EVERY DAY you hear more and more stories about credit companies and computers invading people's privacy. The latest one I heard has to do with my friends, the Sheldons.

Mrs. Sheldon went into a store to purchase some towels. She gave her credit card to the clerk. After what seem quite a long wait, Mrs. Sheldon was called to the cashier's office. The clerk gave her the phone.

The man on the other end of the line said he was from the credit card company and asked Mrs. Sheldon, "Are you having any trouble with your husband?"

Mrs. Sheldon thought for a moment and then said, "Not any more than usual."

"Well," said the man, "your husband made out a card and signed it saying he was no longer responsible for any of your debts. We've had to cancel your credit card."

Mrs. Sheldon was very shaken by the news. "Are you sure?"

Mrs. Sheldon forgot the towels and waited at home for Mr. Sheldon to arrive. He seemed in a good humor and couldn't understand why Mrs. Sheldon was so frosty.

"Is there something you want to tell me?" Mrs. Sheldon asked.

"Nothing I can think of," Mr. Sheldon said.

"Then, is there something you don't want to tell me?"

Mr. Sheldon suddenly realized Mrs. Sheldon was on to something. But he didn't know exactly what he didn't want to tell her that she had obviously found out about.

So he decided to play for time. "Of course not. What are you driving at?"

"We're grown-up people. At least you could have had the decency to tell me first."

Mr. Sheldon not only didn't know what ballpark they were in, he didn't even know the name of the game. "Told you what?"

"Let's not make a soap opera out of this. I always thought when the time came you would be differnt."

"Different from what?"

"Is she prettier than I am?"

Now Mrs. Sheldon knew the name of the game. "Oh, for God's sakes, what brought this on?"

"Don't pretend you don't know. Everyone knows, even the credit card company," Mrs. Sheldon said.

"The credit card company? How did they get into this discussion?"

"They're the ones who told me. They said you had signed a card that you were no longer responsible for my debts."

"I never signed such a card," Mr. Sheldon screamed. "They're out of their minds."

"Credit card companies never make mistakes," Mrs. Shelton replied.

"Who told you that?"

"They did," Mrs. Sheldon said.

"And you believed them? You believed them before you even asked me?"

"They have a lot more facts about you than I do."

"I'm calling them in the morning," Mr. Sheldon said. "They can't go around breaking up marriages."

"When it comes to credit," Mrs. Sheldon stated, "they can do anything they want."

The next day Mr. Sheldon called the credit card company and blew his stack. "How dare you tell my wife I was no longer responsible for her debts and we were splitting up?"

"That's what our computer told us," the man said. "Here is the card. "I, Harold Sheldon, am no longer responsible for my wife's debts."

"My name is Hackney. Hackney Sheldon - not Harold. You got the wrong Sheldon."

"Oh, dear," the man replied. "You're not Harold?"

"I am Hackney."

"Then you have no problem. We'll rectify it. But while I've got you on the phone, how is your marriage going?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"It would be most helpful for updating our records."