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For online applications such as Mint and Quicken (online), to automatically update your accounts, they'll always ask you to enter your login info to your banking and/or investment accounts.

Do you trust giving out these types of personal information, how do you know you can trust them?


Moderator's note: I've merged into this question the following similar question (and its answers):

Services like mint.com and quickenonline.com they seem to simplify money management and offer an attractive alternative to using traditional financial software. I'm tempted to use them, but security is a definite concern. What are your experiences and thoughts on this? [this version was originally asked by M. Attia]


(Moderator's note: Intuit, the makers of Quicken, acquired Mint.com in September, 2009.)

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thanks for the good answers and discussion. I ended up reading mint.com's mint.com/privacy section and read a lot about their security and privacy policies, but in the end, just as Philip said, it's down to researching, trusting a company's word, and monitoring the monitor's reputation. so far, I have to say mint.com looks (or maybe looked) better than intuit. maybe it's because intuit is a bigger company therefore bigger target. –  interneter Oct 21 '09 at 5:40
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Intuit bought mint, so they are the same company now. mint.com/press/intuit-completes-acquisition-of-mint-com/… –  MrChrister Nov 18 '09 at 23:02

8 Answers 8

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Whether or not I trust them depends entirely on the personal finance application. In the cases of Mint and Quicken, I would trust both. Always make sure to do plenty of research before submitting any personal information to any source.

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Why would you trust both? Also, QASeekr makes a good point - is it permitted by most online banking agreements to disclose one's password to a third party? –  Chris W. Rea Oct 19 '09 at 21:54
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For example, mint is currently owned by Intuit, a company that we trust with lots of information for tax purposes such as social security numbers, and lot of other personal finance information. If we wouldn't trust a budgeting site run by them, why would we trust their tax preparation? Any reputable company that works with such software has certain compliance tests that they have to pass. Banking institutions actually work with these companies to make sure that they are able to work with them. Many banks even include special export formats to work with outside finance software and websites. –  Phillip Benages Oct 20 '09 at 2:23
    
Another factor to consider is what would happen if their databases got hacked or some employee leaves their laptop with your data in it lying around in a coffee shop. I prefer keeping as much of my personal data as offline as possible. –  Giablo Oct 20 '09 at 5:03
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@Phillip: The devil is in the details. Intuit doesn't need my bank password to do my taxes. –  Scott Whitlock Nov 17 '09 at 4:15
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If you auto deposit you give Quicken your back account number. That is all they need to draw money from you even without a password. Ever pay by check over the phone. Account and routing number is all they need to take your money. –  MrChrister Nov 18 '09 at 23:01

The only people who should know my online bank password are me & my spouse. Forget it, I won't share that sensitive information with any other company. I might as well give a blank check!

Besides, don't banks require people to keep their username & password & PIN private? I signed an agreement to that effect, I think! So even if I did find the online services compelling enough to try, I would want to check with my own bank first & ask them if it's OK to give my password to somebody else. I wonder what they would say to that!!

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I also remember the person in the bank specifically pointing out that I was signing that agreement. –  Scott Whitlock Nov 17 '09 at 4:14

I think a lot of people would respond with something like "you use bank machines and online banking, don't you?" That is the same reason I hear people supporting voting machines and even online voting, but the problem is that there are significant differences.

Take a service like mint.com compared with your bank for example. The bank is a regulated company with insurance to back up your money should they make a mistake. Even if someone steals your debit card and drains your account, you will usually get all your money back. Banks have deep pockets and even the government has a vested interest in making sure the banks stay afloat. When they do make a mistake (and they will) you are usually quite safe.

On the other hand, mint.com is a third party that you are just going to hand over your bank passwords to. I think it is reasonable to ask:

  • What kind of insurance do they have?
  • How do they store the passwords? Is it on their own servers, or are they authenticated through the banks servers?
  • If an employee of mint.com got into your accounts and sucked them dry, how long will it take to clear everything up from your point of view? Will the account be locked for months?

I am not saying not to use mint.com, but it is certainly reasonable to ask these questions.

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I personally use mint.com and find the alerting feature to be handy. The reports and ledger are nice for a web page and attractive, but I use Quicken for really keeping track of my money and budget. Mint.com just doesn't offer the depth I want; but a lack of depth is a feature for some people.

The one thing I do is to check my accounts online every couple of days (not just via mint's interface). I am still protected from fraud if someone steals my money regardless of the vector of attack. So mint's fault or not, I have to keep on top of my outgoing and incoming transactions with frequency so I can stop problems before they get too deep.

summary: the security is important, but being secure or not doesn't absolve me of being aware of all the transactions on my account. I will still be protected by consumer laws (as much protection as that is) but I can't expect mint to fix any problems it might cause.

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I have to disagree with Scott's point about bank's ability to reimburse you for money withdrawn by people who stole your debit-card - that is only limited to transactions taken place after you reported the lost of the card (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre04.shtm). In the event that someone got into your banking account and conduct transactions without your knowledge, you are pretty screwed unless you can prove it wasn't you who did the transaction. The same goes for people whose debit card was "copied" (e.g. by swiping through those hacked ATM) - the bank's insurance policy doesn't kick in until you report loss.

Mint.com is very nice website and too bad it doesn't work for Canadians. I instead opt'd for Yodlee (moneycenter.yodlee.com) which is the engine behind Mint but works for Canadians (but without all the social network aspects/features). These sites are good for aggregating your various personal financial info online, but none of them are good enough (yet) for me to ditch my Microsoft Money - oh wait, MS has decided to discontinue the product and I need to look another one...

Chris

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We had a situation where Tammy's debit card was copied. Someone used a fake card to withdraw several hundred dollars of money. The account was frozen for a couple of days until a new card could be issued. We weren't held liable for any of it. –  Scott Whitlock Nov 17 '09 at 4:14
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That's very interesting... I guess the bank involved must be satisfied with Tammy's claim that her card was copied - that's hard to prove unless she banked at a known "modified" ATM bank machine... Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs have published their guideline of Debit Card Fraud liability at ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/ca01836.html. So there are situations where you won't be held liable (if you can prove it). To my point, you have to prove it's wasn't you (i.e. card copied) or you surrendered the card and PIN under extraordinary circumstances. –  Complexity Nov 18 '09 at 18:33
    
There are cameras at all the ATMs I visit. I wonder if that is all the proof they need? –  MrChrister Nov 18 '09 at 22:59
    
Not really... Some of us might give our bank cards and PIN to trusted friends/family for them to do some banking for us. For a while, I was the one doing all the ATM transactions for my mother (until she was comfortable with English and this whole technology thing) –  Complexity Nov 21 '09 at 2:05
    
Yodlee works great. Lacking on the mobile side though. –  user968 Oct 3 '10 at 3:21

Like a dog staring at a bone, I just cannot keep myself from jumping on this.

Distrust and caution are the parents of security.
- Benjamin Franklin

That, in a nutshell, explains my view on mint.com and any other such service.

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Couldn't have said it better. I don't understand on what basis you would decide to "trust" an online service like Mint with your banking credentials and information. (Other than not caring.) –  duffbeer703 Dec 3 '10 at 19:28

I think you really have to ask yourself if its worth it, the risk/reward. Can you trust a publicly traded company with your data in return for the analytics you can get back from them?

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Mint is only an organizer of information that is actually aggregated by different services. Currently data aggregation for mint is being done by Yodlee and also by Intuit's own aggregation service.

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