I love it when entrepreneurs take a trick from one market and apply it to another. The founders of BillGuard have done that with credit card fraud. They took the lessons from the anti-virus and anti-spam markets and apply it to your credit cards.

I just signed up for BillGuard and put four credit cards on the service. They asked me for my credit card website logins, I provided them, and they took down all the transactions and showed me this screen:

Billguard screenshot

They list all the transactions that they think could be problematic. Clearly the $29.86 charge by Charlie O'Donnell is problematic. I'll have to look into that one!

But on a more serious note, I see this recurring $16 transaction for Been Verified. I am sure I signed up for that service at some point to check it out for some reason. But at this point, I'm not using it and I should turn it off.

BillGuard is great for exactly this kind of thing. And it may also help with truly fraudulent transactions. I haven't run into any of them yet on my four cards.

BillGuard is taking a number of tricks from the anti-virus and anti-spam markets and applying them to credit cards. They have a database of merchants and know which ones have a bad reputation. They also take all the data from the users interacting with the service and use it to build enhanced reputation data. That is exactly how they do it in the ant-spam market.

The more users BillGuard gets, the better their data gets, and the better the service gets. That's why I encouraged BillGuard's CEO Yaron Samid to make the service free for all the cards you put on the service onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt. Turns out they took that advice and will monetize the service in other ways. I think that's great for users and great for BillGuard too.

If you worry that you are paying recurring charges on your credit cards that you don't need and that you may have fraudelent charges on your cards you don't know about, then BillGuard is for you. Check it out.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Just checked them & will sign up. Very impressive list of backers with Ron C, Howard G & Roger E + ex-Quigo. Wow.I wonder what the competitive environment is for such a service from banks & credit card companies. Are they partners & could this become a standard offering from them?

    1. fredwilson

      they are potential partners

      1. William Mougayar

        They just presented at Montreal’s Startup Festival.… and a short video about them. They answer the competition question:”NextMontreal: What’s the competition like in the space?Raphael: Banks should be offering our advanced form of card protection services beyond the basic anti-fraud protection they provide, but sadly they don’t yet. We expect that to change when we make it possible for them to offer BillGuard to their customers as a seamless part of their online and mobile banking.”

  2. Robert Thuston

    Some of the best innovations are borrowed from other industries (paraphrased Peter Drucker).  I appreciate a service that does 99% of the work for me, and “flags 4 items for my review”.  On a larger scale maybe the service can do 99% of the work for the Better Business Bureau, and flag companies for them to look into eliminating.

    1. fredwilson

      Reputation is measurable and valuable

  3. Joe Yevoli

    Looks pretty good to me.  Just signed up!Thanks for posting, Fred.

  4. Andrew Wong

    Great to see innovative startups like this surfacing in New York.

  5. Michael Clauss

    P&G’s Search and Reapply is a concept used inside the company to apply successful models and means to other verticals and products. I use this technique often with companies I start or consult with. This is a great application/example of search and reapply..

    1. Yaron Samid

      Thanks Michael!

  6. ShanaC

    This is an extremely good example of produfication of what we already know/do.Antivirus, not enough people think about – but bills, everyone does.

    1. Yaron Samid

      Thanks Shana!

    2. Guest


  7. Matt Busche

    anyone else having a problem where they can’t login after they created an account? It just keeps going back to the Sign Up page for me.

    1. Matt Busche

      Oops, I didn’t click on the email verification link. It took a while to get to me.

  8. Nicholas Kneuper

    This service looks like it would be a great complimentary product to They should integrate! I’d love to be going over my personal finances in mint and see BillGuard flagged transactions pop up.

    1. vankula

      That’s what I was thinking. Mint either already does this or has some features which bring your attention to unwanted charges and fees. 

    2. Yaron Samid

      We’ve been hearing this a lot and so have they. We actually met with Mint’s management team this week. Great synergies. 

      1. Bryan J Wilson

        The service is great – I would just hope that you wouldn’t be swallowed by the beast (so to speak) and lose some of the obviously inspired entrepreneurial spirit that allowed this to happen in the first place. Thanks!

