Financial app users should be aware of 'screen scraping'

Have you heard of something called "screen scraping?” Think scraping information off the screens of your apps. If you use personal finance apps, it could be happening to you.

Financial apps have access to some of your most personal information, from how much money you have to how you spend it.

To use budgeting apps, you often have to provide the usernames and passwords for your bank accounts, which could allow the app to pull any data it wants from your account in a process called "screen scraping.”

According to Consumer Reports, users might not realize their providing that info to the app company, not their banks. And you don't know who you're sharing it with, what exact information they're seeing, and how long they're going to keep accessing your account. 

You might sign up for one, try it, and then forget about it while these companies continue to have access to your data.

The reason for screen scraping? Making money. Once an app has access to your data, they can charge advertisers for that information so they can target you with goods and services that match your spending habits.

But Consumer Reports says banks are starting to give customers more tools to connect to these apps more safely. Some banks are creating dashboards to let customers decide what information to share. Maybe you’re OK with you credit card balance being shared, but not your mortgage.
How to find the dashboards, per Consumer Reports:

Bank of America

  • From the home page, click on the “Help and Support” drop-down.
  • Select “Security Center.”
  • Click on “Third-Party Site Access” tab.
  • To revoke an app’s access, click on “Revoke.”


  • On home page, click on the hamburger menu (the three horizontal lines in the upper-left corner) to show the Main Menu.
  • Click on “Profile and Settings.”
  • Click on “AccountSafe.”
  • Click on “Linked apps and websites”; a list of apps will be displayed.
  • On an app you want to adjust, click on the caret to open the full menu. Here you can manage your sharing settings.
  • To stop sharing data, click on the “stop sharing account info” link.


  • Citi has a dashboard for some customers in Asia but has not yet introduced it in the U.S.

Wells Fargo

  • From the Wells Fargo home page, hover over “Banking and Credit Cards” to reveal the drop-down menu.
  • Click on “Control Tower.”
  • Click on “Monitor Data Sharing.”
  • Select accounts from which you want to control data sharing.