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AN URBAN LEGEND DEBUNKED, A TV AD CLARIFIED

Joan Pazo of Pinellas Park called for help to settle what was becoming a family feud.

A couple of years ago, Joan's cousin had asked family members to save the pop tops from their soda cans to contribute to free kidney dialysis treatments for children.

Though it certainly sounds like a worthy cause, Joan had a particular family member who was "driving us crazy" about it. She asked if Action could verify whether the story was true, so that sanity could be restored.

A search of the urban legends Web site www.snopes.com led us to a nearly decade-old press release issued by the National Kidney Foundation.

"Such a program has never existed through the NKF, nor have there ever been programs through the foundation allowing people to exchange any type of item (box tops, product points, etc.) for time on dialysis," it said. It added that this rumor had been circulating since the 1970s.

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Richard McCall of Seminole was concerned about the validity of a Web site from which he believed he would receive a free credit report. "They stuck it to me for $50," he said.

McCall visited www.free creditreport.com, a site heavily advertised on television. You can receive a credit report at no charge through this site, but requesting one will automatically begin a "trial membership" that permits you to regularly monitor your credit reports. You are required to provide a credit card number when you sign up for your report.

"If you don't cancel your membership within the 30-day trial period, you will be billed $14.95 for each month that you continue your membership," according to an explanation on the home page.

The site also offers other credit checking services for a fee.

For a truly free credit report, with no strings attached, McCall needed to visit www.annual creditreport.com.

Credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion created the site in response to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which guarantees consumers a free copy of their reports every 12 months.

No computer? No problem. You can also request a report by calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

Phone rebate-go-round

Q: I purchased a Motorola Razr phone through Simply Wireless for Cingular service in May 2006. The phone cost $100, but not to worry. I would be sent two $50 rebates, after six and then nine months of service.

I mailed the requested documentation and waited the required eight weeks, but no rebate. I checked the Web site; it showed no record of receiving my submission. So I faxed copies. Then I scanned and e-mailed copies. Then I e-mailed and faxed some more.

Every time I was told that something different was missing, even though I sent the same information each time.

Is there anything you can do to help?

Kathleen Titus

A: Simply Wireless customer service manager Stacy Kaup said, "We have complaints regarding the nonprocessed rebates and are working with our customers to resolve these issues as quickly as possible."

Does it make you feel any better that you aren't the only one waiting?

Kaup said a check for $100 would be processed for you, for the six-month and nine-month rebates included with your purchase.

"We will not go through the rebate company to process these rebates," she said, "as I do not feel that the checks will be processed within an acceptable time frame." She asked that you allow two to four weeks to receive them.

When you let me know the check had arrived, you'd actually waited closer to eight weeks.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. Write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request.

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