<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Dallas-Fort Worth News - NBC 5 Responds]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/localen-usSun, 24 Sep 2017 10:59:09 -0500Sun, 24 Sep 2017 10:59:09 -0500NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Man Loses More Than $200,000 Selling Protein Powder Online]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 22:42:10 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2017-09-22-21h54m02s185.jpg

Online shopping has made it easier for us to buy things and for businesses to expand their sales.

But the owner of a North Texas company says his business is on the brink of bankruptcy after someone posing as a legitimate customer launched a scheme that cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars, leaving him powerless to stop it.

Matt Maynard sells protein powder and other sports supplements online.

He's been doing it ever since the mid 1990s when Amazon was just starting out as a bookstore.

"I was at SMU, built a website, which back then websites were a big deal," Maynard said.

He grew from his college website, and even added brick-and-mortar stores around North Texas.

These days, international sales are a big part of his business. Last year, he shipped several huge orders to India — orders, he says, he followed up on.

"Got emails saying we received the products, our customers love them," Maynard said.

This spring, months after all the India orders came and went, it seems those same customers had a change of heart.

"Four months later they're filing claims that they did not receive their products," Maynard said.

The same protein powder, which his customers wrote reviews saying they loved, is now being reported to the payment processor Paypal as never received.

Paypal removed the money from Maynard's account when the claim was filed. They credited it back the buyer.

Each of these orders were between $400 and $700, and Maynard said it's happened to him more than 400 times — for a total of more than $200,000 worth of protein powder refunded by Paypal, because the customers said they didn't get it.

The United States Postal Service couldn't confirm all the packages were delivered, because they were sent to such small towns in India, but they did track several and say they actually got there.

Those wound up getting credited back to Maynard, for a little while.

"Paypal sided with us, and that made that person mad, and he filed another claim saying the product wasn't as described," Maynard said.

Paypal told the seller in India to return the 18 pounds of protein powder that wasn't as described.

Maynard received a small 8x10 envelope with two pieces of paper from a calendar inside. As soon as the tracking information showed those pieces of paper were delivered, the person in India got their refund.

"This is a group of people, they know what they're doing. They know how to get around Paypal's policies. They know what they're doing," Maynard said.

Maynard hired attorneys to help try to get his money back.

In the meantime he's using more scrutiny now on orders and trying to figure out how to close this loophole which is allowing someone to get expensive protein powder without paying a dime.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Paypal, which said, "Customer service and the resolution of issues are an important focus for Paypal. This is a complex matter, and we continue to work with the customer to provide information that will allow him reach favorable outcomes and resolutions to any issues he may have experienced."

It's possible this same scenario could happen when you sell something to someone and they pay you via Paypal.

Maynard's lawyers are hoping to encourage lawmakers to keep buyer protections in place but come up with some seller protections to help in cases where the returns clearly don't match what was sent in the first place.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Insulated Mugs]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 17:42:43 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Yeti_Cups_5p_92217.jpg

We're hard-working people in North Texas and can't let the hot summer sun slow us down. Hydration keeps us going, and we all have our own ways of keeping those liquids cool.

A popular method is by using those silver insulated mugs you can fill with ice and come back hours later and still find ice.

We know they work, but differ greatly in price.

YETI mugs retail for $29.99. RTIC is a little cheaper at $12.99, and Ozark Trail is only $8.74.

We want to be clear: our test was not scientific in any way.

We put the same amount of water and ice in each cup and dropped a thermometer in each.

We then recorded the temperatures and came back 15 minutes later, and again an hour later to see the cups each holding their own. Each one had about the same amount of water, and there was a significant amount of ice in all three cups.

Throughout the day we'd peek in, and after six hours we recorded our final numbers.

All three cups have kept the water at about 36 degrees.

No cup differed more than 0.8 degrees. We're calling it a draw, considering the thermometers were off a few tenths of a point to begin with.

In the end there was no sign of the ice in the RTIC but a tiny bit in the YETI and the Ozark Trail.

Factor in the price difference, and Ozark Trail may be the way to go.

We reached out to each manufacturer for a comment. Ozark Trail, which is made by Walmart, and Austin-based YETI, had no comment. Houston-based RTIC said it has a newer version tumbler than what we used. They said the newer version out-performs the other guys. They also pointed out their new cup comes in different colors.

So, keep it all in mind as you price-shop for one of these insulated mugs.

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<![CDATA[Sam's Weekend Deals: Fall Edition]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 06:46:35 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/plano-balloonfest.jpg

This Friday, you've got to check out Oktoberfest in Fort Worth. The event celebrates German traditions with authentic food, drinks, music and dancing.

Kids under 12 get in free! Adults will pay $10 Friday and Saturday.

Oktoberfest is from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday. NBC 5 sponsors the Panther Island Pavilion event every year.

Online: Oktoberfest Fort Worth 2017

Another big event this weekend is the Plano Balloon Festival. The kids will really get a kick out this one. It includes live entertainment, sky divers, food, music, and of course those amazing hot air balloons.

It's free for children 36 inches and under and the rest of the family will get in for $5 each day. The event kicks off Friday at 4 p.m. and ends on Sunday.

Online: Plano Balloon Festival

The Southlake Butterfly Festival is also this weekend. The 2-day event features a walk with hundreds of butterflies. This is a great opportunity for kids to explore their curiosity and learn more about the eco-system.

Children under two are free, kids are $5 and adults are just $7. Doors open Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m.

Online: Southlake Butterfly Festival



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds Answers Your Consumer Complaints]]>Tue, 27 Dec 2016 18:32:28 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NBC-5-Responds-1200x675-New.jpg

NBC 5's consumer unit, NBC 5 Responds, is our commitment to viewers that no call or question will go unanswered when it comes to your consumer complaints.

 

NBC 5 Responds is committed to researching your concerns and recovering your money. Our goal is to get you answers and, if possible, solutions and resolution.

If you have a consumer complaint, we want to hear it!

Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or CLICK HERE to fill our our Customer Complaint form.

Check out our latest stories right here.

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<![CDATA[Car Engine Had No Oil, Hours After Getting An Oil Change]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 04:03:15 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/walmart+oil+change.jpg

When Jose Betances saved up to buy his first new car his father made it clear to him it was more than just a set of wheels.

"I know that there's a certain amount of maintenance and follow up with the car, something as simple as an oil change," Betances said.

He had that done recently at Walmart in Frisco, on Farm-to-Market Road 42. His now 2-year-old Ford Focus got a clean bill of health when he picked up the car.

"When I was given the invoice, all I saw was 'good, good, good, good and good,'" Betances said.

He said he drove straight home, and later that night, drove to visit a friend who, he said, lives minutes away.

"All of a sudden my check engine light comes on," Betances said.

He said he pulled over and turned the car off and back on, and the check engine light went out. Betances got back on the road again. He said moments later, the entire dashboard lit up.

"It was telling me that my passenger bag had been deployed, telling me I had to change the battery, the oil, I had low tire pressure," Betances said. "Every signal that you can think of was on at the same time. Next step, I have no acceleration and I can't accelerate on the car."

He stopped again and called his Dad, Jose Betances Sr.

"There's no damage, so something told me just take the oil stick out, and I took it out. It's completely dry," his father said.

The next morning, a Walmart mechanic drove out to the car and the family said he confirmed there was no oil inside the engine.

The men met with a Walmart manager, filled out a claims form asking Walmart to cover the repairs. They were told an investigation would be launched.

Soon after, a letter came from Walmart's claims investigator.

The Betanceses wouldn't be receiving any money back. The letter goes on to say Walmart wasn't negligent and even added, "some medical plans refuse payment of bills related to this type of situation."

That particular line confused the family, who wanted to know about an oil change, not medical bills.

They wrote back, but were told again, their claim was denied.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Walmart, who provided us this statement:

"We work hard to maintain a high standard of customer service and satisfaction for everyone who shops with us. After speaking with the associates involved and reviewing surveillance video, it was determined that all procedures related to this oil change were properly followed."

We asked to see the video, if Walmart was certain oil was added, and if the drain was plugged tightly after the service.

Walmart wouldn't show NBC 5 the video, but said, "We can confirm oil was put in the car. There is no video angle showing the drain plug being reinstalled."

The Betanceses said they were given no further explanation, and a new engine cost them about $8,000.

Walmart did tell us the Betanceses were entitled to a copy of the full report into their investigation.

They repeatedly asked for it via email, copying us on the requests. They have yet to receive that report.

We asked, too, and after more than four weeks, it has not arrived.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[How to Avoid Flood-Damaged Cars from Harvey]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:25:00 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/harvey-houston-flooding.jpg

Looks can be deceiving when it comes to flood-damaged vehicles.

Mechanics say it sometimes starts with a strange noise, prompting the consumers to take their car to a mechanic, eventually learning the car is no good.

This is the last thing any driver wants to hear.

That's why the National Insurance Crime Bureau issued a new vehicle warning. They're telling drivers to beware of flood-damaged cars from Hurricane Harvey because they could soon pop up at a car lot near you.

They'll be cleaned up, shipped off, and if the car was not insured, there probably won't be any record of the damage.

"Small car lots, they're going to be picking up those cars because they can get them for cheap and if they can get them running," said Tarrant County College Automotive Instructor Tracy Miller. "It can be very dangerous to drive a flooded car. If anti-lock brake computers get wet they're not going to function properly. Your brakes may not function properly. In a lot of modern cars, the power steering systems those are electronic, so that may not function properly. Air bag system might not function properly."

So if you're in the market for a car, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

• Look for water stains, mildew or sand
• Check under the carpet and floor mats for silt
• You can even check the spare tire for moisture
• Look for fogging inside the headlights and tail-lights
• You'll also want to do a smell test. Does the car have a heavy air freshener scent? If so,that could be a red flag.

Know the difference between a "salvage title" and a "flood title." A salvage title means the car is a total loss because of a serious accident. A "flood title" means the car has damage from sitting in deep water.

Also, consider getting a vehicle history report. Some companies offer a small fee, but keep in mind this is not always foolproof.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau has a free database where you can check the car's VIN.

Online: National Insurance Crime Bureau

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<![CDATA[Woman Billed for Damage to Car, After She No Longer Owned It]]>Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:31:49 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lease+hail+damage.jpg

Hail can do a lot of damage to a car, and the price tag to bring it back to normal can put a major dent in your bank account.

In fact, a Plano woman got a huge bill after a spring hail storm, but the car wasn't even hers.

The sedan was clearly banged up after a huge thunderstorm dropped hail right over the Subaru of Plano dealership where Lori Bell returned her car at the end of her lease.

Bell says she handed over the keys, surrendering the car in good condition on April 8. The hail storm took place two week later, April 21.

Chase bank reportedly didn’t inspect until May, long after she returned the car.

When the inspector saw it all he sent the bill to Bell, thousands of dollars in damages and Lori couldn’t get the leasing company to say she was off the hook so she turned to us.

NBC 5 Responds has been investigating this issue for the last few weeks.

A spokesperson for Chase gave us this statement.

“Leased cars that are returned are typically inspected in prompt fashion. In this situation, the car wasn't inspected for more than a week due to a miscommunication. During this delay, the hail storm took place, causing damage to the car. When the vehicle was inspected, the inspector did not know when the damage had taken place. We appreciate the situation being brought to our attention and we are glad to resolve it.”

Lori learned the hard way the importance of documenting the condition of a car before you return it.

This goes for leases or just a weekend rental. The company typically inspects a little later, so make sure you take several photos of the car when you return to a dealership or rental car lot.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Some Chevy, GMC Owners Have Lengthy Wait for A/C Repairs]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:49:47 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GM+AC+Issues.jpg

Is there anything more uncomfortable than driving around without air conditioning during a North Texas summer?

Just a few hours can be brutal, but imagine a few months.

Several General Motors customers have been waiting that long to get the A/C repaired in their vehicles. Many have complained — dozens of you to us. Now, we have some answers.

The problem is happening in some of GM’s full-sized SUVs, including the ones made in Arlington. There are 2014 and 2015 Tahoes, Yukons and Silverados — just a couple of years old — with air conditioning that has gone bad.

"I couldn't understand why a vehicle that was only two years old was having trouble with air conditioning," said driver Mark Kuffel.

The Kuffel family had just returned from vacation when their air conditioner died.

"To get it fixed would be 10-12 weeks for the part to come in," Kuffel said.

The fix would cost an estimated $1,400 — coming out of their own pockets.

This family is not alone.

Auto mechanic Cesar Vega posted a demo about the problem on YouTube.

"I've replaced four or five. Tomorrow I have a 2016, same problem. They really need to get these fixed, maybe issue a recall," Vega said.

That idea is echoed by some of the unhappy GM owners who recently reported their air conditioning failures to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Many others are speaking online, saying they've waited multiple weeks but can't get their hands on the needed part. Some fixes are in the $4,000 range.

GM initially told NBC 5 Responds the back-ordered parts would be fulfilled by the end of August. That was nearly three weeks ago. After calling again for an update this week, the GM spokesperson refused to comment.

The customers who have been able to get new parts, including the Kuffuls, did have to pay out of pocket for those repairs if the car was out of warranty. We’ll keep checking with GM about the pace of these repairs.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Ways to Avoid the 'Rental Property Scam' in North Texas]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 06:44:54 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/212*120/responds-craigslist-scam.jpg

For one North Texas family, it all started with an ad on Craigslist.

A house in Burleson was going for $900 a month with all utilities included.

The man who identified himself as the "landlord" sent the couple a code to a lockbox with the key inside so the family could see the home.

After they wired the man $1,800 and signed the lease, they moved in, thinking the home was theirs. But they were wrong.

"A lady had came to the door, and she said that she was the property manager of this house," said Elizabeth Jones.

It turns out that the property belonged to Streetlane Homes, and the manager knew nothing about the so-called landlord.

NBC 5 found at least two other ads on Craigslist that appeared to be from the same man. One was in Royse City, and the other in Temple, near Austin.

The ads all show the same phone number. When we called the number, the man who answered identified himself as "Mr. Thomas," the owner of the home.

He said he couldn't meet in person because his son was in the hospital. So, he sent NBC DFW a code to the lockbox. He said the house in Royse City was still available and we could see it as early as Monday. 

A quick Google search led me to the real owner: American Homes 4 Rent.

An employee with the company confirmed that the Craigslist ads we found were not legitimate.

NBC 5 Responds called the person posing as the landlord multiple times, and each time, he hung up the phone. 

"It's very common and it has been going on for several years," said Sherri Aaron, with the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors.

She said these scams aren't new, but technology is making it even easier for crooks to trick consumers.

And on top of that, the North Texas housing market is putting pressure on renters to act fast.

"Some of these landlords...They go to home depot to buy a fifty dollar combination, you know lockbox," Aaron said. "Somebody gets the combination. Then they can share it or if they know it, then all of a sudden they go over there, take the key out, and put it in their own lockbox. The technology has helped in a way, but it's hurt in a way."

If you or if someone you know is looking to rent, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

• It's advised that you meet with a licensed realtor or the property owner in person. If they don't want to meet face-to-face, that's a red flag.
• You should also check with your county's appraisal office to verify who owns the property. You can do this online.
• Never wire any money to someone you've never met.
• Check the prices on nearby homes to see if the proposed rent is too good to be true. For instance, in the Royse City ad, the home was listed for $1,000 a month with utilities. In reality, that home is going for just under $1500 a month, with no utilities included.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Springtown Family Home Up For 'Rent' Without Their Knowledge]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 03:56:25 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/stolen+homes.jpg

A growing scam online shows houses up for rent without the knowledge of the owner or realtor. One family in White Settlement said pictures of their home were posted on Craigslist, and the poster was looking for more than money.

Tiffany Schmalken and her family just moved into their dream home in Springtown.

"We found this house on three acres, so [my husband] got the land he wanted and I got my garden tub and my craft room, so we both ended up winning," Schmalken said.

After they moved in, they put their old home in White Settlement up for sale, which allowed the realtors to show it without having to inconvenience their family.

"We had the realtor come in and take pictures of the house vacant. Then she posted our listing online with the vacant house pictures," Schmalken said.

Those pictures, showing the vacant home with newly renovated kitchen, should speak to buyers, but apparently they also spoke to someone else.

"I got a message from a Facebook friend, saying, 'Hey! I love your house, and that price is so good, can I rent it from you?' I asked her why do you think I'm renting my house? My house is up for sale," Schmalken said.

An ad that appeared on Craigslist used the photos Schmalken's real estate agent had posted online to sell the house, but the Craigslist poster claimed to be renting it.

It was all revealed by a Facebook friend of the Schmalkens, who stumbled upon the ad renting the three-bedroom home for just more than $1,000 a month.

The poster even went so far as to create an email address with Schmalken's name.

Their friends decided to send an email to the address just to see how far this mystery landlord would go in trying to rent Schmalken's home.

"[They said] you could go see it, but they had the keys with them, so they would all just have to look through the windows. Once they received the deposit then they would overnight the keys, 'cause they were located in Louisiana for work. [It is a] very elaborate scheme," Schmalken said.

There was an application asking for all sorts of personal information — an identity thief's dream. Then potential renters would wire hundreds of dollars for the deposit and rent.

"The fact that somebody was impersonating me online was disturbing to say the least. Especially the fact that people may be sending them money, and my names associated with that? It was disturbing," Schmalken said.

A simple note to Craigslist got the listing pulled down. But there's nothing stopping it from going back up.

"It goes back to that old saying, if it's too good to be true, it probably is," Schmalken said.

If you're selling a home, take photos with the furniture still inside. Realtors tell NBC 5 Responds that vacant houses are the ones typically used in this scheme so there’s no one inside the house to interfere.

Never send anyone money for a house you haven't physically seen. We've even reported on situations where scammers have figured out ways to get you in a lockbox. So be sure to always ask to meet the landlord or realtor in person — and look them up.

And if their only way of communicating is an email, that's a red flag.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Consider Your Options for Dorm Insurance for Your Child]]>Mon, 18 Sep 2017 18:04:22 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/college-dorm.jpg

If you have a child in college, chances are there are some pricey items in his or her dorm room. Insurance companies offer policies to help protect them.

The threat of theft is relatively small — from schools that report crime data, there were only about 798 burglaries and larceny thefts for every 100,000 students enrolled — or less than one percent.

The FBI's website contains more detailed crime statistics for specific schools.

You also have to keep in mind just how responsible your child is. Are they really trusting with their belongings, and just how careful are they? If you decide you do want to insure their stuff, you have a few options.

A parent's homeowners policy will typically cover kids while they're living in an on-campus residence at no extra cost, but the coverage may only apply to 10 percent of your limit on the contents of your home. So if your policy covers up to $50,000 in losses, your student's belongings are covered for only up to $5,000.

A renters policy will be necessary if your child lives off-campus. Premiums vary based on the amount of coverage needed, but are usually around $10 to $22 per month.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA['Rental Property Scam' Leaves North Texas Families Homeless]]>Mon, 18 Sep 2017 06:56:41 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-scam-alert.jpg

After losing his mother to cancer, Micheal Jones said he just had to move on from the home they once shared.

“I told my wife I can't do it," he said. "I can't be here no more.”

The couple started looking online for a new home and quickly came across a Cragislist ad. Jones' wife, Elizabeth, was excited.

“My husband calls the man on the ad," she said. "The man tells him 'Would you like to go see the house? I'm at the hospital with my son. I can't make it there, but I have a lock box on the house.’"

After seeing the home in person, they both fell in love. They sent the landlord a text message and he responded with a code for the lockbox, which had the key inside.

The lease stated that the couple would have to wire the landlord the first month's rent and security deposit. So they sent $1,800 and the landlord sent them the signed lease. The house was theirs.

But a few days later, a woman showed up at their doorstep.

“She said that she was the property manager of this house and she said, 'Y’all are not supposed to be here,'” Elizabeth explained. “I said 'What do you mean we're not supposed to be here? I have a lease and the keys to the home.’"

The property manager explained the house belonged to Streetlane homes and they needed to leave immediately. The woman had no idea who the so-called "landlord" was; she didn't even recognize the name.

“Me and my husband, we look at each other and go, 'We're calling the Sherriff out here,'” said Elizabth.

It didn't take long for them to realize they were victims of what experts say is a growing problem. Thanks to technology, the fake landlord had somehow gained access to the lockbox and its code.

The Tarrant County Sheriff's Office released a scam alert during the weekend in regards to cases like this. The department says they are investigating.

As for the real owners of the property, Streetlane homes, they told NBC 5 Responds:

"We're extremely disappointed and disheartened to hear about this scam....We're actively looking into this matter and are 100% focused on getting to the bottom of it….For the time being, we're going to allow them to stay in the home, rent free, for the next two weeks, to give them some time. Should they find a new home and decide to move out, we'll also give them $900 to help with the transition."



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Lawmakers Starting to Put Pressure on Equifax]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 17:25:13 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cms936.jpg

Anger is mounting, and Americans are asking for something to be done after the Equifax data breach and the issues surrounding signing up for protection.

More than 50 lawsuits have already been filed, and state attorneys general across the country are launching investigations into what Equifax may have done wrong.

"The investigation has begun. I know that consumers want to know how long will it take and when I can see action. It's going to take time. It's a massive date breach. Twelve million Texans alone are affected by this," said Marc Rylander, with the Texas Attorney General's Office.

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., say they've come up with a list of demands from Equifax like notifying everyone if they're affected and promising 10 years worth of freezes.

"These five steps are common sense. They are the base line of decency. If Equifax can't commit to them, their leadership is not up to the job and their entire leadership should be replaced," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wants to change the law to make freezing your credit free by all three bureaus.

Across the country, lawmakers and enforcers are promising to push for protection.

"This company needs to make sure that it is footing the bills, that it is paying, and that we are not paying for their failures," said Massachusetts Attorney General Laura Healey.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Customers Targeted Via Text Message]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 07:09:54 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/amazon+huracan+irma+envios.jpg

The NBC 5 Responds team is warning consumers about a text message that appears to be from Amazon.

The people behind this scheme are using a method called "smishing." It's a new scheme that targets your text messages.

Cyber criminals are coming after your credit card information, addresses and even your social security number.

A viewer sent NBC 5 Responds' Samantha Chatman a text message via Facebook.

It says, "Amazon values your continued business! Receive a $50 gift card or reward simply by completing our short survey," and then there's a link. You can reply "STOP" for removal.

Amazon confirms that this is a scam.

The company said it will not send text messages for surveys, though the company does offer text alerts for package shipments.

If you've received one of these survey messages, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

• If you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or Bell subscriber, you can report the text to your carrier by copying the original message and forwarding it to the number 7726 (spam), free of charge
• Delete the text
• Don't call the number back
• Never send a message back or click the link, no matter how tempting it may be

We also wanted to know how widespread this might be, but we're still waiting on a statement from Amazon.

Americans lost $1.3 billion to cyber crime in 2016, according to the FBI. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Credit Bureau Websites Overwhelmed After Equifax Breach]]>Thu, 14 Sep 2017 17:24:07 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Equifax_Next_Move_10p_09132017.jpg

The nation's three credit agencies are swamped with calls from millions of Americans trying to put a fast freeze on their credit report.

An estimated 143 million names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver's license numbers were all stolen in a security breach of credit rating agency Equifax.

"When the experts are saying, 'You should do this now,' it struck panic in me. I don't want people taking auto loans in my name or who knows what," said North Texas consumer Scott Teich.

The fear is real. Experts say as angry as you may be, few companies could handle the amount of demand the credit bureaus are getting right now.

"Typical web servers can only service a certain number of requests every second. If you have millions of Americans all trying at the same time, you're going to overload the web server," said Randy Haba, an ethical hacker with Frisco's DKB Innovative.

Haba dives deep into the hacking world and builds systems to keep the bad hackers out. He says freeze your report when the demand dies down, but in the meantime you can take steps to limit your risk.

"Make sure you call the people you do business with, update your security questions, change your answers, put notes on your account to not allow use of social to access my info. Put a special requirement, they must say this info to accept my account," Haba said.

Equifax told NBC DFW they are experiencing a high volume of requests for security freezes and are experiencing technical issues. They said they are working diligently to ensure an improved customer experience.

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<![CDATA[Plano Woman Fights to Clear Her Name, Identity]]>Thu, 14 Sep 2017 09:35:26 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/car-loan-id-theft.jpg

Peggy Sharrieff moved to the Lone Star State with dreams of opening her own business.

But to do that, she realized she needed to have good credit.

It's something Sharrieff's been working on for a while now: paying bills on time and monitoring her credit.

However, last week she received an email that could be the beginning of a major problem.

"They basically said that my loan was approved at a dealership in Peoria, Illinois," she said. "I'm freaking out because I didn't submit an application for a car. I'm not looking for a car."

Sharrieff said she moved from Illinois last year but has never lived in Peoria. The number on the application was from St. Louis, so she figured it was spam.

"But then, when the second one came in I'm like, somebody is trying to get a car in my name!"

The man who emailed Sharrieff told NBC 5 Responds that loan applications are submitted through the dealership's website and they have no control over who sends them in.

He said this isn't the first time something like this has happened, but he confirmed the application will be thrown out.

"I'm just worried that there is going to be more things like this to come," Sharrieff said. "You could know anything about me at any given time. That's not a good feeling."

Sharrieff said her next step is to meet with a financial adviser to help clear her name.

The NBC 5 Responds team continues to reach out to Equifax and have yet to receive a direct response. The agency continues to offer credit monitoring through its website.

It is important for all potentially impacted consumers to do the following:

• Monitor your credit reports and bank statements closely
• Consider freezing your credit through the three major credit agencies. Experian and Transunion charge about $10 for the freeze if you aren't currently a victim of identity theft. Equifax is waiving its fee for a limited time.
• Not sure how to authorize a freeze? Click here



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Hurricanes Could Cause Airfare Prices to Drop]]>Wed, 13 Sep 2017 17:35:44 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/107846315-airplane-generic.jpg

If you're shopping for airfare for an upcoming trip, you might want to wait a little bit before you book.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused prices to spike for the short-term, but experts say that could change based on the recovery process.

The hurricanes significantly impacted operations for DFW-based American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, and they are still calculating their losses.

Almost all of Southwest's flights to the Caribbean were canceled, while Houston's Hobby Airport was closed.

Now, American Airlines is canceling flights to the Caribbean and also others out of Florida.

Rick Seaney, CEO of Farecompare, said travelers must do research before booking a flight, especially to Florida or the Caribbean.

If the rebuilding process doesn't happen quickly, you can expect airfare to drop.

"If demands goes down, tickets prices will have to go down, or airlines have to move those flights to other locations," Seaney said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Texas Businesses Sued for Price Gouging During Harvey]]>Tue, 12 Sep 2017 22:17:57 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ANA_RESPONDE_PRICE_GOUGING_1200x675_1037222467681.jpg

A North Texas gas station chain is among the Texas businesses named in price gouging lawsuits filed in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, attorney general Ken Paxton's office announced Tuesday.

Texas law prohibits businesses from charging exorbitant prices for drinking water, food, clothing and fuel during a declared disaster.

NBC 5 Responds reported earlier this month that investigators were looking into the complaints and trying to prove the pricing was unfair. Now, they feel the proof is there, and they are ready to take it before a judge.

A reader sent the Arlington Voice a photo indicating he paid $6.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gas at the Mobil station on Green Oaks in Arlington on Aug. 31. Signs posted at the stations reportedly advertised prices between $3-$4 per gallon. The station is owned by Bains Brothers Petroleum, which owns several Texaco-branded gas stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The AG's Office filed suit against the gas station owner for the gouging reported to them. We left messages for the owners of Bains Brothers, but our calls weren't returned.

Robstown Enterprises, Inc., which operated the Best Western Plus Tropic Inn in Robstown, charged three times its normal room rate during the weekend Hurricane Harvey hit, authorities said. The news release said Best Western has since ended its relationship with the company.

"We called the hotel chain and they refunded the difference of a fair price and what the hotel was charging. [They] also refunded the other 39 rooms their price difference, and the next day the national chain whose name was on the sign jerked their name off that hotel and no longer allowed that owner to be a franchisee," said Marc Rylander, with the Attorney General's Office.

A Chevron-branded gas station near Laredo was also accused of charging customers $8.99 and $9.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gas on Aug. 31.

State prosecutors say they've received more than 3,300 price gouging complaints resulting from Hurricane Harvey.

Assistant Attorney General Brad Carpenter told said investigators got many complaints but are going after cases they know are air-tight.

"The hardest things about these cases are proving that they happened," Carpenter said.

Photos certainly help, because they offer some type of proof. It's even better when they show the specific location. It's something to remember as a consumer when documenting possible price gouging.

Price gouging penalties can reach $20,000 for each violation and an additional amount of up to $250,000 in cases where victims 65-years-old or older were targeted.

Texans who believe they've been scammed or price gouged should call the attorney general's Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-621-0508, email consumeremergency@oag.texas.gov or file a complaint on the attorney general's website.

Online: Filing a price gouging complaint

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<![CDATA[Things to Know Before Returning to the Equifax Website]]>Tue, 12 Sep 2017 07:15:07 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cms936.jpg

If you checked the Equifax website last week, you may have gotten a message like this: "Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident."

You're then asked to enroll in Trusted ID Premier, an identity theft protection program. But you have to return to the website on a later date to finish enrolling.

You'll have to provide more information like your name, date of birth, full social security number, home address and email address. After that, the website says to wait for an email to complete enrollment.

There are a lot of people that are skeptical about this process. Some people have questioned if they should give Equifax more information.

Here's what you need to know:

• Equifax has changed its terms and conditions and confirms that enrolling in Trusted ID Premier does not waive your right to take legal action.
• If you sign up for the program, it's free. You won't be charged after your free year is up.
• Trusted ID Premier includes credit bureau monitoring, identity theft insurance and internet scanning for social security numbers. However, there are other identity theft protection programs on the market.
• Financial experts say your best bet is to authorize a credit freeze. It's not a walk in the park, but we're told it's the only way to protect yourself in this situation.

To learn more about how to authorize a credit freeze, click here



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Construction Material Cost Expected to Rise After Hurricanes]]>Mon, 11 Sep 2017 17:39:27 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Construction-generic-worker.jpg

If you're planning to do some home improvement work, watch out. Prices for materials are rising across North Texas. And the cost is only expected to go higher as more material is needed to help rebuild after hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The amount of the increase depends on which product and on the damage reports from Hurricane Irma which are still coming in, but the material we're most likely to see go up in price is wood.

Let's face it, we go through a lot of lumber in North Texas. Our booming housing market keeps those pallets of wood coming in.

Experts tell NBC 5 Responds plywood, softwood lumber and fiber board are all in short supply and prices have been climbing long before any hurricane entered the Gulf of Mexico.

"The Trump administration decided to slap a 10-percent tax on Canadian soft wood lumber at the beginning of the year," said David Lei, strategy professor at Southern Methodist University. "Most of the lumber does come from Canada. You're exasperating a shortness of supply when you have a huge demand."

Lei said the tariffs, along with the demand for home building both in DFW and in Houston, will likely lead to lumber prices rising about 20 percent.

With interests rates holding steady, the building will keep demand high for wood and other building materials, but another factor is the rising cost of fuel which can mean higher prices for consumers.

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<![CDATA[Don't Expect Gas Price Spike After Irma: Expert]]>Mon, 11 Sep 2017 06:47:43 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Gas_Shortage.jpg

As Hurricane Irma continues to rip through Florida, many consumers in North Texas are bracing for another round of increased gas prices.

The current average gas price is at $2.67, which is about 45 cents higher than last year.

Nonetheless, some energy experts are telling drivers not to worry about another spike at the pump. In fact, they say drivers may start to see prices drop at local gas stations over the next week or two.

You may be asking yourself the following question: If prices skyrocketed after Hurricane Harvey, why wouldn't they climb after Irma?

Energy expert Bruce Bullock said it had a lot to do with the shutdown of refineries near the Gulf Coast and sheer panic at the pump.

"Those two things combined raised the price 50-75 cents a gallon here locally, and it's going to take a while until that pipeline gets back up," Bullock said.

"I'm not worried about gas going up," he said. "The fact of the matter is the single biggest determinant of gasoline prices is crude oil prices, and crude oil prices are flat to heading downward this time a year and should through the remainder of the year."

If you're wondering if you should fill up today or not, Bullock said if you're at a quarter tank of gas, don't wait. Go ahead and fill up.

He believes gas prices should go down, but it won't drastically drop overnight.

You'll likely start to see it go down a couple of cents each week.

]]>
<![CDATA[How to Protect Yourself From the Equifax Security Breach]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 10:02:45 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Equifax_Credit_Freeze.jpg

People all over the country are looking to protect themselves after credit reporting giant Equifax announced its computers were hacked, potentially exposing the personal information of millions of Americans.

The breach exposed Social Security numbers, current and past addresses, birthdays, and even driver's license numbers.

Equifax has set up a free credit monitoring and identity protection service that will help those affected.

You can use the site to check to see if you're a victim, and then join the monitoring program. That monitoring will only let you know what's happening moving forward.

A recent FTC study found that thieves pay top-dollar to get fresh, recently obtained stolen data, often within minutes. So, you could already have someone opening accounts in your name that just haven't popped up yet.

People are hesitant to sign up for Equifax's free monitoring because they don't want to give them their Social Security numbers again.

"I got to the website and it was like, 'Add your Social Security number, and the last four digits of your Social Security number, and your last name,' and I thought, 'No, you're already hacked. I'm not giving you more information.' So, I got nervous to be honest, and I didn't check," said one consumer.

Equifax's competitor, Experian, is saying it will give you free credit monitoring for a year, if you sign up with Experian.

There's another option that will give you much more protection than credit monitoring: credit freezing. It makes life a little harder, and costs you a few bucks, but it will keep your information safe.

To freeze a credit card, contact Equifax, Experian, and Transunion and tell them you want to freeze your account. They will lock it each credit report, but you still get to use credit cards and spend as normal.

The lock prevents new accounts from getting opened. So, you can't buy a house, a car, or open a new credit card while your account is frozen. However, they will give a PIN that allows these big purchases. Before making these types of purchases, call the credit bureau and give them the PIN.

They will release a credit report only to the company where the purchase is being made.

This protection that a credit freeze provides comes at a cost.

To lock it with Equifax, Experian, and Transunion, it costs $10.83 for each company – that's $32. 49 for all three.

It will also cost $10.49 each time your credit report is unlocked.

Equifax has said it will waive those fees for the time being.

LINK:

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said that using the Equifax's credit monitoring service forfeits your right to sue or join the class-action lawsuits already being filed. Equifax has clarified its terms, and said that using its credit monitoring service will not impact your rights to sue for the earlier credit breach. 


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<![CDATA[Harvey Shouldn't Impact North Texans' Insurance Premiums]]>Fri, 08 Sep 2017 07:17:26 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/harvey-houston-flooding.jpg

The estimated loss from hurricane Harvey is about $30 billion in property damage. This has many worried that insurance companies will have to raise premiums to pay for all of that damage in Southeast Texas.

Much of the damage in Houston was caused by flooding, and most homeowners' policies don't cover flooding. Typically, you have to buy flood insurance through FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program. Therefore, the government will be responsible for covering that damage, not private insurers.

But if we do happen to see a premium increases in the coming months, another storm could be to blame.

"There have been two very catastrophic storms that have come specifically through the North Texas area," said Lynsie DeCet, from Independent Insurance Agents of Dallas. "In March and April we suffered significant hail damage. That could be more likely because hail is specifically addressed on an insurance policy. So, that has more of a direct relation to more private insurers and not the federal government who is issuing the national flood insurance."

