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Financial Information Over the Phone

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Question: I got a personal call from my bank the other day: they lowered their interests rates and could give me a home equity loan for 7.5% … as opposed to the 10% I have now on my line of credit with the same bank.

All they needed to know was what my home was worth, how much I had left to pay on it etc etc, a lot of questions I didn’t feel like answering on the phone. But is this really a good deal (the rate can and will change, right?) and does it affect my credit report to apply for more credit? Otherwise I would be tempted. Thanks for your advice, Sabrina.

Answer: I don’t answer any personal finance question that comes my way over the phone or on the Internet. Period. (This approach seems to annoy unsolicited calls from charities asking for money the most. Tough.) It’s too risky in an era of identity theft to give away financial information away to strangers on the phone or the Web.

Still, it sounds like your bank may be offering you a good deal–or at least one worth investigating. I would walk over to a branch of your bank and ask to talk to a bank manager. If that’s inconvenient, you should initiate the call and solicit the information you want yourself.

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