Watch out - these are the personal finance apps most likely to steal away your personal data

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With Black Friday 2023 almost upon us and consumer spending on the up, many of us are turning to financial service apps to manage how we use our money amid an ongoing cost of living crisis.

The reality of these apps, says Merchant Machine, is that we’re sharing more data than is deemed necessary.

According to new September 2023 research of 204 apps, each with more than 5,000 user reviews, the average app requested 20 separate types of data. Some are legitimately collected for optimal functionality, but many of them fuel marketing and profiling.

All of these apps collect unnecessary personal data

The study analyzed some of the most popular financial service apps on the iOS App Store, including buy now pay later, online banking, budgeting and money management, stock trading and investing, cash-back, coupon, and money transfer apps.

The app found to be collecting the most data from consumers was ‘Robinhood: Investing for All’, gathering 25 different types of data. ‘PayPal - Send, Shop, Manage’, ‘PayPal Pay in 4’, ‘Klarna’, and ‘Groupon - Local Deals Near Me’ were all also collecting 21 or more types of data.

‘Chime - Mobile Banking’ and ‘Chase Mobile’ collected 23 and 20 categories of data, respectively, and a number of UK banking apps including ‘Monese: A Banking Alternative’, ‘Virgin Money Mobile Banking’, and ‘Starling Bank - Mobile Banking’ were also found to be highly intrusive.

Personal data isn’t just limited to some reasonably obvious parameters, like location, financial information, and some identifiers. Rather, Merchant Machine found apps to be collecting things like browsing history, search history, contact information, health and fitness data, and other sensitive information.

By contrast, ‘GO2Bank’, ‘RetailMeNot: Coupons, Cashback’, and ‘FreshBooks Accounting’ were only collecting two types of data each.

TechRadar Pro has asked for more information about why six of the most data-hungry apps collect the data that they do – ‘Mint: Budget & Expense Manager’, ‘Klarna’, ‘Ibotta: Save & Earn Cash Back’, ‘PayPal - Send, Shop, Manage’, ‘Chime - Mobile Banking’, and ‘Robinhood - Investing for All’. None of them responded immediately, but any updates will be published here.

We also asked Apple directly whether it has any overarching measures to ensure that developers can’t collect unnecessary information.

In the meantime, users can limit the amount of information they’re sharing by revisiting their privacy settings and revoking some permissions that are not a requirement of app functionality.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!