If there's another storm that could cause our premiums to go up, DeCet said it's hurricane Irma, but the entire country would have to deal with those effects. This would depend on what kind of damage Irma brings to the U.S.

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<![CDATA[Equifax Data Breach Could Impact Nearly Half of the U.S.]]>Fri, 08 Sep 2017 12:39:44 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Equifax-Generic.jpg

The FBI is investigating a massive cyberattack at credit reporting agency Equifax that affects nearly half of the entire population of the United States.

About 325 million people live in the U.S., and Equifax reports more than 143 million of them could have had their information taken.

Hackers found a hole in the Equifax system which allowed those criminals to get in and access everything from credit card numbers to what Equifax is calling "identifying information," such as names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birthdays and driver's license numbers.

If you disputed something on your report, that information may have been stolen as well.

Equifax says this went on from the middle of May until July 29, when the company realized the breach and shut the hackers out.

The company is sending letters to people impacted by the incident.

Equifax has set up a website to let you see if your personal information has been accessed.

The system has been struggling to keep up with the number of people attempting to access the website in the hours after the breach was announced Thursday, so you may need to keep trying.

MORE: Click here to check your status with Equifax



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bureau Doesn't Expect Grocery Price Spikes After Hurricanes]]>Thu, 07 Sep 2017 18:08:03 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Wayne_Explains_Groceries_5p_90717.jpg

Farmers in South Texas were expecting a banner year when it came to cotton. After several slow years, they were expecting a lot of product this summer, but then came Hurricane Harvey.

"The hurricane could put several farming families out of business," said Roger Hall, with the Texas Farm Bureau.

Hall said the damage doesn't necessarily mean prices will spike.

He said cotton is produced in so many places that there will be a steady supply despite the loses in Texas.

The same is true for other popular Texas crops, like rice, soybeans, and even cattle, which died in floodwater.

Hurricane Irma is expected to hit Florida, which is known for its orange groves.

A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Citrus says it could be weeks before they know the impact on orange groves and any increase in price.

However, Hall says, like the crops grown in Texas, oranges are found elsewhere, and price spikes should be small and not long-lasting.

Sudden rushes on oranges, much like those seen with gasoline after Harvey, could impact pricing and supply, but if left alone, Hall expects the impact to be minimal.

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<![CDATA[Protecting Hurricane Harvey Victims From Vicious Contractors]]>Thu, 07 Sep 2017 06:54:59 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/contractor-construction-generic.jpg

Time and time again we hear from storm victims who gave a roofer their last dollar, only to learn their project would be abandoned.

It's sad to think that someone would stoop this low, but when disaster strikes, there are contractors out there with bad intentions.

Many people call them storm chasers: Workers that travel to devastated areas, pressure you to put down a deposit and never come back.

There are a number of good, honest contractors in Houston right now doing great work for those in need. But the bad ones will try to slip through the cracks and take advantage of you when your guard is down.

There are many steps homeowners should take before trusting someone to rebuild their home.

"Make sure you check their qualifications, look into their background," said Steven Badger, a North Texas-based attorney. "Make sure they have a website and do your research on them. Do not hand over your insurance checks until they're there to begin the work."

Here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

• Watch out for doorknockers. If someone comes to your home, write down their information. Take their business card and do your research before signing any paperwork.
• If a contractor says he'll waive your deductible, that's another red flag. Badger said it's illegal to wave a deductible in Texas.
• Also, if the price seems too cheap, that should make you raise an eyebrow, too.
• If you're going to put down any money, ask the contractor to buy your materials first. If they can't afford it, you may want to shop around.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Woman's European Vacation Is Canceled After Cancer Diagnosis]]>Wed, 06 Sep 2017 18:03:26 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Holly+Everitt.jpg

Once you buy an airline ticket, it's usually yours. Change fees can often cost as much as what you paid for a low fare.

Holly Everitt and her daughter, Brandi, bought a non-refundable fare for a flight to London. But after making their reservation, Holly was diagnosed with cancer.

She's undergoing chemotherapy and her doctor says she's not medically fit to make the trip.

Her travel agent wasn't able to honor a refund on their non-refundable ticket, so she contacted NBC 5 Responds.

We passed along the doctor's note to British Airways, and they quickly issued a refund saying, "We apologize for the inconvenience this caused during a difficult time for our customer."

Brandi said the refunded money will help them pay medical bills.

Refunds are considered on a case-by-case basis by most airlines, including British Airways.

They may not always give you any money back, but British Airways says with documentation of your illness they will allow you to change the date of your trip to a date after you are well.

The policy is different for every airline.

A spokesman for Fort Worth-based American Airlines said usually with a doctor's note they will allow you to re-book within a year.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines offers changes without a fee for any reason.

The best way to ensure you will get actual cash back is to purchase travel insurance, but always double check the policy to make sure you're aware of all the conditions impacting a medical claim.



Photo Credit: Everitt Family / NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA[Rumor Control: FEMA Addresses Gas Supply, Relief Efforts]]>Wed, 06 Sep 2017 06:55:20 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/fema+response.jpg

The Federal Emergency Management Agency wants to set the record straight about the effects of Hurricane Harvey.

According to FEMA, there are rumors that fuel supply issues in North Texas are due to the agency blocking sales. FEMA says that is false and blamed Harvey.

"With tight supplies due to Hurricane Harvey impacts, gas stations that purchase fuel on the open market may not be able to acquire fuel supply since pre-existing supply contracts will be met before gasoline is placed in the open market," FEMA said.

The agency also wants to warn the public about employment scammers. There are reports stating FEMA is looking to hire more than 1,000 people for $2,000 per week for 90 days. The phone number to call may start with 888-776-xxxx. FEMA says this is a scam.

FEMA officials said they do need field inspectors as soon as possible at a rate of $4,000 to $5,000 per week. The flyer instructed those interested in the position to call 214-284-XXXX for instructions on how to apply between the hours of 9 and 11 a.m. up to Aug. 31.

And then there's robocalls. There are reports that Texas residents are being told their flood premiums are past due and in order to have coverage for hurricane Harvey, they need to submit a payment immediately to a website.

FEMA said this is a scam. If you receive a call regarding your flood insurance policy:

• Hang up the phone.
• Don't press any numbers.
• Instead, contact your insurance company to verify the information.
• If you have a policy with the national flood insurance program, call directly or dial 1-800-638-6620.

For more rumor reports, visit www.fema.gov/hurricane-harvey-rumor-control.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[SOS Roofing Owner Faces Charges After NBC 5 Investigation]]>Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:20:38 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/will-jenkins.jpg

A North Texas contractor accused of ripping off homeowners faces property theft charges after several NBC 5 Responds investigations.

Will Jenkins of SOS Roofing and MGM Contractors turned himself into police during the weekend. He has since been released on bail.

Earlier this year, NBC 5 Responds heard from several consumers who said they paid Jenkins thousands of dollars to fix their roofs and that he never came back.

Since the first story aired, homeowners from across North Texas have come forward with similar stories. We even heard from former employees who say Jenkins ripped them off, too.

Jenkins has been charged with two counts of theft of property greater than $150,000. The indictment includes dozens of homeowners. He’s expected to appear in court Sept. 13.



Photo Credit: Tarrant County Sheriff's Department | NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports Poll Finds Best Used Cars]]>Mon, 04 Sep 2017 07:35:37 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Responds_Used_Car.jpg

Consumer Reports polls more than 200,000 subscribers to find out how satisfied they are with their 3- to 10-year-old vehicles and whether they'd buy them again.]]>
<![CDATA[Major Gasoline Pipeline Could Restore Service Tuesday]]>Sun, 03 Sep 2017 11:37:07 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/4p+5hd+LABOR+DAY+GAS_KXASEKYT_2017-09-01-17-48-18.jpg

Colonial Pipeline Company, which delivers more than 100 million gallons of gasoline between Houston and the East Coast, said it may be able to return to service as early as Monday or Tuesday.

The company said restoring the line will depend on safe access to locations and no major flood damage during facility inspections. So more fuel could be on the way to North Texas.

The NBC 5 Responds team is still seeing a number of gas stations in the DFW area that are out of fuel, but transportation experts say the projected shipments could help alleviate this issue.

Many drivers said the long lines at the pump have shortened a bit each day, giving many North Texans hope as they enter the holiday weekend.

 If you're looking for gas right now, click here for our interactive gas map. 

The QuikTrip app has also proven to be very helpful and reliable for our viewers. https://www.quiktrip.com/Gasoline

As for the increased gas prices, AAA said they should start to drop next month.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Some Useful Tips for Saving Gas]]>Fri, 01 Sep 2017 06:49:26 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Gas_Drama_6p.jpg

North Texans are lining up to get gas, worried about a possible shortage in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. But there's some things you can do to make your gas last longer.

  • Make sure you're driving at moderate speed. Wherever you're going, don't push that speed limit. Transportation experts say driving around 55 miles per hour instead of 65 can get you an extra couple miles per gallon.
  • Try putting your car in idle mode. Many cars have this feature, check your manual. You may see a button near your steering wheel with an "A" on it. When activated, it'll shut off your engine if you're in traffic or waiting at a red light. Auto experts say this should help preserve your fuel.
  • If you can handle it, turn off that air conditioning. The Department of Energy says blasting the cold air can reduce your vehicle's fuel economy by more than 25 percent.

If you need help finding gas near you, be sure to check out our interactive map.

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<![CDATA[Answering Your Most Common Questions on Gas Outages]]>Thu, 31 Aug 2017 23:22:59 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GAS+PUMP+GENERIC2.jpg

NBC 5 Consumer Reporter Wayne Carter answers some of your most common questions to the North Texas gas outages.]]>
<![CDATA[Gas Drama Impacts North Texas Businesses]]>Thu, 31 Aug 2017 17:49:16 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Harvey_Gas_Facts_5p_83117.jpg

North Texas gas station owners say they got a huge rush of business beginning late Thursday. The problem, they say, isn't a lack of gas coming into town as much as it is so many going to fill up on the same day. And as fast as the problem started the experts say it will end.]]>
<![CDATA[Friday Deadline for Insurance Claims — What's True and Not]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2017 17:33:23 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/160*120/Kris+Gutierrez+02.jpg

Some Texans forced out of their homes by Hurricane Harvey may soon return and start thinking about rebuilding. That means filing insurance claims so they can start with repairs.

Insurance companies are inundated with calls right now from people trying to file before Friday, when a new state law takes effect.

But the rush to file may not impact many homeowners.

House Bill 1774 puts more work on the consumer and could cost some consumers money, but it only kicks in if your insurance company doesn't pay what you think is fair and you file a lawsuit against them.

If there's no lawsuit, nothing's any different under the new law.

"They ought not be concerned not being able to claim by Friday," said attorney Steven Badger, who represents insurance companies who supported the bill.

Badger is backed up by the Texas Department of Insurance, Federal Emergency Management Agency and even the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. The new law does not affect the claims process.

Most Harvey insurance claims will go to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, which covers those along the coast. The National Flood Insurance Program will handle the high water claims in Houston. The bill has no impact on those claims.

The people who file with homeowners insurance and then sue over the outcome are impacted.

If you file before Friday and win a suit with your insurance company, you get a check for 18-percent more than what the judge ordered. After Friday, when the new law kicks in, that payment drops to about 10 percent.

Wade Barrow, president of Tarrant County Trial Lawyers, points out lawsuit numbers are higher after a disaster like this. He says there will be more disagreements and more people who will benefit from filing before Friday.

"There are adverse consequences if you don't act. It's going to happen to people who can least afford them: victims of the worst storm in this state's history," Barrow said.

Bottom line, if it's safe and you're able to file a claim now, go ahead. If you choose to sue your insurance company, this could help you a bit.

If you don't file the claim now, and you don't sue your insurance company, it will have little to no impact.



Photo Credit: Kris Gutierrez, NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[AG Investigating More Than 600 Complaints of Price Gouging]]>Tue, 29 Aug 2017 23:06:54 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/water+jugs+harvey.jpg

For the past week, store shelves have been clearing out across the Houston area and southeast Texas amid Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.

Bread, water and other staples are becoming hard to find, and some customers say they are coming across items that are marked up so high people are leaving them behind.

The Texas Attorney General's Office has received more than 600 complaints so far from customers saying they're being overcharged.

NBC 5 Responds used the Freedom of Information act to get some of those complaints. In one report, a sporting goods store in San Antonio was accused of charging $41 for a 12-pack of bottled water.

There's a complaint from a gas station on Sam Houston Parkway near Houston saying their water had no price marked, but at the checkout the teller said it was very expensive and he had to think of a price. Then said it was $45 for a 12-pack of water.

"You can't charge 10, 15, 20-times what the product costs at a normal time," said Brad Carpenter, with the Texas Attorney General's Office.

Carpenter said the office's investigators have been checking these complaints since the weekend and hold businesses accountable for price gouging.

"It's unrealistic for people in need that may have lost everything to pay a crazy amount of money for something that people are getting free," he said.

Carpenter said water costs have been one of the biggest complaints. Another complaint has been the cost of hotel rooms. One report we found was from a man who felt he was overcharged paying $289 by a low-budget hotel chain.

The attorney general's office intervened, and the rate was lowered to $159, and the hotel taxes were refunded.

If you're looking to file a complaint about price gouging, find more information from the Texas Attorney General's Office.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Research Charitable Organizations Before You Donate]]>Tue, 29 Aug 2017 04:11:41 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/American+Red+Cross+1200.jpg

Greg Small has been manning a forklift for much of the day helping load trucks at the Red Cross Disaster Relief warehouse in Arlington.

"I retired a couple months ago after 38 years with the air force. I was lacking mission and this gives me a mission."

He's working loading trucks from the largest Red Cross warehouse in the US.

They have pallets of everything from garbage bags to food and it's all bought and paid for through donations, waiting to get put to use at a moments notice.

Ed Martelle of the Red Cross says it's easy to see where the money goes.

"I think you can feel good that anything you donate is going to the people who need it the most," said Martelle.

Some charities do seem to pop up overnight.

"If someone promises 100% of the donation goes to the cause that should be a red flag, it's very hard to believe 100% is going directly to someone in need there's always administrative costs," said Adam Price of the Better Business Bureau.

If you're concerned about any specific charity, including the ones we mentioned, you can research them at give.org or charitynavigator.org.

Also, check with your own church that you trust to see if they're partnering with a church in the disaster area.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Cruise Lines Offering Future Cruise Credits]]>Fri, 25 Aug 2017 22:35:00 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/carnival-valor.jpg

Two carnival ships due into Galveston, Texas, Saturday are now headed to New Orleans to pick up more food, fuel and supplies.

More than 15,000 people aboard three Carnival Cruise Line ships scheduled to return to Galveston this weekend face delays or detours due to Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico. The Port of Galveston was closed Friday amid the hurricane threat. 

Carnival said they would give future cruise credits to anyone who chooses not to sail.

The Carnival Valor and Carnival Freedom will make a brief stop, where passengers can choose to end their cruise, but are being asked to stay onboard and sail back to Galveston once the port reopens.

Even after the storm passes, the port has to be inspected to make sure ships can safely get in and out.

A third Carnival ship, Breeze, was scheduled to return to Galveston on Sunday. It's spending Friday night in Cozumel, Mexico. That ship has more than 6,000 on board. The Carnival statement said the ship would depart Saturday for Texas to be in position when the Port of Galveston reopens.

Royal Caribbean said its Texas-based ship, Liberty of the Seas will stay safely behind the storm for now.

"Liberty of the Seas is keeping a safe distance behind the storm as she making her way back to Galveston. We are actively monitoring path and progression of Hurricane Harvey and will make sure to inform our guests of any itinerary changes," the company said.

Liberty of the Seas isn't set to arrive in Galveston until Sunday, so they will have time to make a decision on its fate after landfall.

The Port of Galveston is shut down and passengers are asked not to drive to the port until it is reopened.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Harvey Impacting Cruise Vacations Out of Texas Ports]]>Thu, 24 Aug 2017 22:17:00 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/galveston-port-cruise-ship.jpg

Hurricane Harvey has many vacationers worried about how the storm will impact their plans, especially people planning to take cruises out of Galveston.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines are both monitoring the storm to figure out the best course of action between now and the weekend.

Cruise lines typically will not sail their expensive ships anywhere near a potentially dangerous storm.

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas did sail into a storm off the Atlantic coast last year, forcing the ship to turn around, and subjecting the passengers to the consequences of high wind and waves.

To avoid those situations, the ships — which are currently positioned in the southern Caribbean and along the Mexican coast — could stay on the back side of the storm until it passes. It would mean an extra sea day or two for passengers currently on board and less time on the ship for those expecting to cruise next week.

Even if the ships make it to port, some passengers may not be able to make it to Galveston if roads are flooded in the low-lying areas leading to the port city.

Right now, Carnival tells us their customers should sign up for text messages alerts to keep up with updates from the company.

Royal Caribbean didn't respond to requests for comment on their plans, but their ship isn't slated to arrive until Sunday and may be able to keep its schedule.

Refunds are not likely, but credits are possible for those whose cruise is shortened. The best protection against bad weather and other interruptions to your vacation is travel insurance.

The insurance needs to be purchased ahead of time.

You can also follow the cruise lines on Facebook and Twitter for possible updates regarding for your trip.



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[New Fake Amazon Email Scheme Targets Online Shoppers]]>Thu, 24 Aug 2017 06:55:40 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/amazon-email-scheme11.jpg

There are new reports of a a phishing scheme that targets Amazon customers.

Some call it the "Amazon Prime Day Scam." Users receive an email that appears to be from Amazon.com with a subject line like "your order is out for delivery." The body of the email includes a links for details, a survey for a free gift and the option to unsubscribe.

Amazon has confirmed that this is a phishing scheme.

Many of these emails are trying to install malicious software on your computer or obtain personal information to steal your identity.

Here's what you can do to spot a fake Amazon email:

• If the "from" line has anything other than Amazon.com, then it's not from Amazon. It shouldn't contain any symbols or numbers.
• If you can't remember if you placed an order or not, check your order history directly on Amazon.com under "your orders."
• Don't open any attachments or click any links from suspicious emails. If you've already done so, click here to visit Amazon's help page.

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<![CDATA[Hackers Reportedly Stealing Phone Numbers to Access Accounts]]>Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:21:29 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cell+Phone+Generic.jpg

There's a warning about a new way scammers are stealing your personal identity and your money. All they need is your cellphone number.

They've found a hole in one of the newest and supposedly safest ways to verify your identity: two-step verification.

The two-step authentication security process is when a company will send a text message to your cellphone number on file. The text they send has a code.

You then have to type the code online in order to get into your account. It's all to make it harder for scammers to get in.

However now they'll just steal your phone number.

The New York Times was the first to report the problem.

Scammers are reportedly going to cellphone stores with a smartphone and saying they want new service but don't want a new phone number.

They give the cellphone company your number, and with the push of a button those texts asking you to verify your account are going to their phone, not yours.

They can access your account in minutes.

The process may seem complicated, but experts say all it requires is a convincing story, a bit of acting and a sympathetic customer service agent.

"If I called AT&T and came up with a big story about how my buddy is in the ICU and he's lost his phone, I need to get his phone number ported over to another phone without providing all that passcode information, then suddenly I've taken your phone number, and I can get into your bank account," said Keith Barthold, of DKB Innovative.

A spokesman for the trade group that represents the wireless companies tells NBC 5 Responds, "Hackers and cyber-criminals are increasingly mounting ever sophisticated attacks. The wireless industry is continually advancing new techniques and practices to defeat illegal behavior."

There is something you can do to help.

Call your cellphone provider and ask for a password or PIN to be put on your account.

Inform the phone company that you don't want your number changed to a new device unless the person has the PIN code.

It creates another layer of protection.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Viewer Helps Plano Teacher Who Lost $2,500 in Scheme]]>Wed, 23 Aug 2017 06:50:15 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/Mystery_Shopping_Chatman_Responds.jpg

A Plano teacher who lost thousands of dollars in a mystery shopping scheme thought the culprits had won until an NBC 5 viewer stepped in to help.

Skyla Harvey thought she signed up for a mystery shopper job. She received three checks in the mail with a list of instructions. 

“Go cash these three cashier checks and said go down to your local Walmart and get five gift cards of $500 and let us know about your experience," the letter read. "Do not tell them that you are a secret shopper.”

The warning signs were there, but Harvey said she was too caught up to see them. When she checked her bank account, she was shocked.

“I am negative $2,000 and I have nothing in savings," she said. "How do I not have any money? How do I not have anything?”

Harvey's children's back-to-school clothing and supplies for her classroom would have to wait.

“It hurts when you feel like you have nothing. Like when you don't even have $25 to open up another banking account to have some sort of money,” she said.

A viewer, who asked to remain anonymous, saw the story and reached out to NBC 5 Responds. He said:

“I see teachers like Skyla as heroes doing great things for our kids. Now, at the beginning of a school year, because of her unfortunate encounter with a scam she can't prepare for the school year as she had planned. My heart went out to her. I told my wife about it and she was completely on board to try to help. Wouldn't it be great if at the end of this school year she can say it was one of her best yet? The scammers didn't win.”

We connected the viewer with Harvey and he sent her a $1,000 donation.

"That meant the world to me,” she said. “In a time I felt like I had just been stripped from everything. But there was an angel out there that wanted to say there's people out there that care and we want to help and that's what he did.”

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<![CDATA[Publishers Clearing House Scheme Circles Back to North Texas]]>Tue, 22 Aug 2017 06:49:59 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pch-scheme.jpg

Publishers Clearing House is a real company with legitimate sweepstakes, but imposters are using this prize of a lifetime to trick consumers in a scheme that is making its rounds in North Texas.

A 79-year-old viewer named "Lonnie" told us he received a letter in the mail saying he won $550,000 and he couldn't believe it.

He also received a check for nearly $8,000, which was supposed to cover legal and administrative fees. The letter told him to call the claim manager before depositing the check for further instructions.

Lonnie became suspicious and wanted us to look into this before he made his next move.

And folks, we're here to tell you that this is fake.

• Publishers clearing house will never ask you to pay a fee to collect a prize.  In fact, no legit prize promoter will ever charge you to win.
• If you're ever lucky enough to win, that prize patrol will show up on your door step. They won't send you a check.
• If you're ever asked to send money to collect a prize, report it to the FTC.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Credit Card Debt a Mounting Concern for College Students]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:21:31 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/College_Credit_Card_Debt_5p_82117.jpg

Financial planners say parents and students need come up with a budget for credit card spending while in college.

Four out of 5 college students amass more than $900 a year in credit card debt, according to Cathy Dewitt Dunn, a financial planner.

"If you have a $10,000 limit on a credit card you should only use 30 percent of that in short term debt. That lets the credit card companies understand you know how to live within a budget, you're not maxing out your credit card on a monthly basis," said Dunn.

Parents should talk to the students about credit cards early on, make sure their children know not to use money they don't have and use resources available to keep them on the right path.

"Go ahead and sign up for overdraft alerts. The fact that we have these smartphones, there’s so many ways you can really help save yourself a lot of money by just signing up for some online apps," said Dunn.

Some financial advisors say having an emergency savings that equals how much you make in six months should be your first priority before paying off anything extra.

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<![CDATA[Prosecutors Building Case Against Local Contractor]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 07:00:39 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/will-jenkins-responds.jpg

Melisa and Jayson Mathewson were looking to upgrade their backyard with a new patio — a space where they could both entertain and relax.

“So I jumped on Facebook and said ‘hey, if anyone knows of a great patio builder or somebody that does that line of work, have them contact me,’" recalled Melisa. "Will was the first one to chime in. He said, 'Hey, what about me?’”

The man she's referring to is Will Jenkins.

Melisa said she worked with Will Jenkins at another company a few years ago and they became Facebook friends. He eventually started his own business, MGM Contractors.

“Will was a very charming guy. Just very polite,” said Melisa.

“He was a small business and we're into helping small business,” Jayson explained.

They brought him in to see the backyard and discuss their vision.

“He said look, I’ll basically build you a deluxe patio for the cost of a basic. And I was thinking, awesome, okay! You're hired,” Melisa said.

The couple said the total cost of the project would be $5,500, but Jenkins needed money for materials, so the couple paid him $2,750 up front in cash.

Jenkins agreed to start the project on June 18 and said he'd have the job done within a week, just in time for Jayson’s birthday.

But as they got closer to their completion date, they realized nothing was done. They said Jenkins blamed the delay on his concrete guy and would be back soon.

But not long after, they told us his number was disconnected.

“So I called the business number that's listed on the MGM folder. It's disconnected,” Melisa said.

She said they called Will's wife and business partner Emilee to find out what was going on. She informed them that her husband was in a car accident and wasn't able to work, but assured them they'd get their money back.

Days later, they say her number was disconnected, too.

“At this point I’m like, something's going on,” Jayson said.

The couple wanted to know exactly who they were dealing with. They started browsing the internet and discovered NBC 5 Responds investigations with Will Jenkins at the center of those reports.

“I was like, you got to be kidding me,” said Jayson. “How did we not know this guy has this past?”

When we first introduced you to Jenkins he was known as the owner of SOS Roofing and Construction. Consumers across North Texas accused Will and Emilee Jenkins of ripping them off. We've even heard from former employees that claim the Jenkins owe them money, too.

Melisa blasted Will and Emilee on social media, warning the public about their business practices and reputation.

Much to their surprise, they say that post got the attention of someone from the Tarrant County District Attorney's office, who was already looking into Will Jenkins.

“Next thing I know, I’m getting a call from them,” said Melisa.

The DA told NBC 5 Responds their next step will be to present these cases to a grand jury for consideration.

“The public awareness raised by NBC5 5’s coverage has been integral in encouraging more victims to come forward and report their own incidents," said Tarrant County DA Sharen Wilson.

Earlier this year, Will Jenkins told us:

"They have been pretty dead set on ruining my company and reputation for some time now it seems...I do acknowledge and accept responsibility for the amount of time it is taking to do their projects...My company took on a massive workload this past year. We've faced great adversity, and are behind on our schedule. I am sorry to all of my homeowner's that have been bearing with me...But i promise when your home is next on my schedule I will be 100% focused on your project from start to finish."

As for their new business, MGM Contractors, it's registered under Emilee Livingston, Will's wife. Will is now using her last name on his business cards.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Scam Caller Claims Loved One Is Hurt in Crash, Demands Money]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:47:19 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/phone+scam3.jpg

In an elaborate scheme for scammers to get cash, some people are being led to believe their loved ones are in danger.

Maria Mejia said she was working at a North Texas hospital when her phone began ringing repeatedly one afternoon.

When she answered, the person on the other end of the line claimed to a paramedic and had a man hurt, who listed her as an emergency contact.

"I said, 'What's his name?' They said, 'Ma'am, he's unidentified, unconscious,'" Mejia said.

The caller asked Mejia for the name of her father, husband or brother and what type of car they drove. When she told him, she said he screamed to someone to check to see if the crashed car was a black Suburban and then came back to the phone.

"He says, 'That's your dad in the accident.' I started crying, I was shaking, I was scared," Mejia said.

Her co-workers saw she was shaken and rushed to her side as the call went on.

"He said, 'Your dad was exiting Exxon, and he hit a 17-year old on a motorcycle, and the 17-year old was my son, and now your dad is going to pay for the damages,'" Mejia said.

The story had changed. Now, she's got an angry family member, wanting money.

Before she could wrap her head around that, it changed again.

"He said he was kidnapped, they took him to apartments, and that he had my dad's phone, and if he received call or texts from you or anybody, 'We're going to put a bullet in your dad's head,'" Mejia said.

The caller wanted $3,000 in ransom. She didn't know any longer if this was an angry father, kidnapper or a paramedic.

"My coworker told me ask him for a picture of your dad. So, I said I want a picture of my dad. He said, 'Lady are you listening? We have your dad kidnapped and we're going to put a bullet in his head.' He said, 'You can save the money for the funeral.' He said, 'Maria are you there?' I started to respond but he hung up," Mejia said.

Mejia said she was too panicked to doubt the story.

She didn't want to call him back either.

"I was scared, because he said if he gets a call they're going to blow his brains out," Mejia said.

Instead, she called 911, and reached a dispatcher who called her dad, conferenced him in, and her dad said he was home, safe and doing chores.

The 911 dispatcher told her they've gotten calls like this before, but the Dallas Police Department said it wasn't familiar with them.

Other departments were saying the scheme almost always starts with a loved one who is hurt and a paramedic needing cash.

Macara Trusty is a paramedic with MedStar. She says anytime you get a call from someone claiming to be an emergency responder with a critical patient, that's a red flag.

"If the patient is so critical that they can't talk on the phone, we don't have time to make those phone calls," Trusty said.

Police are investigating these calls but want you to know just because the number pops up as local doesn't mean the caller is in town or even in the country.

If you do get a call like this, police ask you to file a report.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Rapid Cookers]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:42:42 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R_Rapid_Cooker_5p_81817.jpg

A new product claims it can make ramen noodles, bake brownies and cook other items quickly and easily in the microwave.

Rapid Brands' Rapid Ramen cooker promises to make it easier and faster to cook cheap eats.

Ricky Musgrove and Maia Gunn are getting settled in on campus at Texas Christian University. The upper-classmen say cooking for themselves is one of the hardest adjustments to living off campus.

There's no time and it can be expensive. It's one reason Musgrove likes ramen noodles.

We opened the Rapid Ramen cooker, followed the directions, printed right on the pan and microwaved the noodles for three minutes.

Musgrove says they came out cooked perfectly.

We asked Gunn to tackle dessert.

She tried the Rapid Brownie baker, promising to make that in a snap as well.

It came with its own handy measuring cup, which was a good thing because Musgrove didn't have one in his kitchen.

We ran into an issue where the brownie mix told us to use two eggs, and the cooker wanted just one, so we listened to the cooker.

It was a messier process than the ramen noodles, but after three-and-a-half minutes in the microwave, the brownies didn't look too good, but the students felt they tasted great.

Rapid Brands told us results vary with different microwaves and brownie mixes. Betty Crocker is their favorite.

The cookers were on sale for $3.99 each at Target. They normally cost $4.99, and they have rapid cookers for other types of food as well.

If you have a product you want Wayne to buy, send him a message on Facebook.

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<![CDATA[Perfect Back To School Sales for Last-Minute Shoppers]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2017 07:05:05 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/120916+cash+money+generic.jpg

NBC 5's Samantha Chatman tracked down the best weekend deals in town for back to school shoppers.

The Children's Place is offering 50 percent off kids clothing items, including school uniforms. Shoes and outerwear are not included in this deal, but free shipping is included. No promo code necessary.

ONLINE: The Children's Place

It's Friends and Family weekend at Aeropostale, which means you can take an extra 30 percent off your purchase. The deal is available in-stores and online. That sale is good through Monday at all Aeropostale & Aeropostale Factory stores.

ONLINE: Aeropostale

Kohl's is knocking 20 percent off purchases as well. The deal is available in-stores with a coupon, and online with the promo code "saver."

ONLINE: Kohl's

If your kids still need glasses, you can get two pairs with single-vision lenses for $29 at Visionworks or two pairs with multifocal lenses for $69. The offer expires on Aug. 31 and is only available in stores.

ONLINE: Visionworks

For our teachers who are still looking for that first day outfit, Banana Republic is offering 15 percent off your full priced purchases. The deal ends in 2020 so you have plenty of time to save. This deal is only available in stores. Be sure to have a valid teacher I.D.

Online: Banana Republic



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Buy Eclipse Glasses From Approved Vendors to Stay Safe]]>Thu, 17 Aug 2017 20:08:31 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/eclipse_glasses_photo_1200x675_1025480259597.jpg

Many Americans will have the chance to take in one of nature's greatest shows on Monday with the solar eclipse across North America.

But with all of the excitement around the astronomical event, it might be easy to overlook the extreme health risks involved with staring at the sun.

Glancing at the sun without proper protection can cause permanent damage. Solar retinopathy is irreversible damage to the retina, creating a blind spot.

The simplest way to protect yourself is by viewing the eclipse through eclipse glasses that have special solar filters that make it safe to look directly at the sun. Consumer Reports recommends ones labeled with the safety code ISO 12312-2, which designates the international standard for solar filters.

There have been cases of counterfeits sold with this code on it, so make sure to buy them from a reputable vendor listed on the American Astronomical Society's website.

Remember, the timing of when the eclipse will happen is dependent on where you live. You can go to NASA's website to get the exact eclipse time in your area. And if you haven't yet purchased a pair of eclipse glasses, don't wait much longer. Supply is dropping, but you can still order them online from a few sellers and get them in time.

For more on eclipse viewing safety and recommended eclipse glasses, check out Consumer Reports.org.

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<![CDATA[Back to School Fashion You Need to See]]>Thu, 17 Aug 2017 09:22:03 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/bts-fashion-lead.jpg]]><![CDATA[Homeowner Upset With Condition of New Cabinets]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 18:28:45 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Recut_WC_Responds_Cabinets.jpg

If you don't like a paint color or even a light fixture in your new home, that's usually easy to swap out. But walking into your house and wanting the kitchen cabinets replaced, that's a lot tougher.

For a homeowner who reached out to NBC 5 Responds, it wasn't just a bad color.

"I wanted the nice cabinetry, granite counter tops," Suzanne Carbone said.

Carbone took time in designing her dream home in Sasche.

"I went to a gallery contracted by the builder, and they had all the items available I could choose to go into the decor in the home," Carbone said.

In a sample piece she received, she says the cabinets were solid and smooth. But in reality she says they were very different.

"I have a cabinet door panel that has a few gashes in it. It looks like someone took a knife and struck the door," Carbone said.

She says the builder told her it was the style, somewhat of a distressed look on the cabinets. They said it was what she ordered.

But Carbone says she never expected the gashes. She also pointed out visible nail holes and creaky drawers.

Carbone called the builder asking for new cabinets, but says she could never get them to agree to replace them.

She says she went back and forth for months before calling NBC 5 Responds.

We reached out to D.R. Horton and quickly got an e-mail back, saying, "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We will look into it."

Shortly after that e-mail, Carbone called us to say the builder agreed to replace her cabinets.

"I'm a lot happier with the cabinetry now. The quality, the surface of the doors and the panels on the drawers. A lot better than it was," Carbone said.

She has new cabinet doors and drawers, and the gashes are gone, for the most part. Still, Carbone is pleased.

"D.R. Horton was very responsive at this point in making sure that everything got taken care of, and the cabinet maker was very responsive as well," she said.

Carbone says she feels like she can finally get settled in her new home and is looking forward to her first big family meal in her new kitchen.

"Thank goodness I'm at a point where I feel like I can move forward," she said.

A statement from D.R. Horton says:

"We are in communication with Ms. Carbone and are actively working to address her concerns. D.R. Horton is committed to customer satisfaction, and we encourage any homeowner to contact us directly should they need assistance with their home."

Carbone says the small cabinet sample she saw didn't include the distressing.

If you're in the market for "distressed" furniture or cabinets, ask questions about the distressing ahead of time and ask if you can see more than just the sample.

You can also read reviews of most products online. Ask for names and model numbers and try to find out as much as possible about cabinets, flooring and tile before you have them installed.

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<![CDATA[Save Time, Space & Money Using College Registries]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 07:15:33 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/college-move-in-generic.jpg

Parents spend 18 years prepping for this big moment: College move-in day.

It's exciting for students, but nerve wracking for their families.

"The National Retail Federation says college students spend about $1,000 before they go to school, so it really can add up," said Natalie Reid, the couponing expert behind ModMomTV.

And every penny counts.

Retail experts say to save money, space and time, students should create a college registry.

Target allows its shoppers to create an account and select their favorite items online. It's a great way for students to manage their college checklist. Like other registries, friends and relatives can buy some of the items on the list, taking off some financial stress for mom and dad.

