DEAR ABBY: I recently got turned down for a credit card because of bad credit. Since I am only 18, just started my job a year ago and still live at home, I had never applied for credit before. I contacted the credit bureau and was shocked to discover that a string of judgments, bad debt write-offs, etc. are on my report. To make a long story short, my mother, who is a compulsive shopper, had credit cards under my Social Security number.

When I confronted her, she shrugged and said I should use my brother's Social Security number. She had messed up her own Social Security number years ago.I don't want to use another person's Social Security number. I just want to clean up my own file and get credit the honest way. Can I do this without getting Mom in trouble? - BAD CREDIT IN SAN ANTONIO

DEAR "BAD": You have done nothing wrong and defrauded no one, so do not start now by using your brother's Social Security number.

Contact the credit bureau showing that you have a poor credit rating under your Social Security number. These companies have procedures set up to correct their records whenever the wrong person is listed with bad credit. They will advise you what documents will be needed in order to clear your listing on their credit records.

Social Security will not enter the picture unless the mess with the credit bureau can't be straightened out. It is unlikely that your mother will "get into trouble."

DEAR ABBY: My fiancee and I are both energetic, productive citizens who work overtime seven days a week to provide a better life for our children. We are a middle-aged, upper-income couple with maximum debt (due to our former marriages), in love, engaged and want to get married. The problem is we can't afford to because our federal and state income tax could increase $11,000 and $5,000, respectively. This means we would have to earn an additional $25,000 in taxable income in order to meet this obligation, and we simply can't do that.

The tax code is obviously unfair when a couple can't afford to get married because of additional taxes, and I won't ask even Dear Abby to rectify that problem. But, do you know of any place or any way we can be married in a Christian ceremony, without having to declare our marriage for federal and/or state income tax purposes? - OVERTAXED IN THE U.S.A.

DEAR OVERTAXED: I doubt if you could find a clergyman who would agree to perform a marriage ceremony and conspire with you to conceal the fact of your marriage in order to assist you in tax evasion. Don't expect to find an honest partner for a crooked deal.

DEAR ABBY: Will you please clarify the difference between a "social drinker" and an alcoholic? I am extremely confused because I love to go out with my co-workers for "a drink," and for some reason I end up having more than one - or two - and sometimes more.

A person in the AA program told me that I am an alcoholic, even though I enjoy drinking only twice a week. The reason I am not sure that I am an alcoholic is because I question it a lot - and isn't it a fact that true alcoholics would never question their drinking? - SOCIAL DRINKER IN SCRANTON, PA.

DEAR SOCIAL DRINKER: A person who is in the AA program is in a position to know the difference between a social drinker and an alcoholic. I suggest that you attend a few meetings of AA. You will learn a great deal, and your question will be answered by experts. Good luck.

DEAR ABBY: Every morning on my way to work, I sit in the passenger seat watching drivers read newspapers or paperback books, dress children, apply makeup, shave, drink coffee, watch TV, etc.

Abby, please comment to your wide reading audience concerning this problem. It could save your life and mine. - RIDING SCARED IN MARIETTA, GA.

DEAR RIDING SCARED: I'll try. Drivers who are caught doing any of the above while driving should be fined and assigned to traffic school to learn how serious their seemingly minor infraction can be.

Not only do these half-alert drivers risk their own lives, but they risk hitting another vehicle and maiming or killing innocent people.

1991 Universal Press Syndicate