Chelsea Pensioners join the fight against fraud, urging Brits to tell Scammers to “Push Off, Politely”

  • Santander reveals that Brits receive 150 million suspicious calls every week, and 60% report an increase since the pandemic began, with an average of 180 suspicious calls per person since March 20201 
  • Experts say we should simply hang up on suspicious callers, but 47% of Brits fail to do so, with one in five saying it would be impolite – even if the call is from a scammer
  • Over 65s are the most confident in dealing with suspicious calls (89%) with 7% reporting that they have been scammed by a cold caller. In contrast, just 38% of 18-24 year olds said they are very confident at dealing with calls, with 54% saying they have been scammed by a cold caller
  • In response, Santander has partnered with veterans from the Chelsea Pensioners to encourage polite Brits to follow their example and tell scam callers to ‘Push Off, Politely’ 


New research from Santander reveals that British politeness could be hindering the fight against scammers. The research finds that Brits receive more than a staggering 150 million suspicious calls a week, with 60% reporting that they have received more calls since March 2020. In response, the bank has teamed up with the iconic Chelsea Pensioners, to empower Brits to say ‘Push Off, Politely’ to suspicious callers. 

Since the outbreak of the pandemic criminals have taken advantage of people being at home more, targeting would be victims with scam phone calls. Notably, nearly half of Brits (47%) report receiving three or more of these calls per week – meaning the average person has received more than 180 suspicious cold calls since the pandemic with almost a quarter of Brits (23%) receiving at least five. One in ten people are targeted at least once a day. 

Santander’s fraud experts advise that the best way to deal with a suspicious call is to simply hang up, but almost half (47%) of Brits fail to do so. One in five say hanging up is impolite, even if the caller is a scammer. A further 20% say they feel obliged to stay on the line to hear the caller out. The research comes as Santander’s fraud experts warn that giving a scam caller the opportunity to engage in conversation can lead to disastrous consequences. 

Santander’s own figures show a 186% increase in customers reporting a phone call that has led to a safe account impersonation scam2. Of these reports, nearly one third (31%) were reported by 18-24 year olds. Despite their growing prevalence, the research worryingly reveals that just 40% of Brits have even heard of safe account scams. 

The bank’s figures also reveal that suspicious cold calls leading to investment scams rose by 140% in March 2021 compared to March 2020. Just over half of Brits said that they have heard of investment scams (53%), with awareness lowest amongst 24-35 year olds (46%). 

Savvy Seniors

In Santander’s research, 89% of over 65s said that they were confident in spotting and dealing with suspicious calls. Conversely, only 38% of Gen Z (18-24 year olds) said they feel very confident dealing with scam callers and 54% said they have been scammed by a cold caller. Moreover, 68% of Gen Z consider it rude to hang up on a scammer if they’re nice or polite, whereas savvy seniors don’t fall for the act, with only 4% considering it rude to hang up on cold callers.  

Over 65s are more attuned to the warning signs of a scam call and the tactics used by scammers3. More than two thirds of over 65s (69%) said they would be suspicious if the caller suggested lying to their bank about why they want to make a payment. 69% of this age group would hang up immediately. In contrast, 18-24 year olds appear more susceptible to this tactic with just 37% saying it would make them suspicious and just over half saying they would hang up (54%) if the caller suggested lying to their bank. 

Santander has partnered with the Chelsea Pensioners to empower Brits to set their politeness aside and to hang up on suspicious cold calls, protecting themselves from being drawn into conversations with scammers. Donning their iconic scarlet uniforms, the Chelsea Pensioners perform a united rendition of the classic wartime song ‘Good-bye-ee!’ and have some choice words for scam callers. 

Watch the video here.

Dave Lowe, Head of Fraud at Santander, says: “Unfortunately, scammers who use cold calls have capitalised on the pandemic and since March 2020 we’ve seen an increase in all types of scams being reported to us. Our research shows just how persuasive scammers can be - nearly half of the people who said they have fallen victim to a cold calling scam said they were tricked by someone who was friendly and polite. 

“That’s why the Chelsea Pensioners’ advice is so important. The best way to stop a scammer is not to let them sweet talk you into doing something you might regret - whether that’s sharing too much information, not being upfront with your bank about the reason for a payment, or transferring money. So if you get a suspicious call, follow the advice and hang up immediately.”

Jo Molendo, Social Care Manager, Royal Hospital Chelsea, says: “Unfortunately, scam calls are rife and knowing how to spot one and what to do to stay safe is a priority for our Pensioners. One thing the Chelsea Pensioners are known for is their British politeness, but as we’ve seen, sometimes it’s wiser to park your manners and protect yourself. We hope this partnership with Santander will help people of all ages to confidently deal with scam callers – politely, of course!”

How to spot a suspicious phone call:

  • The call is out of the blue 
  • The caller puts pressure on you to act now by telling you that you could miss out on a reward, or that your money is at risk
  • The caller asks you to share security or PIN codes that are used to access your bank account or make payments
  • The caller encourages you to download software or an app onto your phone, tablet, laptop or computer
  • The caller suggests that you should lie to your bank about why you are making a payment.

 Learn more about how to spot and deal with scams here.

- Ends -

The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

Notes to Editors 

  1. Research carried out by One Poll between 2nd – 7th June 2021. 2000 nationally representative adults across the UK. 
  2. Santander UK internal data, March 2020 v March 2021 
    • Safe account scams: Where fraudsters impersonate the police or a bank to persuade people to move their money to a “safe account” to safeguard their funds
    • Impersonation scams: Where fraudsters pose as an ‘official’ third party, for instance a well-known business, broadband provider, or other official to persuade people to move their money to pay for a service, good or for a refund. 
    • Investment scams: Fraudsters offering people high returns for their investments, exploiting consumer concerns about the impact of the pandemic on their personal finances.
  3. Question asked: What makes you suspicious that a cold call could be a scam (tick all that apply)

Sign of a suspicious call



Asking for your address or other personal details



If the call is out of the blue



If the caller asks you to share a password or code



If the caller says they can fix your broadband



If the caller says you need to take urgent action

(e.g. transfer money to a safe account)



If the caller tells you to lie to your bank




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Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 31 December 2020, the bank had around 21,900 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea - Since 1692 the Royal Hospital Chelsea has provided the very highest standard of care to retired British Army veterans. It is an independent charity, a home to over 300 Chelsea Pensioners and a site of architectural significance.