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Gift card that keeps on taking

Dear Heloise: Here's another phone scam: Beware of callers telling you that you've won a gift card or that you haven't yet claimed it. The vast majority of those calls are scammers trying to get financial information from you. Never, ever give out credit card information, and don't tell them where you bank or the name of your bank. In fact, just hang up on the caller. -- Theresa in Newport Beach, Calif.

Not getting sick while traveling

Dear Heloise: I've traveled all over the world, and people often ask how I've never gotten sick on a trip. (Actually, I have a couple of times.) The answers are really simple:

• Wash your hands. Sounds basic, but it will stop the spread of most viruses. People often forget this simple step.

• Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and use it often.

• Check with either your doctor or the embassies of the countries you plan to visit to find out if you need inoculations.

• Use bottled water or a travel water container with a filter. If in doubt, don't drink local water.

• Be careful about what and where you eat. Not all street vendors clean their equipment, and not all foods are safe to eat, such as shellfish or chicken.

-- Jake R. in Toronto

A messy drive

Dear Heloise: We travel with two young children who get bored if they don't have a few toys to play with. However, our car looks so messy, with toys scattered everywhere. Help! -- Sherri W., Ann Arbor, Mich.

Sherri, hang a shoe storage bag over the passenger seat, and in the compartments for shoes, put toys they can play with. At the end of the day, put them away again in the compartments.

-- Heloise

Send a great hint to:

Heloise

P.O. Box 795001

San Antonio, TX 78279-5001

Fax: 1-210-HELOISE

Email: Heloise@Heloise.com

Charity checks

Dear Heloise: At my father's request, we asked people who attended his funeral to make a donation to a charity of their choice.

Unfortunately, several of the checks were made out to charities but mailed to us. Some of the checks went back to the giver because we couldn't find a mailing address for that particular charity. If people want to give to a charity, they should mail it directly to the charity and let the family know that a donation was made in the name of the deceased. Do not mail the checks to the family of the deceased. -- Kailey S., Malden, Ind.

Jewelry hint

Dear Heloise: Please remind readers to occasionally check the prongs on their rings. I have a beautiful 21/2 carat diamond that I could have lost if I had not examined my ring. A prong had broken off, and two prongs were turned sideways. If my diamond had fallen out, I'd be in tears. This caused me to examine the rest of my jewelry, and I found a pearl necklace that needed to be restrung. -- Claudia M., Myrtle Beach, S.C.