(MONEY Magazine) – Readers who wrote in about MONEY's ninth annual ranking of U.S. cities ("The Best Places to Live Today," September) were generally in a combative mood. A major point of contention was the sudden rise of five Florida locales into the top 10. Many letters argued that the state's economic growth, a key reason for the high scores garnered by No. 1 Gainesville and the others, did not compensate for failings like suffocatingly hot summers. Our feature also drew protests from readers who felt we ranked their hometowns too low--or, surprisingly, too high. We received favorable responses, as well, however, including the following from Kevin F. Delaney, rear admiral, U.S. Navy: "As a career member of our armed forces who recently completed my family's 21st move, I have lived in many fine communities across this great nation. I can unequivocally tell you that you made the right choice in selecting my current home, Jacksonville, as the best mid-size city in America."

YOU RANK LOS ANGELES IN THE TOP 100. You've got to be kidding. The area is so broke they're closing public hospitals. KAY SAMLER Bakersfield, Calif.

BY CHOOSING SEATTLE AS THE FOURTH-best place to live, you've caused trouble again. My husband and I left Seattle last year because life has changed dramatically in the past seven years. Part of the problem, we believe, has been caused by people lured by the city's consistently high rank in MONEY's annual ratings. What once were secluded getaways are now overcrowded tourist attractions. Affordable housing is now within reach of only the upper middle class or Californians who come and pay incredible prices in cash as if they were playing Monopoly. GINNY MATTHEWS St. Louis Park, Minn.

SOME LOCALS THINK MEMPHIS SHOULD be rated higher than 271 out of 300, but you have it about right. Memphis is No. 1, by a wide margin, in per capita personal bankruptcies. We could easily have failed to make your list at all, but the drinking water is excellent and Elvis still lives here. RICHARD MASSEY Memphis


YOU SAY THAT HEALTH STORE CLERKS in 31 cities recommended and sold $4,859.46 worth of vitamin and mineral supplements to MONEY reporters--and that $4,590.42 was wasted. People are forced to rely on health store clerks because they can't count on their physicians for nutrition advice. Most doctors were caught napping when medical nutrition stopped being a fad and became a science. If we're to do our jobs as our patients' health advisers, we've got to catch up on our nutrition homework first. RICHARD N. PODELL, M.D. New Providence, N.J.


IN AUGUST'S YOUR MONEY MONITOR, your writer reports that some criminal was using her Social Security number to get credit. She also reports that when she asked a Social Security Administration employee for a new number, she was first told, "We don't change numbers," then was advised the number could be changed "only if like your life depended on it."

We at the Social Security Administration are concerned when the public receives inaccurate or incomplete information in response to an inquiry. Generally, a person is assigned one Social Security number to identify all covered earnings during his or her working lifetime. But in certain situations we can assign a new number and cross-reference it with the original to assure that the person receives credit for all earnings.

We do not automatically honor all requests. If the applicant alleges credit problems because someone has his or her number, we usually ask for verification.

I have directed all our local offices to ensure that information we provide to the public is accurate and complete, and we are providing some additional training to our employees in this area. BEATRICE M. DISMAN Regional Commissioner Social Security Administration New York City


THERE IS AN EVEN BETTER WAY TO DEAL with telephone fraud than the methods in August's Money Newsline report "How You Can Protect Yourself from Today's Telemarketing Scams." Simply hang up on any unsolicited sales pitch. PAUL CHAPMAN DeSoto, Texas


September's Newsline item "Good News: Cheap Electronic Banking Is Coming Soon" listed an incorrect telephone number for Microsoft's Money for Windows 95. The correct number is 800-508-8458.

September's Idea of the Month reported an incorrect telephone number for Golden Rule Insurance. The correct number is 800-265-9491.

The illustration on page 68 of September's Wall Street Newsletter should have been credited to Russell O. Jones.