Apr 12, 2008

Why I Decided Not To Join Revolution MoneyExchange

In the last few weeks, many (if not most) personal finance bloggers have been encouraging people to join Revolution MoneyExchange (a service akin to PayPal) through referral links. The referrer gets $10 and the person creating the new account gets $25, so it seems like a good deal. If you like the blogger who referred you, presumably you're happy to help them earn $10 for something that also makes you money.

I was all set to sign up, but being an attorney, I always feel obligated to read the fine print that I'm required to say I've read before signing up. I hit a roadblock when I read the privacy policy. The part that concerned me says (emphasis added):
We collect information about you from the following sources:
  • Information we receive from you, including information on applications or other forms, such as your name, address, social security number, assets and income;
  • Information about your transactions with us, our affiliates, or others, such as your account balance, transaction and payment history, parties to transactions, and credit card usage; and
  • Information we receive from a consumer reporting agency, such as your creditworthiness and credit history.
We may disclose all of the information that we collect, as described above. You may opt out of the disclosure of such information, other than as permitted by law.
Maybe it's because I'm recovering from a rough bout of the flu (the kind that makes your joints and back ache, and has given me a killer sore throat for the last three days), but I just didn't find the opt out to be enough reassurance that they wouldn't disclose my social security number and other information to just anyone. For obvious reasons, I find it much more reassuring to deal with a company who starts from the customer-centric position of, "We will protect your personal identification and never disclose it without permission or as required by law." (See, e.g., Mint.com's privacy policy.)

I've had a PayPal account for years, but I had no recollection of what their privacy policy says. So I checked it out. What I found is too long to quote here, but it includes this reassurance:
PayPal will not sell or rent any of your personal information to third parties in the normal course of doing business and only shares your personal information with third parties as described in this policy.
Basically, it's the opposite of what Revolution MoneyExchange says.

I realize that it's most likely Revolution MoneyExchange doesn't intend to do anything different from PayPal and will protect its customers' personal information in much the same way, using it for marketing purposes only (and of course, to perform the services it's designed to perform). I just don't like it when a company gives itself more wiggle room in certain areas than it really needs. The risk to my privacy and personal information isn't worth $25.


Monica said...

Wow, thanks for the heads up! I did consider signing up after seeing this on several blogs recently. I just didn't feel good about it and I am a regular pay-pal user. I came over from a link from Like Merchant Ships. Thanks again for reading the fine print!

Edi said...

I was interested in signing up with it. I already have a PayPal account - but was interested in getting the $25 :)...and not being charged so much for transactions, like happens with PayPal.

I asked my personal CPA (A.K.A. my dh) and he had never even heard of the company - didn't even come across it in any of his financial boards/discussion groups etc that he follows...so he thought it best to wait until there is more news about it and whether or not it's a trustworthy change from PayPal.

Jennifer said...

It certainly did seem everyone was signing up for this deal. I was tempted, but something was holding me back. I just didn't want to give out all that information, bank accts, socials, etc. I just didn't want to mess with it, I have been perfectly happy with Paypal, so I didn't bother. I am now glad that I didn't!

mama k said...

I did sign up because my customers were asking for it. (I own an estore) I was hesitant, but went ahead and didn't link it up to my bank account yet.
I am hoping I made the right decision now. eek.

Rina said...

Thank you SO much for the info. I was unable to sign up for Revolution (although I tried) because I'm Canadian - but now I'm so glad I was unable to.

I'll stick with my Paypal account!

Do you mind if I link to this post in my blog??

Mercedes said...

Thanks so much for this! I told my husband about how "we had to sign up" for these free $25 but he told me he had to check it out first. Thank you for reading the fine print!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for checking this out. I was considering it, but I'm always reluctant to try the hot new thing.


Unknown said...

I did sign up for RME and found that the bank that it is associated with is from the Dakotas and has a fabulous reputation. I gave them the same information that I gave my regular brick and mortar bank when opening an account with them. I think our privacy has already been sold so many times knowlingly nad unknowingly by companies we have done business with in the past that at this point I'm not very concerned. The fact that I'm a blogger with readers all over the world pretty much means I have given up a certain level of personal privacy. Thanks for the specific information though because truthfully I did not think it was different from paypal. I will be printing out the page from their website that asks you to mail in if you have a problem with their privacy policy. I encourage others who also already signed up to do the same.

Chief Family Officer said...

Thanks for your comments everyone!

@Mama K - Don't worry too much, just make sure you take all the steps for opting out!

