A few weeks ago, I wrote a review of Quicken Home & Business 2013. After that post, I received several requests for my opinion on online aggregators (web sites that pull all your account information from various financial institutions and display it in one place). An example of such a site would be mint.com. In short, I personally would not use such a site. Here’s why:
I’m skeptical by nature of internet security
I realize how paranoid that sounds, but hear me out. I use internet banking and I buy stuff online all the time. I’m not living under a rock. However, the bank that I use stands behind their web site with a security guarantee. They promise to reimburse me for any fraudulent activity on my account. When my credit card was stolen several years ago, I had absolutely no problem getting the charges reversed. Contrast that with the limitation of liability clause found in the fine print of aggregator web sites, and you’ll note that they probably don’t stand behind their site to the same extent. My bank also won’t protect me from fraudulent use related to an aggregator site – those transactions are my responsibility as outlined in their terms of service.
I do not doubt that reputable aggregator sites have security measures in place. For example, on Mint’s web site, it talks about the monitoring and safeguards that they have. I’m not an IT expert, but they sounded good to me. I just choose not to take the risk, however small, because there are other ways to track my money.
I also struggle with the idea of having absolutely all my accounts accessible behind a single password. Talk about a hacker’s jackpot if they crack that one! On Mint’s policies, it is noted that nobody, including the account owner, can move money in and out of accounts using Mint – it is meant just as a tracking service. So, if someone obtained my password, they wouldn’t be able to drain my account right away. They would have to go to the trouble of stealing my identity first. Of course, having all my account numbers would make it a lot easier to pretend to be me. No thanks.
Advertising and financial discipline
My last concern with these types of sites is that they have to make money somehow. Chances are it’s going to be with ads. Usually ads don’t bother me – I can just tune them out and focus on what I’m doing. If you’re that way too, then this probably wouldn’t be a big deal for you either. However, if you’re struggling with your finances and/or you are more likely to be swayed by a “great deal”, do you really want a credit card ad appearing when you’re trying to track your money?
Do you use Mint.com or another aggregator site? What has your experience been like?