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Are Budget Tracking Apps Secure?

by Clifton Hayes
Are Budget Tracking Apps Secure

Budget monitoring apps have been around for a while now, so the issue of whether they’re secure or not seems to have been already answered.

“Of course, budget tracking apps are safe,” you might think. “If they weren’t, there wouldn’t be so many of them.”

Many budget management apps are literally household names. You’ve heard of Mint.com and Quicken. You need another common budget, often called YNAB. Others are EveryDollar, PocketGuard, Clarity Money, Goodbudget, Movements, CountAbout and Personal Resources.

Overall, budget monitoring apps are secure, but you can’t be blamed for worrying, particularly if you begin to recall the different department store chains that have been hacked over the years, and how city councils have been victims of ransomware attacks.

You do want to be wise when dealing with money problems, so here are some best practices to use these handy apps:

Tips for using a budgeting app

  1. Review the privacy policy — Before choosing the app, look at its privacy policy. These can often be lengthy, full of legal jargon, so searching the word “sell” or “share” in the privacy statement is a good idea. Then you can quickly verify that the app won’t sell your personal data to third parties for targeted advertising. If the app has no privacy statement, find another app.
  2. Check the security level of the app. These apps manage financial information, so financial institution-level security measures should be used. Look for the user data encryption requirements of the app (128-bit is good; 256-bit is better) to see if it has two-factor authentication as your login option (it will add an additional security layer to your password).
  3. See who owns the software. Various budgeting applications are operated by large financial institutions, that should provide safe and secure handling of user data.
  4. Password protect the phone — To ensure that nobody can take a look at your finances, set up a password or PIN or fingerprint to access the device’s home screen. This is also essential to protect your bank account.
  5. Using your phone’s antivirus— Malware targeting financial accounts is rising, but even if you don’t use a budgeting app, you can always install a robust antivirus.
  6. Be cautious when using any budgeting app over public wifi—  Never check your bank account or any budgeting app over unsecured public Wi-Fi — it’s too easy for hackers to see what you’re doing. If you’re away from home and need to use the app, use your cell data instead of connecting to a free public network, or consider using a VPN to encrypt your connection.

What if a criminal spends my money?

Generally, if a thief managed to spend your money using your credit card, your credit card provider could protect you. For the most part, credit cards provide zero-liability insurance, meaning if your card is stolen and you disclose it in a timely manner, you are not liable for any fraudulent charges on it. The U.S. Equal Credit Billing Act restricts customer liability to $50 for fake credit card transactions, and similarly, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act covers transfers. When debit cards are stolen, the responsibility and procedure depend on each bank.

What are the best budgeting applications?

Know, any program you use must have a strong privacy statement. Finding the right app will depend on your personal needs. Are you solo, or a couple or family? Share expenses with a roommate? Want financial advice inherent in the app, or just a quick budget tracker? Here’s a list of five countries’ most popular apps. Check them out and find the favorite one.

U.S. & Canada

YNAB — The letters are “You Need A Budget.” This app leaves no uncounted dollar and forces you to think about every penny you spend.

PocketGuard — This one is easy to set up and helps you find saving opportunities by looking at your recurring monthly bills and recommending better budget offers.

Mint — Mint’s best-known budgeting software boasts 20 million users and counting. Intuit owns it and sends reminders when you go over budget.

U.K.

Moneyhub — To figure investment funds into your budget monitoring, Moneyhub will work for you. It even looks at your recurring expenses and alerts you to a better offer.

Squirrel — Developed to help make money last to payday. It divides bill money from spending money, allowing you to set simple savings targets.

Money Dashboard — See all your accounts in one location and set limits based on past month spending. This software supports 60 financial vendors, including big Wall Street banks.

Australia/New Zealand

Pocketbook — With Pocketbook, you can set spending limits, and link the app to your bank to automatically track your income and expenses.

TrackMySPEND — This lets you classify your expenses, extract data for quick analysis, and export to those other accounting applications.

PocketSmith — Crafted in New Zealand, this budgeting software simplifies the budgeting activities, claiming to be Australia’s “Mint alternative.”

Like any app, budget trackers really aren’t 100% risk-free. And as long as you’re practicing smart digital habits both on your cell phone and your device (whether Desktop or MAC), budgeting apps can be a fantastic way to track your expenses, pay off your mortgage, or just save on a rainy day.


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