Survey your junk mail

DEAR HELOISE: I would like to share a recent experience. We received an envelope through the postal service that, at first glance, appeared to be junk mail. We did not recognize the sender's name or address. The envelope was addressed to my husband with his full name. We opened it to see if there was any personally identifiable information (PII) inside. We were about to black out the PII when the words "data breach" caught my eye.

It was a letter from a company that staffs local emergency rooms with nurses. The breach had occurred several months prior; data from patients who visited emergency rooms during a certain time period was compromised. My husband had visited an emergency room during that time period. The letter included contact information for the three major credit reporting bureaus. We also did a search online.

Sure enough, that particular company had suffered a data breach. We've had freezes on our credits for several years and had recently run a routine check, so we didn't take any additional action. We've filed that letter with those recent credit reports, just in case.

As far as junk emails are concerned, we also hover the mouse over the sender's address to identify its origin. If junk email appears in our inbox, we move it to our junk mail folder and then delete it. Over time, email systems "learn" to place junk mail into that folder.

We still "survey" such emails to make sure we don't miss anything important, as these systems are not 100% accurate. Not having these junk emails arrive in the inbox prevents an inadvertent opening of the message. -- Anni, Colorado Springs, Colorado


DEAR HELOISE: I have sculptured tile flooring in my kitchen. I decided to clean off a few years of wear, and I used the baking soda approach with a bit of labor. I'll preface that I walk barefoot in my house. In summary, it did not work well and left residue that was very difficult to remove, especially on the grout, which still had the residue from the baking soda. When I went to shower, my feet were very slick.

So I went with another suggestion from your column, which is using sudsy ammonia. That, with elbow grease and a scouring pad, worked well. That approach also worked using my feet -- shoes on, of course. -- Robert A. Lipe, Prairieville, Louisiana


DEAR HELOISE: When purchasing items in-store and paying cash for them, make sure you put the receipt in your purse or wallet. I recently found out about a scam.

People are going to parking lots of stores and picking up dropped receipts, checking for paid-with-cash items on the receipts. If they find that items were paid with cash, they go into that store location and match the store code with the receipt. They then take the item to customer service and get cash for said item. This is a total scam some stores are probably unaware of. -- E.W.M., via email

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to [email protected]. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

King Features Syndicate