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BillGuard Review - Free Service to Monitor Credit & Debit Card Transactions

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BillGuard Review - Free Service to Monitor Credit & Debit Card Transactions

If you are a heavy user of credit or debit cards, it can be easy to miss questionable transactions. Those transactions could be errors, charges from unwanted services or fraudulent charges. This is where BillGuard comes in. According to the BillGuard website:

BillGuard is a free personal finance security service that alerts you to unwanted and unauthorized transactions on your credit card and debit card bills.

It reminds me of the Mint.com service which can be used to automatically monitor your financial accounts. Like Mint.com, BillGuard is free for users. As this TechCrunch article mentioned, BillGuard just became completely free. Previously, it was free for just the first card.

BillGuard provides a How it Works page, but it doesn't mention a few important details. This NetBanker post has a better description of how it works. Here's an excerpt:

1. Register at the site with just your email address and ZIP code

2. Enter your username and password for a credit card account into the Yodlee-powered aggregation engine

3. The past 30 days of transactions are immediately downloaded and analyzed for potentially fraudulent or unwanted charges

Just like Mint.com, it requires that you enter your accounts' usernames and passwords. This is the fundamental problem with these services. If a hacker is able to break into the service, he has the potential to steal your login info of all your financial accounts. This BillGuard security page stresses its security technology and strict privacy policy. According to BillGuard:

When you register a card with BillGuard, you provide our servers read-only access to your credit/debit card statements online.

I'm not sure how it can ensure read-only access if the financial institution doesn't provide a read-only login password. The only institution that I know about which has started providing read-only access codes is ING Direct (see my ING Direct Access Code review).

Nothing is 100% safe. It's always a question of tradeoffs. Do the potential benefits of using the BillGuard service outweigh the potential risks? According to the TechCrunch article:

BillGuard has actually saved its beta testers over $200,000 in refundable bad charges found in only the first month and the service found unwanted and unauthorized charges on 20% of its beta tester’s cards.

I have a feeling most of the regular readers of this blog may not see the same amount of savings. Those who are active reward checking account users have likely always been regularly monitoring their debit card purchases to ensure they meet the monthly requirements.

Thanks to the reader who emailed me news of this service.



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Comments
4 Comments.
Comment #1 by darkdreamer4u posted on
darkdreamer4u
I've always been watching every charge I make on any of my many cards and I keep track of charges and balances using an Excel spreadsheet, so comparing the balances on the spreadsheet with what's showing online is easy and serves as a fool-proof way to detect any discrepancies. In all the years I've been doing this, a grand total of 2 or 3 charges were wrong or not mine. I'd rather do it my way than open the flood gate to potential hackers, but that's just me...

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Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Who with a right mind will give passwords and credit/debit account numbers to a stranger,
I would never apply for such dangerous service.
The possibility to lose your shirt is greater at BillGuard than to have fraudulent charge on you credit cards.
By the way, most credit cards have $0 liability for fraudulent charges if found within 60 days.
And how on earth BillGuard will know which is fraud and which is not, unless you tell them so. And then what, BillGuard will tell you to contact the bank or Visa or MC to clear the fraud by yourself.
Useless service to say the least.

10
Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
“BillGuard has actually saved its beta testers over $200,000 in refundable bad charges found in only the first month and the service found unwanted and unauthorized charges on 20% of its beta tester’s cards.”

I think an employee or employees conspired to make those charge so to make a point that such service is needed and to keep themselves employed.

I trust nobody with my credit cards numbers, even less with the passwords..

11
Comment #7 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I must agree, what I do each and every month is check all of my charges against what I am billed for and I find mistakes at least 6-10 times a year..................I must agree I would not want to have passwords out to a company that is doing what I should be doing all along!

1