Google launches online financial advisor

The service, available in the U.S. from Thursday, helps users choose mortgages, credit cards

Google has launched a financial advice service in the U.S. to let users explore credit, mortgages and bank accounts based on their personal profiles, but without giving too much personal information to the bank.

Google Advisor, launched Thursday, combines mortgage comparison data with similar information about credit cards, certificates of deposit and checking accounts, the company said on its blog.

Information about bank accounts updates frequently, meaning users may see new interest rates and maturity dates from one day to the next. A link under each bank gives details, such as how often interest compounds and whether accounts renew automatically.

The service lists products from 57 banks, including 118 checking accounts and 364 CDs (fixed-term, fixed interest products), according to the site.

Users need not contact the financial institutions directly to get comparative data, ensuring that personal information stays private, Google Advisor project manager Simon Arscott said in a posting to the Google official blog.

"When you call the number listed for a lender, you're actually calling a special Google phone number. Google instantly forwards your call to the lender so your phone number remains confidential," Google said in its "help" section. When the user fills out a form to request more information, the phone number provided is not shared with the lender. Instead, Google provides the lender with a special number they can call to be connected to the user's phone.

"You have full control over what you want to share, and which providers you choose to talk to," Arscott said in the blog post. "And you don't have to submit any personal information until you've decided you're ready to move forward."

Lenders pay Google when users of Financial Advisor contact them through Google for mortgages, Google said. It does not get currently paid by credit card companies and banks for displaying their offers on Financial Advisor.

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