expression that’s checked in opposition to earlier than every textual content message is distributed. If the quantity you might be sending to matches one of many numbers on this regex, then you may be warned that the service you might be sending a message to could cost you for the message. You’ll discover that underneath every nation listed, although, not all the premium SMS companies could also be listed. As an alternative, Googlers are consistently updating this database based mostly on probably the most up-to-date reference data they’ll discover for every nation. As proof for this, the final replace to this database was made on October 14th, 2016. Although the record just isn’t complete, it’s nonetheless good that Google maintains an inventory to make sure that you actually meant to ship that one premium textual content message.

That’s all for at this time. We hope you’ve discovered one thing new, and you probably have something you need us to look into, be happy to achieve out to the Portal crew on the e-mail addresses listed on our profile pages!

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