Plus, Target let's you save 15 percent on anything that was left on your registry.

Bed, Bath and Beyond offers its "Pack and Hold" option.

The process is quick. Scan all the items you want to buy and organize a pick-up date at the nearest store in your college town.

"You don't have to worry about packing your car, but you can still get great savings," Reid said.

Want even bigger savings? Then bundle! Roomify and Dormco let you buy packages — everything you need in one box from bedding, to storage, lights, fans. They take the guess work out of what to bring to college.

And of course, there's Amazon.

"Go online and just knock it all out in one fell swoop. Have it shipped directly to the school and it's there waiting for you," said Reid.

Also consider taking advantage of your college's bundle packages. Many schools team up with retailers and offer solid deals to get your kids off to a great start.

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<![CDATA[Southwest Power Customer Gets Double the Utility Bills]]>Mon, 14 Aug 2017 18:17:19 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/sw+power+bill.jpg

When double the power bills came in the mail, NBC 5 Responds helped a utility customer get it resolved.

Stacy Zimmerman's new apartment is pretty snazzy, right down to the cool art studio.

She loves her new digs but is dealing dealing with an issue that started online, at Southwest Power & Light's website.

She entered her address and apartment number to order electricity for her new home, but she says the power company's website wouldn't sign her up, saying her apartment number wasn't valid and switched her from Apartment 512, where she lives, to Apartment 525 — an empty unit down the hall.

Frustrated, she just abandoned the purchase and bought power from another company.

A month after moving in to her new home, Zimmerman says her postman brought her a bill from Southwest Power & Light. It seems she had signed up to pay power for unit 525.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Southwest, which said the website should only kick you out if there is already power activated at the apartment. In a statement, the company said, "Southwest attempted to contact the customer at the telephone number on file. Customer care also replied to her emails with a call-in number and instructions explaining that this was the only remedy. Unfortunately, contact with the customer was not made over the phone."

Southwest apologized for the confusion that arose.

They gave her a zero balance and closed the account for the apartment down the hall.

Zimmerman gave us a big thumbs up for helping sort it out.

Wayne Wants You to Know:

  • You should always call and triple check that you didn't order a product or new service, if you close out of the form early.
  • You never know when you might wind up with an extra bill.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Plano Teacher Falls Victim to 'Mystery Shopper Scam']]>Mon, 14 Aug 2017 07:00:40 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mystery-shopper-scam.jpg

After weeks of being away from the classroom, Skyla Harvey is gearing up for the new school year.

Over the summer, she had a lot of time on her hands, so her fiancé helped her find another way to make some extra cash.

"He got an email from a LinkedIn associate that said, 'Hey, I've been doing this secret shopper online for six weeks, and depending on how much time you have, you can make up $2,000 on the side.' I thought oh, sweet," said Harvey.

She signed up for the secret shopper job with DSG Associates Inc. online. The next day she was hired.

"15 minutes of my time for 350 bucks. Sounds easy," she said.

They mailed her an assignment package, which included three cashier's checks totaling $2,850 and a list of instructions.

"Go cash these three cashier checks and go down to your local Walmart and get five gift cards of $500 and let us know about your experience. Do not tell them that you are a secret shopper."

Harvey went to the bank the next day and deposited the checks.

She used that money to buy $2,500 of Walmart gift cards and kept the rest of the money as her commission.

"The other thing they asked me to do was to scratch off the back, the silver part of the back. I kind of thought that was a little strange but I thought, well you know it will save me from having to send them the cards," Harvey said. 

She texted them pictures of the back of the cards. They were so impressed by her diligence, they offered her another job.

"I was excited. Oh, they think I did a good job," she said.

"That night, Wednesday night, I just looked at my Chase account just to make sure what's all in there," Harvey said. "I am negative $2,000 and I have nothing in savings. It's zero and it says negative. I went, oh my God. How do I not have any money? How do I not have anything?"

Harvey learned the cashier's checks she deposited were fake and she was responsible for covering the funds.

"It Hurts when you feel like you have nothing," Harvey said. "Like when you don't even have $25 to open up another banking account to have some sort of money," Harvey said.

As for DSG Associates, the company is real, but the impostors behind this scam have no connection to the company. The real company is warning consumers about these rampant schemes that have cost consumers tens of thousands of dollars.

Unfortunately for Harvey, the warning signs came too late.

"It was like, you might as well come to my house, rob it, take everything in my house and leave me just sitting here with nothing 'cause it's how I feel," Harvey said. 

The NBC 5 Responds team has received several complaints from consumers who have fallen for this same scheme, so here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

• Never deposit a check from a stranger, no matter how good the deal seems

• If you want to sign up to be a mystery shopper, the the Mystery Shopping Providers Association of North America has a list of legitimate companies here

• If a company ever wants you to buy gift cards in exchange for money, that's a big red flag

Online: Mystery Shopping Providers Association



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Walmart Testing Shopping "Scan & Go" in NTX]]>Fri, 11 Aug 2017 17:45:06 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/walmart+image1.jpg

Walmart has rolled out a new program that allows shoppers to scan and check out their groceries with their smart-phones to skip the checkout line. They've been testing it out in a few stores around the country and 10 of them are in North Texas.

Katie Perez is crossing off her shopping list at Walmart, something she admits isn't usually a favorite activity.

"I can make it through the aisles fine and get my stuff but it's the line that is the problem," says Perez.

She jumped at the chance to try Walmart's Scan & Go. It lets you shop and check out on your phone at the same time. Walmart manager Beth Amidon helped Katie try it out.

Katie got the hang of it fast but had to put in more work in the produce aisle. Scan & Go has users weigh their produce, and input the weight into the phone. 

The program is similar to something being tested by one of Walmart's big grocery rivals, Amazon. They are testing a cashier-less grocery store, where the basket scan items as you put them in.

Walmart's system requires a bit more work, but they beat Amazon to get it to market. It's been in a testing phase in Walmart's sister company Sam's Club, and now is being rolled out to several dozen stores nationwide, including the ten North Texas stores.

"Whatever we can do to help save money and save time for the customers that's what we're going to try and do," says Amidon.

The new carts are specially outfitted with a holder for your phone, a cup holder, and a place for bags. You scan the items on your cellphone and see your total as you shop.

"That's actually really nice too, especially when I have my kids with me cause the total adds up quick as they're throwing things in, so it's nice to know where we're at," says Perez.

When it's all done, you can't just walk out of the store. You still have to hit a checkout line where they check to make sure you're not a teen getting alcohol. If there's no booze, all you do is scan your phone get a receipt and go.

Jennifer from White Settlement tried it last week when the Fort Worth store did a test and now is back again.

"Its quick, in and out, and I don't have to wait in a line, it's easy."

As for Katie, she got everything for her taco's and was out the door without waiting in those lines and without another supermarket headache.

"Sometimes I don't like how things are bagged, I like to keep all my colds together and things like that, so its nice to have it all bagged and ready to go."

If you don't have a smart-phone, Walmart has scanners you can use in some stores that provide a similar experience and let you bypass the line.

Some stores have this going right now but Walmart promises all ten stores will be ready to go on Saturday August 12.

Here's where you can shop with Walmart's Scan & Go:

  • Fort Worth - 9500 Clifford Street
  • McKinney - 2041 North Redbud Boulevard
  • Denton - 2750 West University Drive
  • Weatherford - 1836 South Main Street
  • Kaufman - 300 Kings Fort Parkway
  • Gainesville - 1800 Lawrence Street
  • Mineral Wells - 601 North FM 1821
  • Sulphur Springs - 1750 South Broadway Street
  • Waxahachie - 1200 North Highway 77
  • Greenville - 7401 Interstate Highway 30



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Top Coupon Apps For Tax-Free Weekend]]>Fri, 11 Aug 2017 07:24:53 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mall-sales-deals-generic.jpg

Since 1999, the state of Texas has given consumers the ultimate back-to-school gift: A full weekend of tax-free items to help ease your mind and your wallet.

Shoppers can expect to save about $8 for every $100 spent during the annual holiday.

Couponing expert Natalie Reid offered her help you save even more.

"What's great about this time of year is that most of the retailers have summer merchandise that they're trying to get out of there stores," Reid explained. "They usually have additional 40-50 percent off that already reduced merchandise, so you can really stock up," she said.

When it comes to stocking up, Reid said coupons are key. Before you reach for the scissors, grab your phone instead and download these apps.

"I'll pull up the Coupon Sherpa app. It'll show me every store in the mall that has a coupon available. I'll click on Ann Taylor Loft. It shows that coupon, has a bar code and I can show it to the cashier," said Reid.

There's also the Flipp app. It brings all of the local store sales right to your mobile device.

Need another? How about Shopkick?

"This one's fun," said Reid. "You open it up, you tell them where you are and you earn kicks. They can be redeemed for a gift card, a Starbucks gift card, Nike gift card."

But her advice doesn't stop at coupons.

Reid said you should also follow your favorite retailer's social media pages. Stores will sometimes offer special discounts and promotions exclusively for their followers.

Next, create a secondary email account. Retailers may ask you to join their loyalty program for an additional 10 percent off this weekend.

"But you don't want to use your primary email address. Instead, have a different Gmail or Yahoo account dedicated just for stores and sales," she explained.

If you're old school and don't want to deal with technology, check to see if there are any ads at the front of the store.

"Office Depot and Staples have these great penny sales: 15 cents for folders, or a penny for glue, and each week these are different," Reid explained.

If the crowds are just too much for you, keep in mind the tax-free weekend deal includes online shopping, too.

"You're not going to get the savings like shopping a clearance rack that has an additional clearance off. But you can compare prices a lot easier," she said.

For more tax-free weekend tips and a list of coupon apps, click here: http://modmomtv.com/apps



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[What You Need to Know Before Tax Free Shopping This Weekend]]>Thu, 10 Aug 2017 17:45:55 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/20160804+School+Supplies.jpg

It's that time of year when kids stock up and go back to school.

The State of Texas picks a weekend to give us a break on taxes.

"You could go out and buy you a great new shirt, great new shoes, and as long as it's under that $100 mark, you're going to save the tax," said Holly Quartaro.

Anything more than $100 is considered a luxury item and doesn't count.

You'll have to pay tax on it.

Quartaro said many story are employing discounts and sales to bring items around $100, a few bucks cheaper so they qualify for the discount.

There are other rules about which clothing counts.

"One of my favorite examples is the scarf and necklace. they're both accessories worn around the neck. The scarf is tax free because it's made of fabric, it can be part of your outfit, but the necklace will still be taxed this weekend," said Quartaro.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself is it a vital part of an outfit. A belt for example is tax free, a wallet isn't.

Even if you don't have kids, it could be a good weekend to treat yourself or get an early jump on holiday shopping.

If you don't like the crowds of the mall, you can still shop tax free online.

For a complete set of guidelines of what is covered and what's not this weekend visit the state comptroller's website.

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<![CDATA[Teacher Struggles to Buy Supplies After DirecTV Scheme]]>Thu, 10 Aug 2017 05:52:44 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-amazon-giftcard.jpg

An Arlington woman said she was the latest victim of a scheme that targets cable and satellite TV customers.

Tanisha Bell is just about ready for the new school year but the expenses are adding up.

"I teach at a low income school and there's so many different things that's needed for the classroom," she said.

But in the midst of her back to school shopping, Bell found a great way to save.

"My phone rung and it said DirecTV."

The caller knew a lot about Bell: her name, address and the fact that she was a DirecTV customer. The caller said she could reduce her bill to $60 per month if she paid for six months up front with an Amazon gift card.

"He even told me that there would be a $100 VISA card rebate, which I know AT&T has done before," she explained.

Bell went to Walgreens and put $338 on the card, but she became more skeptical when she returned home. She called them back and asked to speak to a supervisor before giving them the gift card number. She said they transferred her to two managers, who confirmed it was all legitimate.

"They even gave me confirmation numbers," she said.

So she read off the numbers and was offered another promotion to save on her AT&T cell phone bill. All she'd have to do was buy another gift card for $300.

"I was ready to go and get the gift card and something told me, Tanisha, check this out," she said.  

Bell did an internet search for the words "DirecTV Amazon Gift Card" and was at a loss for words. She found several articles and complaints from consumers with the same story.

"It's happening in San Antonio, in Florida, in New York," she said. "I just started crying."

The number that called Bell even appears on DirecTV's website.

An AT&T official told us "if a customer feels a call or email is not legitimate, we encourage them to call the number on their bill. We monitor our network for potential fraud activity and provide information about fraud scams on our website. Customers should be skeptical about any promotion from any company where a third party money card is required."

Luckily for Bell, Amazon was able to put a block on the card before anyone could use it. She'll be using that gift card to buy the rest of her school supplies online.

If you ever get a call like this, here are Samantha Chatman's solutions:

• You should never pay anyone over the phone in gift cards. Legitimate companies will never ask for that. It's a huge red flag.
• Also keep in mind that crooks are using a method called spoofing to falsify what appears on your Caller ID.
• When in doubt, go by the number that's on your bill.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Gas Company Credits Customer After Gas Leak Led to High Bill]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 18:10:21 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/High_gas_bill_5p_08082017.jpg

A Dallas man asked NBC 5 Responds for help after getting stuck with a large bill after an underground gas leak.

James Ford has lived in his Dallas home for 27 years. He knows it inside and out and exactly how much it costs to keep it warm.

"I have a gas furnace," Ford said. "It generally runs $100 to $125 in the winter time."

But in March, a bill came for much more: $840.01 worth of natural gas.

"I called and they said there was a mistake in the reading, whatever, and we'll get it adjusted," Ford said.

He had a feeling there was something wrong, so he asked Atmos to send someone to check his line. And that's when they found a leak.

"The leak was under the house. I didn't smell anything," Ford said.

He had it fixed immediately, but got another bill for more than $500. It covered part of the time the gas was still leaking.

He asked about a credit.

"I said, 'Do I have any adjustment?' They said, 'No, I don't. It's on your side of the meter,'"Ford recalled. "They said, 'Well, you have no alternative other than to pay it.'"

He called the NBC 5 Responds Center, and we reached out to Atmos. A spokeswoman for the utility company said, "We look at each case individually and make decisions based on the customer's actual consumption of gas."

In Ford's case, his request for a credit was approved. Atmos took his average bill and charged him that amount, reducing the bill from $1,300 to $200.

He also got a new smart meter installed on his home to help keep his billing as accurate as possible.

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<![CDATA[Cracking Down On Robocalls: FTC Launches New Push]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 07:54:19 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/robocalls+image.jpg

Last month, the NBC 5 Responds team took a closer look at the Texas Do-Not-Call list and why hundreds of consumers felt that it wasn't working.

The FTC has received more than 1.9 million complaints filed in the first five months of 2017 alone.

In an effort to crack down on these illegal calls, the agency has implemented a new strategy. When a consumer reports a Do-Not-Call violation, the FTC will send the robocaller's number to phone carriers.

But they're not just getting a list of phone numbers. The data will also include the date and time the unwanted call was received, the subject matter of the call and whether the call was truly a robocall.

But the only way this will work is if consumers do their part.

Here are Samantha Chatman's solutions:

• If you have received any illegal calls, go to FTC.gov to report it.
• Consider downloading apps like Nomorobo.
• Also, don't answer any unfamiliar calls. An answered call notifies the telemarketer that the number is active and encourages more calls to that number.
• Don't press any numbers and don't wait to speak with an agent. That'll usually lead to more calls.
• Consider downloading apps that help to block robocalls.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Driver Gets Tollway Bill for Towed Vehicle]]>Mon, 07 Aug 2017 18:03:17 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/ntta+toll+plaza.JPG

Getting a tow to the repair shop can be costly, but there's another fee tacked on you may not know about.

It all has to do with the route the tow truck driver takes to the mechanic shop.

It's not a huge amount of money, but it's a bill you may not realize is coming your way. It's a bill Steve Gill didn't expect either.

"I travel early morning, so I'm usually at work by 5 a.m.," Gill said.

He was on the road one of those mornings when he experienced car trouble.

"My car just stopped. The engine failed," he said.

A wrecker picked up his truck and gave him a ride to the repair shop.

"I was riding in the cab of the transport vehicle. I did see on their windshield they had a toll tag," Gill said.

Even though his car never touched the road, and it was the tow truck driver who chose the toll roads, the bill for the toll went to Gill — not the towing company.

"I avoid the toll roads at all cost. I never take the toll roads unless I specifically have to," Gill said.

But he got a bill for $22, and the North Texas Tollway Authority says he has to pay.

The Texas Transportation Code says that if they don't collect a toll while the car is being driven or towed, the authority shall send an invoice.

"It did not seem right at all," Gill said.

Gill contacted NBC 5 Responds for help, and since he was towed on a TEXpress lane we encouraged him to contact the Texas Department of Transportation for help. TxDot agreed to pass the toll charge to the tow company instead of Gill, and he was finally credited $22.

"There was a lot of research to be done. There's a point to be made. It was very much the principle of the thing," Gill said.

NTTA tells NBC 5 that because the camera system that does the billing is automated, the bill could go to the tow truck, the car being towed or even both of them. The law allows them to collect tolls from everyone. But if you reach out, they may consider an adjustment for the tow, just like they did in Gill's case.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Fort Worth Woman Battles With Funeral Home Over 'Paid Bill']]>Mon, 07 Aug 2017 06:59:33 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/laurel-land-funeral.jpg

A Fort Worth woman says she's on the hook for a big bill to bury her brother that she has already paid, but she's still hearing from debt collectors.

Richard L. Troy, Jr., lost his battle to lung cancer last year. His caregiver and younger sister, Jacquelynn Fuller, was in charge of handling his finances and laying him to rest.

The family already had burial plots at Laurel Land Memorial Park in Fort Worth, so Fuller thought everything was taken care of.

"Most people don't know that if you buy cemetery plots, that's one part of the equation," she said. "The second part is you have to have that plot opened and that is an additional fee."

According to Funerals.org, an additional opening and closing fee for a plot is common. So Fuller sent Laurel Land a check. But six months later, she received a collection notice saying she owed them 1,890.

"I said, 'No, that's incorrect,'" she recalled. "I said, 'I took care of that back in February,'"

Fuller said she tracked down the representative who handled her brother's burial and was informed the check she sent in February didn't clear. She knew she had more than enough money in her account, so she called her bank.

"Chase has no record of my check ever being presented to the bank," she said.

Fuller figured the funeral home lost the check, so she sent collections a certified cashier's check for $1,890. The check posted a few days later.

But nearly a year later, Fuller got another notice from another debt collector asking her for the same amount: $1,890. She explained to the agency that this was a huge mistake, but she said the agency told her to take it up with the funeral home. Fuller said she's tried, but no one at Laurel Land will return her call.

"I have done everything I know to do to get this cleared up," she said.

The NBC 5 Responds team reached out to Laurel Land and presented the funeral home with Fuller's proof of payment. Laurel Land says "as part of our commitment to all of our client families, we guard their privacy and because of this, we do not discuss specific client arrangements with the media."

Fuller said she's unsure of her next step. But one thing's for sure, she's in good financial standing and would never ignore a bill.

"If I learned nothing else from my deceased brother, I learned to pay my bills. That is exactly what he taught us," she said. "We're all human. We make mistakes, but to this day, they will not admit they lost the check. They will not show me documentation where they show my check bounced three times and they will not admit error."

Fuller is in a very troubling situation, but she's not alone. We've received a number of complaints from consumers who say they were sent to collections and aren't sure why.

Here are Samantha Chatman's solutions:

• Send the creditor your proof of payment.
• If that doesn't work, contact the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner. This office is in place to protect consumers and assists creditors in resolving complaints and disputes.
• Lastly, contact the Texas Attorney General's office. This agency monitors deceptive trade practices.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Instahang]]>Fri, 04 Aug 2017 17:58:56 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/instahang.jpg

Hanging artwork on the wall in that perfect spot usually takes a couple of tries, and your wall pays the price. But there's a product out there called Instahang which promises to be the convenient, secure way to hang your art. We let Wayne Buy It to see if it really works.

If you want tips on how to hang something on the wall you want to talk to Willie Waters.

He has worked for more than 30 years for major design companies and with his own business professionally positioning and hanging artwork for everyone from Bishop T.D. Jakes to golfer Lee Trevino.

Waters jumped at the chance to try Instahang — a product that puts the hammer, nail and leveler in one unit to make picture hanging easier.

The directions were tough and we struggled a bit to get it loaded.

"See, I could've hung the whole house by now, but I'm going to roll with you, Wayne," Waters joked.

They figured it out, picked a frame and got to work.

"Punch it in there. Pretty instant. Look how easy that is," Waters said.

It started out easily, but as they tried different frames and hooks, things got tougher.

It was hard to measure precisely where the peg was going in the wall — a big problem for frames with two hooks.

And then the product got jammed.

"It's good for three hangs!" Waters joked.

They freed the jam, but Waters already made up his mind about Instahang.

"I normally do a whole house in 20 minutes, but I'm just trying to work with you here," he said.

For lightweight, non sentimental items, he's fine with it, but not for anything more.

We reached out to the makers of Instahang who reiterated to follow the step-by-step instructions and hit the plunger head firmly with the palm of your hand for best results.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Back-To-School Deals for Teachers in North Texas]]>Fri, 04 Aug 2017 06:54:27 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/glue_gel.jpg

Thousands of students in North Texas will go back to school in just a couple of weeks, but parents and kids won't be the only ones pounding the pavement this weekend for back-to-school shopping.

NBC 5 Responds did some digging to find the best deals in town for teachers.

Michaels is offering teachers 15 percent off their entire purchase. The arts and crafts retailer is said to have all the ideas you need to create a one-of-a-kind classroom. From bulletin board to fun and educational games, Michaels could be the one stop shopping you need.

ONLINE: Michaels

Plus, every Saturday and Sunday in August is Educator Appreciation Days at Barnes and Noble. Pre-K through 12th grade teachers can enjoy 25 percent off most books, toys, games, movies, music, and 10 percent off café items and select nook devices. This Saturday, the book store will have special giveaways for educators while supplies last.

ONLINE: Barnes and Noble

For the teachers that want to return to work in style, The Loft is offering 15 percent off full-price purchases all year round. They'll also have a stylist in-stores to get your ready for the school your ahead. This promotion also includes exclusive sweepstakes just for teachers and teacher appreciation nights to help you wind down. You can sign up for that online.

ONLINE: The Loft



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Couple Cancels Trip Over Passport Card Confusion]]>Thu, 03 Aug 2017 07:07:38 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/passport-card-responds.jpg

Love never felt so good for Susan and Jim Pugh.

The North Texas couple has been married for 49 years. They decided to spend the big 4-9 in Mexico, booking an all-inclusive stay at a resort in Cabo San Lucas.

"I told my husband, you realize our passports expires in June?" said Pugh.

With the trip planned for July, they made it to the post office and started filling out paperwork for the passport. That's when they say an employee wanted to know more about where they were going.

"We said Mexico, Cabo. He said, 'well, the fastest thing to do is a passport card.' I thought, what's a passport card?" recalled Pugh.

They'd never heard of a passport card before, but were told it was a faster delivery turnaround and was a lot cheaper. So, the couple figured it was something new to try. 

"When they came I was so excited that they got here in time. I just looked at the front to make sure all the information was right. I threw them in the travel folder. Never looked at them again," said Pugh.

But when they made it to the airport:

"We were having trouble printing our check in. It wouldn't take it," recalled Pugh. "The gal came over and she said, what's the problem?' I said, it won't let us, it says see ticket agent. So she said, 'let me see your passports.' So I hand her the card and she said, 'oh my God.'"

The couple said the flight attendant told them they turn away roughly 100 people a week with these cards, travelers who thought their passport card would suffice.

"I said, we can't fly? We can go in by car, or walk but we can't fly?" recalled Pugh. "She said, 'yeah, you can't fly. I'm sorry.'"

According to the U.S. Passport and International Travel website, passport cards are only good for entering the United States at land border crossings and sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The passport card cannot be used for international air travel.

This information can also be found on the back of the passport card.

"I'm a grown lady, but I wanted to cry but I didn't. I was just what are we going to do you know? Then basically kind of just moped and wanted to cry all the way home," said Pugh.

They booked a separate trip days later, in the States, to celebrate their anniversary.

But those dreams of Mexico – they’re an airplane ride away.

"Ninety percent of this falls on me not checking everything out myself, listening to somebody else, not reading, just looking at the front of my passport card," said Pugh. "I won't stop traveling. I'll just be more careful in the future."

Here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

• Remember passport cards do not apply for air travel. They will not work at the airport for international flights.
• Make sure your passport hasn’t expired. The expiration date should be printed on the second page of the book.
• Some countries won’t allow you to fly if your passport expires within 6 months of entering. So if you’re planning to travel soon make sure to double check. 

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<![CDATA[Problem Solved: Man Faces Bump in the Road for Car Stereo]]>Wed, 02 Aug 2017 17:40:24 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/car+sterio+generic.jpg

Many of us get behind the wheel and like to the blast the tunes a bit. So when a Dallas man's stereo system went out, he wanted it fixed fast. But the warranty company kept giving him roadblocks.

Willie Gupton bought the new car stereo in February, and just three months later he had an issue.

"It won't play discs anymore, and it stopped connecting to my phone," Gupton said.

He returned to Fry's Electronics, where they promised to upgrade him to the next model, but they weren't in stock that day.

"So he says, 'Well, it will take two days for one of them to transform from one of our other stores," Gupton said.

He called back after three days and says he was told they needed more time. After a week, he says he was told it would be yet another two weeks.

After that was up, he says he was told they had the stereo but no installation appointment.

"I spent $300. I ain't going to just walk away," Gupton said.

He called NBC 5 Responds for help.

In a statement, Fry's told us:

"Though there was initial confusion in communicating its availability to Mr. Gupton, Fry's had the replacement stereo ready when the KXAS Consumer Investigative Center contacted us. Our Arlington Fry's Store Manager immediately called Mr. Gupton and set up an appointment."

They weren't sure what went wrong but said there was clearly confusion or a miscommunication. But they were happy to get it worked out.

"I really like it better than the other one," Gupton said.

Now he's back to blaring his summertime tunes.

"It sounds better. Got a better sound," he said.

Gupton was patient. If you're not getting anywhere over the phone, walk in and ask to see a store manager. Gupton didn't go right to the top and explain his case. Fry's was happy to help once the right people knew what was going wrong.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[How to Save on Your Water Bill This Summer]]>Tue, 01 Aug 2017 17:47:10 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/water-faucet-generic.jpg

Water bills shoot up this time of year as we're watering lawns and caring for pools, but Dallas Water Utilities has tips on how you can help keep your bills low.

Randall Payton, one of the directors at Dallas Water Utilities, says his organization works hard to make sure your water bill has no mistakes.

"Water meters are generally accurate between 99 percent and 100 percent," he said.

Payton says if you don't trust your meter is doing its job, his workers will come to your home and test it, but typically he says they find the problem is a leak — and one you can easily find on your own.

"They can simply go outside and do an inspection in their yard and look for wet spots during the summer months," Payton said.

He says leaks can waste hundreds of gallons of water, running up your bill in no time.

They see many leaks associated with sprinkler systems that are leaking and homeowners have no idea. But not all leaks are on your lawn.

They say to check all your toilets and all your faucets, and that slow drips can exist anywhere and run up your bill — sending your dollars down the drain.

While we're on that subject, you can significantly lower your water bill by getting rid of many water-guzzling toilets and faucets around your home. Newer models can use less than half the water of some older commodes.

If you don't think you can afford a new toilet, Dallas Water Utilities says the city has a program that will buy you one. The city started the program to reduce water consumption and reports some homes have had water usage drop 26 percent after getting the new toilets.

An even bigger water saver is dishwashers. A $250 energy-efficient dishwasher will save you a little more than $400 a year on your water bill.

Some cities even charge you more per gallon if you use a lot of water. So taking every opportunity you can to cut back can really save you money.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Gift Card Fees Can Lead to Costly Confusion]]>Mon, 31 Jul 2017 19:27:41 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NEW_WC_Gift_Card_Confusion.jpg

How did a $250 gift card drain down to zero when no one ever used it? The NBC 5 Responds team has a warning about gift card fees.]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Couple Warns Against Fake Ticket Scheme]]>Mon, 31 Jul 2017 07:00:10 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-fake-tickets-craigslist.jpg

For Kristin Foster and her husband, a night out on the town is rare. When they heard one of their favorite rock bands was coming to AT&T Stadium in Arlington they knew a date night was in order.

“I'm a child of the 70s, and U2 has been around so long, and they just have music that is awesome,” said Foster.

They wanted to go all out for this concert: a romantic dinner, Uber, a hotel suite, the works. But first, they needed tickets.

“We use Craigslist a lot. Everything from selling furniture, buying furniture and we've gotten tickets,” she said.

They stuck to what they knew, spending an afternoon browsing through the ad website hoping to spot a good deal. She found two tickets for $300.

“It was decided that we would initially meet him in Addison and then he texted again and said actually let's meet at the Irving Mall,” she said. “I had kind of a bad feeling, one of those gut feelings and then when he didn't have a car and he met us on a parked bench, it kind of seemed even more sketchy,” Foster said.

She pulled out her phone and took pictures of the seller and the transaction, just in case things went south. They got the tickets and thought their night was all set

“Well we were in line and we handed our tickets to the ticket person and they said, 'we're sorry. These are fake,'” she explained. “I thought they were joking and I said, 'what?'”

All that money spent: a waste. To salvage the night, they spent $200 on standing room tickets to see the show.

“Just anger. Angry that he took advantage of us and I’m sure other people,” said Foster.

The Irving Police Department said it hasn't seen any recent reports of ticket scams. The department could not identify the alleged seller and said he hasn't been charged with a crime, which is why we aren't showing his face.

“I'm glad nothing happened with the exchange for one with the tickets. I mean that could've been a more dangerous situation I guess, but again it never occurred to us until we got there,” she said.

It's tough lesson for this couple, who just wanted to get out of the house and have a good time.

Ticketmaster said, if you don't want this to happen to you, your best bet is to buy your tickets from original sources like NFL.com, LiveNation.com and, of course, Ticketmaster.com. We realize everyone isn't willing to spend hundreds of dollars on tickets, so if you'd prefer to buy from an outside source, always remember:

• Your safety comes first. Consider meeting at a police station. If the seller doesn't want to do that, that's a red flag.

• You can also call the venue and see if they will authenticate the tickets. Have the ticket taker scan them before you hand over any money.

• If you believe you've been ripped off, submit a complaint to Craigslist. The NBC 5 Responds team reached out to Craigslist about this incident and we're still waiting on a response.

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<![CDATA[Woman Tricked Into Wiring Money for a Used Car]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 23:32:25 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/car+scam.jpg

Buying a car is a costly investment, and looking for something inexpensive can sometimes be tough to find.

LaTonya Gilford was shopping online through classifieds for a car when she came across a 2006 Nissan Murano.

“I liked it,” she said. “The pictures they showed; I liked it. It was nice.”

She responded to the classified, and a woman answered back ready to close the deal.

 “She said she was in the army and that she was on a base and she was getting ready to be transferred to another base, and couldn't take the vehicle so that's why she was selling it so cheap,” Gilford said.

The scheme is one that started in the past year. Crooks take out an ad for a car at a rock bottom price. They tell a would-be buyer that they’re in the military, explaining they’re being deployed or transferred and can’t take the car with them. They ask you to wire the money to them as they’re moving in a few days and have to sell the car, so they’re doing it cheaply. They promise to ship it or have you come pick it up.

“Did any red flags go up for me? No, but for Lonnie yes it did and he was like no stop,” she said.

“They’re milking her,” he said. “That's the first thing in my mind. I said no that doesn't sound right.”

Gilford wired $3000 to the seller, and was told the car would be shipped to her, but she never received it.

Her money was picked up over the Texas-Oklahoma border in Texhoma.

 The Waxahachie Police said their detective was unable to get any leads on the person who took Gilford’s money.

“It hurted,” she said. “It hurted a lot. Now I’m making a car payment.”

Gilford is now paying $375 a month for the next four years for a nearly 100,000 mile used Honda.

“At the end of the day, God has a blessing with my name on it,” she said.

Gilford said she saw the same ad for the same car again after losing her money, and wants everyone to know to not wire money to anyone for a car they have not seen.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Steps to Take if Your Landlord Isn't Repairing Broken A/C]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 18:56:22 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/generic-air-conditioner.jpg

State law says landlords must fix anything that threatens a tenants health or safety.

In Texas, A/C counts. If it happens to you notify the landlord in writing.

You can hand deliver the letter but mail a copy via certified mail as well.

The next step depends on who you are.

If you have small children or elderly in your home, call the city within one hour so they can send inspectors out.

If everyone's healthy wait 24 hours before calling the city.

You may be tempted to not pay your rent, but that puts you at risk for eviction, make sure you stay fully paid up on all your rent.

If you follow all these steps and still don't have air you can break you lease and sue for damages, just consult an attorney before you do.



Photo Credit: NBCDFW]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Simply Straight Brush]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 17:47:33 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/simply+straight+brush.jpg

Some of us see physical flaws in ourselves that others don't, whether it's skin, teeth or hair.

As long as Victoria Willis can remember, she wished her hair looked differently.

"I was like I wanted my hair straight, and then I got to middle school and straightened it all the time and then it started to break out," said Willis.

She says she has tried many curly hair products and once had to cut her hair really short after one attempt went wrong.

The Simply Straight Brush sounds like a dream. It says you simply brush to straighten and get salon quality results.

We cracked it open and heated it up.

The directions called for separating the hair into small sections.

We started at the root and brushed down to the tip.

Victoria said the ends of her hair weren't getting helped by the brush.

The Simply Straight Brush didn't get her stamp of approval, but her curly hair does.

She says once she hit college she finally started to embrace her curly hair.

The makers of the Simply Straight Brush told us "as with any beauty product, a user's results may vary depending on the amount of time brushing, how the product is used, the texture and thickness of the user's hair and the type and amount of products or treatments used in the hair in advance."

They suggested we try the professional version of the Simply Straight Brush, Victoria thinks she'll just stick with a flat-iron.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Retailers Offer Early Back-To-School Deals]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 06:50:17 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/137773093.jpg

J.C. Penny's black Friday in July sale is available in-stores and online.

They have kids jeans for 60 percent off, backpacks for $6 and you can even get an additional 15 percent off select shoes. If you're shopping online, use the promo code “BUYNOW37. The sale ends Saturday.

Also this Saturday, Belk is hosting its annual Kids Fest Event. They're offering up to 50 percent off kids apparel as well as a fashion show, refreshments, games and lot of prizes. The event is from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Target has a number of kids clothing deals as well, like $4 graphic tees and $8 jeans until Saturday. If your kid wears a uniform, they have $5 collard shirts and $10 pants.

For the soon-to-be college students out there, Best Buy is offering $100 off an HP touch screen laptop, $50 off an Epson wireless printer and $50 off the Insignia 2.6 mini fridge. This sale also ends Saturday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[JCPenney Offers Discount on Dallas School Uniforms]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 14:43:15 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000004449475.JPG

JCPenney plans to ease the cost of school uniforms for Dallas ISD students this weekend.

On Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, JCPenney will offer a $10 discount if you spend $50 or more on school uniforms.

Participating stores are at Timber Creek Crossing, Town East Mall, Cedar Hill Village and The Parks Mall.

You can get the discount by printing out this coupon. 

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<![CDATA[Laptop Explodes 3 Times, Owner Blames Battery]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 07:30:59 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/battery-explosion.gif

After seeing his laptop go up in flames, a Dallas man has a warning to anyone who has ever purchased a replacement battery online.

