Should You Link Your Bank Accounts to Third-Party Financial Apps?

Should You Link Your Bank Accounts to Third-Party Financial Apps?

Personal finance apps are convenient and provide benefits such as saving money and managing your investments from your mobile devices, but they also put you at increased risk for having your financial information hacked.

Services such as Mint, Paypal, Venmo, and Digit, as well as apps from your bank and investment company, allow you to make financial transactions over your mobile phone and computer. Theses services claim to provide the highest degree of security.  However, with hackers getting more sophisticated and data breeches becoming more prevalent, it pays to examine whether sharing your private financial information is a risk that you want to take and whether there are ways to become less vulnerable.

The skilled and seasoned Ohio debt-relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer understand that security breeches and financial disasters can happen to even the most careful and well-intentioned people.  If you are having problems, we offer a free consultation to evaluate your entire financial situation and determine which debt-relief solutions will work best for you.

Call one of our conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) or email for your free consultation.

What Are Personal Finance Apps?

Personal finance apps can include anything from online banking applications from your personal bank to services like Paypal that allow you to pay bills online.  Often, they are mobile-based financial apps that allow for greater control of financial planning and spending, and they may link directly to your financial accounts.

Potential Problems

Since your account information is typically stored in one centralized location on your mobile, these apps make it easier for a hacker who breaks into one site to access all your information. Many financial apps require your banking and credit card information, even your username and password, and the apps create a duplicate of your financial data. The more services you sign up for and the more devices you use, the more places your information can be found. That means more opportunities for hackers to discover your information or to have it leaked should a particular site have a security breach.

So How Safe Are My Apps?

The chances of a hacker’s successfully pulling off a data breach depend on the strength of the security protocols of both banks and popular financial apps.  Apps run by reputable financial tech industry giants like Intuit (which owns Mint) and Paypal are extremely security-conscious.  Hackers know this and will probably find it easier to target you directly. Unfortunately, linking services can also increase the attacks targeting you, such as creating a custom email to obtain your banking or credit card information by pretending to be a representative from your bank or your financial app. Information gained from one account could be used to access another account.

To date there have been no wide-scale known security breaches of these apps. In fact, ethical hackers, who use their technical expertise for good by exposing and reporting security vulnerabilities, have allowed companies a chance to fix any flaws before a malicious hacker has been able to exploit them.

Ethical hackers at NowSecure conducted a App Security Study, testing the security protocol of 32 financial apps. Ten of the apps received a “Warn” rating, and eight failed the test.  Mint.com Personal Finance, now rated as one of the top five financial apps, failed the test due to storing sensitive account information directly on the phone.

What You Can Do

If you are aware of the risks and still choose to use personal finance apps, there are things you can do to increase your security.  These include:

  1. Examine the terms of service for your bank — Some banks reserve the right to waive fraud reimbursement if you link your bank account to one of these apps. Others are helpful and may provide you with a temporary login to link your accounts to the service so you don’t have to give out online banking login credentials.
  2. Examine terms of service for the app — Pay attention to the security and data retention policies, what the company will do to protect your data, whether it sells any of your information, and what happens to data if you leave the service or it goes out of business.
  3. Find out what security features are offered by the apps — Look for things like two-factor authentication of secure HTTPS sites.

Contact us for Help and Guidance

The experienced Ohio debt-relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer know that hackers are getting more sophisticated all the time and that having your security data compromised can wreak havoc with your finances. If fear of being hacked is only one of your financial problems and you find yourself sinking into debt in spite of your best efforts to manage your money, we can help.

We recognize that everyone’s individual situation is different, so we offer a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION to evaluate your entire financial situation and make sure you are aware of all your debt-relief options. We will examine your income, your debts and your goals and help you find the best and most affordable path to a brighter financial future.

Delaying can only make your situation worse, so take control of your financial future and learn more about how our firm can be of assistance today.  Call one of our conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) or for your free consultation so we can determine what financial solutions will work best for you.

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