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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: It is important to remember that the funds which are raised through legitimate telemarketing are the lifeblood for many major nonprofit organizations. As president of the American Telephone Fundraisers Association, I applaud the FTC rule that helps people fight back against criminals who use telephones to cheat people.

I'd like to offer your readers a few tips to distinguish legitimate telemarketers from scam artists. The following are tips for making telephone donations.

1. Give because you believe in the cause, the charity or organization. Good telemarketers never pressure or threaten those they phone for donations.

2. Be wary of the "too-good-to-be-true" pitches. Legitimate telemarketers do not offer valuable rewards or gifts.

3. If concerned, ask for identification. Legitimate marketing companies welcome verification calls from potential donors.

4. When in doubt, ask for information in writing. Professional telemarketers are sympathetic to questions and won't hesitate to provide written information about the charity they represent.

5. Ask questions. Don't be shy about inquiring how the donation will be used. Professional telemarketers have thorough knowledge of the charity they represent and will provide that information on demand.

6. Ask if the telemarketing firm is a member of any telemarketing trade association. Firms belonging to the American Telephone Fundraisers Association follow the industry's most stringent code of ethics, and their telemarketers will be aware of their company's membership. -- RALPH REESE, PITTSBURGH

DEAR MR. REESE: I am sure my readers will appreciate knowing they need not be intimidated by telemarketers. Thank you for a valuable letter -- one that's well worth posting near the telephone.

DEAR ABBY: Some of your readers complain about junk mail and want to know how to stop it. Abby, not everyone is disgusted with junk mail. The complainers should look at the broader picture.

The primary problem today in the United States is unemployment. Think about it -- if you eliminate junk mail, how many people will be out of work? Because of this mail, more postal workers are needed. Don't forget clerks, printers, lumberjacks and factory workers to produce products sold by mail, and copywriters, photographers, truckers, computer operators, and on and on. Entire businesses exist only because of this method of marketing. Need I go on?

Many people like me enjoy getting mail and ordering from home. When I receive junk mail I don't want, it goes in the recycle bin (yet another business that exists because of junk mail).

As to the environmental arguments, I believe most mail-order businesses use a great deal of recycled paper.

I vote to keep junk mail coming and more people working. -- E.A.T. IN GARLAND, TEXAS

DEAR E.A.T.: True optimists like you see the silver lining behind every cloud. You are outnumbered, but some of your arguments make sense.

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