Over seven million adult Brits (14 per cent) have used someone else’s Wi-Fi because they cannot afford their own, according to new research1 from Santander UK, which also reveals that millions are putting their online security at risk while trying to save money.

The study found that five per cent of people have ‘borrowed’ Wi-Fi from their neighbours (regardless of permission) because they couldn’t afford their own, rising to 14 per cent for those aged 18 to 34 years. Five per cent (11 per cent for 18 to 34 year olds) have spent time in a café or shop with free Wi-Fi without ordering or buying anything. And three per cent of people have jumped on an unknown, unsecured Wi-Fi when out and about.

While data security is a concern for over half (52 per cent) of individuals when using someone else’s Wi-Fi such as in an airport or a shop (rising to 60 per cent for those living in London), the need to ‘get online’ and take advantage of a free connection appears to take priority over concerns about unsecure networks. Despite acknowledging the risks, 17 per cent of those with security concerns are willing to use Wi-Fi hotspots if they ‘need’ to check their social media profiles or download shop or restaurant discount codes. And 19 per cent put aside their worries to use an unsecured network for work.

Meanwhile, Santander’s research showed that over a quarter (26 per cent) of British adults, and 49 per cent of those in the 18-34 year old age group have carried out financial transactions on their phone using an unsecured Wi-Fi network. This includes checking balances, making transfers and inputting bank or credit card details to make purchases.

Over the past ten years, the cost of phone and broadband bills has increased by 24 per cent2, putting financial pressure on consumers. Bills are made worse for the three in ten Brits (30 per cent) who say they go over their data allowance, with six per cent doing so every month. Those topping up data spend an average of £16 per month – a collective £212 million3.

Matt Hall, Head of Banking and Unsecured Credit at Santander, said: “Mobile phones are such an important part of life these days, but many people appear to struggle with the associated costs. While ‘piggybacking’ someone else’s Wi-Fi might seem like a good way to save a few pounds, consumers are risking their online security by doing so.

“Whether it’s a private or a public connection, we urge internet users not to make financial transactions using unsecured networks4. Consumers should look to manage their data costs by carefully reviewing their contracts and payment plans, double checking the small print for things like extra charges for non-direct debit payments and being careful not to go over their data limits. They should also look out for deals such as the cashback on household bills paid by the Santander 1|2|3 current account.

“And a final word of caution - consumers should be aware that borrowing Wi-Fi without permission is potentially a criminal offence.”

1|2|3 Current Account and 1|2|3 Lite Account pay cashback on household direct debits

  • 1% cashback on water, council tax and Santander mortgages
  • 2% cashback on electricity, gas and Santander home insurance premiums
  • 3% on mobile, home phone, broadband and paid-for TV packages

Santander’s 1|2|3 current account pays up to 3% cashback on essential household bills and offers an interest rate of 1.50% on balances up to £20,000 – customers can earn up to £298pa in interest, plus cashback on selected household bills, for a £5 monthly account fee.

Accounts can be opened online at santander.co.uk, by telephone on 0800 707 6692 or in any Santander branch.

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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 was carried out online by Opinium from the 16th May to 19th May 2017, and 2-6th June 2017, amongst a 2,005 nationally representative sample of UK adults. 14% * 51339000 (adult population) =7,187,460
  2. Figures based on the ONS Family Spending Report 2016, published 16 February 2017
  3. Mean (excluding don’t knows) = £16 – those who selected a value (525) / 2005 = 26% * 51339000 (adult population) = 13,442,880 * £16 = £212,060,149
  4. As well as avoiding making financial transactions on unsecured networks, Santander advises people to take the following precautions to protect themselves when banking online or via a pone:
  • Never give anybody your one time pass code (OTP) or other security details
  • Never click through on a link unless you know what it is
  • Never download anything unless you know what it is
  • Take your time, listen to your instincts and don’t let anybody pressure you
  • Always check that a caller is genuine: hang up and then call back if necessary
  • Never transfer money out of your account for ‘security measures’
  • Never reply to emails with your personal or security information
  • Let your bank know of changes in contact details
  • Santander’s Security Centre: http://www.santander.co.uk/uk/help-support/security-centre

Santander 1|2|3 Current Accounts Eligibility
1|2|3 Current Account: For interest and cashback, pay in £500 a month and set up two active Direct Debits. A £5 monthly fee applies.
1|2|3 Lite Current Account: For cashback, pay in £500 a month, set up two active Direct Debits and log on to Online or Mobile Banking at least once every three months. A £1 monthly fee applies.

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. It has brought real competition to the UK, through its innovative products for retail customers and relationship banking model for UK SMEs. At 31 December 2016, the bank serves around 14 million active customers with c20,000 employees and operates through 841 branches (which includes 60 university branches) and 67 regional Corporate Business Centres. 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 are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, headquartered in Spain, with a meaningful market share in 10 core countries in Europe and the Americas. It is among the world’s top banks by market capitalization. The bank’s purpose is to help people and businesses prosper, in a way that is simple, personal and fair. Founded in 1857, Santander had EUR 1.52 trillion in managed funds, 125 million customers, 12,200 branches and 188,000 employees at the close of 2016. Santander made attributable profit of EUR 6,204 million in 2016, an increase of 4% compared to the previous year.

Media Enquiries

Miranda Seymour      T: 020 7756 4189      M: 07860 857999      E: miranda.seymour@santander.co.uk

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