Q: My wife and I took out a home equity line of credit in an effort to reduce some of our credit card debt. Of course, I did not read your Web site beforehand and I think I’ve been nailed by a predatory lender. I borrowed $15,000 at 19.99 percent interest for 15 years. The lender charged me $1,950 in fees.

I have since tried to get the lender to refinance this amount and they say it’s not possible. Our credit isn’t perfect but it was good enough to get a first mortgage of at 7 percent in December, 2000. Is there anything we can do?

A: You’re paying credit card rates on a home equity loan, and were charged more than 10 percent in fees, and you “think” you may have a predatory loan? You most certainly do. (For a list of 10 common predatory lending abuses, visit my Web site, ThinkGlink.com.)

Here’s what to do: Go to the nearest big-name, well-respected lender in your neighborhood and refinance this loan today. Most home equity loans or lines of credit are running between 4 to 5.5 percent interest, and the lender isn’t charging any fees. You can check out local home equity rates at BankRate.com.

You say your credit isn’t perfect? Log onto myFICO.com and pay $12.95 for your credit history and credit score. The site will give you explicit instructions on what to do to raise your score. If your score isn’t at least 700, follow the instructions.

You should also report this loan and the lender to the attorney general’s office in your state.

Good luck, and next time, shop around before you agree to any home loan with a credit card interest rate.

Aug. 21, 2003.