It was anything but a typical day in the office for Erich Neupert. He said it started with a volunteer at his non-profit pulling him out of a meeting.

“Sparks are flying overhead. I'm getting burned. It's coming down over us,” Neupert explained. “You see the videos of computers exploding and everything, but you think it's going to happen to you? No!”

He said three explosions came from this laptop, and battery cells were flying across the room.

Tom Mulkerin, a retired firefighter, witnessed the first two outbreaks.

“I came over, grabbed the fire extinguisher," recalled Mulkerin. "We got that put out and at that point, we have another explosion. It looked like a fountain of sparks just coming up over and over.”

They finally got the situation under control and assessed the damage.

“Immediately it was like, alright, we have a battery issue,” said Neupert.

He ordered the replacement battery from Amazon.com.

Neupert said, based on the description, it appeared to be compatible with his laptop. The price wasn't bad, either.

He said the laptop would get hot from time to time, but he thought that was normal.

“I didn't think a laptop would be the thing to be concerned about,” said Neupert.

Randy Haba, a tech expert, said video of the incident doesn't surprise him. He said improper battery pairing can cause laptops to malfunction, overheat and even explode.

“It's always a mixed experience," Haba explained. "We try to dissuade our clients from purchasing batteries or any other hardware from amazon basically because you don't know if you're going to get new or refurbished."

The NBC 5 Responds team went to Neupert's order history to see if the product was still available on Amazon.com, and it was.

We then asked Amazon if it's received any complaints about this specific battery or the third party seller "E-life."

Amazon said, in part, "safety is among our highest priorities. We monitor the products sold on our website for product safety concerns, and when appropriate, we remove the product from the website, reach out to sellers and manufacturers for additional information or take other actions."

That same day, the product page was taken down.

Neupert said he'll be more careful when buying batteries on Amazon and wants to raise awareness so it never happens again.

“This hopefully a once in a lifetime experience,” he said.

Amazon processed Neupert’s refund the same day the page was taken down.

Tech experts suggest going through the laptop manufacturer for replacement batteries.

• You can also purchase a battery warranty or protection plan.
• If you insist on buying a replacement battery elsewhere, be sure that the battery is compatible with the device. If it doesn't deliver a specific wattage, it could ruin the device, or worse, explode.
• Check the reviews online. Some third party sellers may advertise new batteries, but they could be used or refurbished.

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<![CDATA[Dallas-Based Company at Center of Medical Bill Questions]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 18:30:42 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/medical+stethoscope.jpg

Researchers say more people are seeing surprise medical bills after hospital visits, and a new report points the finger at a North Texas-based medical company.

Dallas-based EmCare staffs emergency rooms across the country with doctors, but researchers at Yale University say most of them are not covered by patients' insurance.

Nina Robinson had been donating blood since high school, but after donating last summer she began to feel faint. She passed out and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. It turns out she was dehydrated in the Texas heat.

"About a month later I got a bill from the ambulance service, ER and the doctors office," Robinson said.

Her $2,500 bill came from Envision, the parent company of EmCare. Hospitals hire EmCare to staff their emergency rooms with doctors, but those doctors may not be on your insurance, even though the hospital is.

In fact, the newly released Yale report says EmCare's doctors are largely out-of-network for most insurances, so most patients get bills for the balances.

"When you're semi-conscious or unconscious you're not thinking about 'is this insurance company in my network?'" Robinson said.

Envision told NBC 5 Responds that it is important to note being "out of network" is not an issue for an individual company, essentially saying this is an industry-wide issue.

The company says it is working to move to an in-network status which would eliminate the extra bills for patients.

Robinson says lawmakers need to make sure that happens as fast as possible.

"A lot of people are saying the government is regulating things too much, but we're getting too far gone taking advantage of people," she said.

The billing issues happen more in Texas because hospitals are allowed to charge you for anything your insurance company doesn't.

Some other states prohibit that.

The Texas Department of Insurance will help you negotiate with doctors and insurance companies on the bills you get.

MORE:Click for information from the Texas Department of Insurance



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Traveling Family's RV Develops Leak, Mold Problem]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 18:05:17 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/5p+tz1-Moldy+RV_KXASE5HQ_2017-07-26-16-59-02.jpg

Your home is one of the biggest reflections of you and it's typically the most expensive purchase you'll ever make. Just months after making that purchase, one family found out their home was infested with mold. This problem was one you wouldn't find in inspections or disclosures because this family's home is on a set of wheels.

Right out of a 16th century story book, Bryan Beard is a master at full-combat jousting.

"I loved playing with swords," said Bryan Beard, who now travels the country performing in renaissance fairs. "We do jousting, fighting with swords and weapons, and it's a dramatic show."

But after the duel is done he’s hard at work with his wife, Brittany, and daughter, Belle, who travel cross-country with him in the family RV.

"Every year, we're in Texas for these two months performing at the festival," Bryan Beard said.

He comes home for Scarborough Fest. When they were here last year they bought a brand new RV for their traveling family.

"We left from here to go do a show in Colorado and then we went to Pennsylvania and that's when I noticed there was a slight leak," Bryan Beard said.

They called the RV’s manufacturer and reported water seeping from their walls and floor. The RV manufacturer couldn’t quickly schedule a service visit, so the Beards suggested a local RV Repair shop to stop the leak.

The Beards said the company rep approved that repair shop to do the work, but weeks later they noticed another problem.

"The floor was super, super soft," Bryan Beard said. "Keep in mind this is an $80,000 dollar RV that we just bought."

They drove back to Texas and brought the RV back to the dealership where they bought it new. When repairmen pulled back the flooring, they found a lot of black mold.

"They're like, 'Yeah, this is really bad,' Bryan Beard recalled.

The problems were just starting though. The Beards said the dealer wasn’t optimistic they could fix it quickly or cheaply and they needed their home fixed fast so they could get back on the road for work.

"We're not people that use it just for summer vacation. We're not extremely wealthy," Brittany Beard said. "We're middle class people who live in this for my husband's job."

The dealer and manufacturer were not able to promise a quick fix or pinpoint the cause definitively.

So Brittany called NBC 5 Responds. We reached out to the dealer, but they wouldn’t comment on our story. But Brittany sure did, posting this video to Facebook after they were back on the road.

“NBC took an interest in our case, and came out and interviewed Bryan and I and as soon as we told the dealership that they took care of us,” Brittany Beard said.

The dealership agreed to buy back the RV and give them a brand new one for just a small amount more than what they originally paid.

The Beards said they love their new RV and could not be happier.

This dispute — settled — with pen — rather than the sword. The Beards — back at work — reviving medieval times — even if they’re doing it in one of the nicest RV’s on the road.

When buying an RV it’s important to talk to the dealer about warranty, and insurance coverage for things like mold, roof issues, and wiring problems. There are insurance policies out there and to protect you – in case your dealer won’t.

If you have a consumer problem call NBC 5 Responds at 844-573-7763.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[State Agency Helps Texans Resolve Medical Bill Problems]]>Tue, 25 Jul 2017 17:46:30 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/doctor+medical+generic.jpg

Medical bills are often confusing. There are so many companies, plans and procedures, and costs can vary. But if you get a surprise bill, the Texas Department of Insurance may be able to help.

When Camille Eckersley had a pain in her belly that wouldn't go away, doctors in the emergency room quickly told her why.

"He said, 'Do you realize you have a golf-ball size mass on your pancreas?'" Eckersley recalled.

She didn't know, nor did she expect a diagnosis of advanced cancer.

The news was grim at best, but Eckersley wanted to fight. Her doctor scheduled surgery to remove the mass, and the treatment went well.

But she was surprised to see a medical bill from one of the doctors in the operating room.

"It was the physician's assistant, and I had no clue there was one in the operating room. It was $15,600," Eckersley said.

She had more than a half-million dollars of medical bills, but $15,000 for one doctor who was out of network was where she drew the line.

Something at the bottom of the bill caught her eye.

"It had a sticker on there that said if you disagree with this bill you could call Texas Department of Insurance," she said.

She did and filled out a form giving the state agency her insurance information and her bill.

They reached out to her insurance company to discuss how much money the insurance company paid on Eckersley's behalf and to set up a meeting to discuss the amount of money the insurance company paid.

But Eckersley says no meeting was needed.

"The insurance company said no mediation, we'll pay the doctor and Camille will owe nothing," she recalled.

The Texas Department of Insurance is the state agency that regulates insurance companies that do business in Texas.

The state agency helped more than 1,200 Texans hold health insurance companies accountable for balance billing in the past few months, and they're 94-percent successful in getting the insurance companies to pay more.

The TDI wants more people to know it is able to help. The agency created a video telling Eckersley's story and encouraging others to call if they have medical billing issues similar to hers.

MORE:Click for more information on the Texas Department of Insurance



Photo Credit: Getty Images/OJO Images RF
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<![CDATA[Duncanville Grandmother Goes Months Without Oven ]]>Tue, 25 Jul 2017 06:56:10 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/maytag-oven-responds.jpg

Suzanne Pierot doesn't mess around in the kitchen.

“I’m a Southern girl and I love the Southern cooking,” she said.

There are few things in this world she loves more than whipping up a meal for her grandson, Matthew.

“I often tell people there are two people in my life: Jesus Christ and Matthew,” said Pierot. “This is a picture of my daughter Brittany. She was killed in a tragic accident in the year of 2015 and I’m now raising her son."

She'd do anything for him

“I like to cook him anything that he wants. Meatloaf, you name it. Baked chicken, roasted chicken, whatever he wants is what I will fix for him,” Pierot said.

But those meals suddenly stopped. Her Maytag oven wasn't working.

“The digital clock worked. The light on the inside of the oven worked, but it just would not heat at all,” she explained.

She set up a number of appointments with Sears to have technicians take a look at the appliance. She said they all told her the same thing.

“The oven is too old for any of the parts to be found, so more than likely, you will get a new oven because you have the master protection plan. So I said, 'great.'”

But Pierot wanted to confirm that information with a customer service representative.

“They all said the same thing. Let us check. We'll see if the parts are available,” she said.

But five months later, no word about that part for the oven

“Promises and promises and promises were all broken,” said Pierot. “I know that sounds silly but try going without an oven going on six months with a teenage boy in the house. It's very, very inconvenient,”

She got NBC 5 Responds’ Samantha Chatman on the case.

According to Sears, the malfunctioning part was no longer available.

The company said, "At Sears, our top priority is the satisfaction of our members. Our member services team reviewed and resolved Ms. Perot's situation to her satisfaction, providing her with a new Kenmore oven valued at $1,999. As a goodwill gesture, we also waived fees for removing the old oven and installing the new one and provided a complimentary one-year extension on all five appliances covered by her protection agreement."

It's a sight some might take for granted, an appliance this grandmother just can't live without.

“I felt like I had died and gone to heaven,” she said.

If you're struggling with one of your appliances at home, here are Samantha Chatman’s Solutions:

Always leave it to the professionals. Do not try to repair the appliance on your own. We want you to be safe. It also might void the warranty if you have one.

Take pictures and videos of the product.

When the technician arrives, take notes. If he or she spots a problem, write it down.

Check your warranty. Make sure you know what is and isn't covered.

Always ask to speak with a supervisor the moment you feel that you aren't getting results.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dates Set for Texas Sales Tax Holiday Weekend]]>Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:42:23 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/20160721+School+Supplies.jpg

The annual Texas sales tax holiday will be the second weekend in August as children prepare to return to school.

The Texas comptroller's office says the tax-free weekend, for a number of school-related items, will be Aug. 11-13.

The Texas law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced less than $100 from sales and use taxes. That could save buyers about $8 on every $100 spent.

The sales tax exemption for Texas also includes items sold online, or by telephone or mail. Shoppers can use layaway plans to get the tax break.

There are exceptions. For example, the sales tax holiday does not apply to jewelry, handbags, purses, briefcases, luggage, umbrellas, wallets, watches and similar items.

The Texas tax break weekend has been an annual event since 1999.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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<![CDATA[Contractor Took Off With $73K, Plano Homeowners Say]]>Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:27:37 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-plano-contractor.jpg

Krishna and Vijaya Kannan left India to pursue the American Dream. They found exactly what they were looking for here in North Texas.

“We thought this would be the right place to buy,” Vijaya said.

The couple purchased a house in Plano that needed a lot of work. Their realtor recommended Nathan Anderson of Dream Remodeling.

“The realtor said that Nathan Anderson had worked on previous projects, and he had seen him on other projects of similar nature. And he told us that there's not anyone like him,” Krishna said.

They met Anderson in November and loved his renovation ideas. He said he could have the entire house done by February, so they decided to sign a contract.

The Kannans agreed to pay by cash and checks which would be made out to his partner, Arminda Lopez. They made their first payment of $5,700.

According to the couple, they didn't check in often, but when they did, they noticed a lot of demolition and thought that things were progressing. By the time February rolled around, the Kannans said they paid Anderson $73,000.

“So, on Feb. 10, we walk into this house expecting something to be done and we were shocked,” Vijaya said.

Debris, tools and even live wires can be seen throughout the home. The Kannans said it was a disaster and Nathan Anderson was nowhere to be found.

“It was nothing done, exactly in the same condition it was as I saw before,” Vijaya explained.

“We were devastated,” said Krishna.

They called Anderson to find out why the house wasn't near completion. Per the contract, it was supposed to be done by Feb. 18.

“He kept giving us excuse after excuse,” said Vijaya.

They received text messages from Anderson that his truck was out of commission, he was working with a customer and the weather was bad. They eventually hired a lawyer and sent a letter demanding that Anderson complete the job.

Instead, he agreed to give them $43,000 back. But the couple said he never showed up.

"I have been duped. I have been cheated. I have been scammed," said Krishna. "Nathan, I trusted you."

But the Kannans are not alone.

The NBC 5 Responds team has received other complaints about Nathan Anderson, including one from John Marshall last year.

He paid Anderson $2,300 to replace his fence, but the job never got finished.

When I talked to Anderson over the phone, he agreed to give Marshall his money back, and he delivered.

But, when I talked to Anderson about the Kannans, he told me he did do $73,000 worth of work, and the only reason he agreed to give them $43,000 was to get them to "shut up, go away and leave me alone," he said.

Anderson said he ripped out half of the house and rewired the whole thing. As for the money, he said the couple wouldn't let him get his tools, so the deal for the $43,000 was off.

A text message from Anderson shows when it was time for him to pick up the tools, he replied, "never mind. I will just go buy those tools again."

In another text, Anderson is threatening to put a lien on the property and get them kicked out of the country.

“You've only been hurting us more and more,” said Vijaya. “You need to stop this and you need to return the money and hopefully let people like us live in peace.”

The couple went to the Plano Police Department and the Collin County District Attorney's Office. They were told this was a civil matter.

The Collin County DA’s Office wouldn't comment, but Plano police told NBC 5 Responds, "because there is a dispute over the work done and the amount paid, this becomes a civil matter and does not rise to the level of a criminal act. Based on our interpretation of the law and when officer Jones contacted the DA’s office for confirmation, it was determined that this was a contract dispute and not a criminal offense," police said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Impersonators Offer Mystery Shopper Jobs]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 20:15:17 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pile+of+cash.jpg

Scammers are using offers for mystery shopper jobs to try to scam you out of your own money.

Dave Murray, a businessman, was interested in becoming a mystery shopper.

"I just look for things to do to stay busy," he said.

Murray received an email about a mystery shopping job that would pay him $500 for half a day of work.

"So it's called 'Secret Shopper,'" Murray said.

The company, Secret Shopper, is a legitimate company that hires mystery shoppers, but the email Murray received was fake and sent by someone using Secret Shopper's name.

There is an alert on the real Secret Shopper website warning people someone is falsely using the company's name to send counterfeit checks and have money sent back to them.

"A paycheck came in the mail, certified mail, for $3,955," Murray said. "I told them slow your roll — back your truck up a little bit. That's not how I work."

The fake company wanted Murray to buy gift cards at stores, and then give them the gift card numbers.

"I responded by saying, 'Well let's do this, I'm going to go ahead and cash this check, and once the money is in my account, then I'll go ahead,'" Murray said.

Murray wanted to wait until he received verification from the bank the check was real, and he never heard back from the fake company.

The real Secret Shopper company says it never reaches out to people via email, and people can only shop with them by applying online through the Secret Shopper website.

Murray said he wants to warn people from being scammed by the same fake company.

"Don't send any of your money until your bank can confirm you have that cash and there's no chance of return," Murray said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Glamalook Eye Lift Strips]]>Fri, 21 Jul 2017 18:36:05 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/glamalook+eyelid+lift.jpg

There's a product that promises naturally beautiful, youthful eyes for less than $30. Before you buy it, let Wayne try it.

Holly Henderson isn't a fan of a so called slight droop in her right eye.

"I see it everyday!" Henderson said.

She is a skin care expert who knows a thing or two about beauty. She says eyes are tough to tackle, so she jumped at the chance to try Glamalook, which promises an instant lift of the eyelid for $29.99.

She and Wayne read the instructions, cleaned their faces with makeup removed and pressed the strips into place.

They weren't fans at first, but once you move the strip around, things get better – much better.

"I am pleasantly surprised. I would try it out, maybe if you had an event to go to or for whatever reason, if your allergies have been bad. It could help give you a little lift," Henderson said.

When Wayne tried the strips, he had a lot more trouble getting them anywhere near where they should go, but when he got it, it was instantly the magic spot and you could see the eyelid pop up.

They both think it works, but requires significant work to apply it in the right spot. They also found the strips fell as you rub them in the Texas heat.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Shops Lure Customers With 'Try Before You Buy']]>Fri, 21 Jul 2017 06:08:54 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/Try_Before_You_Buy_Responds.jpg

More retailers are hoping to lure shoppers with "try before you buy" shopping experiences. Now, experts say that opens an opportunity for showing off on social media.]]>
<![CDATA[School Bus Driver 'Not Liable' After Crashing Into Two Cars]]>Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:18:04 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/denton+isd+bus+crash.jpg

If a driver has an unknown medical issue and hits your property, you are responsible for the repairs. A Denton family found out the hard way when their car was struck by a runaway school bus.

In February, the Denton Independent School District bus, loaded with students, crashed into two parked cars.

"As soon as I walked out the door I saw there was an upside down vehicle here," said Richard Ellingson.

The school bus was the only vehicle driving down the quiet residential street when the crash occurred.

Ellingson's SUV was totaled, but the school district's insurance company, the Texas Association of School Boards, wouldn't pay to fix it.

According to a police report from Denton police, the school bus driver told officers she passed out behind the wheel.

In Texas, and many other states, if anyone causes a crash as a result of an unforeseen medical issue, it's considered not the driver's fault.

The Texas Association of School Boards insurance agency said it wouldn't pay because the driver "wasn't negligent or liable."

"After having done this for almost 25 years, if you give an insurance company an excuse not to pay, they're certainly going to take that excuse and run with it," said Jason Thomas, an attorney with experience on car accident claims.

Thomas said you have to rely on your own insurance to pay in these circumstances.

Ellingson only had liability insurance, so his insurance won't pay.

He can sue the district, but the cost to sue is likely as much as his SUV is worth.

A spokesperson for Denton ISD said, "We empathize with the homeowner's situation, which is why our risk management office is doing what it can to see if we can find any additional details to help get the case reviewed again."

Medical issues are just one example of things not always covered in a car crash. Check your policy and talk to your agent to know what else could be your responsibility.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[First 100 Get Gas for 76 Cents Per Gallon at New Gas Station]]>Thu, 20 Jul 2017 03:57:44 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tlmd_gas_pump_generic.jpg

Yes, you read that right. Regular unleaded gas will be 76 cents per gallon for the first 100 customers at the opening of a new gas station in Irving on Saturday.

From 9 a.m. to noon at 2930 W. Irving Boulevard, the public will be able to fill up at the new 76 Gas Station.

Guests can also play games for prizes, including gas cards, during the grand opening. 

76 Gas Station says this new location in Irving is part of "an aggressive growth plan to open new stations along the eastern gulf coasts of the United States."  



Photo Credit: Getty Images/OJO Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fraudulent Checks Drain North Texan's Bank Account]]>Wed, 19 Jul 2017 10:51:00 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/northstar-bank-responds.jpg

Two business partners in Dallas say their bank account was drained and they didn’t catch the fraudulent activity until it was too late.

Jeffrey Gladden and Karen Cummings are divorced, but they’ve come together to handle some unfinished business. They owned a small business and opened an account with Community Bank, which is now Northstar.

“The checking account had accumulated a little over $28,000,” said Gladden.               

They decided not to touch the funds and figured the money would be safe.
But on May 8, Gladden said he got a phone call from the bank.

“It wasn't an urgent phone call," recalled Gladden. "I was scanning it to see if there was anything but there wasn't anything urgent about it. So, I go, 'ok, I’ll get to that.'”

He went to the bank two weeks later to check things out. That's when he learned that the account had been drained. There were five fraudulent checks written on their account, totaling nearly $27,000.

“A signature card is basically the bank's way of recording the authorized signatures that can actually sign a check to make it a valid check for transaction,” said Cummings. “These signatures on these checks don't match up with these at all.”

They thought Northstar bank would restore the funds due to obvious the fraudulent activity. But they were wrong.

“We get a letter from their attorney basically saying we have no liability, said Gladden. "You didn't pick it up within 60 days. It's your responsibility."

It’s a policy that is not unusual.

The account terms and conditions states if the customer “fails to report any unauthorized signatures, alterations, or forgeries in the account within days of when we first send or make the statement available, you cannot assert a claim against us.”

“It's like, really? Somebody can walk in here with forged checks, forged signatures, walk out the door with the money and you have no liability,” Gladden said. “They don't have any systems in place to actually detect whether false checks are being submitted for payment.”

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Northstar bank to find out how this type of activity is possible.

"I’m sure you're aware that we can't release customer information but rest assured, we take every account seriously and review any issues that may arise with our customers," a spokesman told NBC 5 Responds.

Cummings and Gladden filed a police report and Northstar said it's eager to work with authorities.

As for the $27,000: The customer bears the loss.

Let this be a reminder to everyone out there with a bank account:
• Check your account at least once a week. Technology has made it easier than ever to do so.
• Also, check the fine print before signing on the dotted line. Read through the terms and conditions of the account to see if the bank will recover your funds in a situation like this.
• If you do spot fraudulent activity, notify your bank immediately. The sooner the better.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Texas Company Offers Mobile Gas Refueling]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:43:55 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/gas+delivery.jpg

Tired of standing in the 100-plus degree heat filling up your gas tank? One Texas-based company says it can help.

Booster Fuels delivers gas to anyone by truck instead of pumping it at a gas station.

"It's a hot day out. You don't wanna get out of your car. I've got two kids now. They're screaming in the back," said Booster Fuels CEO Frank Mycroft.

Here's how it works.

Download the company's app on your phone, check out the current price, indicate on a map where you're parked, and pay with a credit card on your phone. Then, the truck comes to you.

Booster trucks offer other services in addition to a gas fill-up.

"We'll do the gas, tire inflation, windshield wipers, things you just don't wanna do during that busy time after work," Mycroft said.

The date we tested Booster, their gas cost $2.09 per gallon.

We used the website gasbuddy.com to check the prices at gas stations in our area, and most in our area where around $2.05 — just a few pennies less than Booster.

Booster isn't available in most neighborhoods, as the company is new and getting started, and it's not cost effective to travel to one area for one customer.

They have partnered with local businesses to offer service while you work. That way, they're fueling up multiple cars at each stop.

"We'll talk to your employer and make this a free benefit to offer your people," Mycroft said. "Think of it as a perk, similar to offering free food or a gym. The employer says yes. It doesn't cost them anything and we come on campus and you get gas."

The app can be downloaded via any smart mobile device.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Brides-to-Be Search for Dresses After Alfred Angelo Closures]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 06:46:08 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Alfred_Angelo_Customers_Urges_to_Contact_Company.jpg

Saying yes to the dress is a moment most women dream of, but for many Alfred Angelo customers, that dream has turned into a nightmare.

Several women bought dresses from Alfred Angelo stores in North Texas, putting their trust in a bridal retailer that's been around for more than 80 years with nearly 60 stores nationwide. Elizabeth Andreano even lost 85 pounds for her special day.

“They not only took my money, but they took something that was very special to me," she said. "I had worked so hard for this point in my life."

News that Alfred Angelo closed its stores spread fast. Signs on windows, social media comments and thousands of customers and employees were left in limbo.

“We were all blindsided,” said Kathy Udvarhely, an assistant manager at a local Alfred Angelo store. “I still can't believe it.”

The NBC 5 responds team has heard from a number of customers who received calls from employees urging them to pick up their dresses or they may never see them again. These women say they never got the heads up.

“A wedding is already stressful and this is the last thing that anyone needs,” said Cristina Taylor, whose wedding is in two weeks.

According to Alfred Angelo, the retailer filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, when a company stops all operations and goes completely out of business. A trustee is appointed to liquidate the company's assets, the proceeds are used to pay off the debts, and then the remaining debt is discharged.

"We apologize for the inconvenience and hardships resulting from this event," its website says.

But soon-to-be bridesmaid Marcela Long says that's not enough.

“You know it's frustrating because I did have that money set aside for that and now it's kind of gone,” she said.

They each paid with a credit or debit card, but say they bought their dresses months ago and are now outside of the timeframe to dispute a charge. The women say they've reached out to the contact person listed on the retailer's website but they haven't heard back.

NBC 5 has reached out as well and we're still waiting on a response.

If you're still waiting on your Alfred Angelo order, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

• Submit a complaint with the Texas Attorney General's office.
• Try to dispute the change with your bank or credit card company.
• Find a backup dress ASAP. David's Bridal is offering Alfred Angelo customers 30 percent off wedding dresses and 20 percent off bridesmaid dresses and will waive all rush fees.

]]>
<![CDATA[Veteran Shares Warning of Timeshare Scheme]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 07:26:15 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/timeshare-scam.jpg

One Benbrook man spent years trying to sell his timeshare, but when he finally heard from a buyer, he found himself in the middle of a big mess.

John Yuill is not your average consumer.

"I am a Veteran — a Vietnam Veteran — and I happen to have been a prisoner of war in Vietnam," Yuill said. "My entire crew survived. The biggest positive that came out of that for me was realigning priorities."

Spending more time with family and traveling were at the top of his list.

"We had a timeshare up in the Ozarks and we would go up there every year. We really enjoyed it," Yuill explained.

So much so, that he purchased more timeshares, ending up with much more than he bargained for. With the maintenance and property owner association fees, he said he wanted out.

He spent years trying to sell his timeshare at Possum Kingdom Lake to no avail. Out of the blue, he received an email from someone claiming to be "Jodie Clark."

"She was creating a travel agency and she needed some properties," said Yuill.

The woman agreed to pay $4,500 for his timeshare. She would send him a cashier's check for $2900. He was to deposit the check, keep $500, and pay the broker $2400 via MoneyGram. Once that was done, she'd send the rest of his money to compete the transaction.

"The big hook that really got me was that it was a cashier's check," he said.

He got the check and went straight to Wells Fargo, so excited, he told the bank teller all about this "big deal." But the teller explained to him that she's heard of this before and believed it was a scam.

Yuill, however, didn't believe her.

"See, if you're old like me and back in the day,nobody ever questioned a cashier's check," he said.

But the teller insisted it was a scam. Yuill finally listened.

It turned out, that cashier's check was fake.

It's a lesson learned for John Yuill, who hasn't forgiven himself just yet, but he's glad he was spared from this timeshare scheme.

If you want to sell your timeshare, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

• Never deposit a check from someone you've never met, no matter how sweet the deal seems.
• If a company wants to buy your timeshare, do your research. Check online or contact the TX Attorney General's office to see if they have any complaints on file.
• If you have fallen victim to the timeshare scam or any other scheme, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov.

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<![CDATA[North Texas Man Can't Get Car Title After Dealer Goes Dark]]>Fri, 14 Jul 2017 22:50:16 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Magnum+Auto.jpg

A McKinney man bought a used car for his daughter, and more than a year-and-a-half later he still can't get the car registered. He says it's all because of the dealer.

"It's been sitting more than anything," Jermaine Sapp said.

The car has been sitting idle because the dealer where he bought the car hasn't given him plates or a title.

He says every time he asks Magnum Auto Group for help they send him an email with an attachment of a temporary tag.

"Like I said I have a bunch of temporary tags that I have gotten from him," Sapp said. "And here's two more."

Magnum Auto Group appears shut down. The doors are chained shut, and the garage in the back appears leased to another company. Neighboring businesses tell NBC 5 the owner shows up here and there but not regularly. We had no luck reaching anyone by phone either.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles says Magnum has lost its license, and they've heard many stories just like Sapp's of cars where the title was never received. Sapp said when he visited the dealership several months back, trying to get a title, the owner told him then that others were complaining, too.

The dealership has since closed, and Sapp hadn't been able to contact the owner any longer.

"He told me initially, out of his mouth, that I'm not the only person having a problem like this with him," Sapp said.

Sapp couldn't figure out why the dealer wouldn't provide the paperwork for cars they sell. He wondered if the car was stolen, but police checked the VIN and it appeared the car was not reported stolen.

Sapp then filed a complaint with the DMV against Magnum. The state is helping him get a title to finally get legal and his daughter's car on the road.

"Just simple, a title. I just want a title," Sapp said.

If you have a problem, make sure you file a formal complaint. The DMV has steps you can take to get a plate if your dealer walks off without giving you all the paperwork you need.

MORE: Texas Department of Motor Vehicles



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: 3 Second Brow]]>Fri, 14 Jul 2017 17:43:42 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Eyebrow_Stamps_5p_71417.jpg

Tweezing and plucking eyebrows is a pain. But the makers of a new product say they can fix that, giving you perfect brows in just three seconds.]]>
<![CDATA[Black Friday in July Deals]]>Fri, 14 Jul 2017 06:46:53 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/KRISPY+KREME+DONUTS+FOTO.JPG

Amazon Prime Day may be over, but there are still a lot of great deals in stores and online.

First there's Macy's Black Friday in July sale.

Shoppers can get an extra 25 percent off select clothing and accessories, and an extra 15 percent off select shoes, jewelry, watches, suits, dresses and swimwear.

This sale is available in-stores and online with the promo code "July." It ends on Monday, July 17.

ONLINE: Macy's

And if you need a new computer, Dell's Black Friday in July sale is offering up to 50 percent off select laptops at Dell.com. This deal ends Friday.

ONLINE: Dell

How about donuts for the whole family? In honor of its 80th birthday, Krispy Kreme is offering a dozen doughnuts for 80 cents with the purchase of a dozen regular priced doughnuts. Its happening Friday at your local Krispy Kreme store.

More details HERE

If you're out of dinner ideas, Domino's is slicing 50 percent off all of its pizzas. The deal is only available online and ends Sunday, July 16.

ONLINE: Domino's

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<![CDATA[Brides Crushed, Confused After Dress Store Suddenly Closes]]>Sat, 15 Jul 2017 23:27:25 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Two_Alfred_Angelo_Bridal_Stores_in_SD_Closing.jpg

Some DFW brides have hit a major roadblock in their path to the alter. Wedding dress company Alfred Angelo filed for bankruptcy leaving brides and employees blindsided.

Across the country, 62 Alfred Angelo stores are suddenly closing after being in business for more than eight decades.

When Sarah Bliss first walked into the Frisco location, she met the perfect person to help her find that perfect dress – assistant manager, Kathy Udvarhely.

“You could feel it in her soul. Like, all she wanted to do was help me find this dress that was going to make me feel beautiful,” said bride-to-be, Bliss.

Now, about 130 days out from walking down the aisle, she's not sure what she'll be wearing.

“It's really sad for the brides, but it's really sad for them too because they don't have answers to give these brides that they spend days trying to make happy,” she said.

Udvarhely said she learned about the bankruptcy Thursday morning.

“We went there and we tried to pack up every dress that's in that store, whether there was a balance on it or not,” she said.

Udvarhely said her team raced the clock to move orders, without boxes from the company.

“We had to tape paper envelopes together,” said Terri Broussard, another Alfred Angelo's employee.

Udvarhely said the company had been sending new dresses, pushing 50-percent off sales, without explaining why.

“I found out from a friend in Florida that they already knew and we didn't,” she said.

Now they're left crushed, confused and financially strapped, just like some of the brides.

“I understand that they're upset. We tried everything, but no one reached back out to us from corporate. They just washed their hands of us, too,” Broussard said.

Bliss said she hopes people understand the employees are sorry. She’s only upset at the company.

“Alfred Angelo corporate did everybody really wrong and they should be ashamed of themselves,” Bliss said.

NBC 5 made several attempts to reach the company’s lawyer listed on the Frisco location’s door. So far, those calls have not been returned. It’s unclear who will be getting their dresses. Many orders may still be shipped to customers. Some Frisco shoppers could get theirs soon. If orders were placed recently, if may be worth calling your credit card company to cancel.

The chain's two other North Texas stores — in Garland and Arlington — did not have obvious signs they were shut down when NBC 5 cameras stopped by early Friday morning.

Pennsylvania-based David's Bridal posted on Facebook that Alfred Angelo customers can show a receipt and get discounted wedding and bridesmaid dresses. Read more here.

NBC 5 Responds using the Consumer Complaint Form found online HERE.

This is the information Alfred Angelo listed on the door:
Patricia A. Redmond, Esquire
Stearns Weaver Miller
150 West Flagler Street
Miami, FL 33130
(305) 789-3553
predmond@stearnsweaver.com



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Unapproved H.S. Sponsorship Company Continues Under New Name]]>Wed, 12 Jul 2017 18:22:38 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/high+school+football+field.jpg

Football season will be here before you know it, and there's a warning about a company that promises to help high school football teams. NBC 5 Responds first reported about the North Texas company selling sponsorships that teams knew nothing about, and now they're back at it.

It seems Richland Hills-based Touchdown Sports has an "F" with the Better Business Bureau and countless claims online from people saying they paid money to help a school and it never happened.

Now those sponsorships are back.

Michael Jennifer Driscoll and her husband, Preston, just opened an Anytime Fitness in The Colony. Days before their grand opening, Preston Driscoll got a call from Boost Sports.

"They hooked me up with a special deal that they could do for this opportunity with the high school," Preston Driscoll said. "I got a T-shirt spot on like 300 T-shirts, I think they said, and then call-outs over the PA system at every home football game."

The problem is The Colony High School says it never agreed to any deal with Boost Sports.

It sounds an awful lot like what happened to Edgar Garcia.

He paid a company called Touchdown Sports for T-shirts and PA announcements at Denton's Braswell High School.

"My daughter is in band, so I went to every single game," Garcia said. "I never saw anybody wearing the T-shirts or people out there, like cheerleaders throwing T-shirts out to the crowd."

And just like at The Colony, the school district hadn't given this its blessing.

"I didn't personally do any dealings with Touchdown Sports," said Mario Zavala, the community relations director for Denton ISD.

There was a difference. Garcia bought from Touchdown Sports, the Driscolls from Boost Sports.

But a look at the paperwork helps clear that up.

"When we got our receipt, they had Touchdown Sports at the bottom," Preston Driscoll said.

Preston Driscoll said the salesman told him Touchdown simply changed its name to Boost. That's why the receipt said Touchdown.

The Boost website has no address and no phone number, just an e-mail address. NBC 5 Responds tried to contact them repeatedly with no answer back.

The Driscolls did get one T-shirt in the mail. It listed their business as being in Celina, not its actual location in The Colony. It had the wrong wrong ZIP code, and the one that was there was missing a digit.

