I was searching around to look at the competition for my investment tracking spreadsheet, seeing what I could add to further enhance the feature list, and I noticed something awful. I discovered a few spreadsheets that are outright scams. And I’m not just talking about those that steal other people’s work and lock it behind a paywall, I mean there are even some that state they will have access to your investment tracking spreadsheet. What?!
Rise of dodgy spreadsheets
Charging for use of your spreadsheet is one thing — and I know of a few YouTubers who do this — but it’s a whole different kettle of fish to copy one’s work and demand payment. To actually state that you will host someone’s investment tracking spreadsheet with full admin access is downright arrogant. The issue I have here is these spreadsheets are easily accessed through Google (and other search engines).
Now, some may be honest individuals who have no ill intent, but that doesn’t overcome the fact that this practice is highly suspect. Even when assisting those who use my tracking spreadsheet, I’m extremely careful when asking to provide screenshots of issues or temporary access to fix something that’s gone wrong and would only do so as a last resort.
I found one spreadsheet tracker that’s largely based on the same template that gave me the idea with my own offering, but it’s being sold without even citing the original author. Worse still, you don’t even get a copy for yourself after making payment. “As I am the owner I can access the tracker.” This is incredibly dangerous, especially if you add sensitive information.
Are all paid spreadsheets a scam?
Not at all! There are countless spreadsheets out there for tracking investment portfolios that work extremely well and offer value. It’s important to check if there’s a similar spreadsheet available for less (or free) elsewhere and then compare the versions on offer.
Some of the scams are simple copies of already available investment trackers and it should be fairly easy to spot identical solutions — those who take other people’s work barely take the time to make minor changes to the overall look and feel.
If in doubt, create your own
There’s honestly no reason to pay for spreadsheet access. It’s very easy to create your own stock portfolio spreadsheet and my own offering uses no external tools to help keep costs down. You can opt to pay for APIs and other imports you can add to enhance the Google doc (data for creating a dividend calendar, importing updated payouts, etc.) but to charge for access to the spreadsheet should raise a few flags unless it’s from someone you trust.