“You’re been selected” … “You have been pre-approved” … or any similar message from a bank may sound special — but it is not. These marketing messages are often a blast of marketing emails that go to a vast pool of customers and potential ones.

Should you totally ignore them? Mostly yes, unless you are looking for a particular product. But don’t take those mailed or emailed offers too seriously as far as their details go.

These messages are likely to include attractive rates and terms to get the attention. In many cases, they are just a way to gauge any consumer interest in a product.

Actual rates on financial products are typically calculated when one meets with the bank and can get particular circumstances assessed. So while these rates may reflect the market average, they are not necessarily what will be eventually offered.

That’s why it’s best to keep in mind that even when receiving a proactive marketing message from the bank, there might be more competitive offers from others. So before committing to an offer, shop around and compare rates, terms and conditions. In addition, discern what offers are best to be avoided when it comes to wasting time and efforts.

How can you find out? Look for these particular signs.

Personal touches

An offer that just carries your name isn’t necessarily personalised. Many email management systems add recipient names to generic offers and messages. But an email from an agent with whom you might have worked in the past could be, especially if it mentions specifics of past connections with the bank.

Similarly, offers that are related to existing accounts can be specific. For example, a credit card issuer may offer a higher limit based on an increase of income or your commitment to paying off the balance.

As with any financial transaction, take time in all cases to review the details of the offer and see if its needed or not. More isn’t always better. You might qualify for a different, or better, credit card that comes with a higher annual fee.

An increased credit card limit might open the door to more spending. So don’t just accept whatever offers sent over, even if they sound attractive.

Relevant offers

These offers might be still automated but they are based on the bank’s knowledge of customers’ finances and accounts. For example, if you have owned a home for a while, a bank or mortgage company might offer refinance for the mortgage or take an equity loan or line.

These offers might be based on the knowledge that the property was held for a while. But they don’t necessarily mean it is a good time to refinance or take a new loan. They simply mean eligibility for new products.

So, if interested, research the options carefully. In addition, be aware there is no ties to any particular bank. If you are back in the market shopping for any financial product, there are options.

Financial advice

Some financial institutions groom their agents to serve as trusted financial advisers. The goal is to retain clients and add value to the customer interaction. So if you receive offers based on this knowledge, it may be wise to pay attention to the advice.

For example, you may be advised to channel savings into more rewarding vehicles or recommended new saving funds.

This financial advice is likely to be as personalised as it gets. You might receive a call from the representative at the bank or a request for a meeting. Be careful not to be a victim of scammers, however.

Any communication over the phone, if genuine, won’t request your financial information.

Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.

Is it personal?

Know the signs of personalised offers;

Pay attention to relevant offers; and

Listen and assess advice from trusted advisers