And if you called the number printed on the shirt, you got Preston Driscoll's cellphone – not the business.

"It's just something that needs to stop," Preston Driscoll said.

Sponsorship deals for athletics do exist and are big business in North Texas.

If someone contacts you, be sure to ask specifically how your money is helping the team. Also, talk to school administrators to make sure the company is really paired up with the school.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[July 11 Deals Worth Checking Out]]>Tue, 11 Jul 2017 06:53:28 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/slurpees.png

If you're into freebies and big sales, July 11 may be your favorite day of summer, thus far.

For starters, July 11 is Amazon Prime Day. The online retailer is promising "hundreds of thousands" of deals with new bargains popping up every five minutes. For example, the Amazon Echo is 50 percent off.

Keep in mind, have to be a Prime member to take advantage of these deals.

Membership is $99 per year but Amazon is offering a 30-day free trial, and a 6-month free trial for students.

You can download the Amazon app, watch the deals and add them to your list as they come in.

Amazon Prime Day ends early Wednesday morning.

Online: Amazon Prime Day

For all of the chicken lovers out there, Chick-fil-A offered a free breakfast, lunch or dinner entrée to anyone who dressed like a cow.

It's part of the restaurant chain's "Eat More Chikin," where foodies break out the spots and cow bells for a free meal.

It's happening at Chick fil-A's nationwide until 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Online: www.cowappreciationday.com

Domino's pizza is offering 50 percent off all pizzas at menu price all this week. The deal is online-only and runs through July 16.

Online: dominos.com

Also in honor of July 11, how about a free Slurpee?

Irving-based 7-Eleven is giving away its classic frozen beverage at participating stores nationwide.

The free Slurpee deal is available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Online: 7-Eleven Day



Photo Credit: Facebook/7Eleven]]>
<![CDATA[Best Deals on Amazon Prime Day: How And Where to Find Them]]>Mon, 10 Jul 2017 20:44:52 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AMAZON14.jpg

You can get everything from light bulbs to lemonade all in one spot, but ask even the most die-hard shopper about Amazon Prime Day and they'll tell you to shop around.

The third annual Amazon Prime Day starts Monday at 8 p.m., and this year it's expanding from 24 hours to 30 hours. There are deals on thousands of items from televisions to toasters.

Experts say look for big discounts, including savings of up to 25 percent on smart TVs, 30 percent on some apparel like Under Armour, and even up to 50 percent on certain video games and consoles.

But consumer advocates say the prices already released aren't too much to celebrate. The website Bestblackfriday.com says Amazon is promising a 40-inch 1080p TCL TV for $199.

They say you could have gotten the same thing $75 cheaper on Black Friday. But the Amazon Echo is expected to be $89.99, which is $50 less than it was on Black Friday.

So shop around and not just on Amazon.

Target has already kicked off its back-to-school sales, offering deals on school supplies and clothes. If you have a Target "Red Card" you get free shipping on most Target.com orders.

As for Walmart, they say they offer great deals every day. They point out they also offer free two-day shipping with no membership fee.

Some deals are great and some not so much.

So how do you sift through all this?

Websites like CamelCamelCamel.com and slickdeals.net track the prices of products on Amazon and everywhere else. They'll alert you when that Amazon Prime deal really is one you should run to the computer for.

Some of the best deals will come to those who already bought an Echo.

Ask Alexa what her deals are today and she'll tell you about things you may not want to pass up, and some of the deals are reportedly only available through Alexa.

There's also Amazon Assistant who will send you alerts the second that deals pop up.

There's also a Prime Day Insider's Guide that Amazon put together to help you figure out what to purchase. 

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<![CDATA['Do Not Call' List Isn’t Working: Consumers]]>Mon, 10 Jul 2017 06:42:34 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/robocalls+image.jpg

Despite being on the "Do Not Call" list, Paula Patton of Grandview said her phone is ringing off the hook with robocalls.

In Texas, the Public Utility Commission offers the free Do Not Call list, which is supposed to give the public some peace of mind. Consumers can register a telephone number to reduce the amount of telemarketers that call them.

But Patton said she has signed up every year and the number of calls have actually gone up.

“I know they can't stop them,” she said.

An official with the Public Utility commission of Texas acknowledged the department has had limited success with putting an end to robocalls. Technology is to blame. It’s made it easier and inexpensive for illegal operators to make millions of unwanted calls.

Many calls made to mobile phones are not regulated by states, which is why the federal Do Not Call list is so important.

But Patton said she has signed up for that one, too. The calls keep coming.

According to the FCC, a big problem with unwanted robocalls is “spoofing,” when callers provide a false caller ID display to disguise their identity. There’s also the “ringless voicemails," where messages go straight to your voicemail without ringing your phone.

The FCC is cracking down on these calls as well, recently imposed a record fine of $120 million dollars on Miami man who was behind a massive spoofing operation.

Patt said she plans to continue to add her number to the Do Not Call lists, but she isn't getting her hopes up.

“I don't think they'll ever stop it," she said. "I wish, but I don't think so.”

If you're like most consumers and want to put an end to robocalls, here are Samantha Chatman’s Solutions:

• Don't answer any unfamiliar calls. An answered call notifies the telemarketer that the number is active and encourages more calls to that number.
• Don't press any numbers and don't wait to speak with an agent. That'll usually lead to more calls.
• Consider downloading apps that help to block robocalls.
• If you have signed up for the do not call list but are still getting calls, report it to the FCC at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Skin Cream Confusion Costs Women Thousands of Dollars]]>Fri, 07 Jul 2017 22:49:26 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/skin+cream+mirror.jpg

Joan Pall thought she had found the fountain of youth on her Facebook feed.

An ad for a skin treatment called "Brio" promised clear and beautiful skin.

She followed the link to a free trial offer. It said only a $4.95 shipping fee was required.

 “I was going to sample it, that’s all I thought,” Pall said.

When several more creams with different names arrived, she returned them, assuming it was a mistake.

Three months later she noticed a problem.  

"My account was dwindling, and I didn’t know why," Pall said.

Her debit card statement showed 23 separate charges from nine different merchants, which totaled up to $1,300 spent on face cream.

It seems Pall hadn't reviewed the terms of the deal.

She had actually signed up for a 14-day trial and enrolled in an auto-shipment program for more lotions from various companies.      

“I felt really stupid. That I’d been had,” Pall said.

She's not the only one.

Judy Ray of Fort Worth says she clicked on an ad fore a free sample of skin cream and started getting more than she bargained for.

"One or two a month, and every time they sent a package there'd be two products in it at $100 each," Ray said. 

The packages came from different companies, all charging different amounts.

Ray can't even remember or track down who she ordered from in the first place. 

"It's so convoluted, when you see it on Facebook it will be under one name, the product, when you get it it's a different name, when you get the billing, it's yet a different name," she said.

We are working with Ray to dig through dozens of credit card charges and track down which company sparked all this.

NBC Responds also tried to track down the owners of the company behind Pall's auto shipment, Hydra Skin Sciences, but could only reach someone at a call center who couldn't explain all the charges on Pall's card.

"I think I’m too smart to get duped like this but no one is too smart," Pall said.

Pall's bank agreed to give her almost one thousand dollars back. Ray's gave about one hundred dollars back.

The banks suggest using a credit card rather than debit for anything you're unsure of because they offer more protection.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Simply Fit Board]]>Fri, 07 Jul 2017 19:17:29 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Wayne_Try_It_Simply_Fit_Board.jpg

NBC 5 Consumer Reporter Wayne Carter checks out products that you have interest in to help you decide if they're worth your money.

We took the Simply Fit board to a small studio off the North Central Expressway called "Bells and Barbells."

It's a gym where soon-to-be brides and grooms go to get fit before they get hitched.

"We base everything around the engagement time line," said owner and trainer Katherine Bahlburg.

Bahlburg watched an instructional video, and started rocking on the board before adding the twisting motion.

The manufacturer claims you could feel it in seconds, and NBC 5's consumer reporter, Wayne Carter, agreed he did as he tried it, but had problems staying balanced on the board.

It's a problem the manufacturer said would improve, and it did.

There are suggested workouts involving barbells and other motions which Bahlburg and Carter both tried. Bahlburg felt it was the technique behind the workouts creating the burn, not the Simply Fit board.

Katherine wasn't convinced the board was worth the cash, but Wayne said it would work for people who don't work out much.

Rosalie Brown created the Simply Fit board and said it's good for all ages and fitness levels saying adding simple dumbbell moves will intensify and increase your strength.

If you have a product you'd like Wayne to buy, log on to facebook, and send him a message to his page, Wayne Carter, NBC 5 Responds.

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<![CDATA[Woman Gets $1,200 Bill After Told Test Was Fully Covered]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 18:24:17 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2017-07-06-18h13m00s46.jpg

After a McKinney woman received a $1,200 bill despite being promised her medical test was 100-percent covered, the NBC 5 Responds team helped her work out a solution with the testing agency and insurance company.

Dana Kaytovich's doctor had asked her to get a CT scan so he could better diagnose an illness she was having.

Kaytovich picked Envision Imaging near her home to get the test.

Worried about cost, she called ahead of time to find out what she would have to pay.

She said Envision told her the test would be 100-percent covered, but Kaytovich never checked with her own insurance company.

She got the bill a few weeks later.

The cost of the scan was $1,700. Her insurance covered $500, leaving Kaytovich to owe the other $1,200.

This surprised Kaytovich because she says Envision previously told her it would be 100-percent covered.

The NBC 5 Responds team got on the phone with Envision, who arranged a three-way call with Kaytovich and her insurance company.

Apparently the test was 100-percent allowed, not 100-percent covered so Kaytovich still had a portion to pay.

Everyone understood the confusion and worked out a deal.

Dana agreed to pay $500, and the insurance company picked up the rest.

Various doctor groups, hospital spokespeople and insurance companies have told us there's no simple way to know how much you'll pay ahead of time because of the many factors that come into play when you get treatment.

The best advice is to call everyone from the insurance company to the doctor or testing center first.

Not just one person.

Ask them all about pricing, contracts, balance billing and what portion of the bill you would be responsible for in a worst-case scenario.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Ways To Cool Off This Weekend]]>Fri, 07 Jul 2017 06:43:58 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pool-generic.jpg

We're well into summer break and if the kids are getting bored at home,  this may be a great weekend to get out of the house and cool down. 

Bahama Beach

The Bahama Beach Waterpark in Dallas is hosting its dive-in movie screening Saturday night. This is a great way for kids to cool off and see an action film at the same time.

They'll be showing the Lego Batman Movie, which is rated PG.

And get this: it's only $5 per person.

The movie starts at 8:30 p.m.

Dr. Pepper Star Center - Skate With Victor E. Green

If your kids have been begging you to take them ice skating, you don't have to wait for the winter season.

The Dr. Pepper Star Center in Euless is having a public ice skating event this Saturday.

Kids can enjoy games, inflatables and a chance to get on the ice with the Dallas Stars' very own mascot: Victor E. Green!

Adults are $9, kids ages 4-17 are $8 and children 3 and under get in free.

It's happening Saturday from 2:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Teen Splash Jam

And for the teenagers, the Teen Splash Jam is also taking place at West Irving Aquatic Center this Saturday.

Middle and high school students are invited to hang out with friends and enjoy an evening of swimming, music and fun.

Complimentary pizza and soda will be provided.

The event is free with a valid student ID and is happening from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.



Photo Credit: Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds Headlines: Smishing, Volvo and Tesla]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 04:04:59 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/675049836-Volvo.jpg

NBC 5 Responds reporter Wayne Carter explains the new scheme called smishing and shares announcements from car makers Volvo and Tesla.

Photo Credit: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[How to Keep Your Facebook Account Safe]]>Wed, 05 Jul 2017 06:57:33 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/TLMD-facebook-logo-shutterstock_168145139-.jpg

A visit from Sharon Beeler's grandson doesn't come too often. Thanks to Facebook, pictures and videos keep her updated and connected with her pride and joy. It also helps her reminisce on friendships.

“I lost a really good friend a few years back,” Beeler said. “I would go back on her anniversary of her death. All of our chats are inbox chats were still alive between her and I even though she wasn't here. I could read them on a sad day. I could read them on a happy day or if I just wanted to share a day with her and have a laugh or a cry; I could go there."

It’s a source of comfort that helped Beeler heal, but all of those memories were gone in a flash.

“While I was on Facebook I got this message telling me I had logged in from Baghdad. I'm sitting in Texas. I know I’m not in Baghdad,” she said.

For three days, Beeler got the same type of message, and each time, she changed her password.

“On day three, they did it through the night while I was sleeping,” she explained. “They managed to get in. They managed to change my g-mail account to their email account.”

Locked out and unsure of what to do she searched the site for help to get her account back.

Like many viewers that have contacted NBC 5 Responds, she said finding help on Facebook wasn’t easy.

“I looked for an hour and 45 minutes and I couldn't find nowhere to find anything,” said Beeler.

We connected her with the Facebook media team.

For anyone in the same position as Beeler, they say to visit Facebook.com/hacked.

And remember, there is no customer service number for Facebook.

Beeler has since been able to recover her account. She’s now reconnected with an old friend and her precious grandson.

If you ever get a notification that someone is trying to log into your account, here are Samantha Chatman’s Solutions:

• Always go directly to Facebook to change your information.
• Googling "Facebook Help" can be very tricky. There are many sites that have phone numbers offering help and most aren't even associated with Facebook.
• Never give out your account information to anyone outside the actual site.
• It's tedious, but back up your pictures; the photos you're tagged in and the albums you post. Sharon had her wedding photos on Facebook and they would have been lost had she not been able to recover her profile.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Credit Bureau Changes May Increase Score By a Few Points]]>Mon, 03 Jul 2017 18:09:42 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Chip-Credit-Cards-050316.jpg

Some long-anticipated changes for credit bureaus are set to begin this month, but the changes alone may not be enough to have a serious impact on your credit rating.

The new scoring systems eliminate some public records and civil judgments, which could impact young score.

If the records are properly verified there was no change.

Some people were surprised to see their score improve only by five or 10 points.

Those bumps are really helpful if you're right on the line between one credit range and another.

In the right scenario with a lot of unverified judgments you can improve your score by 40 to 50 points.

The big changes just don't impact the vast majority of us.

Financial planners say if you pair up the bump from the credit bureau with a little bit of work on your own, the results can be significant.

Financial adviser Ryan Fuchs has some tips for how to tackle credit card debt.

"Attacking the small debts first, even if it means paying higher interest over time, because psychologically if you can get some of those paid off you're more likely to continue the plan over time," Fuchs said.

If you see the score rising it can be a good motivation to keep up the positive behavior.

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<![CDATA[Recently Repaired Brakes Leave Man With Damaged Truck]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2017 22:50:32 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/n5r+bad+brakes.jpg

Brake jobs can be expensive, so imagine forking over the cash only to keep having more brake issues. An Azle man says he had trouble with his new brakes for more than a year until they failed all together and he crashed his truck.

NBC 5 Responds got involved and got results.

Jason Graham is a plumber working all over North Texas.

"I drive everywhere. I put 100,000 miles a year on my truck," Graham said.

He said when he gets a new truck he makes sure it's ready for his demanding schedule.

"We upgraded the suspension, transmission and just made it run like it needed to. We took it to have brakes done with a large company," he said.

But he said after that brake job, he had problems with the brakes for months, taking them back to National Tire and Battery for brake repairs several times over the course of a year.

One afternoon Graham said his brakes gave out on Loop 820.

"When I hit the brakes something happened and the truck locked up," Graham said.

He said his truck started sliding and he had no way to stop. He crashed into two other cars. Everyone survived the crash, but Graham wanted answers.

He called another mechanic who didn't do the work to look at the brakes.

"We pulled the front of the truck apart and the pads were cracked," Graham said.

He and the mechanic started taking photos as they kept poking around under the truck.

"When we took the hubs apart, parts fell out. Some of the springs and adjustment pieces had fallen off and broken," Graham said.

He wanted to talk to someone from NTB, but when he couldn't get them to respond he called NBC 5 Responds.

We reached out, and NTB gave us a statement addressing the work done on Graham's truck.

The statement says:

"The customer service team worked with the customer and his insurance company to address concerns and fix the customer's vehicle. We sincerely apologize for any and all inconveniences."

Graham's case did get resolved, but neither he nor NTB would give specifics.

But now he's back on the road.

"Everything turned out really good. I couldn't ask for better," Graham said.

It worked out for him and can for you, too. Here's what Wayne wants you to know:

  • Most of us carry a cellphone with a camera. Use the camera to take photos as soon as you spot something wrong with your car. It could be very helpful proving your point.
  • Get a second opinion. If you think the work wasn't properly done, just make sure you're not voiding a warranty by having someone else look.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Flippin Fantastic]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2017 17:55:18 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R_Pancake_Flipping_06_30_17_00_00.jpg

Pancakes can sometimes be hard to cook. But there's a new product out there that says it can help. Before you spend your cash, let Wayne try it.

Bring up pancakes and I bring in Priscilla, an 8-year-old expert pancake consumer who happens to be my daughter.

She says I burn my pancakes, and she's right. I leave them on too long, worried they didn't set enough to flip, which is why I wanted to try Flippin Fantastic.

The product's commercial says it is "the fast, easy way to make perfect pancakes as good as Grandma's."

So we traveled to Watauga, to Chef Point Cafe. It's been on national TV for being a full-service gas station on the outside and serving fabulous food on the inside.

Chef Franson Nwaeze was willing to try out Flippin Fantastic.

After reading the instructions, we cured the plastic device in a hot pan and gave it a whirl.

"It's not staying flat," Nwaeze said.

The pancake batter poured out the bottom and it seemed to run together on top.

We tried again with less batter to the "fill line" as instructed, and we held down the Flippin Fantastic. As we flipped, some batter fell out. So we tried again and waited longer, but they burned.

We changed batter amounts and the heat of the stove. We used a pan and a griddle before finally getting some that kind of worked.

We tried eggs, too, but the results were about the same. Nwaeze wasn't convinced that you should shell out the cash for the product.

The makers of the Flippin Fantastic tell NBC 5 Responds that if it was cured, it should have laid flat in the pan and the pancake batter should not move much when poured.

They provided us a video to show how it worked in their kitchen and told us very thin batter could run, so thicker batter is better to making it work.

But Nwaeze says it's "just a gadget for someone who doesn't know how to flip a pancake."

So it's for someone like me!

His advice: find someone to teach you how to flip a flapjack.

After my quick lesson I brought the new skills home.

"It's good, Daddy!" Priscilla said.

Daughter approved.

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<![CDATA[Fourth of July Celebrations in North Texas]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2017 06:43:18 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/FW-Fourth1.jpg

The Fourth of July is right around the corner and there's plenty to do in north Texas to celebrate.

Events include:

  • The annual Bluegrass on Ballard event happens from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday in downtown Wylie. This free festival includes live music, a car show, arts and crafts for the kids and lots of food.
    More: www.wylietexas.gov/living/events/bluegrass_on_ballard.php
  • Main Event offers all-you-can-play passes in honor of Fourth of July. Parents and kids can play golf, laser tag, billiards, bowling, a gravity ropes course and rock climbing (check location for activities) for as little as $12.95 per person.
    More: www.mainevent.com/funspecials
  • Kaboom Town in Addison is packed with plenty of fun activities during its free festival Monday, including food, live entertainment, a carnival for the kids and a top 10-ranked fireworks display at dusk.
    More: addisonkaboomtown.com/
  • In the heart of Dallas, the Fair Park Fourth event kicks off at noon Tuesday.Tickets are $7 and the fireworks show starts at 9:45pm.
    More: fairpark.org/
  • The annual Fort Worth Fourth celebration will take place at the Panther Island Pavilion Tuesday. The free event includes food, tubing, zip-lining, pony rides and live music from the Tejas brothers and Party Machine. Gates open at 2 p.m. and the fireworks show starts at 10 p.m.
    More: fortworthsfourth.com/

We also have a list of Fourth of July fireworks shows scheduled all around the area. Check them out here.

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<![CDATA[Travel Cheaper This Summer With Some Extra Planning]]>Thu, 29 Jun 2017 18:10:46 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/107846315-airplane-generic.jpg

Summer is here, and for many people that means it's time to travel. But airfare isn't cheap – that is, unless, you know when to book.

It's all about timing. You probably have already heard the cheapest days to fly are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, since most people are flying around the weekend.

If you want to travel on a budget, find the deal first, then pick where you're going based on the price.

The folks at CheapAir.com picked the three cheapest days to fly this summer: July 4, Aug. 22 and Sept 12.

And that's not all, the experts say the specific days when airfare is generally cheaper this summer are:

  • July 11-12
  • July 19-20
  • July 25-26
  • Aug. 15-16
  • Aug. 22-23
  • Aug. 26
  • Aug. 30
  • Sept. 6
  • Sept. 12-13
  • Sept. 17
  • Sept. 19-20
  • Sept. 26-27

Another tip: consider something different like taking a train.

Most airlines charge a full fare for little ones who takes up a seat, but Amtrak does not. For every adult you can bring along two kids at half price.

It might be a longer ride but look at the savings:

Airfare for a family of four from Dallas to St. Louis can run $1,450.

The same trip on Amtrak on the same days would cost $504 for the whole family.

The extra time on the trains saves you about $1,000. It might be worth your kids calling you cheap.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[TAMKO Agrees to Settle Shingles Claim; Pays $14K]]>Thu, 29 Jun 2017 06:49:48 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/shingles-generic.jpg

Pamela Tucker said she can't wait to get rid of her home's shingles once and for all.

They're made by Tamko, a building products manufacturer.

She had a number of shingles to choose from, but she went with Tamko’s Heritage 50 AR line because it carried a 50 year warranty.

“When you look at something that carries a 50 year warranty, you think, well, you're getting a good product. You're not,” Tucker explained.

Ten years in, she said the shingles started having problems. She contacted the company for new shingles.

Tamko denied her claim saying the warranty covers manufacturing defects "directly resulting in leaks."

“Somebody said you know are you angry? Yes, I’m angry,” she said. “I've also learned that they have class action lawsuits against them."

Consumers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois and Kentucky have filed class action lawsuits against the company, claiming Tamko's shingles are "plagued by design and/or manufacturing flaws" with bogus warranties.

“It is absolutely disgusting,” said Tucker.

We called Tamko on Tucker’s behalf and the company agreed to review her case. An inspector came back to her home to take a closer look at the shingles.

Nearly a week later she received a call from Tamko, saying they saw more damage than they did the first time around. The company agreed to settle her claim.

“Thank you, lord. I cannot believe they're doing this because I thought that denial letter was the end of the story,” she explained.

Tucker said a representative in Tamko’s warranty department reassured her that the replacement shingles would be different from what she had before.

According to her settlement form, she’d be getting Tamko’s Heritage Premium shingles.

But Tucker wanted to know more about this shingle line.

“You'd better believe I’m going to check on it and see what it is,” she said.

And after doing more research, Tucker learned the Heritage Premium shingles are the same as the Heritage 50 AR shingles that she had before.

Tamko confirmed that the product is the same and was renamed.

“Why would you offer to put the same roof on my house when I had the problem that I did originally?" Tucker asked. "The roof was on there ten years and it has come a part. They're basically putting a Band-Aid on a problem and a Band-Aid that's going to come off again. I'm not going to accept the same roof. I'm not going to.”

NBC 5 Responds Samantha Chatman went back to Tamko with Tucker's concerns, and instead of providing her with the same shingles, a representative agreed to send her a check for $14,450 to cover the shingles and labor.

“Hopefully this will not only help me but anyone who has had a problem with shingles or anything else,” Tucker said.

Tucker received her check on Wednesday.

As for the class action lawsuits against Tamko, they are still pending. The NBC 5 Responds team has received other complaints about Tamko's shingles and will continue to look into these cases.

Let this be a reminder to all consumers:

• When your product is under warranty, always read the fine print
• Research every company you do business with before you hand over any money. Take it a step further and research the product as well.
• You're advised to get your roof inspected every three to five years



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Are Smart Homes a Smart Choice For Your Money?]]>Thu, 29 Jun 2017 03:55:22 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/smart+home+image.jpg

Remember the Jetsons? They were the futurist family who had anything they wanted at the touch of a button. But now, those technologies aren't too far off. 

Technology will do it for you but when you add it all up, you're spending a lot of money to solve something that isn't too big of a problem for many of us.

Thanks to Alexa & Siri, we say our wish and technology responds.

It's expanding from smart phones to smart homes. They do everything from adjust the thermostat to lock up for you at night.

Bryan Cruikshank owns Dallas-based Hometronics. They're a company that can help you automate almost anything in your home. 

"You go to bed and who want to make sure the whole house is secured and the doors are shut, the garage door is shut from one button on your phone. You can do all this," says Cruikshank.

From making that TV over your fireplace easier to see to getting the lighting just right by the time of the day. 

"From one place, whether it's an iPad or iPhone or a wall station you can control the whole home."

Some of this stuff can cost as much as a small home; tens of thousands of dollars. But you can find automated door locks, camera doorbells and thermostats for about a hundred bucks each. 

Some lightbulbs even come WiFi-enabled so Siri can turn them on or off for you. After you buy the control unit, the bulbs are pretty cheap - only about $20 a piece, so one or two won't set you back too far.

Since it's all run off the internet and WiFi, you can slowly add to your automation to make it as simple or complex as you want.

There are many companies out there who will sell you systems to add cameras and automated lights to your home that you can control from your smart phone. But you can also put together the same systems on your own and save significant cash and avoid long, costly contracts. You can spend as little as $100 on this and as much as a million.

So, you have to ask yourself how much this matters to you.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Fourth of July Sales Worth Checking Out]]>Tue, 27 Jun 2017 06:48:42 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Outsmart_Your_Smart_Grill.jpg

For many people, the Fourth of July holiday means a day off work, spending time with family, eating lots of barbecue and taking advantage of great sales in stores and online.

BestBuy.comis offering up to 40 percent off on select appliances. For example, you can save $220 on a Whirlpool stove-top oven (now $499.00) and $600 off on a Samsung French door refrigerator (now $1,049.00). This offer includes free delivery on appliances for $399 and up. The sale ends July 12.

If you still need a grill for your Independence Day barbecue, Lowe’s is offering up to 20 percent off select grills and smokers and up to 25 percent off patio furniture. This sale is available in-stores and online. But if you want to take advantage of the deal, you have to move fast; the deal ends Wednesday while supplies lasts.

Visionworks is offering 50 percent off a complete pair of eyeglasses or prescription sunglasses this week. Brands like Bebe, Anne Klein, Kate Spade and Armani Exchange are included in this eye wear deal. The promotion is happening in-stores and online. It ends Saturday, July 1.

Home Depot’s Red, White and Blue sale includes up to 40 percent off appliances. The offer is available in-stores and online, no coupon necessary.

Plus if you buy two appliances, you get an extra $50 off: the more you buy, the more you save. The deal comes with free shipping and ends July 12.

Plano-based JCPenny is offering 65 percent off when you spend $100 or more, and 50 percent off when you spend $40 or more. This deal includes dozens of regular priced items and is only available online with the promo code “22buynow.” The deal ends Wednesday, July 5.

The Disney Stores' Twice Upon a Year Sale offers up to 60 percent off toys, sleepwear, tees and tops and home decor. The deal is available in stores and online, no coupon necessary. This sale ends July 3.

Mattress Firm is offering up to $400 off Beautyrest Black Hybrid Plus sets, Hampton & Rhodes queen sets starting at $179.99, $275 off Serta memory foam queen mattresses, and up to $300 credit for any pillow, protector or frame when you purchase select mattress sets. Also, Serta iComfort TempTouch are available for $37 per month, 36 months at 0 percent APR. Check their website for other deals posted daily.

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<![CDATA[Bogus Breast Cancer Charity Shut Down, Must Pay $350K]]>Mon, 26 Jun 2017 06:44:32 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/breast-cancer-charity-responds.jpg

Patsy Calhoun has always been a giving person. When it comes to the fight against breast cancer, the battle is a bit more personal.

“I have friends and I’ve had family that’s had breast cancer,” she explained.

When the Crowley woman got a letter from the Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation, she said giving was a no-brainer.

She mailed the foundation a check for $27 and included a note saying that it was all she could afford.

The following month she received another letter asking for more.

She thought it was odd and decided to check her bank statement to make sure they received the first check.

“It showed that the check had been cashed, but there was no name as to who got the $27," Calhoun said. "No one endorsed it. There was no name shown on the account, just an account number and routing number."

"That's when I got skeptical," she said.

And for good reason.

According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation is a big "sham."

Investigators found that more than 90 percent of the money donated was funneled to Mark Gelvan, its outside fundraiser, as well as Gelvan's other companies and business associates.

Less than 4 percent of the money raised by the foundation went to medical care.

"There are few things more galling than pretending to help cancer patients, when you're really just lining your own pockets," said Schneiderman. "But that's exactly what those behind the Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation did."

Under a legal settlement, the foundation will cease operations nationwide and pay $350,000 to "legitimate" breast cancer organizations.

Dr. Yulius Poplyansky, the president and founder of BCSF, publicly apologized to donors and breast cancer survivors, saying in part: "I now understand that I had no idea what was going on in my own foundation and that my desire to help people was taken advantage of by people that just wanted to make money off this very serious cause."

Mark Gelvan has not returned our calls.

It's a lesson learned for Patsy Calhoun, who won't stop giving, but will be more cautious when donating.

“Because there's so much scamming going on nowadays,” she said.

To protect you from these types of charity schemes, here are Samantha Chatman’s Solutions:

• Get the exact name of the organization and do research by searching the name of the organization online.
• Warning: Some fake charities will use names that are similar to legitimate organizations in an effort to trick donors.
• Call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. The organization’s development staff should be able to help you.
• You can also contact the National Association of State Charity Officials. This association oversees charitable organizations and charitable solicitation in the United States.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Here's Where Kids Can Eat Free Around North Texas]]>Fri, 23 Jun 2017 07:22:24 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/TLMD-nachos-con-queso-shutterstock_643982173.jpg

There are a number of "kids eat free" deals in North Texas, but these are the summer promotions that stood out:

Every Monday and Tuesday, kids eat free at Christina’s Mexican Restaurant in Flower Mound. The promotion includes two free kids meals for every paid adult. The kids menu includes enchiladas, cheese quesadillas, hamburgers, hot dogs and nachos.

Also on Tuesdays, Sonic is offering half-priced cheeseburgers for the entire family. Sonic says this is a fun way to invite guests to come in and celebrate its classic burger. The promotion is from 5 p.m. to close, and it's happening at all sonic locations.

McAlister’s Deli is offering 99 cent kids meals for children 12 and under. This promotion is every day, all day. All North Texas locations are participating.

Every weekend, kids eat free at Steak and Shake for every $9 spent. The offer is valid for kids 12 and under at all Steak and Shake locations. The kids menu includes chocolate chip pancakes, mac and cheese, a steak burger and several different milkshakes.

On Sundays, Dickey's Barbecue Pit is offering one free kids meal with the purchase of an adult meal. The promotion is good for kids 12 and under. It's happening at all Dickey's locations. No coupon is necessary.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Defective Shingles, Warranty Denied: Lawsuit]]>Mon, 19 Jun 2017 06:59:49 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/shingles-generic.jpg

Pamela Tucker's Fort Worth home looks normal, but in January, she learned of a major problem that she just couldn't see.

"I had a neighbor taking down Christmas lights and he knocked on my front door and said, 'Pam, do you know your roof is coming apart?'" Tucker explained.

Tucker brought in a roofer to take photos of the shingles.

“He told me he hadn't seen anything like this,” she said. “They’re cracking. They're splitting. They're coming apart on the end.”

She said the roof is just under 10 years old. Tucker hired a roofer who picked out shingles from TAMKO, a building products company.

“They manufacture shingles, which carry a 50 year warranty,” she said. “That's why I bought it, because it was going to last for a long time.”

But according to the roofer, these shingles were no good. He told her to give TAMKO a call.

“They told me they would send me the forms to fill out and then to return the form along with two of the shingles that were taken off of my roof,” Tucker said.

A representative eventually came out to examine the shingles.

She said the TAMKO employee agreed this was not normal for a roof that had been on a house for less than 10 years.

But despite his observation, TAMKO denied her claim, saying the warranty covers manufacturing defects "directly resulting in leaks."

“They are telling me if your roof doesn't leak we're not going to do a darn thing about it,” Tucker explained. “We don't care if it splits. We don't care if it cracks."

According to TAMKO, "shingles, like most things, will not last forever and undergo a gradual, natural aging process."

TAMKO also sent her a brochure entitled “How to Read Your Roof.”

Tucker said a representative told her all of this information was printed on the shingles packaging.

“It is absolutely disgusting,” she said. “You sold me a product. You warrantied that product to me for 50 years…I'm angry!”

The NBC 5 Responds team learned that she's not the only one angry with TAMKO.

Consumers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois and Kentucky have filed class action lawsuits against the company, claiming TAMKO’s shingles are "plagued by design and/or manufacturing flaws that result in the shingles becoming brittle, cracking, curling...yet defendant continues to sell the shingles to the public and continues to make false representations and warranties despite the fact that the shingles are defective and will prematurely fail."

TAMKO moved to dismiss the claims in the complaint filed in California, saying "TAMKO denies knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth or falsity of each and every allegation contained in the complaint."

The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit are seeking damages, attorney fees and other relief "as a result of TAMKO’s negligence."

But Tucker says she doesn't want a dime.

“The only thing I want is a roof. Honor that warranty!”

TAMKO tells NBC 5 Responds their warranty is printed on their products packaging and it can also be found online.

But they've decided to review Ms. Tucker's claim and should know something in about a week.

Let this be a reminder to all consumers:

• When your product is under warranty, always read the fine print.
• Research every company you do business with before you hand over any money.
• You're advised to get your roof inspected every three to five years.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Privacy Concerns Over DNA Tests That Help Discover Roots]]>Fri, 16 Jun 2017 22:59:50 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ancestry+dna.jpg

For generations, cross-referencing tombstones at the cemetery and vital records was required to unlock your lineage.

But now, you can easily uncover some of the mystery of your family tree with DNA.

Consumers like Larry Guernsey are giving the service as gifts.

"I thought it would be a good Christmas present," Guernsey said.

The $99 DNA test uses a saliva sample to trace family history.

Here's how one company that provides the service, Ancestry, says it works:

"A simple test can reveal an estimate of your ethnic mix… like if you're Irish or Scandinavian, or both."

For Guernsey his curiosity twisted to suspicion once he read the fine print. To proceed, he'd have to give ancestry a "perpetual, royalty-free worldwide transferable license" to use his DNA.

"That entire phrase: 'perpetual royalty-free worldwide transferable,' it sounds like they have left it open to do anything they want with it," Guernsey said.

He was concerned the "transferable license" could put his family's DNA in the hands of an insurance company that could later deny coverage.

"That's not a crazy worry," said Stanford University law professor Hank Greely.

Greely teaches and writes books about the intersection of bio-tech and the law. Greely says medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies routinely need DNA data to develop new products, and companies that have big DNA databases, like Ancestry, sell it to them.

"Some of them get a fair amount of their revenue by selling the analysis of your DNA," Greely said.

NBC 5 Responds asked Ancestry for an interview, but it declined.

In a statement the company said:

"The decisions we make are guided by the basic belief that our customers' data belongs to them."

They went on to say, "We provide every customer options to choose how we may use their DNA data when they sign up .. .We will not share DNA data with third party marketers, employers or insurance companies."

Ancestry's website currently tells users they have a choice to later "delete your DNA test results" or "destroy your physical DNA saliva sample."

