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FileThis Automatically Gathers & Files Important Documents Online
FileThis covers the gamut of household paper filing — bank statements, phone bills, tax documents, mortgage statements, credit card statements, insurance policies and benefits, online shopping accounts, utilities and so on.
Is It safe?
Security is a legitimate major concern on such aggregating sites, for fear that one password could give a thief access to the family jewels. So let’s address that up front.
Do you have to give the site your passwords to access bank accounts and more? Yes. How secure can that be? It is essentially as secure as online banking, using the same methods.
FileThis encrypts your login information the moment you enter it. Once you're on its servers, everything is encrypted to the highest standard so no one can decode your content, even if hackers were to somehow break in. The few employees who manage the encryption process undergo the same rigorous security measures used in banks, including background checks.
And finally, even if someone accessed your FileThis password, it could not be used to make changes to your accounts, because FileThis only does one thing: retrieve statements. Your individual account passwords are never visible, not even to you. The system has been built from the ground up to be secure and safe.
FileThis is based on a user fee revenue model (free basic service with fee-based advanced services). Income comes from customers, not from partners or advertisers. This means there are no hidden loyalties.
Why would I need this?
Our world is gradually shifting from paper to paperless systems. During the transition, consumers must grapple with both types of media for tasks such as preparing taxes and maintaining records. Many institutions charge a fee for paper statements or don’t offer paper at all.
Digital records can equally be a hassle because of the manual process necessary to download all e-statements into your digital file cabinet. PayPal, for instance, keeps only three months’ worth; fall behind at your own risk. FileThis comes to the rescue by automating the whole process, running in the background to collect e-statements while still giving you complete content ownership and control of where they get filed.
How does it work?
First, link your various accounts. It takes just a moment to find your institutions on the supported list and enter login credentials for each. Then choose where you want the documents stored.
The rest is automatic. FileThis automatically fetches all the stored statements at the institutions — up to three years’ worth if available — and saves them in PDF format (a boon, if you’ve been lax at downloading and filing or if you've wrangled PDFing HTML statements).
Next, FileThis analyzes each document to automatically give it a descriptive file name, tag it with the correct date, index key words and categorize it for easy searching (for example, “tax documents” instead of “bank statements”). All of this occurs in the background.
Finally, documents are moved to the destination you’ve chosen in automatically created sub-folders. According to the company, most consumers choose one of the supported cloud services, such as Dropbox, Evernote or Google Drive, although some users chose their local PC drive. FileThis also offers its own proprietary cloud with additional robust features like advanced filing and keyword search.
What’s the hitch?
FileThis carries a few limitations. The list of covered institutions is finite. FileThis has to write code to connect to each institution, and though it plans to continue adding new ones, those with the largest demand take precedence.
So while you’ll find major institutions like Chase, Comcast, Verizon and Amazon all covered, FileThis lacks regional institutions like health insurers or local utilities. As a work-around, the site offers document upload and invites users to suggest other institutions to support. The list of supported institutions is expected to triple from 330 to 1,000 by 2015.
Another limitation: The service is available only in the United States.
And, finally, it's not easy to direct documents to more than one location — for example, both your local PC and a cloud service. FileThis is designed to be used with one or the other. Lastly, while some leading cloud services are supported, many are not yet.
The free version of FileThis allows connections with up to six institutions, with $20 per year for 12 connections or $50 per year for 30 connections.
If you're using the proprietary FileThis cloud storage, your storage space increases from 500MB to 10GB.
Of course, there are no space limitations if you're downloading to your PC or your own cloud service.
Other products perform some of the same functions. Manilla, built for online bill payments, offers more breadth in some ways, such as email syncing that automatically pulls in emailed statements. But it connects with institutions at a different level, often grabbing only the information it needs for bill payments rather all the e-statement documents needed for filing and tax documents, and Manilla does not go back so far to pull history. Another example is Doxo, similar to Manilla.
Services like these are evolving rapidly, as they pioneer new ways to organize digital household information.
What currently sets FileThis apart
- FileThis is a digital mailbox and filing service for all documents, including healthcare benefits or policy documents, year-end tax documents from mortgage or investment companies, trade confirmations and quarterly reports from investment companies — not just billing statements!
- FileThis is designed for viewing and storing documents. There is no access to transactional processes.
- FileThis automatically files documents, classifying and tagging them and making them text searchable.
- FileThis lets you choose where to store documents.
- FileThis consumer-paid subscriptions are its single source of income, so there are no backroom deals with business partners or advertisers.
The bottom line
I have to admit, FileThis is one of the more exciting new products for taking financial records to the digital realm. That paper tiger no longer seems quite so scary.