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Be careful with your check card

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Dear Friends: Although check-cashing cards are handy to have, you need to be careful with them. Remember, many of these cards can be used just like a credit card, BUT money is deducted directly from your checking account. Here are a few safety hints to keep in mind when using your card:

Since these cards can also be used with a debit feature, you will be assigned a personal identification number (PIN). Never tell anyone your number, and don't write it down in your wallet or on your card! If someone has your PIN, the person can use your card for purchases AND can use it at an ATM machine to withdraw money.

Be sure to keep receipts so that when you receive your statement, you can check that all charges are correct and have been made by you.

Hope these simple safety hints will help keep you and your checking account safe. With identity theft on the rise, it is essential to keep on top of all your credit cards, etc. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Your hint about copying the fronts of credit cards is great! I also copied the back so I had easier access to the company's toll-free telephone numbers. — Jean, via e-mail

Dear Heloise: Hi! I just thought I would write to you about a great way that I clean my jewelry. I bought a very inexpensive battery-powered toothbrush. I add a gentle soap to it and turn it on. It is able to clean in every nook and cranny with no effort on my part. My kind of cleaning! — Beckie G., Vancouver, Wash.

Easy cleaning is the way to go — just be sure the settings are sturdy and all stones are secure. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I am a freshman in college, and to do laundry I have to walk down a few flights of stairs. Rather than carry my economy-size 10-pound laundry detergent up and down the stairs, not to mention the loads of dirty laundry, I have come up with a simple solution.

I fill a large, clean, empty pill container with detergent. Not only do I have enough detergent to do a few loads of laundry, but the childproof cap prevents soap from spilling everywhere! — Jacqui M., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

We received a letter from L.G. of Colorado Springs, Colo., and she said she buys those new soap tablets, since they're easy to carry when she takes stuff to self-launder places. — Heloise

Send a money-saving or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.© King Features Syndicate Inc.