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Furniture needs humidity, too

Here's something you need to know if you have wood furniture.

Home furnishings, like human skin, may dry out due to low humidity levels inside houses.

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What are the symptoms?

Chair legs become loose, glued joints can come apart, and cracks may appear in the wood. These become visible after the start of the heating season as the wood gradually contracts, according to the Forest Products Laboratory.

What's the remedy?

Use a humidifier, preferably a computer-controlled one that will maintain the humidity level needed by the wood.

(Source: Research Products Corp.)

Protect against ID theft

Some 700,000 Americans are likely to become victims of identity theft this year, according to America's Community Bankers, a financial organization. Identity theft occurs when someone steals personal information, such as a Social Security or credit-card number, and uses it to establish credit, write checks, charge items, or commit crimes in another person's name.

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The number of ID thefts has risen partly because thieves can access personal information through pre-approved credit-card mailings or on the Internet. To protect yourself, follow these tips:

* Never respond to unsolicited requests for a Social Security number or personal financial data.

* Shred credit-card and ATM receipts, and any pre-approved credit offers you receive but don't plan to use.

* Avoid easy-to-guess access and personal ID (PIN) codes.

* Obtain a copy of your credit report yearly and check it for accuracy.

* Use only secure sites when making online purchases.

* Safeguard your Social Security number, and check earnings and benefit statements for fraudulent use by calling 800-772-1213.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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