Catching and reporting scammers

Dear Heloise: I received a notice several times in my email. It's from a company I never used for tax preparation. Of course, I knew it was a scam; however, not all people will know this and might send them the money they are requesting. The notice read, "Dear Customer: Your invoice-RB-9617 for 349.99 is attached. Please remit payment at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your business -- we appreciate it very much."

Be warned that this is a scam. They're after your money and/or your files. Always be careful when you get messages that say, "Deposit on Hold," "Account Suspended" or "Critical Suspension." These headings are supposed to frighten you into action. Thieves will try to steal your credit and debit card information or access your bank account and many other things you'd rather were kept private. -- Lana W., Oklahoma City

Lana, every year, especially around tax season, scammers come out of the woodwork like vermin. If you receive a suspicious email, you can open it, but do not click on any of the sites they ask you to visit and stay away from the telephone numbers provided. Close out the email and report it as spam, phishing or junk.

It's important to help create a paper trail of evidence to help the Federal Trade Commission stop these unscrupulous business practices. Contact the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 (from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET). You can also contact the FBI at www.tips.fbi.gov or by calling 1-800-225-5324. Believe me, the FTC and the FBI take online scamming very seriously. Let's all do our part to help the government stop them by reporting these scammers. -- Heloise

SEND A GREAT HINT TO:

Heloise

P.O. Box 795001

San Antonio, TX 78279-5001

Fax: 1-210-HELOISE

Email: [email protected]

KEEPING VALUABLES SAFE

Going on a trip and want a safe hiding place for your most valuable items? Before your trip, you can:

-- Place them in a lockbox and store in the trunk of a locked car in a locked garage.

-- Wrap them in foil and place them in your freezer under other frozen items.

-- Hide them inside a child's stuffed animal and place it by other toys.

-- Hide them somewhere in a garage or garden shed.

-- Install a wall or floor safe somewhere no one would think to look.

-- Take these items to a close, trusted friend or relative's home. Have them store it for you.

-- Hide them in a bank vault. This is the most secure hiding place of all.

RUSTY CLOTHING

Dear Heloise: My dryer had a small piece of enamel chipped off inside, and it caused my clothing and towels to develop rust stains. How can I get these rust stains out of my laundry? -- Linda L., Camden, New Jersey

First, patch up the rusted part of the dryer with special paint, which is usually found in paint or hardware stores. It's designed to cover rust spots in dryers and other rusty areas. Next, you'll need a commercial stain remover specially designed for rust. The hardware store or even a grocery store will sell this. Until you can pick up these items, you might want to try white vinegar on the rust stains that are on your towels and clothing. -- Heloise

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