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DEAR READERS: A recent column offered safety hints for using an ATM (automated teller machine). Many of you wrote in with a “safety hint” you wanted to see added to that list. However, the hint is not correct and could even be dangerous to use.

The hint you shared is about putting your ATM PIN (personal identification number) in backward to help contact police if you are forced to use the ATM by a criminal. The “hint” reports that supposedly the money comes out, and the police do, too. But the robber has no idea that the police have been contacted and are on the way.

Sorry, folks, this is not so. While it is true that the technology exists, a Federal Trade Commission study found that it just did not make sense to have it installed in ATMs. Also, the research suggested it may actually be more dangerous to have this system available, and that ATMs are safe enough.

So, do not attempt to put your PIN in backward if you are in danger. Give the person what he or she wants, get to a safe place and contact police ASAP.

DEAR HELOISE: Why do we always use a bookmark to mark just the pages we are between? I came upon this hint: Place a two-sided bookmark horizontally across the print where you stop reading.

My bookmark has printing on the side that I leave next to the print in the book, and a picture on the other side. The bookmark protrudes from the side instead of the top of the book, and I can always find just where I stopped reading.

Now I save time by not reading the same paragraph again until I find where I left off.

  • Samantha H. in Texas

DEAR HELOISE: A co-worker was scheduled for major surgery and was going to be home recovering for a couple of months. Our office collected DVDs, books and magazines to send home with her so she would have plenty of things to keep her occupied.

Co-workers can do even more (depending on office size) by scheduling food drop-offs, collecting restaurant gift cards or offering drives to doctor visits.

  • Carol A. in Louisiana

DEAR READER: All good heart hints! Don’t forget, “get well” and funny cards do help to brighten a day.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Style, Pages 22 on 01/21/2014

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS

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