Ancestry also says it stores your "DNA sample without your name."

Those statements are posted to its privacy page.

However, they're not in the contract you sign.

"If it bothers you, if it offends, if you're worried about what might be in there, then you shouldn't sign this contract," Greeley said.

Guernsey didn't, and he canceled his order.

So now, the steps to tracing the Guernsey family tree might include an old-fashioned graveyard walk.

Greely noted that DNA tests for genealogy are fairly cheap, perhaps, for a reason – the fact that the data is really being sold again down the line.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon's Acquisition of Whole Foods to Impact North Texas]]>Fri, 16 Jun 2017 19:50:35 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Amazon_Buys_Whole_Foods_2017_06_16_16_18_14.jpg

Online retail giant Amazon announced plans Friday to buy Austin-based grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.

Both companies have a significant presence in Texas, making the Lone Star State a good place to test synergy, according to one marketing expert.

"I think we will be a bell-weather for what will happen around the country," said Ed Fox, marketing professor at the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business.

"However they're going to use Whole Foods in their portfolio, you're going to see it here in Dallas," Cox said.

Shopper Earlene Garvey had a carload of groceries Friday from Whole Foods but said nothing is easier than having groceries delivered from Amazon's service AmazonFresh.

"I don't have to leave the house and they pick the produce very well," Garvey said.

Combining the two companies will give Whole Foods not just a cash infusion but access to Amazon's massive distribution system.

Whole Foods and Amazon both have significant warehouses in Texas.

Business owner Igor Motkin is one person not happy about the merger.

"They (Amazon) always try to offer the best price, which is good for the customer, but not good for the brand," Motkin said.

He sells hunting gear online and says Amazon pushes businesses to slash prices, so he's not making enough money to grow his company.

"If you can't make a good margin you can't reinvest to make a better product," Motkin said.

Amazon's philosophy has been hard on many of its retail competitors, who have closed their doors in part because of online competition.

Now Amazon will take on grocers like Wal-Mart and Kroger.

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<![CDATA[Things to Do With Dad This Weekend]]>Fri, 16 Jun 2017 07:05:34 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/fishing+generic.jpg

For the dads that love to go fishing, Bass Pro in Grapevine is hosting its "Catch and Release Pond" event.

This is a great opportunity for dads to show their kids how to hook bait, tie knots and reel in a fish.

This free event is happening on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

Also in Grapevine is the Legoland Discovery Center. Dads get in free on Father's Day with the purchase of a kid's ticket ($15.95).

This offer is only available at the door from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

It’s going to be a scorcher this weekend, so if you need to cool off, head over to Arlington.

Dads will get in free at all Arlington city pools with a paid child's admission ($2-$8.50).

If your dad is into aviation, consider taking him to the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas.

It has more than 30 aircraft and space vehicles, many of which were built here in North Texas.

All fathers are free on Sunday with at least one paid admission ($10 for adults) or membership. Doors open at 1 p.m. and close at 5 p.m.

You can also meet your dad at Strikz in Frisco!

The entertainment center is offering dads a free game of bowling and laser tag with a paid child or adult ($6-$7).

It's happening on Father's Day from 9 a.m. to midnight!

Need more Father's Day ideas? Click here.

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<![CDATA[Chrysler Recalls Nearly 297K Vehicles Over Air Bags]]>Thu, 15 Jun 2017 08:42:46 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP_16180463656201.jpg

Fiat Chrysler is recalling nearly 297,000 vehicles for a wiring issue.

According to Reuters, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced it is recalling 297,000 older minivans because of a wiring problem that can lead to an inadvertent air bag deployment.

This recall affects the 2011-2012 Dodge Grand Caravan minivans. The automaker says problem has been linked to 13 minor injuries, according to the report.

The recall includes 209,000 vehicles in the United States and nearly 88,000 vehicles in Canada.

Fiat Chrysler said the recall will begin in late July. Dealers will replace the wiring if needed and add protective covering.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Apps to Help You Beat the Heat]]>Wed, 14 Jun 2017 18:01:45 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/hot+sun2.jpg

Summer is not officially here, but the heat index sure makes it feel like it is. That means time to take the proper precautions when it comes to the heat, now there are some apps that can help you beat the heat and stay safe this summer.

The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool is a must-have for anyone taking part in outdoor activities this summer, especially working. It provides a visual indicator of the current heat index and associated risk levels specific to where you are. It includes info on how to avoid heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. The app is free for iOS and Android.

The SunZapp app was developed by scientists with funding provided by the National Cancer Institute. It gives real-time tips to protect you from the sun based on your location. It even includes a timer to tell you when you should probably head for the shade. The app is free for iOS and Android.

The Waterlogged app makes sure you stay hydrated. The app tracks your water intake with minimal effort. Tracking is as easy as tapping a button. You can also set Waterlogged to send reminders of when it's time to drink water. The app is free for iOS and Android, with in-app purchases for premium features.

OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool for iOS for Android

SunZapp for iOS for Android

Waterlogged for iOS for Android



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Nail Salon Red Flags: What to Look For]]>Wed, 14 Jun 2017 14:45:33 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/nail-salon-clean.jpg

If you're one of the thousands of men and women who visit salons in North Texas every day, you likely know there are plenty of places to choose from. But what should you look for when you walk through the doors?

Susan Stanford, an inspector with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, travels across the state making sure cosmetology businesses adhere to state laws. She shared a few tips with NBC 5 Responds about what customers should watch out for.

The first thing you should do when you walk through the door is look for the salon's license, which should be posted in plain site.  Typically, they can be found near the front desk.

“Every salon in Texas should have a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation license," Stanford said. "They can look for the last inspection report, and by looking at that report, they can see if the salon received any violations.”

Stanford recommends doing a walk-through of the entire salon, looking for things like overflowing trash, dirty towels on the floor or furniture in disrepair. If the salon isn't clean or maintained, it's probably not a place you'll want to stay.

“I wouldn't want that type of thing to be in my home. So I don't want it in a salon that I'm having services performed in,” Stanford said.

Also, look closely at the individual pedicure and manicure stations. They should be tidy with no left over nails, spilled polish or filing dust.

“The different implements that are used should be clean and sterilized for just you. The foot spa bowl cleaned after the consumer that's before you. It's supposed to be cleaned between every user,” Stanford explained.

Salons that aren't licensed or up to code could face fines of several thousands of dollars or even be shut down.

Inspections are challenging and, with only 29 inspectors to cover the entire state, the job isn't easy.

“There are some salon owners that have become aggressive with our inspectors -- that in itself is a violation," Stanford said. “It's a team effort to keep people healthy when they're getting a manicure or pedicure."

Stanford said as long as the population of Texas continues to grow, the number of cosmetology salons will also continue to climb.

There are some things you can do before you even set foot in a salon:

Sam's Solutions

• You can visit TDLR’s website to find the most common violations to look out for.
• You should also check online reviews when selecting a new salon.
• And if you have any cuts, an infection or a rash, it's advised that you pass on the salon until you're fully healed to keep everyone safe.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Find Deals for Dads Ahead of Father's Day 2017]]>Tue, 13 Jun 2017 07:49:07 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/steak_generic.jpg

Americans are expected to spend more than ever on gifts this year for Father's Day.

Total spending is expected to reach $15.5 billion, a sign of strong consumer confidence heading into the second half of the year, but there are ways you can save, too. 

Dinner

Cool River Café in Las Colinas will feed Dad a free steak worth up to $40 on Father's Day. A purchase of equal or greater value is required. Guests are encouraged to call ahead and make a reservation. 

Medieval Times is also footing the bill for Father's Day. Admission for Dad is free and includes a two-hour live tournament show and a four-course medieval meal. A purchase of another full-priced adult meal is necessary. Guests can use promo code DAD17 when purchasing tickets. 

Spaghetti Warehouses in Arlington and Dallas are celebrating with free lasagna or any original spaghetti entree for free. The offer is only valid for dine-in customers. 

Gifts

If Dad likes (or wants) to be active the Fitbit Blaze (now $145.99) and the Fitbit Surge Devices (now $199.95) are $50 off at Fitbit.com. The deal includes free shipping. 

Home Depot is offering the DeWalt 18-volt cordless toolkit for $100 off (now $199). This product also includes free shipping or you can select a store online and pick it up yourself.

The Amazon Echo is $40 off (now $139.99) and includes free standard shipping. But if you want it in time for Father's Day, you may want to consider upgrading the shipping for a fee. 

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<![CDATA[Tyson Recalls 2.4M Pounds of Chicken Due to Allergy Risk]]>Mon, 12 Jun 2017 10:21:00 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Tyson-Foods-generic.jpg

Tyson Foods Inc. is recalling more than 2.4 million pounds of ready-to-eat breaded chicken products because the bread crumbs may contain milk, a potential allergen not included on the label.

The Arkansas-based company said there have been no confirmed cases of illnesses related to the recall.

Affected frozen chicken products were packaged between Aug. 17, 2016, through Jan. 14, 2017, and sold nationwide.

Below is a list of affected products:

• 31.86-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, WHOLE GRAIN STRIP-SHAPED CHICKEN PATTIE FRITTERS-CN” with case code 003859-0928 and production dates of 09/09/2016, 10/05/2016, 10/14/2016, 10/15/2016, 11/09/2016, 12/10/2016, 12/30/2016 and 01/14/2017.
• 31.05-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, WHOLE GRAIN CHICKEN PATTIE FRITTERS-CN” with case code 003857-0928 and production dates of 11/12/2016.
• 30.6-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, WHOLE GRAIN BREADED CHICKEN PATTIES-CN” with case code 016477-0928 and production dates of 09/10/2016, 09/16/2016, 09/23/2016, 09/30/2016 and 10/06/2016.
• 30.6-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, WHOLE GRAIN CHUNK-SHAPED BREADED CHICKEN PATTIES-CN” with case code 016478-0928 and production dates of 09/16/2016, 09/28/2016 and 10/06/2016.
• 20.0-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, BREADED CHICKEN PATTIES-CN” with case code 005778-0928 and production dates of 09/14/2016, 09/19/2016 and 10/03/2016.32.81-lb. bulk cases of “Tyson FULLY COOKED, WHOLE GRAIN GOLDEN CRISPY CHICKEN CHUNK FRITTERS-CN CHUNK-SHAPED CHICKEN PATTIE FRITTERS” with case code 070364-0928, packaging and production date of 08/17/2016.
• 20-lb bulk cases of “SPARE TIME, Fully Cooked Breaded Chicken Patties” with case code 005778-0861 and production date of 10/03/2016.
• 20-lb bulk cases of “SPARE TIME, Fully Cooked Chicken Pattie Fritters” with case code 016477-0861 and production date of 09/16/2016 and 10/06/2016.

Schools have purchased the products through Tyson's commercial partners, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Affected products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

The recall was limited to foodservice customers, and affected products are not available for purchase in retail stores, according to the news release.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Desperate to Boost Credit Score, Arlington Man Loses Thousands]]>Mon, 12 Jun 2017 06:46:18 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/credit-coach-responds.jpg

An Arlington man desperate to boost his credit score says he lost thousands of dollars after hiring a company to help.

Runako Jinks has always wanted to open his own business, but his credit isn't anywhere near where it needed to be.

He started researching easy ways to get his score up, and a friend referred him to Lovell Jones, the owner of Credit Coach USA.

“My homeboy said he was cool," Jinks said. "He said it worked for him. Said it was totally worth the money."

Lovell Jones' company vows to drastically improve credit through a method called "credit piggybacking." Financial experts say it's legal, but risky.

Here's how it's supposed to work: Customers pay to be added to someone's credit card account. It has to be someone in great financial standing.

The new user piggybacks off their great credit and the primary users gets paid by Credit Coach USA: a win-win for both parties.

“When you think about it, it's pretty genius," Jinks said. "So I was like yeah, I'll do it."

Jinks wired the owner of Credit Coach USA $2,800. He said he was told his score would get to 800, but he'd have to wait a couple months before he'd see a change.

“My fiancé was like, 'I don't know,'” Jinks said.

But he thought it was worth it. So, he waited.

“Months would pass and he said give me two months and you'll definitely see some results,” said Jinks. “Time kept passing so I called him up and I was like, 'man what's going on'? He said, 'aw baby. A lot of things have happened.'"

The owner said their Citi, Capital One and Discover Cards were shut down. This created a back log of clients that they had to switch to different cards and a waiting period for cards to become available.

“This is well worth it, I’m going to wait,” said Jinks.

But a year went by and his credit wasn't going up. So, he asked Jones for a refund. Jones said, "I understand. I'm on it."

But the next month, no refund.

“Eventually, it came to a point where he blocked me on Facebook. Hurt my feelings,” Jinks explained.

That's when Jinks decided to look into Lovell Jones and Credit Coach USA. He found other complaints online from people with similar stories. We looked into the company and found that its website has been taken down. All numbers associated with Credit Coach USA have been disconnected.

The NBC 5 Responds team sent several emails to Lovell Jones and haven't gotten a response.

We brought in certified financial planner Katie Brewer to look into Credit Coach USA and the Credit Piggybacking method.

She said the practice has worked for people who want to help a relative boost or establish credit, but says doing this with a stranger is incredibly risky for both parties.

“You're kind of trusting that this person that has a history of not having on time payments has changed or is not going to show the past history of what they have done,” she said.  

On the flip side, she said the primary user could also kick you off the account altogether without warning.

They're risks Jinks says he hadn't thought of until he was out of thousands of dollars.

“He sold me this dream and he didn't come through,” he said.

It's been nearly two years since Jinks signed up for Credit Coach USA. He said his credit has recently improved and he attributes that to paying his bills on-time and signing up for auto-pay.

As for this "Credit Piggybacking" method, keep this in mind:

• To do it, you'd have to give the authorized user personal info like your social security number in order to add you to their account.  
• If it's a stranger, that's a big no-no.
• If a company is telling you to apply for credit using a "CPN" or a "credit profile number," that's a big red flag.
• The FTC says companies will use this to advertise a new credit identity, and it's a big scam. In some cases, businesses may have even stolen social security numbers to make money, which is considered identity theft.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Trader Joe's Recalls Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream]]>Mon, 12 Jun 2017 08:35:12 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/trader-joes-green-tea.jpg

Trader Joe's is recalling all of its Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream because the products may contain small pieces of metal.

The California-based company said on Saturday that all potentially affected products have been removed from store shelves.

Anyone who's purchased the ice cream shouldn't eat it. You can return it to any Trader Joe's for a full refund.

No one has gotten sick and no injuries have been reported, the grocery chain said.

Trader Joe's customer service can be reached at 626-599-3817 or through email.



Photo Credit: Trader Joe's]]>
<![CDATA[Expert Says Spyware Attacks Appear to Be Targeting Seniors]]>Fri, 09 Jun 2017 23:06:21 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Donna+Zimmerman.jpg

A Fort Worth woman says she was trying to look up customer service for her phone company when her computer was locked by hackers.

Donna Zimmerman, 74, loves technology and using her computer.

"It's my friend," she said, laughing.

Imagine her surprise when that friend appeared held for ransom.

"All of a sudden a big red screen, and squealing, and a notice across the top that said 'Microsoft security alert, your screen is locked. Call this number immediately,'" Zimmerman said.

What started as a simple Google search for the customer service number at her phone company ended with a call to the 800-number on that bright red screen telling her she had big problems.

"They had complete control of my computer," she said. "I said, 'So you want money, right?' And he said, 'Yes.' I said, 'Give me my computer back right now.'"

Zimmerman knew it was a scam, so she hung up the phone after giving the person on the other end a choice word or two. She ended up shutting down her computer and restarting it, and she hasn't had any trouble since then.

Still, she likely has spyware on her computer. It's a simple cookie that gets downloaded on your computer and pops back up from time to time.

Even though her computer is working fine now, the cookie might still be there

NBC 5 Responds is helping Zimmerman get a good anti-virus software that can usually find and clean it out.

A Dallas cybersecurity expert says lately spyware has been making a comeback on sites often visited by senior citizens.

Remember your computer manufacturer will never hijack your computer and charge money to get it back.

Hackers do.

Anti-virus software helps protect you from spyware, but there's another more complicated virus out there that does the same thing. It's called ransomware, and it's much harder to eliminate.

Microsoft has some tips to help you get rid of it here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Sam's Weekend Deals for Kids: June 9]]>Fri, 09 Jun 2017 06:57:04 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/movie+theater+generic+RESIZED.jpg

Cinemark has kicked off its "Summer Movie Clubhouse" program. It's a 10-week promotion where kids and parents can see a movie for just a dollar per person and ten movies for $5.

The offer includes recently released G and PG films for kids.

If you'd like to sign up, we have a list of participating theaters here.

For the older kids, the Shops at Park Lane in Dallas is hosting "Movies at the Park" every Friday in June.

Tonight, they'll be showing Legally Blonde at 8:30 p.m. It's free for kids and parents.

You're asked to bring a blanket or lawn chair, and come a little early to get a good spot. Keep in mind, this movie is rated PG-13.

Next week, they'll be showing Furious 7, which is also rated PG-13.

But if your kid is less into movies and more into food, the 2017 Taste of Dallas kicks off this Saturday.

The 2-day event is happening at Fair Park and kids 10 years old and under get in free!

Adults can get discounted general admission tickets for just $12 at Albertsons, Tom Thumb and Walgreens stores.

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<![CDATA[Joes Crab Shack Parent Company Files for Bankruptcy]]>Wed, 07 Jun 2017 17:43:58 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/joes+crab+shack1.jpg

The parent company of Joe's Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern & Tap has filed for bankruptcy. The company says the two restaurant chains are now up for sale, and will remain open as the company switches owners.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Home Improvement Products on Sale in June]]>Tue, 06 Jun 2017 07:05:13 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/roof+shingles+generic.jpg

According to Consumer Reports, there are a number of home products that are selling at great prices this month.

If you're on the fence about upgrading you windows, experts says new windows can really enhance your home's curb appeal. They can also make your home quieter and less drafty. Customers can save $325 on window purchases of $1,500 or more at Sears and 15 percent off custom windows at Lowe's through Tuesday.

You can also find deals on wireless speakers. Brands like Bose, Phillips and Sony are going for great prices this time of year. Consumer Reports has a list of its top rated speakers and prices.

Experts say June is also a good time to purchase roof, siding and decking materials. These items are for some of the bigger projects that usually require hiring labor, but Consumer Reports says buying the materials in now can help you save money and stretch your budget a bit.

But remember, once you've purchased those discounted materials, be sure to do your homework when it's time to hire a contractor.

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<![CDATA[Get the Most for Your Money When Remodeling]]>Mon, 05 Jun 2017 17:35:33 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/160*120/Remodeling_448x336.jpg

Rather than moving, the latest trend is remodeling. But how can you make sure you are getting a good investment for your hard earned money?]]>
<![CDATA[Shower Troubles: McKinney Woman Demands Refund for Work]]>Mon, 05 Jun 2017 06:54:52 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/shower-contractor-responds.jpg

Mold got the best of Lakersha Jones' shower and she wasn't wasting any time to get it out.

She hired someone to strip it down, and that person referred her to Horta Bros. Contractors to remodel it.

Jones found the company’s website and liked what she saw, specifically the $2 million general liability insurance and the contractor's license number.

She was sold.

"He told me it was going to take two weeks! So I'm like great, two weeks," said Jones.

Jones said the owner, Ulises Horta, said the project would cost $6,500. But he needed some of the money up front and they needed to sign the contract. 

He drafted one up on notebook paper and they both signed.

Jones said she paid Horta in three installments and each time she paid, the contractor worked.

"That's when he asked for an additional $500 cause he said he did $500 worth of work," Jones said. "And I'm like, 'okay I'll give you $500 more but that's it.' After that, it was hard to get him back."

She said on several occasions he was a no show and blamed his absence on other projects.

Weeks went by and despite threatening to sue him, she said he wasn’t showing up. Then, she asked for a refund.

He said that he did $4,500 of work and we should call it even.

Jones disagreed.

"This is $4,500 of nothing."

Jones said she was determined to find out if Horta’s company was even legitimate. She spent hours online trying to cross reference his contractor license number, but nothing came up.

So she confronted him about it. Hours later, his website was taken down, according to Jones.

That’s when she got NBC 5 Responds involved.

Over the phone, Horta admitted he shouldn't have told Jones it would take two weeks because he did have another project. But a refund is out of the question.

Horta told us:

"She paid for the services. The service is rendered. Refund? For what... We were on the next phase for tiling and that's when she decided to fire us."

When NBC 5 Responds asked about the contractor license number listed on his website, he said he didnt design the website so he couldn't speak on it.

He said he did the work as an individual, and that his company wasn't involved so the license number shouldn't be of our concern.

"I am furious about this situation," said Jones. 

She has since hired someone else to finish the job after learning an important lesson.

"You should never, ever give a down payment. Once the work is done, then pay the person," said Jones. 

Here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions: 

  • Contact the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration to verify contractor license numbers. We looked up Horta’s alleged number and nothing came up.
  • You can also check with the Texas Secretary of State. It only costs $1 and it could potentially save you a lot in the long run.
  • You’ve gotta do your research. Use the internet to your advantage. Check reviews online.
  • You shouldn't hand over your deposit until you have proof that your materials for the project have been purchased.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Refund Delayed for Man Charged for 'Damage' on Rental Car]]>Fri, 02 Jun 2017 22:53:20 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rental+car+smartphone.jpg

Summer travel plans are getting closer. If you're planning on renting a car, you may not know how to protect yourself from having to pay for damage to the rental, especially damage you may not have caused.

On a recent trip to Colorado, Chuck Hampton recently rented a car, hit the slopes, and a few days later headed back to the Montrose Regional Airport. But he was surprised when he tried to return his rental car.

"There was no attendant where you return the car. There was no paved parking lot. You had to park it out in a field," Hampton said.

He thought it was odd, and something told him to get out his smartphone.

"I went around the car, taking photographs with my cellphone, just so I would have that evidence if needed that the car was in good condition," he said.

He returned the keys to the counter and boarded his flight back to Dallas-Fort Worth.

"When I got home to Dallas, there was a voicemail on my phone from the manager of the Montrose Airport Alamo Rent-a-Car saying, 'You returned this car with a cracked windshield, and we're going to have to charge you for that,'" Hampton said.

He called and asked to get a photo of the crack but was told the windshield was already being replaced and his credit card was charged $500.

Hampton insisted it had to be a mistake and he had photos to prove it. He was told to call Alamo's claims office. He did, and without even looking at his photos they promised a refund, saying he shouldn't have been charged in the first place. But weeks went by, and he never got the money back.

"I felt like I had done everything I could do, and that's when I called NBC 5," Hampton said.

We called Alamo and explained the situation.

A spokeswoman said, "We apologize for the miscommunication in getting the refund processed."

Soon after, Hampton received a call.

"I get a call from someone at the parent company's office apologizing profusely, saying he was taking care of the issue," Hampton said.

And Alamo did. He was issued a refund for the full amount.

Here's what you should know when renting a car:

  • Take pictures of the car with your cellphone, just like Hampton did. It could help.
  • Before you pick up your car ask about the return procedures with your specific rental car company.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Your Rental Car May Be Keeping Your Personal Information]]>Fri, 02 Jun 2017 17:48:06 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Rental_Car_Syncing_2017_06_02_16_50_04.jpg

Chances are your car has hands-free technology that lets you sync your phone to your car. It's the safe way to drive and stay connected, but it may put your privacy at risk.

Many car makers now offer the syncing technology. It lets your GPS on your phone be mirrored onto the car's digital screen. It's the same with text messages and phone contact lists.

Cybersecurity expert Dr. Murray Jennex says it can be an issue when the car isn't one you actually own.

"Any information on your phone – texts, contact lists and e-mails – can be stored and used by cybercriminals," Jennex said.

Jennex says files from your phone are saved and are able to be retrieved by hackers.

"That data is powerful. It is used to determine who you are," Jennex said.

To protect yourself, go into the Bluetooth settings on the car and erase all the user data. It's a quick and easy step you can take when returning the car to help keep your data safe.

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<![CDATA[Southlake Company Helps Plano Woman After Roofer Goes MIA]]>Fri, 02 Jun 2017 07:24:25 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-roof-damage.jpg

Ramona Adams' story definitely caught the attention of our viewers.

Back in October she hired a roofer, put down a deposit...but the roofer never returned.

We heard from a handful of companies wanting to help make things right.

The NBC 5 Responds team connected them with Adams. A few weeks later, a Southlake company was at her home to take care of the job.

"I’ve had a lot of help, I’ve been blessed, so I’m just trying to pass it on to hardworking people," said Frank Pacheco, owner of Integro Construction.

As for Adams, she's thankful for the help and would like her story to be a warning for others.

"I’m just hoping that other people will learn from my experience and realize that you really have to do your homework," said Adams. 

These are Samantha Chatman's Solutions: 

  • You should always be mindful of paying upfront. If the contractor insists, see if you can pay with a credit card.
  • Always research the company. Do a Google search, check online reviews, ask folks in your community if they've ever heard of them.
  • Make sure company has insurance before hiring. Any legitimate business owner should have it.




Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Sam's Weekend Deals June 2-4]]>Fri, 02 Jun 2017 07:35:36 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/barnes-noble-legacy-west.jpg

Kids Bowl Free

The Kids Bowl Free program provides a safe and fun way to keep the kids active this summer.

And the best part about it...It's free!

Participating bowling centers include USA Bowl in Dallas, also Cityview Lanes & Cowtown Bowling Palace in Fort Worth.

They're offering two free games of bowling, per child, every day this summer.

That could be more than $500 of free bowling! So take advantage of that this weekend.

Legacy West Opening

Also this weekend, the Legacy West Shopping Center in Plano will open its doors for its grand opening!

Many Legacy West restaurants will offer free food and drink tastings throughout the weekend.

Several stores in the center like Coach and Tommy Bahama will also offer exclusive discounts and promotions this weekend, so bring the whole family!

The Children's Place

And if you want to get a head start on back to school shopping online, The Children's Place is offering up to 70% off clearance items and up to 60 percent off regular priced items plus free shipping.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Problem Solved: Printer Protection Plan Problems]]>Fri, 02 Jun 2017 03:53:28 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/printer+generic.jpg

When you buy something electronic you're often asked to purchase a protection plan in case something goes wrong. One North Texan says her printer stopped working, and she couldn't get the benefits of the plan for months. That's until she contacted NBC 5 Responds.

Karen Lindsey found a deal on a printer. It was normally priced at $79 but she got it for half off, just $39.

Lindsey gladly chipped in the extra $8 for a two-year protection plan with Asurion to refund the full retail cost of the printer, just in case something went wrong.

The printer worked great for about a year, but then printing pages became increasingly difficult.

She filed a claim with the protection company, and they quickly sent her an e-gift card – but it only had $8 on it.

She didn't want the money back for the protection plan, she wanted the full retail value of the printer.

NBC 5 Responds contacted Asurion, and they sent her a $79 check. That's more money than she paid, but plenty of money to purchase a new printer at regular price.

Asurion told us:

"There may have been an error between Asurion and the retailer in the confirmation of the gift card balance. Regardless, the resolution of the amount and the timing were unacceptable and we should have resolved this issue sooner."

Protection plans can be very helpful. Just make sure you're always aware of how long the plan lasts and what it promises to provide.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Grieving Woman Gets a Big Bill for 'Free' Delivery of Casket]]>Thu, 01 Jun 2017 07:10:48 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/casket6.jpg

A California woman says she felt she was overbilled more than a thousand dollars for the casket she bought online while planning her mother’s funeral.

Donnette Waters' mother died in December. She says the feeling is still as raw as if her mother died yesterday.

"She was hardworking, generous, went to church every Sunday," Waters said.

NBC Los Angeles reported she purchased a casket online from casketsite.com, which advertises "free next day nationwide delivery available" on it's website.

You can probably guess where this one's going: a bill for $1,300 for delivery.

"It was absolutely shocking," Waters said. "I thought it was a mistake."

Waters says the company's owner, Todd Bacinich, insisted she'd authorized extra charges for delivery, air tray, second delivery personnel, packaging, removal of packaging, casket key and tax and processing.

But Waters says they told her by phone delivery was free and the document she signed had no clear indication of additional shipping charges.

"I don't want this to happen to anybody else," Waters said. "It shouldn't be going on, it's not right."

Consumer attorney Stu Talley says Waters may have a case, just like some of the other customers who've complained about similar tactics online.

"Charging somebody a shipping charge without disclosing that, I think would fall within that category of something that's false and misleading," Talley said.

Because Waters paid with a debit card, she has no recourse but to sue - and warn others not to buy from any site without checking reviews first.

"This company is really out there to take advantage of people," she said.

Waters disputed the charge on her debit card but her bank denied it.

Let that be a reminder to us all that you should always use a credit card when you shop online because by law they must refund you if you can establish charges were unauthorized. That's not the case if you use a debit card.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Foster Family Wakes Up to Flooded Backyard at New Home]]>Wed, 31 May 2017 17:53:11 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Perkins+yard+flooding.jpg

Many people wish for waterfront property, but you don't close your eyes at night and wake up to it the next day – unless you're the Perkins family in Waxahachie.

Raymond and Anita Perkins bought a new construction home, and then the spring rain storms started.

"When we woke up that morning, I remember my wife saying, 'Oh, my God, you've got to see this,'" Raymond Perkins said.

Their backyard was transformed into something out of a Louisiana swamp.

All the water from the new neighborhood appeared to flow down the street and into their backyard, where it just sat.

The Perkinses contacted the builder and the county trying to keep cool about the situation, and Raymond Perkins said the builder told them it wasn't their responsibility.

Then the couple got word that the flooded backyard was about to impact something much more important.

The couple raised foster children when they lived in Missouri and had applied to be foster parents again, now that they live in Texas closer to family.

"The state came out, that operates foster care," Raymond Perkins said.

He said a social worker told him they couldn't get foster kids here with the flooded backyard.

"This shouldn't have happened," Raymond Perkins said.

NBC 5 Responds made one phone call to the builder, who assured us plans to fix the yard were already in place, saying, "This is a low area. Beyond that point at the rear of the yard, that should have been built up a little higher."

"We are not passing blame, but just need it to be dry so we can repair," the builder said.

They did repair it, and Raymond Perkins calls it "good, solid soil."

Anita Perkins invited NBC 5 to the first barbecue in the new, dry yard. They said they have since been approved to receive foster children and were expecting two brothers shortly.

If you are buying a new construction home, there are many things to keep in mind, including:

Remember to read your contract when you build a new home.

Make sure you have protection for everything from dirt to the dishwasher.

If you run into any problems, you should have written proof in your contract of what the builder must repair.

Hiring a builder with a solid reputation is key.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Chipotle Warns of Data Breach]]>Tue, 30 May 2017 20:31:51 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/chipotle9.jpg

Chipotle customers may want to check their bank statements after hackers hit most of its restaurants in a massive data hack, including dozens in North Texas.

MORE: Check to see if your Chipotle restaurant was affected

It's unclear how many cards or customers were impacted by the breach.

Chipotle has roughly 2,250 stores across the US.

The company says hackers used malware to steal payment data over a span of three weeks, from March 25 to April 18. 

Account numbers and even internal verification codes were stolen. That information can be used to drain bank accounts, and even clone cards.

Chipotle says the malware has been removed, and its systems are safe again.

If you went to the restaurant during those dates: 

  • Monitor your card statements.
  • If you see an unauthorized charge, contact your bank immediately.
  • Even if your bank is able to reverse the charge, you should still request a new card altogether.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[This Summer May Be a Gold Mine for Buying Pre-Owned Cars]]>Tue, 30 May 2017 04:00:24 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/AUGUST+NEW+CAR+SALES.JPG

You don't even have to be in the market for a new car to check out the latest news from car makers.

If you're OK with a car that's a couple years old, this may be the year to buy. Dealers are bracing for an influx of three- to four-year-old cars.

Car sales were down from 2012-2014 as the country fought back from the recession. Many people couldn't get auto loans, so car makers offered low-priced leases to sell cars.

But now the deals are coming back around for pre-owned cars.

Infiniti, for example, offered super low deals on 75 percent of every Q50 sedan that was made in 2014.

Those leases are up and all these cars will be coming back to the dealership for several automakers.

About 3.5 million cars will come off lease this year. The large number means you can expect more deep discounts to help the car lots get rid of them.

So if a sedan is in your future, you may want to look on the used car lot in coming weeks.

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<![CDATA[Words That Can Help Sell Your Home]]>Mon, 29 May 2017 07:09:00 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/homeforsale_generic_1200x675.jpg

"Luxurious," "captivating" and "subway tiles."

Add those words to your listing and you can increase your home's value.

New analysis from Zillow Digs shows certain words in a listing can mean the difference between your home sitting on the market or selling quickly.

The team at Zillow Digs determined barn doors up your home's value by 13 percent, helping it sell 57 days faster.

Listings touting shaker cabinets sell 9 percent above expected and 45 days faster.

Add pendant lights, and they can raise the price of your home by 5 percent, helping it sell 48 days faster.

Another big draw for home-buyers: heated floors.

This amenity will increase the value of your home by 4 percent and help it sell 28 days faster.

To optimize your home's selling features, you should also think about using flattering adjectives in the listing.

Longer descriptions help a home sell for more money.

We all know location and curb appeal matter in real estate, and so do words. That's something to consider if you're having a hard time selling your home.

So what if your home doesn't have any of the features mentioned?

Real estate experts don't recommend you renovate right away, because that money can be saved for the purchase of your new home.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Duped Into Paying Deposit on North Texas Home]]>Fri, 26 May 2017 22:43:28 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mansfield+police+station.jpg

Every single day more than 200 people are moving to Dallas-Fort Worth. That accounts for 6,000 new residents each month.

They're all looking for that perfect place to live, and even though more homes and apartments are being built all over the area, inventory is low. People like Shauna Ziemba are having a hard time finding a place to live.

"My husband and I, when we got to Texas, we were staying with some friends and looking for a rental," Ziemba said.

One home in Mansfield finally popped up on her online search. It was still available, listed for a good price and fit what they were looking for.

"The person says, 'I'm not available to show you to the property, but if you want to drive over I'll give you the code to go and get into the rental,'" Ziemba said.

Ziemba was able to let herself into the home with that code, fell in love with the place, and filled out an application online.

She then wired the money.

"We did an auto transfer from my bank in Massachusetts direct into Chase," Ziemba said.

She paid her deposit – the first three months' rent – wiring it to the landlord. She asked if she was good to move in and never got an answer.

That's when panic soon set in. Ziemba raced back to the bank.

"I met with the manager and said, 'Can you at least look at the account?' He said, 'You've been scammed. This is a fraudulent account,'" Ziemba said.

She called the police in Mansfield who tried to work with the bank to track the money. Ziemba said the bank manager told her she'd get a refund.

"It hadn't been transferred. It was set up to do a transfer to another account in New York, actually. He told me the money was still there," Ziemba said.

But spokespeople for Chase Bank tell NBC 5 Responds it was too late.

"The money had been transferred out of the account first thing in the morning. We hope Ms. Ziemba can work with police to find the thieves," the bank said in a statement.

"It's a lot of money. It changed the dynamics of our whole living situation moving cross country. I get wicked emotional when it comes to this part, because it has affected us – $4,500 is a lot of money just to be stolen," Ziemba said.

Police are still working with the bank to try to track down the money, but that's often difficult to do. When Ziemba realized what went wrong it was too late.

There's several things you should know from her situation:

First, meet with a landlord face to face before you sign a deal on a house. At least know where they live or work and how to get a hold of them. Police are still trying to figure out how this person obtained a lock box code to so Ziemba could go inside that house. But codes are given to contractors and real estate agents and can sometimes can be sold or passed along to a scammer.

