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After being a volunteer for the American Cancer Society for nearly six years, I feel the public needs to be made aware of various look-alike organizations that have been duplicating the format and materials of the American Cancer Society's annual community crusade drive.

They have been deliberately confusing the public through direct mail solicitations, siphoning millions of dollars from legitimate health organizations. I would like to warn the public to be cautious about these groups so that longtime supporters of the American Cancer Society are sure to contribute to the agency they want to support.Many look-alike organizations adopt names similar to the American Cancer Society. They use titles such as "National," "American" or "Foundation" so they appear to be well-established national organizations. Also, they are often out-of-state organizations (check all addresses on information you receive), whereas the American Cancer Society is local, and the funds raised by the Utah division are used to support programs of research, public education and service to cancer patients in Utah.

If people are unsure whether or not to contribute to an organization, call the better Business Bureau at 482-4300 or National Charities Information Bureau at (212) 929-6300.

There's only one American Cancer Society, and it needs your support.

Di-Ann G. Riches

Salt Lake City