  9. kirklove

    I always enjoy your posts when you speak as a user/fan.I’m also excited to see more and more entreprenuers tackle issues that might seem “boring”. Don’t mean that in a negative way. Photos, social, music, real-time are hot. Still, there are countless areas where innovation and a fresh take can reap major rewards for entreprenuers, investors, and users. Triple win.

  10. Brendan

    Believe that charge is a Mets ticket…

    1. fredwilson

      the charlie o’donnell one is for sure

    2. Yaron Samid

      This is the type of “Qoura of Transactions” interactions we’re seeing in the comments section of our transaction details panel in the BillGuard web app. Awesome. Thanks for sharing. 

  11. howardlindzon

    I met Yaron in Israel and even though I swore myself to no investing in Israel, I invested :)Than I invested in Etoro.  I may have to go back again.Rules are sometimes made to be broken.WRT investing in products you use, yes, especially for me with consumer products as I apply this to stocks as well.  It’s why I invested in  Lifelock and Golfnow, Apple and Amazon and Chipotles early.

    1. Yaron Samid

      Wow, just to be mentioned in the same breath as Chipotles is an honor we’ll stay up nights to live up to. Thanks man. Social Leverage rocks. Proud to have you as a Guardian Angel.#Framer

      1. YoniAssia

        I share the feeling ! Nothing like consumer tech done right, other than good tacos.Amazing product! Yaron, Rafi – may you expand like Chipotle 

  12. Billen Ted

    My credit card is also linked with my savings accounts and homeload. I don’t think I’m comfortable giving out my username and password to a website (that could get hacked) so that they can login to my bank an have access to *all* my money

    1. Yaron Samid

      BillGuard does not have “access to your money”. You only give BillGuard read-only access to scan your card/account activity for the sole purpose of monitoring for unwanted and unauthorized charges. That’s it. Your login credentials are not stored on our servers. Like Mint and other personal finance services that aggregate transactions from multiple banks, we use Yodlee, the decade-old industry standard for financial account aggregation. We undergo daily security audits by Verisign, McAfee and Security Art, but in the unlikely event that our systems get hacked, the absolute worst that could happen is that a hacker could see your transaction history. They could not access or move any money in your accounts. Here’s more on our security measures:…

  13. bsiscovick

    “The more users BillGuard gets, the better their data gets, and the better the service gets.”At IA, we call this *Data* Economies of Scale – and it is one of the most powerful competitive barriers a data business can have.The canonical example of Data Economies of Scale is Google – they are not the best because of their algorithms (though 10 yrs ago the algos may have been the market differentiator) – but instead, they are the best because they have the most/best data. Google (and hopefully Billguard one day – full disclosure, we are investors) enjoys an extremely powerful virtuous spiral in which users give them data every time they use the product, the data enhances the product, leading to more users giving them more data, leading to further product enhancement, etc etc etc.Once this effect takes hold, it is very difficult for competitors to offer superior products absent some large qualitative leap in the underlying technology or user experience.I led a discussion on this topic earlier this week at GA in my talk on ‘The Business of Big Data’. The slides can be found here:…

    1. Yaron Samid

      IA Ventures kicks ass. Nough said.Big-Data FTW. 

  14. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    I look at this product and say, “Oh No!” and the reason I do so is because as a retailer I am finding that the number of charge disputes is dramatically increasing.I would like to see this software be able to not only list and flag charges but also have some way to access more data for the consumer.  I would love to be able to provide the consumer with the order and shipping info automatically at the time they question a charge rather than go through the process of having the credit card company put a hold on a charge and then having to provide them with copies of the order and proof of delivery.  Then waiting weeks for a resolution.  I would also like to see a national database of consumers who make a living out of defrauding company through credit card disputes.  We quit selling on Amazon over the fact that we found ourselves being “attacked” by consumers who would order then dispute which would be resolved then they would dispute again, and again and again and Amazon’s policies are a real incubation center for these type of people.

