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Is It Safe to Share My Data With Financial Apps?

February 10, 2023 • 3 min

Whether you’re looking for tools to help you create a budget, send or receive money, save money, improve your credit, or make investments, there’s software — and probably even an app — for that. All sorts of financial services are available to help you manage your finances, and many will require you to share your data with them. Learn more about how data sharing works, what you should consider when asked to share your data, and how to protect your data and accounts.

Data sharing services access, standardize and transport your data from financial institutions into an app or financial software — but only with your explicit permission.”

How does data sharing work?

When you use an app that helps you create a budget, you may be asked to provide access to your bank accounts and credit cards in order to analyze your income and spending habits. That’s where data sharing comes in. Data sharing services access and transport your data from financial institutions into an app or financial software — but only with your explicit permission. The most common pieces of data requested by such apps or software are your online banking credentials (User ID and password).

How your data is shared varies. In some cases, companies will only use your shared data once, perhaps to verify your identity or get information from your bank when you’re applying for a car loan. If you’re using a financial app to manage your budget, make payments or monitor your accounts, however, the service will use your shared data on an ongoing basis.

Shared data is often accessed by two companies: the app or software providing you with a service (such as the budgeting app), and a separate company, many times known as an aggregator, that facilitates the data sharing. (You may have come into contact with one of these aggregator companies when applying for a new account or loan, or when setting up transfers between bank accounts.)

Should I share my data?

The answer is up to you, and you should always do some research to help you decide. Here’s some questions you should answer before deciding to share your data.

  • How did you hear about the app or service? Is that source trustworthy?
  • What do others say about the service? Search for credible reviews and articles published by trusted news organizations. If you’re using an app, what do people say about it in your phone’s app store reviews?
  • Does the service have a phone number, email address or alternate way to contact them if you need to?
  • Does the service share your data with third parties?
  • How often will it access your data?
  • Can you review and change what data is being accessed?
  • What data is being stored? For how long?
  • Can the service make payments or move money between your accounts? Are you comfortable with the terms of those services?
  • How do you terminate the service’s access to your accounts? How can you delete the data you’ve shared?

You should review the app’s or service’s website and carefully read the terms and conditions to better understand what data will be used and how, and to answer the questions above. Make sure you understand how to dispute any errors, and what legal rights you have regarding disputes.

How to protect your data and your accounts

Whatever you decide about sharing your data with an app or software, you should follow these general guidelines to help protect your data and avoid unauthorized transactions.

  • Always check your statements for unauthorized transactions, especially if you’ve shared access to your accounts.
  • Turn off apps and services when you stop using them. On a mobile device, you can do this by signing out from the service and deleting the app from your device. Before you do that, you should cancel the authorization you provided for access to your data or financial accounts and, if applicable, tell the service to delete your data.
  • When you stop using the app, change your online banking password. See if your online banking account allows you to monitor which services are accessing your data, and ask your financial institution to block ones that are no longer valid.
  • Take action if you receive notice of a data breach. Change the password on the account and for your financial accounts, as well. You should also contact your financial institution to see what other steps you need to take to keep your information as secure as possible.

If you see a transaction you don’t recognize on your Patelco account, report it to us right away by calling 800.358.8228.


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