I remember the excitement in the room when BillGuard presented in the Startup Battlefield at the TechCrunch Disrupt 2011 conference in New York City. They’ve come a long way since then, moving from a web-only application to developing apps for both the Google Play and Apple app stores. As the year comes to an end, BillGuard has been named by Google as a Best App of 2014.
TechCrunch Disrupt 2011 in New York City, NY. You can see their original presentation at Disrupt at the bottom of this page.
In the presentation, Yaron Samid, CEO and co-founder of BillGuard, says that the average American will spend $300 on accidental and unknown charges in 2011, including things like hidden fees and subscriptions to forgotten products. Overall, consumers were expected to lose over $7 billion to fraud that year, while banks would catch only a third of this.
BillGuard was designed to remedy this situation. It’s a free, crowdsource bill protection platform, providing alerts about potentially suspicious fees that have been flagged by other users. Instead of having to pore over your bills with a magnifying glass, BillGuard shines a spotlight on suspicious charges for you.
This app is extremely simple to use. Begin by loading your credit cards and bank accounts, and BillGuard will use transaction data going back 90 days from the current date.
Your transaction data is neatly displayed for review, broken down by account or all grouped together. You can’t pay your bills through BillGuard, but you can ensure that you’re only making payments that you want to be. Your inbox will be populated with your recent transactions, letting you see all of your spending in one place. When you authorize all of your transactions you’ll know that you’re in the clear.
The real value of BillGuard is the community of active users. When a merchant becomes flagged by too many users, any transactions that you have with that merchant will be automatically marked as suspicious. When going through your own transactions or receiving notices like this, you’ll be forced to take some kind of action on charges that you mark as fraudulent.
You can mark these as OK, get more information about the merchant or why the complaint was filed, or just leave it to follow up on later. If you’re curious about a particular transaction, you can easily get more information about it through a pre-filled web search or message to a friend.
It even learns your habits the more you use it. As you confirm that particular charges are valid with a quick swipe to the right or place them in spending categories, BillGuard will remember your actions and automatically do the same to those kinds of charges in the future. The locations of your transactions are tracked as well, so BillGuard can alert you if your credit cards are being used away from you.
Saving Money with BillGuard
Perhaps the most incredible thing about BillGuard is its ability to actually get your money back for fraudulent charges. If you have an fraudulent transaction on your account, you can authorize BillGuard to do the work of getting your money back. When you report the problem, you’ll describe it for the BillGuard community, and then BillGuard will contact the merchant and begin the dispute process for you.
Since BillGuard tracks where you shop, it can save you money by searching the web for coupons that it knows will be useful to you. When a coupon is found you’ll be given the option to have it sent to your email address.
BillGuard is also taking action when it comes to data breaches. If a data breach is reported for merchants that you may have done business with, you’ll be sent an alert with details. You can also see how many users have been notified; recently, over 100,000 people were notified about a breach at the U.S. Postal Service in early November.
BillGuard is a unique tool, built to solve an old and pervasive problem. Some of us at Credit Card Insider have been enjoying it as well, tracking our purchases and getting a better perspective on our finances. If you want to join the community of users and take advantage of the power of crowdsourcing.