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by Abigail Van Buren

Unwelcome Guests Are Given 13 Reasons for Staying Home

DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine who lives in Phoenix lost her wallet while she was shopping one Saturday. The next day she got a telephone call from a man who told her he had found her wallet in a garbage can in a small town 20 miles from Phoenix. He said there was no money in the wallet, but her checkbook and credit cards were intact.

My friend offered to drive down to get it (she's 75 years old), but the man insisted that she "allow him the pleasure" of returning it to her Monday morning on his way to work. She was very grateful.

Naturally, she didn't report her credit cards lost or stolen. You can guess the end of the story -- the wallet was never returned, and she was out over $4,000 between the credit charges and checks that were cashed. Abby, please warn your readers so they can protect themselves against scams like this. -- ELLEN

DEAR ELLEN: Thanks for telling your friend's sad story as a warning to others. Readers, should your credit cards be out of your possession (stolen, lost or misplaced) -- report the loss immediately!