Advice from Heloise: Debt collection fraud | Columnists


Dear Heloise: Collection scams have become very popular with scammers, but here are a few things to watch out for:

– If you are contacted by a “debt collection agency” they will give you the name of the person calling, their phone number, address and whatever else you can. Ask them to give you their license number to do business in your state, then verify that number by contacting your state’s Department of State.

– Do not give in to threats of arrest or violence. You cannot call your employer, report you to immigration, or take your driver’s license away. They cannot raise your wages or call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. They should never use profanity or yell at you on the phone.

– Report the call to the Federal Trade Commission at

– Many states have a deadline for debts. If there has been no activity for a period of time, the debt must be written off. But check with a lawyer to see if your state has such a law and how long that time limit is.

– Above all, do NOT send them any money, gift cards or money transfers. More information can be found at – Josh H., Boston, Massachusetts.


Dear Heloise: While I was dusting my china cabinet, I decided to give some of my lead crystal collection to my four daughters, who are all married. You would have inherited these items after I died. Instead of waiting, I gave them to my girls for birthdays and Christmas. From time to time they have expressed a wish to have a particular piece and I usually give it to them. That way, I have to go through less when I’m gone and there’s no arguing about who gets what. – Joan B., Rutland, Vt.


Dear Heloise: What do you recommend for home remedies for insect bites and poison ivy? – Diana V., Rockingham, NC

Diana, for insect bites, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison oak, fill a bathtub with water and add a generous amount of baking soda. If the area is itchy, you can make a paste of baking soda and water (or baking soda and witch hazel) and apply it to the area to relieve the irritation.

There are so many uses for baking soda that I can’t list them all here, but you can find these ideas in my brochure, “Heloise’s Baking Soda Hints and Recipes”. With summer here, there are a number of helpful tips to make life a little easier and housework a little shorter. To get a copy, visit or mail $ 5 along with a postage paid (75 cents) long self-addressed envelope to: Heloise / Baking Soda, PO Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279- 5001. You’ll be glad to have this handy information at hand. This is also a nice little gift for any new housewife. – Heloise

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