Half of mental health carers know
someone else’s PIN number, as
banks’ failure to act leaves people
vulnerable to huge financial harm



basicNew research from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has revealed that 16.4 million people know someone else’s PIN number. That’s nearly one in three people in the UK. Sharing PIN numbers is even more common for carers, half of whom say they know someone else’s bank code, as a lack of support by the banks leaves them using risky workarounds to help those for whom they care.

For people with mental health problems this can involve helping with budgeting, ensuring bills are paid on time, limiting increased spending and communicating with banks, support that is also likely to be needed by many of the 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia.

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s research found:


  • 32% of people, and 52% of carers for someone with a mental health problem, know someone else’s PIN number
  • 13% of people, and 27% of carers for someone with a mental health problem, have used someone else’s contactless card
  • 15% of people, and 23% of carers for someone with a mental health problem, know someone else’s online banking passwords


Today’s research is the first to reveal the massive scale of this problem, and the huge potential for financial harm caused by banks’ failure to act. Some carers have revealed they’ve gone even further:


  • Impersonating their loved one on the phone
  • Confiscating bank cards and keeping them at their own home
  • Taken over the person for whom they care’s affairs completely, and giving them pocket money.


The support of a carer can make the difference between just managing, and a life in financial difficulty. Yet in the current system banks don’t facilitate safe, controlled ways for carers to provide support – leaving many taking significant risks. Money and Mental Health is calling for the financial services industry to offer simple and accessible tools to allow carers to support with financial management in a safe and controlled way. For example:


  • Read-only access: Account holders should be entitled to grant real time, read-only access to a carer or trusted friend on any account.
  • Notifications: Account holders should be entitled to request notifications of specific activities on their account(s) be sent to a carer or trusted friend.
  • Restrictions: Account holders should be able to delegate the authority to make some kinds of account decisions or transactions to a trusted friend or carer.


There are almost seven million unpaid carers in the UK and nearly a million (880,000) people care for someone with a mental health problem. Almost half of all carers help with paperwork and financial matters.

Commenting, Polly Mackenzie, Director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute said:


“At the moment the banks are failing to recognise the essential role many carers play in supporting those they care for to stay on top of their finances. Without safe, practical tools, carers and those with mental health problems are being forced into risky workarounds just to get by. We are calling on the banks to stop turning a blind eye to the harm that’s being caused, and to develop tools and systems that recognise that shared financial management is a part of many of our lives.”

Read the full report here




Helen Undy, 07827917829, [email protected] for all media enquiries including interviews with spokespeople. CASE STUDIES AVAILABLE.

Notes to Editors

  • The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute was set up by Martin Lewis in spring 2016, registered charity number 1166493.
  • It will conduct research and develop policies for banks, lenders, regulators, the health service and government to help people with mental health problems protect themselves from financial difficulties and get out of debt.
  • Martin Lewis OBE, Money Saving Expert, is an award-winning campaigning broadcaster, newspaper columnist and author. He founded MoneySavingExpert.com in 2003 for £100 and remains its full-time Editor-in- Chief. It is now the UK’s biggest money site, with more than 14 million monthly users. Martin has his own prime-time ITV programme – The Martin Lewis Money Show – and is resident expert on This Morning, Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Consumer Panel, among others.
  • Polly Mackenzie is the Director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute. She was previously Director of Policy for the Deputy Prime Minister, working in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office, from 2010-2015.
  • The figures above are drawn from a nationally representative omnibus survey of 2053 Britons carried out by Populus on behalf of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute between 4 November 2016 and 6 November 2016. In order to estimate the wider use of the workarounds identified among the general public the responses from the omnibus survey were combined with the Office for National Statistics’ estimate of the mid-2015 population of over-18s in the United Kingdom.