Also, if you're doing a wire transfer, the bank is not responsible for knowing that the account is valid. People can open bank accounts online with fake information, receive money and then close the account. Sometimes they never leave a trace of their true identity.

Lastly, having a real estate agent or apartment hunter does help protect you. You don't pay for their services, and it's yet another layer of protection if something were to go wrong.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Apartment Boom Isn't Helping High Rent Prices]]>Fri, 26 May 2017 22:14:52 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dallas+apartment+construction.jpg

The building boom of apartments in Dallas is among the top in the nation.

A study conducted by apartment search website Rent Cafe shows more than 10,000 new apartment homes were built in Uptown and Oak Lawn alone.

More people are moving to Dallas than ever before and that's why rent prices are rising. As fast as new apartment buildings go up, thousands of new renters pop up too.

The extra apartment inventory is doing little to impact pricing.

Chris Nolan works with Smart City Locating.

Smart City helps people find the perfect apartment.

Nolan said young professionals make up a big part of the demand, but there's also a large influx of people already in DFW who are focused on moving to downtown Dallas.

"They don't have a yard to take care of, it's all managed for them," said Nolan. "If a light bulb burns out, they call down to a 24/7 concierge who comes up and fixes it."

Nolan said there are steps you can take to save money.

May through August are the busiest season for moves and new leases.

If your lease expires then, he encourages you to sign a 15-month lease, so that when it expires you're out of the busy season and able to take advantage of signing when prices are not as expensive.

Look at brand new buildings. Often, builders will offer great deals to quickly fill a new apartment building before passing it along to a management company who will typically charge more. Getting in early could save you a significant amount of money.

Also, if your rent is not increasing at significant levels, don't move. You may see a new shiny building, but a good price now could mean high prices later.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[New Report Describes the Safest Cars]]>Thu, 25 May 2017 17:37:29 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/steering+wheel+generic.jpg

Just in time for Memorial Day travel, a new report suggests you might be more likely to survive a car crash if you're driving a certain style of vehicle.]]>
<![CDATA[Richardson Man Battles for Replacement Scooter]]>Thu, 25 May 2017 14:53:12 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/scooter+problems.jpg

A Richardson man battling Parkinson's Disease can't get around without his electric scooter. 

When the brand new device broke down, while under warranty, he still couldn't get it fixed for months.  

Sitting down talking to Tony Romero, you'd have a hard time knowing he was sick at all. But when he stands up, it's clear his legs aren't working properly.

Parkinson's Disease has slowed him down.

"I sit everyday looking at the yard, watching the grass grow as they say," Romero said.

But he was able to get more mobile when his wife bought him a Pride Mobility Scooter.

"We can go to casinos, to malls, we can go where we want to go," said Romero.

That's until one day at the mall when the scooter stopped scooting. It started beeping and then went dead. Romero's wife, Gwynn, had to push the dead scooter to the car with him on it.

The Romero's replaced the batteries, but that didn't do it. Pride sent out a tech who said he'd be back in touch, but the Romero’s say that didn't happen, either.

"I kept asking for manager after manager and 'we'll call you back', but no one called us back," said Romero.

The scooter was under warranty, but they couldn't get help.

Romero says his wife was on the phone with the company every day.

"Not a day would pass that she wasn't talking to them trying to get something done. She was more frustrated everyday."

The issue lasted months. The scooter broke down in December, and she finally called NBC 5 Responds for help this month. 

We got to work and Pride Mobility immediately apologized saying:

"We continue looking into how the unacceptable service issues occurred, and appreciated the opportunity to help resolve the situation."

Soon after, a brand new scooter was delivered to their doorstep.

Now the Romeros are ready to get back on the road to the casino and the mall.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Website Allows Easy Access to Personal Information]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 12:03:13 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/231*120/true+people+search.JPG

A website might be broadcasting your personal information for everyone to see for free.

True People Search is making headlines for making people's personal information easily accessible to anyone with access to the internet.

With just a name, and possibly a few more tidbits of information, you can find out someone's current and past addresses, phone numbers, and even names of relatives or business associates.

One way the the website obtains a person's information is by pulling data from social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

If you want to avoid having your information falling into the wrong hands, make sure to check the privacy policies of each such site to determine how your personal information is being used or make your page private.

The website does allow individuals to remove their own records. They note that removal of public records may not be effective immediately and that they "reserve the right to require verification of identity and reject opt-out requests in our sole discretion."

You can request your information be removed by clicking here.



Photo Credit: truepeoplesearch.com]]>
<![CDATA[Make Money By Renting Out Your Newly Purchased Belongings]]>Fri, 26 May 2017 04:29:24 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/make+money+renting.jpg

If you have your eye on a new car or maybe a pricey new handbag and can't quite afford it, there's an app for that. There are multiple services out there that let you buy items new and make money off of them, if you're willing to share.

Many of the things we want or need sit around for hours on end and aren't used at all. Why not buy that new car or boat, and let someone pay to use it when you're not?

Boat Bound is like an AirBnB for your boat. You list your nice new boat and people pay to use it when you're not. The company says just two rentals a month would pay for all the pricey expenses that come with owning a boat. If you rent it out a little bit more you could help pay the boat off using the money from renters.

It's not just big things that are up for rent.

Style Lend lets you rent out the clothes in your closet. You can send off several outfits, and the company will send them to renters for you. You can get them back when you're ready to wear them again. The company splits the profits with you, but if you have designer clothes you could make hundreds of dollars a week just by sharing.

If your backyard is pretty enough for a wedding, you can rent it out, too, using The Hitch. You're making money and often helping others solve their problems at a fraction of the cost of buying something outright.

If you have a lot of space on your property, you can rent out your land to people to camp on, using GlampingHub.

And if you want to save someone a trip to the post office, you can make money by delivering their packages using CitizenShipper or Roadie.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[More Than 25K Graco Car Seats Recalled]]>Wed, 24 May 2017 17:34:23 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Graco+My+Raide+Recall+Products.jpg

Graco is recalling more than 25,000 car seats because the child restraints failed in crash tests.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, certain models of Graco Children's Products My Ride 65 convertible child restraints failed federal motor vehicle safety standards.

Affected cars seat webbing may tear during a crash, posing a danger to the child, the NHTSA said.

Graco was first notified of a failed test on March 29, 2016, according to NHTSA documents. Graco decided to issue a precautionary recall after another test failure earlier this year, the NHTSA said.

Affected model numbers include 1871689, 1908152, 1813074, 1872691, 1853478, 1877535, 1813015, and 1794334. The seats were made on July 22, 2014 and have a code of 2014/06 on a tag that's on the webbing.

The NHTSA said Graco is working on making free harness webbing replacement kits. Car seat dealers will be notified beginning June 1, and customers who bought the car seats were be issued notices beginning July 17.

Owners may contact Graco customer service at 1-800-345-4109.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov.



Photo Credit: Courtesy Graco]]>
<![CDATA[Scheme Targeting Airbnb Users Prompts New Account Protection]]>Wed, 24 May 2017 07:30:28 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/airbnb-homepage.jpg

Brittany Hall, of Crowley, has been bitten by the travel bug and her next stop was Montreal.

Hall booked her flights and started looking into Airbnb for lodging. Airbnb is a hospitality option that millions of people worldwide have chosen.

“I considered it safe. I considered it cheaper and it always the best option for me,” she explained.

A few clicks later, Hall's trip was set…or so she thought.

“I got an email that said that I booked a trip to L.A. that was the week before I was supposed to be in Montreal. I was thinking, that's weird, I didn't book this trip to L.A.

She then got a few more emails saying her phone number, password and even email had been changed on her account.

“So, I'm just thinking automatically my account has been hacked and so I'm just freaking out,” said Hall.

She was locked out of her Airbnb account just days before her big trip.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Airbnb. A representative looked into the problem and found that someone canceled her lodging and booked two trips to L.A. through her account.

Airbnb called this an “account takeover,” when crooks get access to a user's account by stealing their password through phishing and malware attacks. Last month, the company launched new defenses to prevent account takeovers from happening.

Airbnb has added additional verification whenever a user logs into a new device. It has also added SMS alerts to notify customers about changes to their accounts.

Airbnb told NBC 5 Responds, "We were working on these new security measures at the time the guest's account was taken over and wanted to go above and beyond to make it right, so we reimbursed the cost of the canceled flight and six months of identity protection, and provided an Airbnb coupon for future use. We work hard to make sure every guest has a great experience on Airbnb and want to make it right when things don't go as expected."

Hall ended up canceling her trip altogether. She said everything else in Montreal was booked and hotel rates were just too expensive, which is why Airbnb ended up reimbursing her for lost airfare.

Now, she isn't sure what to do when she books her next vacation.

“No hotel is going to be safe from somebody stealing credit card information," she said. "There's no safe way to book something online. So, I don't know. It's scary.”

The NBC 5 Responds team knows that a lot of people will be traveling this weekend, so here are Samantha Chatman’s solutions:

  • Always have a back-up plan. If you book with Airbnb, have a hotel room booked as well, just in case something happens. Make sure you can cancel it without penalty
  • If you're spending a lot of money on a trip, you may want to consider travel insurance
  • If you're having a hard time reaching a company, try getting a response through its social media page. It worked for Brittany Hall

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<![CDATA[Past Car Insurance Coverage Can Cost You More Later]]>Tue, 23 May 2017 17:38:11 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NBC+5+Responds+Auto+Insurance.jpg

A report from the Consumer Federation of America says car insurance companies may charge you more money for a quote if you used a small insurance company to cover your vehicle in the past.

The report says Allstate, Farmers and American Family all charged higher rates if your last insurance was with a smaller company like Titan or Safeco.

The Consumer Federation of America also found that the companies charged more to people who lived in one city versus another.

Former Texas Insurance Commissioner J. Robert Hunter says the practice penalizes drivers in low income communities.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Your Phone May Be Tracking Your Every Move]]>Tue, 23 May 2017 03:56:22 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cell+Phone+Generic.jpg

Your apps could be collecting precise details on where you are, all day long.

A recent study shows the average smartphone user's location data was tracked more than 3,000 times in one week. That's more than 400 times per day.

One company called Mist developed new location data-gathering technology to track users through hotels, museums and even shopping malls.

Using Mist's invisible Wi-Fi and Bluetooth sensors, a retailer can access your phone to send you coupons the minute you walk in the door. A museum might push facts about a piece of art.

So how can you keep your whereabouts more private? Read more from NBC Los Angeles.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[European Cities to Be Added to In-Flight Laptop Ban]]>Tue, 23 May 2017 04:06:23 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/laptop+ban.jpg

The federal government is closer to implementing a ban on laptops and large electronics on even more flights. The ban is already in place on some routes between the U.S. and parts of the Middle East and Africa, but now some cities in Europe are being added to the list.

Mike McCarron is an airlines consultant who helped us understand why the ban might be expanded.

He says, government agencies “have information that terrorists are getting more sophisticated in how they hide explosives and they could hide explosives in a laptop or similar device."

It comes at a cost of losing the convenience and comfort of your own entertainment and documents on your device.

Packing those laptops in the cargo hold is also a gamble some passengers are not willing to take. They don’t want to separate themselves from their laptops fearing they will be lost or stolen.

Some business travelers are now loading tablets with limited information and using that as their laptop for the trip.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Streaming Illegal Content on Amazon Fire Stick is Risky]]>Tue, 23 May 2017 17:03:32 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/amazon-fire-stick-generic.jpg

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a popular device designed to make streaming easier than ever before.

With the device, consumers no longer have to connect their laptops to their television or have a fancy smart TV to watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon video and premium channels like HBO.

The stick connects to all, but we've learned there's a loophole that’s giving people access to even more.

"You can view all the new movies and stuff that are out," said Randy Haba, a tech expert at DKB Innovative. 

Online you can find videos of self proclaimed "jailbreak instructors" showing users how to get all the movies and shows they've ever wanted for nothing. But do not get confused — this is illegal.

Movies like the Fate of the Furious and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 can all be found.

Haba said the Fire Stick itself is completely harmless, but instructors in the online videos are teaching users how to download and reconstruct an app that gives access to an enormous amount of content for free, which is illegal.

Amazon wanted to leave it open to where you could install third-party plug-ins that may not be available through their Amazon store.

"But again, once you open that hole, you allow vulnerability for people to load anything you want," said Haba.

He said many of the folks who are just watching the stolen content don’t realize they’re breaking the law.

"You're putting yourself in the condition where the FBI could come after you and prosecute you."

The thieves who steal video content have become much more sophisticated over the years.

"You used to have physical locations where you would mass reproduce these movies," said Haba. "Now, it's just somebody sitting behind a computer converting it and sticking it somewhere where it's streaming-friendly."

But can the FBI see who's watching the content? Haba said it's definitely possible.

"We're all connected on the Internet. Somebody, somewhere is looking at information, passing in and out of servers worldwide. You're taking a risk, you could get away with it, but for how long?"

Amazon declined to comment on the misuse of its Fire Stick.

If you search for “How to Unlock Fire Stick” on Amazon.com, you will find a dozen books that will tell you how to do that.

Keep in mind the FBI says criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Dress Drama: Online Wedding Sale Ends Poorly Until NBC Responds]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 18:03:15 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/wedding-dress-responds.jpg

Rachel Ytuarte is still gushing over her wedding last summer and that perfect dress.

"As soon as I saw the dress I fell in love with it. I got married in July.  It had intricate beading, it was gorgeous, sweetheart neckline, the train was I mean it really was a magnificent dress," said Rachel Ytuarte.

She like many brides decided to sell it and recoup some of the cash.

She sold it online through PayPal and their seller protection plan.

"I asked if there was anything I needed to worry about before i send my almost $9,000 dress in the mail and they said no, you're protected.  that's why we have seller protection," she added.

Ytuarte got $4,500 for the dress but when it arrived in the mail at the buyers home that woman wasn't happy.

"She said the item wasn't as described, it didn't fit her the way she liked and she sent a picture of it as she claimed there was a spot on the dress."

Ytuarte says she didn't see a spot, and at first PayPal agreed but weeks later the buyer got the credit card company to reverse the charge.

Rachel was out of the money and the buyer still had the dress.

She called NBC Responds, PayPal investigated and changed course, saying the transaction is eligible for seller protection coverage which included those reversed charges.

They apologized and gave Rachel her $4500 back.

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<![CDATA[Callers Claiming to be Prize Patrol on The Prowl in Plano]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 22:48:10 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-0000186.jpg

Donna Matthews knows the real prize patrol. She's a sweepstakes regular. She picks the magazines, and places the stamps. 

But when someone called claiming she won, she wasn't buying it.

"First of all that's now how they're supposed to contact me," says Matthews.

She listened anyway, after all, she's been attaching those little stamps for years.

They claimed there were processing fees that had to be applied before they could process the winning check.

They told her to go into WalMart and send them $155.  

She didn't do that. But as luck would have it, the phone rang again, only this time it was her mother Billie Bost. They told her that she won $600,000 and sent her a check that needed to be deposited before her winnings would be released.

"He said well as soon as you deposit, you call me," said Bost.

NBC 5 Responds was there as she called them back, but we took over the phone.  

The man on the other end of the line hung up. So we called Donna's prize winner. We identified ourselves as NBC 5 Responds and that didn't go so well.

The more we questioned, the more he upped the money she had to pay, all the way to $950. They said she even needed to take out an insurance policy with Geico on the prize winnings for even more money. Eventually, he hung up. 

Two different men, two different numbers preying on this North Texas mother and daughter who are fans of the real Publishers Clearing House.

We should mention the real Publishers Clearing House posts right on it's website to watch out for these guys.

Even our prize winning experts admits these men were hard to ignore.

"This is what the public needs to be aware of... they know how to hit that core desire of what you dream about, of what you wish you did have..." said Matthews.

Police couldn't help because no money was exchanged. Even after it is, it's next to impossible to get any back. Don't let them get into your head. Never pay, and never cash a check sent to you out of the blue.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Scheme Targets Veterans Through Fake VA Hotline]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 09:08:20 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Veterans-Affairs-Philly.jpg

The Veterans Choice Program allows eligible vets to use approved health care providers who are outside of the Veterans Affairs Department system.

Veterans and their family members can call the VCP’s toll-free number to verify their eligibility for the program. Scammers, though, have set up a fake telephone line that’s almost identical to the real one, hoping to trick vets.

Here’s how it works: callers think they’ve reached the VCP. The fake line’s message states that the caller is entitled to a rebate after providing a credit card number.

There is no rebate, though. If you give up your account information, they’ll debit your account and you’ll get nothing.

So here are Samantha Chatman’s Solutions:

  • If there's a miscellaneous charge, call your bank and cancel your card.
  • The real number for the veterans choice program: 866-606-8198.
  • If you're ever unsure, check the VA's website for the real number and try again.

]]>
<![CDATA[Financial Experts Say Use Caution With Binary Trading]]>Thu, 18 May 2017 17:12:53 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/new+york+stock+trading.jpg

You don't have to follow the stock market to know stock prices go up and down.

Stock for Apple, for example, could be worth $150 one minute and $140 soon after.

Binary trading allows you to guess or bet on what the stock will do.

If you're right, you get a payout. If you're wrong, you don't.

Some call it investing, but Dallas financial advisor Ryan Fuchs wouldn't recommend it. Some experts say avoid it at all costs, but that some sites are legit, just risky.

NBC 5 Responds has gotten numerous call from North Texans saying they've lost a small fortune.

Experts say before you try it out know it's risky and not all sites are on the up and up.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Automakers Turn to Technology to Bring in New Sales]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 17:33:22 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/car+wifi+siri.jpg

Manufacturers say millennials are one of the biggest age groups buying cars. They're now starting to focus more on technology to grab that group and give them a reason to buy a new set of wheels.

If you're in the market for a new car, there's no doubt the salesmen will tell you about Wi-Fi availability.

General Motors has added many high-tech features to their model lineups to try to get more millennials to give GM a try.

"Everybody needs to be connected at all times, so wherever they're going they need to make sure they have it," said Joseph Mitrani with General Motors.

It's a free feature on GM but an extra charge on some other cars. It gives riders a connection to the internet where you can connect iPads and other electronics.

But it's not really Wi-Fi like the lightning fast wireless internet you get a home.

"It says 4G LTE internet connection. That's not Wi-Fi that's data. The speed you're getting is going to be 4G LTE," Mitrani said.

It's a mobile hotspot. You don't need a new car for that, as most smart phones can do the same thing. You can even buy a portable hotspot from your cellphone provider.

You are paying for that data, too, just like you do on your cellphone, but GM came out with an unlimited plan for $20 per month.

GM, Honda and some other car makers are also using carplay where you connect your cellphone to your car. The home screen on your phone is now projected onto the car screen. It lets you use navigation, maps and hands-free texting all from the power of your phone.

You can easily use the power of your phone in your car without having to pay for or learn a new system. It's all free and included on many car models from manufacturers like Honda and GM.

The cars also have a wireless charging feature for your phone, but you still have to plug the device in to connect the phone to the car for navigation and texting.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Fidget Spinner Sends Texas Girl to Operating Room]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 16:42:00 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/fidget+spinner+xray.jpg

A Houston-area woman took to Facebook on Monday to warn parents about the potential risks of fidget spinners after her daughter required surgery to remove part of one from her throat.

The twirling, three-inch toys have lately become so popular that they've been banned in some schools. The toys were originally aimed at helping students with autism or attention disorders concentrate, but took over classrooms with a variety of students this spring.

For Kelly Rose Joniec, her 10-year-old daughter's fidget spinner would ultimately lead to "a pretty eventful Saturday."

Read more from our news partners at The Dallas Morning News.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Alert: Impostors Use Plano Logo to Offer ‘Storm Assistance’]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 06:14:47 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/plano-storm-advisory.jpg

The City of Plano tweeted out a warning to be on the lookout for impostors.

A page called "Plano Storm Advisory" is using an old version of the city's logo and offering storm assistance.

A Facebook post asks people to fill out a survey. When you hit submit, it takes you to a website for Texas Roofing Professionals. But this page has no connection to the city.

Plano officials say an apparent roofing company is behind this. They called it “pure deception” and say the company is in violation of a code ordinance for using a trademarked logo that doesn't belong to them.

City officials have contacted Facebook administrators about the scam. They're also sending a cease and desist letter to the company.



Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Scammers Get Springtown Grandma to Pay $4,500 in Gift Cards]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 07:57:56 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Mary-Joyce-Kirk.jpg

Most of us have heard of the Grandparent Scam, it's a scheme that tricks seniors into wiring money over the phone to get a relative out of harm's way.

While it's been around for years, some of the folks behind it aren’t just asking for credit card numbers to rip off your loved ones, they want gift cards too.

“I've just been a little honest girl all my life,” she said.

People in Springtown describe 80-year-old Mary Joyce Kirk as funny, kind and sweet as pie. She’s also very giving. So, when she got a call that her grandson was in trouble, she was determined to help rescue him.

“Joseph needs help, say that he's in jail. And I said where at? Fort Worth? Weatherford? Said he's Fort Worth.” she explained. “They wouldn't tell me what for or nothing else and they wouldn't let me talk to Joseph.”

The person on the phone was vague about what he'd done, but quite clear about what they needed to release him.

“I needed to go to Walmart and purchase a thousand-dollar gift card,” Kirk was told.

She went to Walmart and bought a gift card for $1,000.

“I got back home and they had me tear off this little card and read the number to them.  Then they said well, he's got more fines against him so that we need another thousand. So I went back and got another thousand,” she said.

She made four trips to Walmart, buying a total of $4,500 in gift cards and read the numbers off to the caller.

“Then I said well if you need anymore, you're out of luck. He just has to stay in jail cause memaw is out of money,” she said.

The person over the phone told her the fines were all paid off and that her grandson was being released.

“So I went out there and sat on that front porch on one of those chairs about two hours waiting for him,” said Kirk.

But her grandson never came.

“Oh thunder, this is a big lie too. They're not coming with Joseph,” she realized.

News about the scam traveled quickly and Kirk’s children were furious.

They filed a police report with the Reno Police Department in Parker County and reached out to Walmart, who said there was nothing they could do, according to the family.

“You know she doesn't do anything wrong. She walks on water,” Kirk’s daughter said of her mother. “I feel sorry for them because karma's not a good thing.”

But Kirk isn’t feeling sorry for herself.

“Well honey, it isn’t gonna do no good to cry, and if that's the worst thing that ever happened to me, I'll make it,” she said.

The FTC calls this the "Family Emergency Scam."

Samantha Chatman's Solutions to avoid being a victim of this scheme:

  • If you get a call saying a loved one is in trouble, don't act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine.
  • Check the story out with someone else in your family.
  • Don't wire money over the phone and don't pay anyone in gift cards.
  • Report possible fraud at FTC.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Delta Airlines Testing Facial Recognition Technology]]>Tue, 16 May 2017 18:02:56 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/delta+face.jpg

NBC 5 Responds Wayne Carter takes a look at some of the latest technology that could soon take over how you check bags for your next Delta flight.]]>
<![CDATA[North TX 'Ethical Hackers' Help Protect Against Cyberattacks]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 03:22:31 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-504662110.jpg

Hackers have been targeting corporate computer systems globally, but a North Texas company is working to protect local computers.

There's no nice way to say it, Randy Haba is an ethical hacker.

He spends his day digging through computer systems and programs looking for a way to break in.

Haba's hacking is with good reason – once he finds a way in, he seals it shut.

"There's a saying: 'You can't know where you're going until you know where you've been.' It's the same thing with hacking. You have to know what they're targeting," Haba said.

He and the team at DKB Innovative in Frisco are cyber security experts.

Companies hire them to keep their computer systems up and running.

These guys got very little sleep over the weekend, double checking their clients' systems knowing that hackers were infecting computers and charging money to unlock them.

"The cost to unlock the machine is low. It's $300 per computer and goes up over time, but you think about that on a massive scale with thousands of networks impacted," said Keith Barthold, the company's owner.

"We're very vulnerable, we've just seen the first wave. It's going to get worse," Barthold said.

The team recommends you back up your files. That way, if your computer gets infected, you simply delete everything and start over from your backup.

If you don't do that ahead of time, you're out of luck – the hackers have won.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Woman's Boxes Left on Curb During Moving Dispute]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 07:01:13 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-moving-fiasco.jpg

Meloney Williams was on a budget and needed to hire movers fast.

Williams went online and came across Home Movers in Garland. She didn't do much research, but went with the cheapest service she could find.

"They just left me high and dry with all my furniture outside," she said. "I look like I'm getting evicted."

Williams hired Home Movers in Garland and was quoted $65 per hour for a full service move. By the time they reached her new home, though, four hours had gone by, which meant she would owe more than she expected. 

"I had a dispute about the four hours, so I was trying to call the office," she said.

Williams said the office told her it is what it is. She already signed the contract, and that she'd have to pay $342.50.

"I ended up having to leave, go to the bank, get more money," she said.

Williams said she paid and went upstairs, but then heard the moving truck start up. She ran downstairs and saw that everything she had packed was left on the sidewalk.

"The first thing I did was cry," she said. "I was embarrassed. I was humiliated."

Home Movers told NBC 5 Responds it would have taken the movers an additional 90 minutes to move Williams' items upstairs and that she refused to pay for the additional time. The total charge should have been $407.50, but she only paid $310.

Home Movers said after 30 minutes of discussion with Williams, she finally agreed to pay the $310 that was due, but refused to pay anything else.

Williams said the movers never informed her that she was short on the bill, they just drove off.

The claims department said Williams "started to scream and cuss over the phone." They continued:

"In no way are we here to take advantage of clients but we can not work for no pay either. There is no refund cause [sic] we did do the work for her and if you look at the contract it stated everything in detail... At the end she could not pay to finish the move so we could not finish the work she wanted."

Williams says she paid the exact amount on the contract, but wasn't given a receipt. So now it's her word against theirs and a signed contract that doesn't back her up. She initialed a provision that says "I agree to accept this proposal with an hourly rate quote and DO NOT require the estimated number of hours to complete this proposal."

In the end, Williams and a neighbor spent hours carrying her items up the stairs. A cautionary tale of what could happen and of what not to do.

"This is a hard lesson to learn," she said.

Here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS CHECK REVIEWS ONLINE. GO WITH A COMPANY THAT HAS A LOT OF REVIEWS, AND READ THROUGH THEM. SOMETIMES A CUSTOMER WILL HAVE A BAD EXPERIENCE, BUT SOMETIMES YOU WILL FIND BAD PATTERNS IN REVIEWS YOU MAY WANT TO AVOID.
ALWAYS READ THROUGH YOUR CONTRACT THOROUGHLY BEFORE SIGNING. CHECK TO SEE IF THE ESTIMATED PRICE CAN CHANGE.
AND IF YOU EVER ARE IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU FEEL STUCK, TAKE PICTURES OR VIDEO ON YOUR PHONE SO YOU HAVE SOME KIND OF PROOF.  
  • Always check reviews online. Go with a company that has a lot of reviews, and read through them. Sometimes a customer will have a bad experience, but sometimes you will find bad patterns in reviews you may want to avoid.
  • Read through your contract thoroughly before signing. Check to see if the estimated price can change.
  • And if you ever are in a situation where you feel stuck, take pictures or video on your phone so you have some kind of proof.  



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Connecticut Family Stranded at D/FW Over Passport Problems]]>Sat, 13 May 2017 02:14:07 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/wet+passport.jpg

Pete Rose and his fiancée Paula had been planning the trip to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico for almost six months.

The couple and their four children made the first leg of the trip from Bradley International Airport in Hartford County, Connecticut, with no problems and arrived at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for their connection to Mexico, thinking the hard part of getting through security was over, telling NBC Connecticut Responds, “you’re so relaxed when you’re traveling. As far as we were concerned, we were done-- we were in Mexico.”

That relaxed feeling disappeared in an instant when, Pete said, an American Airlines gate agent pulled his passport away from another agent and told him he would not be permitted to fly.

When asked for an explanation, Pete said, the agent said, “Your passport’s been mutilated.”

The family said they asked the agent repeatedly for a supervisor and were told he was busy. Pete said he was directed to another gate across the terminal where the supervisor was checking in another flight and he ran over. He said the gate was empty when he arrived.

With the plane to Mexico long gone, Pete and his family found themselves stranded in Dallas. They waited for two nights at a local hotel before paying extra to fly back home to Connecticut. Making matters worse, Pete didn’t have any of his clothes, shoes or toiletries, because his checked bag had flown to Mexico.

Upset with the situation, the family reached out to NBC Connecticut Responds for help. Our team has learned that gate agents are allowed to deny boarding to any passenger if a passport appears damaged or altered beyond normal wear and tear, and that it’s the responsibility of the airline to determine if a passport meets standards for international travel, not the Transportation Security Administration.

Pete’s passport had gotten wet on a previous trip, but he said he didn’t replace it because a customs agent told him the damage wasn’t significant. He never suspected his passport’s condition could be considered unacceptable because he had traveled internationally since then, telling NBC Connecticut, “TSA, other countries I’ve traveled through, gate agents and customs agents, they’ve seen no problem with this, so I was 100 percent comfortable that everything I had was proper.”

When NBC Connecticut Responds reached out to American Airlines, they reiterated that their agents are responsible for enforcing passport rules to be sure their passengers aren’t turned away at their destination country, but they also recognized what the family experienced.

In a statement, American Airlines said, “We apologize to the Rose family for what transpired during their recent journey with American Airlines. We have reached out to the family, refunded the full value of their tickets, and have provided travel vouchers for future use on American.”

While the family said nothing can replace the vacation they’ve lost, they are considering using their vouchers and refund, a total value of $7,782, towards a different trip this summer.

The U.S. State Department suggests you may need to replace your passport if it has suffered water damage, a significant tear, unofficial markings, or torn pages. For more information, or if you think you may need to replace a damaged passport, click here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Hospitals the Target of International Cyber Attack]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 17:21:44 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/hospital+ransom+image.jpg

Hackers are holding hospitals' computer systems hostage in return for digital currency.

The attacks were first noticed in the UK, then in several other European countries and Russia.

Hospital computers displayed images saying "Oops, your files have been encrypted" and demanding payment to release them.

Hospitals asked patients not to come in unless it was an absolute emergency.

Former British intelligence officer, Nigel Inkster, said these types of attacks are becoming much more common:

"The claim has been made that no patient data has been accessed. But I think this highlights a number of points. One is just how valuable patient medical data has become."

Hospitals that were vulnerable to the attack had to shut down all computer systems as a protective measure and cancelled all non-urgent activity.

A similar attack on a hospital in Los Angeles happened last year but so far there are no reports here in North Texas.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Robocalls On The Rise, How You Can Fight Back]]>Fri, 12 May 2017 03:56:32 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/robocalls+image.jpg

It's been happening forever. But you're not alone if you feel like lately there's been more robots calling your phone trying to sell your something or scam you into turning over your personal information.

A Truecaller survey found that Americans lost about $10 Billion to scammers in 2016. That's up 60% from the year before.

As we have shifted from landlines to mobile phones, so have the scammers.

And now it's the most tech-savvy generation that's taking the bait.

Millennials are 6 times more likely to give away credit card information to fraudsters than any age group.

"This is because millennials spend most of their waking hours on the phone and are a lot more accustomed to sharing information and making payments online or on the phone," says Tom Hsieh of Truecaller.

You may be on the do-not-call list, but they call anyway.

Well, here's some things to keep in mind:

Don't answer strange numbers. If it's really for you they'll leave a message. If you answer the robots keep calling back even if you press the button asking them not to.

There's an app for that. Things like Hiya and Robokiller can keep a call from ringing your cellphone if it thinks the call is from a robot. 

And try to have fun with it. If you annoy them enough, maybe they'll stop calling back.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Want to Save on Mother's Day? Better Be Quick]]>Thu, 11 May 2017 07:15:12 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mothers-day-sales.jpg

It's the same time every year, but some of us still wait until the last to buy mom's gift for Mother's Day.

Fortunately for you, though, we found some great deals that can save you a lot of money and time.

But here's the thing: most of the sales are over by the end of Thursday.

If you're looking to get fit with mom, Fitbit is celebrating Mother's Day with up to 50 percent off select items.

Macy's is offering an extra 20 percent off select clothing and accessories and 15 percent off select shoes, coats, suits dresses and home items. Just use the promo code "MOM."

Then there’s walmart.com, which is offering free two-day shipping on a number of items including a tablets, foot massagers, toasters, cameras, headphones and watches.

Plano-based J.C. Penney is offering an extra 30 percent off select apparel, shoes, accessories, fine jewelry and home purchases. Just use the promo code “SAVEMORE.”

Here are Samantha Chatman’s Solutions to help you save on that special gift for mom:

• Be sure to enter the promo code if it's offered
• Double check the arrival date.  Make sure it will get to you (or mom) in time for Mother's Day on Sunday
• Check the return policy for each item you purchase

]]>
<![CDATA[Fights on Flights Continue As Mother's Day Travel Begins]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 18:10:28 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Southwest_Airlines_Brawl_Social_FB_Promo_1200x675_940210755952.jpg

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines was at the center of the latest airline altercation video.

Two men started throwing punches after a flight from Dallas Love Field landed in Burbank, California.

Passengers pleaded for someone to do something as the crew brought the plane to the gate, and one person was arrested.

On a United Airlines flight a Kansas woman said she pulled down her pants and urinated in a cup because nature called, just before the flight landed and she wasn't able to get up.

Fights on flights, caught on camera, just keep popping up almost everyday.

In Fort Lauderdale, though, the fights were before anyone left the airport. Passengers there were angry after Spirit Airlines canceled more than 300 flights nationwide, blaming pilots refusing to come to work, angry over their pay rate.

"From the beginning of this unlawful action, we've seen about 60 flights a day that had to be canceled across our network," said Paul Berry, with Spirit Airlines.

"The airline says, look, we don't get the kinds of airfares that American, Delta, United get. We can't pay our pilots what they pay. But the union says, well, you're just as profitable as they are, so why not?" said Seth Kaplan, of Airline Weekly.

Pilots say the problems weren't their fault and there was no strike. Either way, the planes appear to be moving again.

If you're standing by to travel on this Mother's Day weekend, be prepared.

Spirit and most airlines will let you cancel tickets made within the past 24 hours. Anything else is within their normal charges to cancel or change.

Spirit's schedule out of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport showed no cancellations and very few delays over the past few days.

Remember, Southwest Airlines' normal policy allows you to change a flight at anytime for any reason.

]]>
<![CDATA[Tips for Buying Mother's Day Flowers Online]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 06:52:49 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mothers-day-flowers-thumb.jpg

The last thing you want to do is disappoint mom on Mother's Day.

Different colors, sizes, prices and a list of websites to choose from can make the decision to buy flowers difficult.

Before you click that purchase button there are some things you need to know about buying flowers online.

First, make sure you know if the flowers will come in a box or in a vase.

Some Moms may want the flowers arranged ahead of time so they don't have to break out the scissors and put it together themselves.

Always look for a satisfaction guarantee policy. That usually means the company will work with you if there's a problem.

And make sure to take a picture of what you paid for and what actually arrived.

If you or mom aren't happy with what you get, send the photos to the company and ask them to make it right.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[No-Interest Furniture Deal Didn't Add Up for Arlington Man]]>Tue, 09 May 2017 17:46:29 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/conns+furniture.jpg

It's a deal we hear all the time when it comes to new purchases: "No interest for 12 months." But as one Arlington man found out, it's a little more complicated than that.

Fred Porta bought a new couch and chair from Conn's HomePlus and paid off his new furniture before 12 months, but five months later he got an interest bill for more than $1,800.

