On My Watch

Friday, June 19, 2009

My (Personal) Activity Monitor?

Like waiting for my jetpack (still waiting...) I am also waiting for an activity monitor - like Business Activity Monitor (BAM) but for me - a Personal Activity Monitor (PAM). After years of promises and slew of technologies - both corporate (data warehouses, real time XML ..) and consumer (IM, RSS readers, ...), I know everything is possible and many things done. But I am just looking for an easy way to track things potentially complex things about me and my accounts, not just online social networking and communication accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, GMail, Skype ...) but transactional accounts (e.g. bank accounts). It is my information (so I should know it) but I don't always - and more importantly I want to monitor transactions and transaction status - and be alerted if something goes wrong or something is just not right.

I have wanted this for some time but, recently, there was fraud activity on my personal bank account. So now I really want it. I only found out because I happened to be log onto account for another reason - and I saw suspicious activity that I should have been notified of. (Essentially several unauthorized transactions over a 2 day period on the opposite - West - coast for unauthorized withdrawals 4-5 times bigger than either my wife or I usually take out). And if it didn't trigger bank algorithms, I should have been able to set up my own. Now, I did get the money back (but it cost me several hrs, some embarassment of bounced check on a closed account and still chasing the fee reimbursements), but it sure would have been better to catch it before it happened - or at least before it happened second or third time. Save the bank the money too since they had to cover it (and ultimately the country since this is a bank receiving billions in gov't bailout money). And the fact that the bank's systems were not set up just strengthens the impetus to push the filtering algorithms out to the users.

My credit card company allows me to configure various alerts, such as bills due or thresholds met and my brokerage account lets me set up simple trading triggers. But noone (at least none of my providers) let me set up more than simple monitors (like a threshold alert) that would catch a pattern preceding my bank account fraud. The amounts alone should have triggered an alert, or at least a watch. And noone lets me input other data (my travel schedule, for one thing, would have said I wasn't in California on those days) to process against the data they already have.

Providing consumers the ability to set up filters like this would actually save institutions/businesses (like banks) money (in analysis and engineering overhead) AND produce a better result I think - more customized, more able to take advantage of what I know about myself - more situationally aware.
Not sure exactly what it is (control of a Facebook plus SECURE access to real transactional data?) but I want my PAM...

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