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Account aggregation: All-in-one convenience

Stay one click away from all your online accounts
Account aggregation

You have a checking account and a credit card from one bank, charge cards from two other banks, and a portfolio at an online brokerage. On top of that, you belong to two frequent-flier clubs.

Congrats. You're doing well.

There's another piece of good news: All of these accounts can be monitored on the Web, so you can look at your checking balance, see when your next payment is due, and swoon at your portfolio's performance. But who remembers all those log-in names and passwords?

Account aggregation lets you collect all that information onto one Web page. You log onto a Web site, enter a user name and password, and see information from several sites, each with its own user name and password. The data are collected and displayed in a format that you can use.

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Many banks offer aggregation on their Web sites. But if your bank or credit union doesn't have a Web site, you can sign up directly for My Yodlee service with Yodlee, the company that provides the technology to most banks.

Thriftiness
 

Banks seldom, if ever, charge to provide account aggregation. The service isn't free to your bank, but banks offer aggregation to stay competitive. When you sign up directly with Yodlee, that's free, too.

That may change in the future, but for now, enjoy the free ride!

Convenience
 

If your idea of convenience is starting your computer, logging onto the Internet, opening up a Web browser, and typing your user name and password to open a Web page -- all to find your credit card balances -- aggregation works like a charm.

Indeed, aggregation is convenient if you want to check up on your finances from the office computer or from the road. And when you want to see how much you charged on your cards since you got your statements in the mail, aggregation is nice.

Safety, security and privacy
 

Yodlee is the dominant player in this industry, and the company says it is fanatical about security. All data are encrypted and stored on computers in a building at an undisclosed address. To get into the data center, employees have to go through several identity checks, including a hand scan.

Yodlee promises that it won't share personally identifiable information with third parties. On the other hand, if you sign up for aggregation service through your bank's Web site, Yodlee says it can't control what the bank does with any information it gleans. You'll have to check your bank's privacy policy.

Related Stories:
8 steps to take if your identity is stolen
Key credit card questions
 
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-- Updated: Feb. 20, 2003
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