    1. Yaron Samid

      Thanks for this excellent feedback Carl. I think you’ll be excited to learn about two facets of BillGuard that are in the works:1. BillGuard will offer merchants a certification program that includes a badge to display their BillGuard Score and a realtime feed of complaints against their transactions. Merchants will be able to provide customers more data and resolve issues with them directly to avoid holds, fees and increased commissions. I believe this addresses your concern right?2. Like eBay, BillGuard establishes both a seller and buyer reputation score. This is done to avoid fraudulent consumers entering false positives into the system and trying to cheat merchants.We’d love your continued feedback. Please feel free to email me directly at [email protected], BillGuard

      1. Carl

        Yaron,  I have personal credit cards and I have employees with company cards so I can understand the fear consumers have about fraudalent charges and identity theft.  I REALLY like the idea of being able to offer a consumer the opportunity to review their credit card and question a charge without have to dispute it.  Outside of Amazon I have never had an “actual” dispute, the reality is that people forget about a purchase, or in our case they ordered a line of goods with one name and the charge shows the company name.  Or UPS left the package on the front porch because the consumer wasn’t home and the consumer never uses the front porch so a package sits for a week or two (even though you send a shipping confirmation the day it ships).  On our system the billing address must mach the credit card address, and if we get a warning of an issue we call the consumer to let them know it might be an issue.On my personal card I always look things up before disputing anything but I believe more and more people are not doing that.I have to look into eBay…the issue with ratings, at least from my experience with Amazon,  is one that really bothers me!  But let me review our files and I will email you more concrete data….

  15. Healy Jones

    This would be useful for corporate users, so they could automate the checking of a bunch of employees corporate cards. Periodically we do a rundown of recurring charges to make sure the services are being used, and you’d be surprised at how many monthly expenses stay on there past the time of usefulness to the company…

    1. Yaron Samid

      Yes! Great feedback Healy. We hear this a lot and plan to make more BillGuard corporate friendly in the future.

  16. Ross Cohen

    Hey Fred, I wasn’t able to locate your account on BeenVerified.  If you kindly ping me with the email you used to sign up, I will take care of the account for you. You can always download our free iPhone or Android app which gives everyone 1 free background check per month for the life of the app with no CC needed. Thanks!

    1. Yaron Samid

      This is a great example of the type of service we’re going to offer merchants and consumers — to connect directly and resolve issues without going through the banks. It’s a win-win-win.

      1. Ross Cohen

        Yaron – I really love what you guys are doing, and you were my pick at Disrupt. Good luck with everything, it seems you guys are well on your way. I especially like your extremely intuitive UI.

        1. Yaron Samid

          Thanks Ross!

  17. cyanbane

    This seems ripe to be picked up and integrated into Mint.  Should sell it as a service to Mint and other similar small biz banking/invoicing sites popping up.

    1. Jerry Vandesic

      I agree. I’m not intersted in having a multitude of web sites with access to my financial transactions.  Mint should be able to replicate this fairly easily.

  18. Buzz Bruggeman

    When you have a chance, suggest to them that they also see if they can extend their idea/platform to cell phone bills. On three separate occasions I have found charges added to my T-Mo bill that I did not authorize.In each case it was a PITA to get them removed and reversed. In one case I was told that because I waited 6 months to object to a $3.99 monthly charge for a multi-player on-line iPhone game, that I must have agreed to it.The punch line being that I don’t have an iPhone.

    1. Yaron Samid

      Thanks for the feedback Buzz! Cell phone bill support is one of our most requests and its already on our product roadmap. We’re actually going to accelerate its development in light of the recent findings on cramming. Check this out: CNN July 13th: “Report: Unauthorized phone charges cost Americans $2 billion a year”…

  19. Yaron Samid

    Thanks for the great post Fred! We learned a lot from our on and off-stage discussions, at TechCrunch Disrupt in general and mostly from our early beta testers. The power and simplicity of just listening never fails to surprise me. It was great to see our conversation spill over to Quora:’re spot on in recognizing our direct inspiration from the crowdsourcing methodology that finally reigned in spam. That simple “mark as spam” checkbox next to every email was able to do what no standalone algorithm could even attempt: harness human knowledge. Our theory is that the same principle will apply to transactions. So far early beta testing results are very encouraging. BillGuard has identified and validated over $200,000 in bad charges on over 20% of the cards we’re scanning. The most exciting part is that BillGuard gets smarter and better at protecting everyone with each new user that joins the system. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts and for inspiring such a great discussion around BillGuard Fred. YaronCEO, BillGuard

  20. Dougwithau

    Your advice was to give the service away to build customers and improve the database. So, how do they plan to “monetize later”?A large number of users costs them more money, but they are not making money, so they raise a big round, then get bought out by ?? who raised a bigger round. Rinse and repeat?

