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If your spending is out of control, don't put your home at risk by getting a home equity credit line to pay off your credit-card debts.
Shop for rates when market is calm. Rates change from day to day, so compare lenders. The quotes you get should all be from same time period.
Submit a neat application form; it shows you're business-like and efficient. It will be read and assessed by a human being; appearances count.
Only pay up-front fees to well-known institutions, or ones highly recommended by trusted sources.
Don't sign documents without reading them. As soon as possible, before you close deal, review documents you'll be signing, and make sure you understand them, so you won't have to sign them in a hurry.
Keep a copy of every cheque you write for your loan. If you call your lender about your loan, make sure you get full name of person with whom you speak. Make a note of it. You may be dealing with a large bureaucracy, and will need to refer to this conversation later.
If you find yourself in a dispute with a lender, don't send correspondence to same address you send your payment. You need to deal with decision-makers, not account clerks.
About the author: T. O' Donnell (http://www.tigertom.com/personal-loans-uk.shtml) offers personal loans, advice, an ebook and a loan calculator, in London, UK.