Dear Heloise: I saw in a recent column in The (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review about someone receiving a fax with all of the credit-card info on it, but it was sent to an incorrect number.

When we owned a business for which a lot of transactions were conducted by faxing credit-card info, I always left out one part of the number, expiration date and security code, replacing it with stars. I then wrote a note on the form that the company would need to call me personally to obtain the rest of the info.

There was a twofold result: I was sure that my order had been received by the proper person/company, and the full number and info were only given to those I wanted it given to. —Gayle White, Post Falls, Idaho

Fabulous idea! This should help to keep your credit info safe. —Heloise

Dear Heloise: I thought your readers might be interested in a method that I use to remove unpleasant odors in my home after cooking fish, cabbage, etc.

I always bake gingerbread, which dispels the bad odors. It fills the house with a pleasant and enticing fragrance, and everyone knows that dessert will be gingerbread with whipped cream that day. I freeze the leftover gingerbread, and when another occasion arises, I put a square of the frozen gingerbread into the oven at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes, and once again the bad odors are gone. —Helen Holbrook, Laconia, N.H.

Dear Heloise: Here's another "don't" to add to your article on caring for antiques: Please, no spray paint! I acquired an antique silver-plated ox with a beautiful embossed design all over. Unfortunately, it was spray-painted gold. The dilemma was how to remove the paint. If you don't want to polish it or live with a patina look, give it away or sell it, but please, no spray paint! —Patricia Scott, Santa Ana, Calif.

Dear Heloise: My children surprised my husband and me with a 25th-anniversary party several years ago. As we opened each gift, my daughter took a picture of us, along with the gift and the person giving it. This eliminated the need for a person to record each gift. We have lovely pictures of the event, the attendees and the gifts. We also included a copy of the picture with each thank-you note. —Diane from Beavercreek, Ohio

Dear Heloise: Whenever I buy a garment with buttons attached in little plastic bags, I sew them without the bags into the left inside seam so that they are there if and when I lose a button. I do this before I wear the garment; otherwise, I would probably forget it. —Ina Ericson, Richardson, Texas

Dear Heloise: After a beading project, any leftover beads or beads I no longer will use, I donate to a local children's hospital. —Nancy, Somerset, N.J.


Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 210-435-6473 or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column. © King Features Syndicate Inc.