    1. Yaron Samid

      Our monetization models:1. Banks pay to offer BillGuard as a service to their customers, natively integrated into their online and mobile banking experiences.2. Merchants pay for BillGuard Certification; to display their BillGuard Score and to get a feed of complaints against their transactions so that they can resolve it with the customer before the complaints are sent to the bank.

  21. jake

    there’s an article in pc world Nov. 2009 named Go Virtual for Safer Online Shopping BY ERIK LARKIN. here’s the link… it’s about Virtual credit card numbers.

  22. Peter Sullivan

    Fred, is USV in on this? Or just a nice shout out?@yaron:disqus I respected how you said “don’t be afraid to charge for something you are proud you built” or something along those lines at TC but like Fred pointed out on stage people are cheap asses. It still seems the best products out there are the ones that can make someone else money. If you can take a piece of that, its a win win situation. Best of luck to you and your crew. 

    1. Yaron Samid

      Thanks Peter! We think we have a very compelling model with banks and merchants. Triple win scenario, and most importantly great for consumers.USV is not an investor in BillGuard.

  23. John Fan

    This looks like a great product that could help users save money right away.  By the way, there’s a typo: fraudelent => fraudulent

  24. LE

    I agree with this statement made:”I don’t think I’m comfortable giving out my username and password to a website (that could get hacked) so that they can login to my bank an have access to *all* my money” by “Billen Ted”.So what you are doing is having protection from one thing by taking on a risk of another thing with potentially much greater impact.  

  25. Graham Siener

    Wesabe was also trying to solve this problem (albeit in a crowdsourced fashion).  I’m curious how you see BillGuard comparing to that since you were involved as an investor?

    1. Yaron Samid

      I spent quality time with now friend Mark Hedlund (founder/ceo of Wesabe) while we were starting up BillGuard. BillGuard is a crowdsourced system, but we focus solely on security. We are not a personal finance management service like Wesabe was and Mint is. We are personal finance security company. Wesabe was attempting to harness crowd knowledge to empower people to better manage their finances and financial goals. They were not trying to solve the problem of guarding people’s cards/bills from hidden charges, billing errors, misleading subscriptions, scams and fraud.

  26. Bill Clark

    Thanks for the post. I just signed up and it is pretty slick. Looking forward to the Cell Phone guard as well.Nice work Yaron!

    1. Yaron Samid

      Thanks Bill!

  27. Felipe Salum

    I have been using it for a few weeks and the service is excellent, the interface is awesome, great usability.

  28. tommy engeman

    fred-i took your advise and signed problems but i’m glad to have it.thanksuncle tommy

  29. Ariel Seidman

    I used to believe I really wanted something like this. But I was reminded this week again why it wouldn’t make sense for me. This past week I had fraudelent transactions on my credit card and AMEX called me within 32 minutes of the transaction and issued me a new credit card.  It was resolved very quickly and painlessly.  For alerting me of potential recurring charges that I want to cancel, can easily handle this (I hope they do).

  30. Devang

    I want “Stop this recurring charge” button.Many times due to procrastination (or lack of inertia to pick up phone and deal with someone to cancel a service) unwanted transactions remain on cards.

  31. Dor

    Great idea. Gotta love Americans. They need pill for everything, even for checking their bills.

  32. Morrigan Alexandros

    This is great! Thanks for suggesting this service.

  33. Alex Murphy

    This is awesome!  They should take cell phone data, home phone data, and bank data too as those are three ways that people are really getting stuck, all of which have much less opportunity to contest and charge back.

  34. Phil

    I am looking forward to the non-US version

  35. JBmcgowan

    Is this safe? Giving up ur credit card logins?

  36. Rwingender

    Not sure I see the value. How is this better than simply reading your credit card statements?

  37. Steven Livingstone

    Interesting read. This same service is why I bought the OpenID domain about 8 years ago (before it went in another direction).  I had the architecture, prototype (and more) but funding was impossible. Problem is I/they strongly believe it needs (very) secure api access… you won’t find many people – IMHO – giving out UID/PWD details to their bank and credit card accounts. As I understand it you provided them with clear text authentication details.Following with interest tho’!