Hidden danger at Mint.com

Banks warn that using aggregators like Mint can void your protection against fraud.

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The allure of financial aggregator sites like Mint.com is easy to grasp: they let you pull together all of your bank, credit card and investment information in one place, which makes it much easier to see the big picture. But the federal government’s Financial Consumer Agency of Canada recently warned that by disclosing your passwords to such sites, you might be nullifying an important agreement with your bank that covers you in case of fraud.

When MoneySense contacted the big five banks about the issue, they confirmed that this is the case. “By requiring bank customers to divulge their confidential access codes and passwords, Mint.com is inducing breach of contract between Scotiabank and its banking customers,” said Scotia’s Joe Konecny. CIBC’s Rob McLeod was equally blunt. “You are responsible for any losses from any use by a third party that provides an online account aggregation service.”

Intuit-owned Mint.com claims its service is as safe as the banks’ own websites. “The real reason banks don’t want people using Mint.com,” says founder Aaron Patzer, “is because it provides transparency into the fees and other practices some banks engage in.”

Toronto IT lawyer Gil Zvulony believes eventually Canadian banks will learn to work with Mint, but in the meantime, he advises consumers to play it safe. “If there is fraud on your account, even if it’s not related to Mint or another aggregator site, there is still a potential that the bank will deny you fraud protection.”

15 comments on “Hidden danger at Mint.com

  1. It might be a good idea to post this as a comment to Moneysense's recommendation of MINT a few months back. :-)

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  2. This is really good to know, thanks for informing us.

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  3. I used MS as a 'guide' to setting up the Mint tool and would appreciate some comments on what the best course of action might be. Hopefully there is another option than removing the Mint account and going back to the HB/Hilroy solution! Thx.

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    • there is an option. It's take a gamble and hope that Mint's databases are never compromised.

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  4. If you close your account, does that mean that your covered for fraud related activity again? I didn't know this – wish I would have before signing up!

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    • I think a better question you should be asking is: is this an appropriate place to seek an answer to such an important question? Jenn, if you have your life savings in accounts you provided Mint access to, you will certainly not be protected unless you change your passwords.

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  5. I contacted Mint to raise these concerns a few months ago and all the could give me was canned responses about how safe they are. They had absolutely nothing to say about how the banks dont approve of using Mint. When I asked them if they are working on dealing with the banks to resolve this, I got no response

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  6. This is pretty silly. We all know that there is a very real potential that even banks networks can be hacked. At least they have insurance for that. What happens if Mint gets hacked and someone gains access to the database? I don't think either the banks or Mint will be giving your money back.

    People, this is 2011. If you aren't savy enough to think this is a potential security issue, you need to get with the times and educate yourself.

    The people on here saying you contacted Mint or your bank. Think about what you are asking. You have to enter into an agreement with your bank that you will not disclose your pin or passwords to anyone, even your spouse. So what thought process is involved that would lead you to call your bank or Mint and ask if this is kosher? It doesn't take a lawyer to figure out there is a conflict here and that if something were to happen to your accounts you'll be left out in the cold.

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  7. Isn't BMO advertising something Mint-like right now? I'm a Scotiabank customer so I'm not sure, but did catch a TV ad recently that made me look into Mint. Why don't the banks just bring Mint-like services into their computer systems as a bonus to their over-bank-fee'ed customers?

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  8. I am aware it is 2011 and all things 'net based are subject to compromise, with that said I am disappointed that not one of the reputable reviewing sources bothered to mention the possible risks. Due diligence is the name of the game these day. What I do find somewhat ironic is that CDN banking institutions can come forward and point out the exposure using Mint etc but support aggregator logic across other institutions. i.e. RBC aggrgates other banking information (BMO MC) into a common account view. As far as I know this should also violate the 'password et al' rules.

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  9. I prefer the option of manually dowlnoading/exporting my own bank statements in file format, and importing the information into a local accounting software residing on your personal computer.

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  10. Pingback: Toronto IT Lawyer and sharing your password with Mint.com

  11. When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any method you can take away me from that service? Thanks!

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  12. Pingback: Why I Cancelled Mint.com

  13. Maybe these big company’s could she’ll out and support them in a read only state. With a different t password so you can only view select information and it would be what I select when I set up the read only portion.
    Seems a simple solution. But fuck it it’s dangerous. Is a easier way to do this lol

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