Jan 01 2008
RSS feeds are great for keeping up with breaking news. Would it be nice to use one to keep track of your expenses? Huh?
What I envision is your credit card company provides you with a feed for activity on your card. Maybe the feed address would be something like http://www.discovercard.com/feeds/498shfkcnwiruy2hfdnwlk. The random string at the end is unique to you, but knowing it doesn’t tell you anything about your card account number or identity.
You would subscribe to the feed with bloglines or google reader or whatever your favorite aggregator is. Then as soon as a charge gets posted on your account, a item shows up in the feed with the date, amount, and (possibly) vendor. So if you’re sitting at your desk toiling away while your significant other is out spending money with abandon, you are going to know about it right away. Plus if someone has stolen your card number and is buying a flat panel TV at your expense, you are going to see the fraud immediately.
I know there are security concerns with this. Would having a randomized feed URL with no relation to your account be enough? I doubt it. Anyone could randomly search for feeds and then see some info, but there is nothing there that tells anything about the person or the account. But…I’m sure someone would start scraping all the feeds they could find to deduce spending habits, and then try to do something with that data. It would be better if the RSS feeds would require a secure login in order to read them.
I started thinking about this after one or our credit card number got stolen and someone charged some items to it (all online purchases). We caught the problem when the paper statement came, and got the money back. After that episode I starting logging in to the online statement from the credit card company and looking through the charges more frequently. But that is not very fun, especially if you are many cards. If all your credit companies gave you an RSS feed, the process would be very easy and likely it would cut down on fraud.