Dear Annie: I have an aunt, “Bess,” who works as a loan officer. My grandmother mentioned recently that Bess had looked up another family member’s financial history. She said Bess discovered that this family member had recently taken out a $135,000 bank loan. Grandma also told me that a few years ago, Bess had looked up another family’s information after they purchased a new car and said, “They can’t afford that!”
My grandmother insists this information is available to anyone and that Bess has done nothing wrong. I don’t see how this can be legal, and I am concerned that my own information and credit history have been viewed by my aunt. She is just a busybody.
These family members have no business contact with her bank. Is Bess abusing her right to privileged information as a loan officer? How can I find out if she’s been looking at my financial records? — Tired of Snoops
Dear Tired: Aunt Bess should not be disclosing confidential credit information obtained through her bank job. However, you’d be surprised how much financial data is available to anyone who knows how to look for it. A great deal of what you might consider private information is available on the Internet. It would be highly improper if Aunt Bess is using her contacts at the bank to look up your information, but if she is getting this simply by accessing public records, it’s perfectly legal. But plenty nosy.
Dear Annie: For the third time, I have won money in a 50-50 charity raffle and was coerced into giving the money back. Each time I won, the person conducting the raffle would say, “Wouldn’t it be nice if ‘Mr. Smith’ donated his prize back to the charity?” If you don’t give the money back, it makes you feel cheap and selfish. If you do give it back, it makes you angry and resentful (which is how I feel).
I just went to a fundraiser and spent $100 for a 50-50 raffle ticket. I won $5,000, but only temporarily. Once again, the emcee suggested it would be nice if I donated it back to the organization. I gave half of it back, and he chided me over the microphone for not giving all of it back. I felt like crawling under the table.
Annie, I’m just an average guy — not wealthy by any means. If they want you to donate your winnings back, they should not call it a raffle. They should call it a donation. I will never buy another such ticket again, and I’m not the only one. I hope all fundraisers take heed. — Just Getting By
Dear Getting By: A 50-50 raffle is one where the entire pot is split between the organization and the winning ticket holder. The organization is already making a profit through the sale of tickets and should not strong-arm winners into giving back the rest for precisely the reason you give — it makes them less likely to buy another such ticket. It also makes those who observe the proceedings less likely to purchase future tickets, knowing they will be publicly pressured and shamed and aren’t going to win anything when it’s over. This hurts the organization in the long run, and we hope you will notify the people in charge.
Dear Annie: This is for “Aging With Dignity,” whose husband was subjected to mocking comments about his baldness.
I am also bald. I relish the moment someone makes a comment about my head. My reply is simple. I look them in the eye and say, “I am not bald. What you are seeing is a solar panel for a sex machine.” That usually leads to a quick change of subject. — Old Baldy
Dear Old Baldy: We are laughing out loud and suspect many of our follicularly challenged readers will be using your excellent comeback at the first opportunity.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger on 11.20.07