Consumers ignore security risks for free Wi-Fi

Public wi-fi

A growing number of British consumers are using their neighbors' Wi-Fi, sometimes even without permission, because they can't afford their own.

This is according to a new report by Santander, which also says that the price of phone and broadband services has increased hugely over the past ten years.

Fourteen percent of Brits (roughly seven million people) will use their neighbor’s Wi-Fi without permission, or go to a café and use the internet there without actually buying anything. They will also take advantage of free, open Wi-Fi networks whenever possible.

The advantages of a free internet outweigh the security concerns, the report says. People will use these free hotspots to make financial transactions, check their bank accounts, download discount codes and check social media accounts.

Santander also says that in the past decade, the prices of both phone and broadband services have gone up, "putting financial pressure on consumers."

"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," commented Matt Hall, head of Banking and Unsecured Credit at Santander.

"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 offense."

Published under license from, a Future plc Publication. All rights reserved.

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