@Mama Bear - Of course not! I welcome and appreciate all link love :)

@Angie H - I don't doubt that RME has sound backing. I am just concerned that the fine print is unnecessarily loose. Why would they use that phraseology if they didn't think that they might, at some point, sell all that info for profit? Not necessarily to a shady company, but I could see them giving themselves that option in order to preserve their profitability if they can't adequately compete with PayPal. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Hoorah for you! I want to scream everytime I read someone promoting this and the new only Banking online banks. Read all of the fine print folks! We in america have given up soooooooooooooo many of our personal rights. Hold on to the last few tightly. I am so glad you spoke up, being an attorney maybe a few folks will listen.

Chief Family Officer said...

@anon - Thanks. Let me be clear, though, just because I am attorney does not mean I dispense legal advice! It does mean that I learned in law school that the fine print is (generally) enforceable, however, which is why it's important to read it :)

Camille said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Father Sez said...

You have done a major public service.

If people want to join RME, at least they'll do after knowing this fact.


Mercedes said...

Hi Camille,
Please update later if they put your account on hold for not being able to verify your ssn. I worked for a financial services and know that this process takes a few days but at leats with this company it is done.
I also think that if you don't get your account put on hold it would also be another red flag. What about all of the people who will use the service to conduct business (not just for the free $25), how will they feel when they get scammed by someone who provided false personal information and can't go forward getting a complaint resolved because of this?

Anonymous said...

Great article! Thanks for taking the time to read the fine print... I'll be sure to point it out to others!


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for letting us know about this.What should we do if we have already signed up for this.If we cancel are we ok?Thanks Kristin

Rhonda said...

thanks so much for this information. You may of just saved lots of us from trouble.
I read about the program but was too busy to decide for sure and now I am glad I did not join.

I'll just stick with Paypal, I've been using them for about 7 or more years and have always been happy with them.

Anonymous said...

I was also concerned about the privacy policy. I eventually decided to go for it.

From the research I did it looks like Revolution Money Exchange account holders will likely get credit card offers from Revolution Money.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Camille - Interesting that it worked. I would hesitate to do such a thing myself since I suspect it would constitute fraud.

@Kristin - I think the best thing you can do is follow their procedure for opting out, since that is the alternative they suggest themselves. And don't panic - I honestly don't think they're up to anything sinister.

Right Brain Thinker said...

Thank you for reading the fine print for those of us that sometimes just skim through it!

Miranda said...

I wasn't too sure about this. I've even been reluctant to have a Paypal account. Thank you so much for diving into the fine print. I no longer feel like I was missing out on "free" money!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your post. I started the sign-up process, but stopped short when they wanted me to give my SSN. They say they require it so that no one can use my account without my authorization. It seems like there would be other security measures they could use besides my SSN. I don't think I will go through with the sign-up.

Joan J said...

I, too, read all the fine print including the privacy policy and did some research on First Bank. I signed up because I believe PayPal most definitely needs some competition. Once I signed (I did not have to provide bank info), I promptly mailed in my opt-out request as they instruct, stating they CANNOT share my information with anyone. Yesterday I received a nice check from them. As an Ebay seller, I'm keeping the account open in case I have customers requesting payment through them. My feeling - this is a reputable bank led by extremely reputable people -- and PayPal could use some competition to rein them in on fees. Just my two cents.

Kim E Upton said...

Someone linked me to this site, and I've linked others. Thanks for this post. :)

Clean ClutterFree Simple said...

Thanks for reading the fine print! I wasn't planning on joining, but I've seen the posts about Rev Money Ex. and wondered if I should look more closely at it. Again, you've saved me time and money! Go CFO!

Marcy said...

Thanks for this info! I was so tempted to sign up, but like some of the other commenters said, something was holding me back. I think I'm going to pass.

Anonymous said...

Clicked through from Like Merchant Ships and I wanted to thank you quickly for looking into this. Even $25 is a temptation, but I'm satisfied enough with PayPal that I didn't look into it.

Now I know I won't. Thank you again.

Mrs. U said...

Oh wow! I am so glad that I found this on your blog! I had JUST pulled up that site to sign up!!! THANK YOU!!

Mrs. U

Sarah Halter said...

I too skimmed the policy before signing up and didn't catch the part about how they could sell my social security number! A friend pointed it out to me yesterday. I wrote them an email expressing my disappointment (well, "disgust" actually) with this policy and asking them to reconsider it. I said that I would actively discourage other people from joining until they make some changes to the privacy policy. I might keep sending it everyday until I get some kid of response.

Also, someone asked in the comments if canceling will make a difference. The fine print I read today said that they can still share your information even if you no longer have an account. Since I already joined, it doesn't really help me to cancel, so my opt-out notice is in the mail.