Dear Heloise: The other day I received a letter saying I had not paid my property taxes. It looked like it was from my mortgage company and looked very real. The letter said they were going to investigate the history of my property taxes, including my IRS tax statements.
I knew they were wrong and was furious that they were actually threatening me. I called the county tax office just to make certain that I was up to date, and sure enough I was. Apparently, these scammers like to target people over 65 and people for whom English is a second language. They think people over 65 won't remember whether or not they paid their taxes, and for people from another country, it would be frightening to get threats from a company about investigating them.
If this should happen to any of your readers, tell them to call their county tax office first, and if they are up to date, to not worry. It's just another low-life scammer trying to cheat people out of their money. -- Chuck A., Beaumont, Texas
Dear Heloise: My four children love ice cream that comes on a stick. After the ice cream is eaten, I save the wooden sticks, wash them and let them dry. Then when we plant our large kitchen garden, I write the name of the fruit or veggie we planted on the stick and push it into the ground at the head of each row.
We also have four fruit trees, and I let each child select which tree they wanted. I named the tree after the child who selected the tree and wrote their names on the stick, then nailed it to the tree trunk. They all got so excited about having their own tree that they take extra care of that tree. I view this as a learning lesson for my kids to understand how things grow. -- Cassandra J., Niles, Mich.
Dear Heloise: I was always out of wrapping paper when it was time to wrap a gift, out of tape and no gift bags on hand either. So, to correct this problem, I bought five rolls of inexpensive, generic wrapping paper and a large plastic trash can. I keep the wrapping paper in the trash can in the corner of my home office and have a roll of tape in there as well. Now I don't have to apologize for just handing someone a gift with no wrapping. -- Brandon G., Silver Lake, Ore.
Dear Heloise: I hate the thought of dust mites in my mattress or pillows. How can I get rid of them? -- Lucy H., Mandan, N.D.
Lucy, vacuum your mattress regularly, and you'll get a number of the dust mites, but there's no way to get all of them unless you have a new mattress and a covering that completely encases the mattress. Pillows can be washed in hot water and detergent, but first read the care instructions on the pillow tag to see what the manufacturer says. Dust mites live on the dry skin cells we all shed, and as yet there is no perfect solution to get rid of all of them. -- Heloise