DEAR ABBY: While dining out these past couple of weeks, I have noticed something troubling. I have overheard several elderly people talking very loudly on their cell phones and giving out personal information.

I overheard one woman from across the restaurant tell someone on the other end where her checkbook and deposit slips were located and repeat her account number. She even revealed her account balance. (There was well over $11,000 in her checking account alone.) Abby, anyone could have followed that woman home and robbed her blind.

Please print this as a reminder to everyone &

but especially the elderly &

that conversations like this should be conducted in a private setting, away from prying ears. This has happened the last three times I have dined out, and I'm concerned for their safety.

"" JAMIE IN SELLERSBURG, IND.

DEAR JAMIE: Thanks for the warning. Because we live in an era in which identity theft has become rampant, it's more important than ever to safeguard personal and financial information. What you have described should never be discussed in a public place where it can be overheard. The next time it happens, approach the talker and explain that you heard the conversation clearly &

and the next person who eavesdrops could take him or her to the cleaners.

Identity theft can take years to straighten out and recover from &

and there are far happier and more stress-free ways to spend one's final years.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 14-year-old boy with a twin sister. We have always shared a room. Because I'm her twin brother, my sister trusts me and isn't shy about undressing in front of me. She has a very attractive body, and I'm ashamed to say this, but I'm starting to have the wrong kind of feelings when I see her &

if you know what I mean. Under the circumstances, I don't think we should be sharing a room anymore.

We have a 16-year-old stepsister who lives with us. She has her own room, but she and my sister don't get along. I think it would be more appropriate for them to share a room since we don't have an extra bedroom.

If I say this, it'll just look like I want my own room unless I tell everybody the reason, which I'm too ashamed to do.

I try to force myself to look the other way, but sometimes I can't resist looking even though I know it's wrong. What can I do?

"" ASHAMED IN DENVER

DEAR ASHAMED: Please stop feeling ashamed. You are maturing right on schedule. The time has come to have a frank talk with an adult male relative about this. This could be your father, your stepfather, an uncle, a grandparent &

depending upon the makeup of your family. Believe me, they will understand. I agree there should be some changes in your household.

DEAR ABBY: I work for my brother-in-law and recently was doing some work on his computer when I found some nude pictures. The pictures were of women I happen to know, and they appear to have been taken by him while he was touching them.

Should I forget what I saw, or leave and look for a new job? Should I confront him or tell my sister? What would you do about this, Abby?

"" ANONYMOUS IN NEW YORK

DEAR ANONYMOUS: I would tell my sister in a New York minute what I had seen. Then I'd quit my job and look for another one. And that's what I'd strongly recommend you do.

DEAR READERS: Thanksgiving dishes are back in the china cabinet, and the last of the leftovers are finished. The party season is starting, and Christmas carols fill the air. While this is an exciting and joyful time for a lot of us, for many individuals the holidays can be an intensely difficult time, triggering feelings of stress, loneliness and loss.

If a person is prone to depression, these feelings can be magnified.

How can anyone feel depressed at this time of year, you ask? The reasons are many: People who are separated from their families often feel isolated because they are unable to celebrate in the traditional way. Families who have lost a loved one during the year often feel his or her absence especially at this time. Others become depressed because they imagine that everyone else is enjoying a warm, idealized family experience, while they are on the outside looking in.

Even people who enjoy the holidays can find them stressful. At this time of year people are stretched for time, energy and money &

particularly the latter. They may feel embarrassed because they can't celebrate the way they would like to, or celebrate in the style they have in years past.

Some ways to ward off the holiday blues:

"" Keep expectations reasonable. Do not take on more activities than you can comfortably handle &

financially or otherwise.

"" Don't overspend. Plan a holiday budget and live within it, regardless of the temptation.

"" Do not run up credit card debt, or January will be like a serious hangover.

"" And speaking of hangovers: Watch your alcohol intake. Remember, although alcohol appears to be a mood elevator, it is actually a depressant. If you have a problem with alcohol, get whatever support you need to make it through the holidays.

And finally, if you are feeling down and in need of an instant "upper," the surest way to accomplish it is to do something nice for someone else. Call someone who lives alone and invite that person to dinner. Better yet, say, "I'm coming to get you, and I'll see that you get safely home." (Some older people no longer drive at night, and those who do might prefer not to be behind the wheel after dark.) Give it a try! You'll be glad you did.

And another reminder: We have so much for which to be grateful &

our health, our sanity, our freedom. For those of you with a little time to spare, how about showing our gratitude to our wounded veterans by visiting a veteran's hospital and raising the spirits of those who have served our country? As I said before, the quickest way to lose those holiday blues is to extend a hand to someone who could use one. Try it and you'll see what I mean.

"" Love, ABBY

DEAR ABBY: I keep reading that having sex regularly will improve your health and extend your life. However, my wife of 34 years has lost all interest in sex and keeps pushing me away. So what do I do? Am I justified in taking on a lover on the side, discreetly, of course?

"" CONSIDERING IT, SAN MATEO, CALIF.

DEAR CONSIDERING IT: I, too, have read that engaging in sex regularly can improve one's health and extend one's life. However, rather than asking me for permission, you should address that question to your wife. If it's all right with her, it's all right with me. But if she says no, please remember that the stress of carrying on an illicit affair could shorten your life, and if she catches you it could be fatal.

Dear Abby is written by , also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.