Raise your hand if you’ve never downloaded or bought an app for your computer or mobile phone. Anyone?
The chances of finding someone who hasn’t got at least one app on one digital device are slimmer than finding a non-celebrity who thinks Scientology is a credible religion.
The app market is big and getting bigger all the time. Apple’s iStore did all the groundbreaking work for app developers but Android is hot on its heels and smaller startups are popping up all the time. There are apps for everything, from telling you when to remove your naval fluff to when you need to diversify your investment portfolio.
Personal finance apps
Personal finance is a term that covers everything from creating and managing a personal budget to loans, mortgages and health insurance. It’s a massive field so it’s not surprising that there are hundreds of apps that deal with every aspect of personal finance. They are designed for people who are monetary challenged and become flummoxed at the first sign of a spreadsheet, as well as those who play the stock market for fun.
In theory, anyone who ever allows money to find temporary residence in his or her wallet can use a personal finance app. There are articles scattered all around the internet that tell you, in no uncertain terms, that there are personal finance apps that you shouldn’t be without.
Are they right?
No, according to an article on Business Insider. At least not if you don’t exercise the proper caution, don’t pay proper attention to what is happening in your accounts and don’t guard your personal information.
Personal information is currency among a certain set of internet users; a very unsavoury set. These are the people who can use your phone number to hack into your accounts, steal your money and sell your identity to assassins who need a scapegoat. Imagine what they could do with all of your banking information. You could only find out that you’re paying off a house in Barbados or yacht in Monaco when your kids’ school fees bounce.
Aside from being vigilant about your information you also need to be circumspect about the apps you use. Fake apps work like phishing scams; you go through the downloading process only to find that your bank accounts have been cleared and your home sold to the mafia.
Another security concern is very basic; your phone could be stolen – with all your personal financial information available to anyone who cares to look. Even passwords that pass muster as ‘strong’ won’t be enough to protect your financial assets. You’ll need to phone all your service providers toot sweet to freeze your accounts and stop any transfers and payments in their tracks.
Business Insider also mentions the danger of over-reliance. People become so dependent on their apps that they are almost incapable of managing any financial decision without them. This is particularly dangerous if your apps don’t give you the full financial picture and you act without considering payments that only go off your account every four months instead of monthly or you rely on projected returns and not on what actually finds its way back to your pocket.
The easy way out
Sure, personal finance apps, like loan calculators and budget managers are handy. But you need to approach them in the same way as you would any solution that sounds too good to be true – carefully.
This guest post was written by Sandy Cosser on behalf of Direct Axis. Direct Axis is a personal financial services provider in South Africa that specialises in loans and insurance.