Drowning out the noise: Be mindful when looking for finance platforms online


Clare McRoberts

While using financial advice resources on the internet, it is crucial to be cautious and skeptical.

Katie Sasamoto-Kurisu, Editor-in-Chief

In a modern era, misinformation is rampant. Finding legitimate sources for everything ranging from politics, to news, to lifestyle guidance is a challenge. Given the development of technology, this has been especially prevalent in the personal finance and financial literacy space.

When browsing for financial tips online, keep your guard up for potential scams and understand what your goals are and how using these platforms can help you achieve them.

Here are a few guidelines:

  • Be skeptical. Consumers are constantly looking for easy answers and quick solutions. While sometimes platforms offering these solutions are legitimate, the vast majority are cheap, fake or a scam. Be willing to vet any and all information offered by a source and be sure to verify legitimacy of the source. 
  • Be intentional. It’s easy to get lost amidst the digital expanse of financial information, full of diluted and irrelevant resources. Have a specific goal in mind that you hope to accomplish. For example, if you are looking for ways to make money or obtain a personal debit card, start with a search that will enable you to find the details and requirements of each at a local level. Often, financial advice is offered directly through budgeting and financial planning apps or one’s personal bank or credit union. 
  • Seek out context. Before blindly following the advice of potentially masquerading financial professionals online, like those on video-sharing platforms like TikTok or Youtube, get a sense of their experience, background and agenda. People on these sites are sometimes dubbed ‘finfluencers’ for their social media personality, one dedicated to educating and advising on financial topics. Many gain popularity for their ability to connect with audiences on shared financial struggles or concerns, but others expel empty promises and false guidance.

One example of the way social media and online platforms have exacerbated financial misinformation in recent years is through cryptocurrency. The alternative investment gained awareness in the late 2000s then spiked in popularity around 2020 when enthusiasm spread to open discourse platforms such as Reddit and Tumblr, creating extensive networks of sub-channels discussing trendy crypto news. Ultimately, systemic issues within the crypto system caused it to crash, leaving tons of amateur investors desperate and penniless.z

The bottom line: Make a list of trusted financial resources, whether for personal advising or sources of information. A couple good ones include Investopedia, NerdWallet, Nasdaq, Bankrate and The Motley Fool. Be on the lookout for online scams and illegitimate financial resources.