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Dear Heloise: You get a telephone call or email telling you that you've won a trip, a vacation or a sweepstake. This is what happens next: You're told you need to send a fee, or taxes or some other amount of money, then they ask for credit card or banking information or ask you to wire money. Don't do it! — Charles W., Lima, Ohio

You're right, Charles. Readers, be sure to:

1. Keep your money and ALL personal information to yourself. Never share your financial information, and do not wire them money.

2. Report this scam to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357, or online at ftc.gov/complaint.

Don't become a statistic! — Heloise

A TRAVELING ID?

Dear Heloise: Travel has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Now more than ever, scams are ruining a travel experience for people. One of the worst scams is IDENTITY THEFT. Before you hand over your hard-earned money, check that the travel website URL has a small lock within the search bar. The URL needs to start with "https://" — an "s" must be at the end. Booking with a secure website adds a little peace of mind to your trip. The absence of a secure website should be a red flag to warn you that you might not be working with a legitimate agency. — Kathleen A. in Atlanta

SOGGY BOTTOM BLUES

Dear Heloise: When I make a peach cobbler, I use a ready-made pie crust, but I'm a little disappointed, because the bottom crusts come out uncooked. The top is fine, but I'm not happy with the bottom crust. Someone said to put it on the bottom rack. — Amy R., Anaheim, Calif.

Amy, here are some things you can do:

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Blind bake: This involves baking the crust before putting the filling in (sometimes covering the pie shell with parchment or foil), or partially baking the crust and finishing up the baking process when you add the filling and top. Use weights on the bottom so the crust doesn't bubble up.

Brush with egg whites: Brush the bottom of an uncooked pie shell with a little egg white mixed with water before adding the filling. As the pie bakes, the egg white proteins will form a moisture barrier.

Brush with chocolate: Brush the bottom with melted chocolate and let it sit before adding the filling. This also can add another layer of flavor to your cobblers or pies.

Bake on a hot baking sheet: Set the temperature of the oven and put a baking sheet in for about 15 minutes, then place your pie on the hot baking sheet.

— Heloise

 

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