He turned to NBC 5 Responds for help.

Porta said Conn's first told him it was a mistake, but then came back and said he still owed more then $500 in interest.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Conn's, who honored the price Fred originally paid.

A spokesman for Conn said,

"Conn's HomePlus regrets the confusion with Mr. Porta's account balance. Upon further review, we confirmed that he did have a remaining balance of $185. Given the circumstances, we chose to forgive that amount and all financing charges. Mr. Porta's account is now closed."

If you ever have a billing or consumer issue and need help, Call NBC 5 Responds at 1-844-573-7763.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Roofing Runaround Leaves Woman Scrambling for Repairs]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 08:14:27 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/roofing-conroy-responds.jpg

Ramona Adams signed a contract with Conroy's Roofing back in October and paid more than $3,500 to have her roof fixed.

The problem? The contractor hasn't even started the work

A hail storm hit her home April 11, 2016. Her insurance company sent her a check for $3,500 to have the roof repaired under a few conditions.

They said it must be fixed within 365 days, leaving Adams with plenty of time to find a contractor. She started with Angie's list and came across Todd Conroy Roofing and General Contracting. In a matter of days she hired Todd Conroy.

"I signed a contract on Oct. 25 last year. He said he had another job ahead of me, but he could have it on by Friday of next week," said Adams.

She offered to give him her insurance check, but Conroy asked that she put the check in her account, and write him a personal check for $3,524.24. Adams said it was cashed in two days, but the roofer didn't show up. 

"He said, 'Something came up, but I'll have it on by Friday of next week,'" said Adams.

Another month went by and the same excuses kept coming, but still no repairs, no refund, and no roofer in sight. Adams said she visited the address on his business card to get answers, but the location turned out to be his home. When she arrived, she said Conroy was in the process of moving out because he was evicted.

NBC 5 Responds called Todd Conroy and someone answered, but immediately they hung up. We called Conroy several times after that, but still, no answer.

Conroy's Roofing and General Contracting LLC is not a registered business with the Secretary of State's Office, which is required for anyone doing business in the State of Texas.

We also sent Angie's list two emails inquiring about its requirements for roofers and contractors to be featured on its page and received the following statement:

We do not know the process  Ms. Adams followed to “find” the business listing page as we just yesterday learned of this situation and began to review it. What we do know is that she could not have relied on Angie’s Lis information to hire the company in question because we have no detailed information about the company other than its name and contact information. This kind of detail is obtained after you sign in and read the verified consumer reviews we have received along with the grades prior customers have assigned to the company, if we have received such information.

The page view used on your online story would be akin to a page out of a phone book or a billboard. None of the rich detail that is available to Angie’s List members who sign in. In fact, there are two places on that page that alert the viewer that there are no reviews or grades on the company.

Consumers cannot accurately assume anything about a company simply listed within our directory. They must view the grades and/or reviews to understand the company’s performance as described by prior customers. The company you reported on had no reviews and no grades.

Angie’s List displays information we receive on the companies within the directory because we want consumers to know as much as we do about the available service companies. Generally, our members hire companies with good grades and a good track record based on grades and reviews and avoid those with poor grades/reviews, or no grades/reviews.

As Angie's List told NBC Chicago, the company has its own research department which, a spokeswoman acknowledged, can check up on contractor licenses.

The spokeswoman added that the company makes it clear in its listings that it relies on the word of each business "to confirm they are properly licensed for the work they advertise in the areas they serve." They say when someone questions a company's status, whether that company is an advertiser or not, they conduct an audit and take appropriate action on what is found.

Adam's insurance company has agreed to give her an additional 180 days to get her roof fixed.

She's thankful for the extension, but doesn't believe Todd Conroy will ever come back.

In a situation like this consumers should always let their insurance know what's going on. You likely won't get more money from them, but chances are your insurance will work with you on the deadline.

Here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

  • You should always be mindful of paying upfront. NBC 5 Responds hears from many folks who say their contractor never came back after they paid them
  • Always research the company. Angie's list may not be enough



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Southwest Airlines' New Software Goes Online Tuesday]]>Tue, 09 May 2017 07:31:24 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/southwest+image.jpg

Southwest Airlines is launching a new reservations system Tuesday. While it won't give the airline's website, kiosks or reservation process a new look, you may still see some changes eventually.

Most of these changes impact employees and are not going to look any different to customers.

But the changes give the Dallas-based airline a lot more flexibility to act like the other airlines, and that could impact you.

First, the new computer system lets Southwest easily change the number of planes it flies every day.

Right now, they operate the same number of flights Sunday through Friday, and that's an issue on Tuesday and Thursdays when people tend to fly less. Now, the airline can cut back planes on those days.

Of course that means a possibility of fewer cheap Tuesday and Thursday fares.

The computer system will also allow the airline to add red-eye flights, which could open up cheaper fares.

Southwest will be able to more easily handle cancellations, and they now have the technology to let you pay for more services like picking seats or bag fees.

Still, leaders at the airline have repeatedly said they have no plans to take away their current freebies.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Bedford Man Gets Check After Cable Conundrum]]>Mon, 08 May 2017 17:35:41 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/coaxial+cable.jpg

A Bedford man had the billing blues after cancelling his cable service. He paid his bill in full but says he got another statement in the mail. That's when he called NBC 5 Responds for help.

We all know the deal. There are so many choices for TV services these days – including cable or satellite streaming through the internet with Roku, Hulu and many more.

The AT&T customer decided to try out another cable provider and called AT&T to cancel his service. In order to fully cancel he had to send back all the equipment, including the modems and cable boxes.

He sent it back, paid his final bill and thought he was all done.

But he got another statement in the mail for a little more than $87. His calls to AT&T didn't answer his questions so he reached out to NBC 5 Responds.

Our team called AT&T and found out that $87 wasn't a bill, but a credit.

He was getting money back for returning the equipment.

But the credit went back on his account that he closed. We talked to AT&T, and they happily cut the Bedford man a check. That $87 this viewer thought was a bill was really money he didn't expect back in his pocket.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Lancaster Woman Finds IRS Help Through Taxpayer Advocate Service]]>Thu, 04 May 2017 06:46:00 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP_17010694953288.jpg

This year's tax season is behind us, but there are folks who are still having problems getting their tax refund. When a Lancaster woman hit a dead end with the IRS NBC 5 Responds got on the case.

A teacher by day, a student by night.

The bills can quickly stack up for Talya Hammond, who is working on her Masters Degree. This year's tax refund money was going to go towards her tuition payment.  

Hammond filed her taxes on Feb. 1 and was expecting to get her refund in a couple of weeks. Instead, she got a notice from the IRS saying she owed them money from a 2013 tax return.

This isn't the first time Hammond received this same type of notice. She says she paid the amount two years ago, but the check was returned to her. At the time, the IRS said there was no outstanding amount owed. 

Hammond figured this notice must be another mistake, but she didn't let it sit. 

"After calling several times and several different departments, everyone's saying that [the refund is] processing. They can't see any reason for the delay or why it's been held," said Hammond.

For weeks she couldn't get answers to why she got the notice, and why her refund was delayed.

The NBC 5 Responds team connected Hammond with the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service.

It's a department she didn't know existed. Agents serve as your voice at the IRS to ensure fair treatment and help consumers with their tax problems, identity theft and incorrect returns.

Hammond learned her refund had been frozen, because according to her profile, she still owed the IRS $300.

"What [the advocate] explained to me was that the previous payment that I had sent in...the system did not reflect me owing any amount," she said.

The check she sent years before was returned because the system somehow didn't show that she owed any money. That error left her in bad standing.

Hammond says the Taxpayer Advocate Service helped in a matter of days, and Hammond finally received her refund minus the amount that she owed. 

If you're still having problems receiving a tax refund, Here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

  • Contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service
  • Beware of sites online offering to help with tax troubles. They can easily be scammers in disguise
  • If you're ever in need of help with your tax return, go directly to the IRS website



Photo Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP]]>
<![CDATA['Military Member' Sells Car Online, Buyer Left With Nothing]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 22:43:25 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/military+car+scam.jpg

A new twist to an old scam is making its way across North Texas. People are selling cars online that they claim belong to members of the military being transferred on short order.

But the military members don't exist, and usually the cars don't either.

Most teenagers love a fast car, so when a 19-year-old Grand Prairie woman saw a fire engine red Dodge Charger for sale online, she says it "spoke" to her.

It's $1,500 price tag "screamed" buy me!

"She decided to contact the person to see how they should get the car," said the girl's uncle, Cranston Burke.

Burke spoke to NBC 5 Responds about his niece's decision on her own to buy a car supposedly from a member of the military.

"They said her name was Rebecca Wilson, a military person stationed in Alaska, of all places, and she had a car in a backyard that she couldn't get rid of," Burke said.

The alleged service woman emailed that she was being transferred to another base and had to get rid of the car now.

"They had to think quickly before it was gone or she went somewhere else," Burke said.

And so she did, paying not with cash, but gift cards.

But after the card number was passed along, there was no word and the phone number was disconnected.

It's all a trick and more people are falling for it. They buy into the story about the member of the military that was transferred and in a bind.

"$1,500 could have helped her with clothes, a doctor, all the needs you have with a newborn baby," Burke said.

Burke knows that money is long gone. There's likely no Rebecca Wilson, no car and who knows where the gift card funds may be. His niece is embarrassed by what she did, learning a lesson the hard way.

"If it's too good to be true, like mom used to say, it probably is," he said.

Just remember cold hard cash is the currency of choice in America.

You shouldn't buy a car with gift cards to Target, Amazon or anywhere else and don't wire money for any reason to someone you don't know.

Meet in person, look at the car and test drive it. Buying cars online can work, but you just have to protect yourself.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Lawmakers on Capitol Hill Address Recent Airline Issues]]>Wed, 03 May 2017 04:01:39 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/consumer+flight+issues+image.jpg

Lawmakers faced off with airline executives about the customer experience on U.S. Airlines Tuesday afternoon.

Fort Worth based American Airlines, Dallas based Southwest Airlines, and the executives from Alaska Airlines and United Airlines told Congress they're working to do better.

This comes after videos went viral of a man being dragged off a United flight and an American flight attendent got into a confrontation with passengers on a flight to DFW.

Dallas attorney Kent Krause often represents passengers who sue airlines. He says these types of hearings have worked before in getting the consumer more rights.

"I mean that's the purpose of our system [to] keep that check and balance on these airlines to keep that going," says Krause.

On the hill, they looked at the long contracts airlines use and how you have few rights if you're late to the airport. On the other hand, airlines have pages of protections if they're running behind.

But when the people writing the laws fly a lot themselves, things can happen.

"Some charge fees, some charge for baggage, some for oxygen who knows. If you wanna keep treating us this way fine, but there may come a day Congress won't stand for it anymore," says Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts.

And it's still unclear at this point what all of this conversation on Capitol Hill will actually do, if it will lead to anything.

But based on past experience, it's certainly possible for change.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Mother's Day Scam Claims to Offer Big Discounts]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 06:39:02 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/TLMD-foto-en-facebook-generica-st.jpg

You may have seen the ads on Facebook: big retailers offering $50 coupons to celebrate Mother's Day. These deals are too good to be true.

The scam on Facebook started with a fake coupon that looks like Lowe's is just giving away $50 to everyone.

NBC 5 Responds learned these fake coupons included Home Depot, Target and IKEA.

To get the coupon, users click on the ad in Facebook. It then takes you to a page that looks just like you're on the retailers' site. It asks you to take a quick survey to redeem the coupon.

We've learned that it's a phishing scam intended to steal your personal information and there is no coupon at the end of this so called deal.

Lowe's tells NBC 5 Responds they are aware of the scam and want customers to only trust online coupons on their actual website.

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<![CDATA[Concertgoers Pay Thousands for Fyre Festival Headaches]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 17:56:13 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/fyre+festival+tweet.jpg

The Fyre Festival was supposed to be a music festival of luxury. But concertgoers arrived to the venue in The Bahamas to find tents and cheese sandwiches.

Promotions for the event promised a beautiful island with relaxing beaches and musical performances. Many of those attending spent thousands of dollars for the luxury music festival.

Entertainer Ja-Rule is even one of the promoters.

One Dallas woman says when she arrived, nothing was as it was promoted to be.

Farah Benghozi, a Dallas art student, saved up for the weekend festival in paradise with family and friends. She was promised a beach side lodge but says she was told to find a tent in a field. Inside was just a small mattress. There was no furniture, no power, not even bed sheets.

"Our blankets were our towels. They had an area with cheap furniture, and they're like, 'Take this and decorate your tent,'" Benghozi told NBC 5 Responds.

Word quickly started to circulate on social media from festival goers, saying that their expectations didn't meet reality.

The island is full of tents and boxes full of equipment not set up in time for the festival.

The all-inclusive meals provided to festival goers was simply bread, cheese and lettuce.

Those who made it to the island just wanted to leave, but even that was a pain.

Benghozi sat on a plane and then in an airport for 12 hours while the festival organizers tried to find a charter pilot to get them home. They got her to Miami, where she scraped up cash for a room of her own and will spend the weekend there before flying back to North Texas.

Now the Fyre Festival website is nothing more than a statement, part of which says the "physical infrastructure was not in place on time" and they're "working tirelessly to get flights scheduled to get everyone off" the island.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to the U.S. State Department, which said it is monitoring the situation and stands ready to provide appropriate services to any U.S. citizen in need.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[New Pool for Couple Abandoned by Contractor]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 07:18:09 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rowlett-pool-redone.jpg

A North Texas couple claiming to have been abandoned by a pool contractor now have a new backyard, thanks to a generous business owner.

The Turner family, in Rowlett, paid Poolscapes NTX more than $54,000 to renovate their backyard. But it didn't end the way they wanted.

The Turners said Chris Michaels, the owner of Poolscapes NTX, told them he couldn't afford to finish the job because he had to use their money on other projects.

He said he was filing for bankruptcy, going out of business, and that he was sorry.

The Turner's just wanted a finished backyard.

"For a company in our industry you know to come in and do this to people that work hard for their money, it's heartbreaking," said Victor Fimbref, general manager of Hobert Pools, in Dallas.

He saw our story on NBC 5 Today last month.

"So I brought the crew and said okay, let's get a game plan going and let's finish this man's pool," Fimbref said.

Nearly a month later, the Turners' pool and spa are now complete. What would have cost them another $25,000 was taken care of by Hobert Pools — on the house. 

Now this Rowlett couple couldn't be happier.

"If your wife's happy, your children are happy, to a father, that's major," said Steven Turner.

"It's a family business, this is what we do. And for us it was you know kind of welcome you to our family," Fimbref said.

It's a tragic tale that evolved into a miracle for the family.

"For a while I didn't trust anybody, it allowed me to have that trust again," said Turner.

The Turners still have a $7,000 lien on their home from a subcontractor who wasn’t paid by the original contractor. They said it’s something they’re still trying to figure out, but are glad to have the pool project behind them.

Before you hire a contractor, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

  • You may want to choose a contractor that's been in business under the same name for many years. That's usually a good sign
  • The process of looking up a company's legal history may take some time and effort, but it could be worth it
  • Finally, be sure to look up reviews of the company online

      ]]>
      <![CDATA[Airlines Change Policies For Overbooking And More]]>Thu, 27 Apr 2017 17:42:58 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Airplane-GettyImages-86146996.jpg

      Big changes for the airline industry announced today and they give you, the consumer, more power when you fly.

      Department of Transportation numbers show Dallas-based Southwest Airlines led the way with more overbookings than any other airline last year. Now the CEO says they won't be overbooking anymore in light of recent events. 

      The doctor dragged off a United Express flight made major headlines earlier this month. The man was dragged off because the airline needed his seat for a crewmember to get to Kentucky.

      Overbookings and bumping are nothing new for any airline, but the public outcry over what was shared prompted not just a cash settlement with the doctor but big change for the rest of us.

      "The company made the decision we'll cease to overbook going forward. We've taken steps to prepare ourselves for this anyway."

      Southwest CEO Gary Kelly revealed today the airline will not allow overbooking on it's flights. A spokesperson says last minute changes happen more often on Southwest because they let you make changes to your trip for free. But overbooking will stop May 9. 

      "We're seeing policy changes that we wouldn't have seen had we not seen these videos."

      Rick Seaney of FareCompare.com says United Airlines offered $800 and it wasn't enough to get any passenger to budge off that Kentucky flight. Today United came out with a laundry list of changes to your rights when you fly.

      They will up the payment "as much as" $10,000 to give up your seat, police will only come on board for safety issues, crews will have to be booked earlier, and the list goes on.

      Delta airlines offers a $10,000 max payment. Fort worth based American Airlines also says they will no longer remove someone from a plane after they've boarded.

      Seaney says our cellphones and the risk of bad PR have clearly led to better customer service.

      "You have your cell phone you have video, that's a device you can fight back with."

      Passenger Joshua Ratcliff travels about 150,000 miles a year and says most passengers are uninformed of their rights and that video has made many airline consumers brush up. The demand for better service is apparently paying off.

      "It's important to fly with the airlines that understand customers first, that's a big thing for me, that's how I decide how I'm going to spend my 50,000-60,000 in airlines points and miles and dollars."

      Southwest's no overbooking rule may be the simplest solution. 



          Photo Credit: Getty Images/Brand X]]>
          <![CDATA[Dallas Man Targeted By Online Dating Scammer]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:37:42 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/David+Lurie.jpg

          You're often told to be guarded in case someone you're dating breaks your heart, but now you need to guard your wallet, too.

          One Dallas man knows that all too well.

          David Lurie is a senior with spunk and is dealing with a divorce.

          "I'm an older gentleman, but I'm not dead, and I still think I've got a tiger left in the tank," Lurie said.

          He tried online dating but eventually received a friend request on Facebook from the profile of a woman by the name of Monica Benedict, who said she was volunteering at an orphanage in Africa.

          "I thought she was the type of person that had the kind of heart that I did," Lurie said.

          After they talked for months, Lurie says he fell in love and Monica wanted to finally meet.

          Lurie bought her an airline ticket home. She asked for more for fees, claiming they were related to President Donald Trump's travel ban. He did it, sending more than $2,200, and flew himself to Detroit to be there the second her flight landed in the U.S.

          He was there, but Monica wasn't.

          "I was heartbroken," Lurie said. "I was really in love with this woman."

          Lurie says he did research, talked to police, and while he doesn't know specifically who is in the photo, he and officers concluded Monica doesn't really exist.

          It's just someone targeting a senior with a broken heart.

          "It's despicable that you've taken advantage of a senior in this way," Lurie said.



          Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
          <![CDATA[Giant British Rabbit Dies, Adding to United Airlines' Issues]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:49:19 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/united-airlines-giant-rabbit-death.jpg

          Ten-month old Simon was one big bunny. He was bred by a woman in the United Kingdom and sold to a "celebrity" in the United States.

          Simon's breeder said he visited a vet hours before boarding a United Airlines flight from London to Chicago and was reportedly "fit at a fiddle."

          After the plane landed at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, the bunny was fine, but apparently, he was found dead a short time later in a United Airlines holding facility at the airport.

          United issued a statement saying, "We were saddened to hear this news. The safety and well-being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our Petsafe team. We have been in contact with our customer and have offered assistance. We are reviewing this matter."

          Deaths on or after airline flights are not unusual.

          There were 26 last year, according to a Department of Transportation report.

          The most deaths in 2016 were on United, nine total.

          In 2015, there were 35 deaths of animals on planes overall and 14 of those were on United, more than anyone else.

          Examinations done by the airlines show most of the deaths were natural causes like heart failure and respiratory failure.

          Some breeds of dogs, particularly those with short noses, have a hard time breathing in the air.

          Those dogs often are at risk whenever they fly.

          There's no word on how giant bunnies handle air travel, but the breeder has said she's shipped many of them by air without any issue.



          Photo Credit: Courtesy Annette Edwards, Getty Images]]>
          <![CDATA[Texas Towing Laws that May Surprise You]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 14:48:50 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Towing-Sign-031312.jpg

          It's a sight no driver ever wants to see: their car being towed away on a tow truck.

          We've heard from dozens of consumers who believe their car was wrongfully towed, but most drivers don't do anything about it or, at least, they don't know what can be done about it. 

          "If we don't know about it, we can't investigate it and we can't help you," Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation's Susan Stanford said.

          Stanford said motorists can help put an end to wrongful towing, but knowing the law is key. For example, if you see your car being loaded onto a tow truck but it's not fully hooked up and ready for the driver to pull off, the driver must drop your car for free if you ask. No charges.

          But what if your car is already hooked up? If the tow truck driver hasn't driven away, the driver must offer you a drop fee of no more than $125.

          If your car ends up in a tow lot, you have to pay to get it out. But you can dispute it with a Justice of the Peace within 14 days. If the court sides with you, you'll get your money back.

          If you can prove the driver knew your car was parked legally but towed it anyway, you may be entitled to receive three times the amount you paid plus an extra $1,000 for your trouble. That means if you paid $250 to get your vehicle out, you could walk away with $1,750 if you win a dispute. 

          But it's up to drivers to know the rules to protect their cars and their pocketbooks.

          If your car is in the process of being towed, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

          • Record the towing that's taking place on your cell phone
          • Take several pictures of where you parked
          • Before parking, always be sure to read the signs carefully
          • Never chase a tow truck. You can follow them to the storage facility



            Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
            <![CDATA[Dating Apps Broaden Their Reach to Spark Friendships]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 04:25:09 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dating+apps+tinder+bumble.jpg

            If you're new to the area or having a hard time making friends, there's help for you. Apps can help you quickly chat with other stay-at-home moms, young professionals or just people who live near you who could be your next best bud.

            Tinder, Bumble, and many other apps out there let you very superficially find a date and approve or disapprove of them based on a photo and the little profile at the bottom that most people don't bother to read. A few months back NBC 5 Responds talked to singles in Dallas-Fort Worth about Tinder who said time and again they found guys who were great but didn't want to go on a date.

            But there's a market for married or taken people who want to swipe left and right and just be friends. There's Bumble BFF and Tinder Social where you can meet other people around you who you might want to hang out with and just be friends.

            It could be a good place to start for those who find themselves in a new city, where it may be difficult to know where to start.

            Some of the apps unite you based on your interest.

            Meet My Dog unites dog lovers, Hey! Vina is for women looking for other gal pals, and there are apps like Atleto to find friends who focus on their physical fitness and would like to find someone interested in a game of basketball after work.

            You can find many other apps for making friends online in your mobile device's app store. Some even let you create a group of friends to all meet up together if you're nervous for the one-on-one meet up.



            Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
            <![CDATA['They Keep Calling Me': Woman's ID Stolen]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 14:05:02 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-debt-collectors.jpg

            Theresa Schabow prides herself in having excellent credit.

            But for the last two years she’s received random calls from debt collectors, claiming she owed money.

            “They said that I had taken out a loan. It was about $1,100. I said I don't owe you any money,” says Schabow.

            The callers falsely claimed they were with American Web Loan and assured her that she owes money.

            Schabow was adamant that she did not but the calls didn't stop.

            She tried to convince them they had the wrong lady but they wanted proof. She went as far as filing a police report, but the calls only got worse.

            "They not only call me, they called my son, they called my work," said Schabow.

            Even though the law prohibits debt collector from discussing anyone's debt with a third party, that didn't stop these folks.

            “I just want to know how to get rid of these people,” Schabow says, “Somebody said they had a lawsuit against me. They were trying to subpoena me.”

            That's when it clicked that these callers may not be who they were claiming to be, and her identity may have been stolen. 

            The NBC 5 Responds team reached out to American Web Loan to find out who was behind the calls and if this loan even existed.

            The company confirmed they weren't the ones calling Mrs. Schabow, but said her date of birth and social security number were used to issue a loan for $1,100.

            They now believe she is a victim of identity theft.

            American Web Loan was never able to get ahold of Schabow for repayment. That's because when her loan was taken out, the thieves submitted different contact information. 

            American Web Loan was able to connect with Schabow once NBC 5 Responds got involved.

            The people who stole her identity may be the ones behind the debt collector calls, or may have sold it to others to pose as debt collectors. This scheme is referred to as a “Phantom Debt Collection Scam.”

            As a result, American Web Loan confirmed that Schabow is not responsible for the loan.

            However, that hasn't brought her much peace of mind. She says she will be looking at her credit score frequently for the coming years.

            “Somebody out there has [my] identity and I’m scared they're going to use it for other things,” she said. “I'll always be a bit uneasy about the situation.”

            This is identity theft with a twist. To protect yourself and your personal information, here are Samantha Chatman’s Solutions:

            • Always monitor your credit report
            • Keep a close watch for any unfamiliar accounts that are in your name
            • Visit Identitytheft.gov if you believe your identity has been stolen
            • If you get a call from a debt collector, find out who's calling and where the alleged debt came from



            Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
            <![CDATA[Did You Miss Jury Duty? Don't Fall For This Phone Call]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 23:51:56 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/texas+courtroom+generic+2.jpg

            People around North Texas have been getting phone calls saying they face federal charges for missing jury duty and are being ordered to federal court to pay some hefty fines. But NBC 5 Responds discovers why you shouldn't pay.

            "My name is Jimmy Morgan, sir. I'm with the federal marshal's office," says a voice coming through a phone call to Shane Carpenter.

            Carpenter says the call gave him chills.

            "I panicked. I couldn't, couldn't think at the moment," Carpenter said.

            His employer records all his phone calls and captured this one where a man says two warrants had been issued for his arrest.

            They asked for almost $2,000 in fees and federal charges for failing to appear in court for jury duty.

            "I have been having issues receiving my mail, so that's the first thing I thought of when he told me that I didn't receive a jury summons," Carpenter said.

            The caller wanted Carpenter to show up at the actual federal courthouse with $2,000 in U.S. Treasury bonds.

            The caller said that Carpenter would give a full refund of the amount of the fine back.

            Carpenter called police and the court clerk, who told him it was a scam even though he was told to come to the actual federal building.

            Even though the courthouse told Carpenter don't fall for it, he still worried. They had his personal info and wanted him to come to a real office. But that's the whole point – to raise doubt and hope you are scared into meeting them and forking over the cash.

            "They didn't win this situation. They didn't scam me. They didn't get any money out of me. I may have fell for it at first, but I knew it was a scam," Carpenter said.

            He turned over the recording to police, who are investigating, but there were several red flags in that call to pay attention to:

            • If you miss jury duty you'll be ordered back to court. Only there, standing before a judge, will you get a possible fine.
            • Fines aren't refundable, and anyone who says, "Give us money, and we'll give you a check back for the same amount," is usually up to no good.
            • The costs were just too high. If an amount seems outrageous, hang up and look up the number yourself. Then call them back.



            Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
            <![CDATA[Razor Recalls 150,000 RipStik Boards Due to Fall Hazard]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:46:55 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ripstik-recall.jpg

            This recall involves about 158,000 Razor RipStik electric motorized caster boards.

            According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the boards have two wheels, a hub motor and a lithium ion battery.

            They have a wireless digital hand remote that controls the speed up to 10 mph. The manufacturing date is on the bar code label located on the bottom of the product and Razor USA LLC is embossed on the bottom. “RipStik” is printed on the top of the board. They are blue and black in color.

            Razor has received more than 700 reports of the rear wheel locking up, resulting in four injuries, including one loose tooth and three scrapes and bruises.

            They were sold at Target, Toys R Us, Walmart, and other stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com, Razor.com, Target.com, toysrus.com and Walmart.com and other websites from February 2016 through April 2017 for about $180.

            Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled caster boards and contact Razor to receive a free repair kit.

            ]]>
            <![CDATA[Subscription Boxes Can Help Feed Your Faith]]>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 17:17:38 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/faith+subscription+boxes.jpg

            Subscription gift box services started out as book or wine of the month clubs, but now you can get just about anything sent in monthly installments with a surprise gift inside.

            One of the most popular boxes out there has to do with faith and religion.

            In our series "Beyond Belief" about faith in Texas, NBC 5 Responds looks at those faith based boxes and what you get for your money.

            Several subscription companies sent us samples of their boxes full of encouragement and inspiration.

            We expected prayers but not all the items that appeal to your senses. Oils, potpourri, soap, even music came with these boxes.

            A lot of them were just fliers and stickers – a piece of paper with an encouraging phrase.

            "My Christmas Crate" has a ton of stocking stuffers for those who want to enjoy Christmas year-round.

            The box from "Blessed and Loved" immediately hit not just my senses but my memory. It came with a scarf. I lost my grandmother two weeks ago and she wore scarves. It's nice, because it came at a time when I'm dealing with remembering her. It's an unexpected reminder of her.

            It gave me a moment that's hard to put a price tag on.

            That may be just what you're getting with these subscription boxes. You're not buying the products, rather you're buying something entering your life just when you may need it.

            If you want to check out the subscription boxes for yourself, these are the ones we sampled:

            Magickal Folk

            Loved + Blessed

            My Christmas Crate

            Faithbox



            Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
            <![CDATA[Students Saving the Earth One Trashion Show at a Time]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 07:15:19 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/trashion-show-denton.jpg

            The many items we throw away without hesitation will soon be on display.

            It's all a part of a Trashion Show taking place this weekend. The outfits will be modeled by environmentally conscious Denton students. 

            The designers are young yet mindful. They've used garbage to create their unique designs. But it's more than fashion, there's education behind it.

            Each team has researched their material to find out what happens to it once it's thrown away, and how it affects the environment.

            Scrap Denton is behind this push to reuse items, combining trash with fashion all while inspiring the youth.

            "It's a fun way to educate the public about reducing waste," said Kari Meyercord-Westerman, Scrap Director. "You're learning something about their longevity and how they don't just go away. They sit in a landfill somewhere."

            The sixth annual Trashion Fashion Show will take place at the Denton Redbud Festival this Saturday.

            The event is free. The winners will have their creations displayed in Scrap for the entire month of May.



            Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
            <![CDATA[Church Waits Years For Fundraiser Money]]>Wed, 19 Apr 2017 09:49:15 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/saint-james-ame-church.jpg

            The Saint James A.M.E Church is big on fundraising and making a difference in the Fort Worth community — so they signed up for a Goodwill clothing drive.

            The fundraiser allowed organizations to donate bins of clothing for $50 each.

            So the congregation got to work and managed to fill 15 bins of clothing.

            But there was a problem, they never received the funds from Goodwill.

            They spent nearly two years wondering if they'd done something wrong or needed to fill up more bins.

            The President of Goodwill of Fort Worth told NBC 5 Responds:

            "We show that the original 10 bins were collected, but we don’t have record of the final five bins being collected. That said, I believe that this donation drive was held during a time of transition when Kristen was moving to a new position within the agency. I’m sure that this is an oversight on our part, and we will make it right."

            Goodwill did just that, sending the church a check for $800.

            "We didn't want to give up on it because it was so much work put into it. We're a small church and everything we raise kind of helps our ministry a lot, especially with the kids," said Cynthia Rollings, of Saint James A.M.E. Church.

            The church will be using that money to send a few kids to summer camp this year.



            Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
            <![CDATA[Easy Money: Get Paid To Shop as a Mystery Shopper]]>Fri, 14 Apr 2017 18:11:42 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mystery+shopper+image.jpg

            Marcie Mowers has what many of us may consider a dream job; she gets paid to go shopping.

            "It's fun! Fun to go to new places. When you do the gas station shops, you get gas for free, and you get paid."

            Marcie signed up online after her family relocated to North Texas and she was looking for some part time work while caring for her kids.

            Now she's a mystery shopper, trying out businesses and sending her thoughts to the company owner.

            "You have to be a good liar. It's hard to get used to because I'm pretty honest person, but eventually it starts to become natural. You're given a brief of what to do, how to act, as long as you follow that it's pretty natural."

            Gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. She told us she's often checking to make sure the parking lots are clean, and the employees are on their game.

            "You're waiting to hear "did you find everything you need, is there anything i can help you with?." 

            With a little effort it pays off.

            "You could do a couple gas shops a week and fill your tank, plus get paid.... If you did it well, and were on time and attentive you could make a couple hundred dollars a month."

            Marcie says there are many mystery shopper sites out there and not all are legitimate. She did her homework checking with reviews and the Better Business Bureau before she picked one.

            She says she's loved every minute of it and says she hasn't been caught yet. 

            Again the scammers are out there too. You should never have to pay to be a mystery shopper. There shouldn't be any application fees, and never wire anyone money or deposit a check into your bank account. Those are all huge red flags and most likely a scam.

            Marcie Mowers recommends the following Mystery Shopper sites: 

            TrendSource

            Sentry Marketing

            Martiz Research

            We encourage you to do your own research before you enter into a deal with anyone.



            Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
            <![CDATA[Thieves Now Using Your Cell Phone To Steal Your Identity]]>Thu, 13 Apr 2017 18:38:47 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cell+Phone+Generic.jpg

            It's all part of a growing scam. One woman says she had her number stolen three times.

            Tracy was stunned when the cell phone she uses for her cleaning business just stopped working.

            "It was six days of nonstop aggravation. I can't even tell you how many phone calls I've had."

            She called her phone company, T-Mobile, and learned someone pretended to be her and ported her number to a Verizon account to a pre-paid phone.

            "T-Mobile is saying, "we're just doing what you requested, even though it wasn't us, and Verizon is saying they are doing what they were told to do."

            It took hours to get it sorted out.

            But just when she thought it was taken care of, It happened again, this time to her husband's business cell phone....

            "You're kidding, basically, it's like, "are you serious?"

            And then the next day, it happened a third time.

            "With the millions and millions of phone numbers out there, what are the odds that two of my phone numbers are hit three times in a week?"

            It's a growing scam crooks porting over cell phone numbers. It's another way to steal your identity.

            They either run up your bill or they've already stolen your identity.

            Just imagine what happens when a bank calls to confirm your purchase and the crook answers... on your phone number. 

            The cases are increasing rapidly each year according to the Federal Trade Commission. In 2013, the FTC says there were 1,038 cases which increased by 2016 to 2,658 cases.

            So what can you do to keep this from happening to you?

             

            • Make sure your account has a pin number or password and ask your carrier to refuse any changes without it.
            • If someone calls asking you strange questions - hang up. They may be trying to get your personal information.
            • When you're finished with your phone, don't throw it away. Make sure to get your information off first.



            Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
            <![CDATA[Spike in Mail Theft at North Texas Collection Boxes]]>Thu, 13 Apr 2017 07:20:42 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/usps-collection-box.jpg

            Postal inspectors have seen an increase of people stealing mail from collection boxes in North Texas. USPS says the thieves are looking for whatever they can get their hands on.

            A Fort Worth mother never thought it could happen to her.

            “I'll pull up to the drive through area, and then I’ll just toss it in in here,” said the mother, who asked NBC 5 to identify her as Cynthia.

            It's a monthly ritual for the North Texas mom. She drops off her mail in the box and goes about her busy day.

            “I usually make sure they go all the way down,” Cynthia said. “I assume they're safe.”

            Back in February, she sent off two money orders totaling $519 to pay her mortgage. Last month, she got a letter.

            “It said, basically, I had 30 days to make the payment with the attorney fees included or they were gonna kick me out. But I’m like, I paid and I don’t understand what they’re talking about.”

            She called Fidelity Express to track down the money orders. After taking a look at the receipts, Cynthia said, "this isn't anything I wrote."

            It wasn't her name and it was definitely not her signature.

            “They totally removed my information and rewrote theirs,” she said.

            That means someone, somehow, stole Cynthia’s mail, possibly from her collection box.

            “I didn't think it was possible. I never would have thought it was possible.”

            NBC 5 Responds has learned that the thieves wait until it's dark outside and use different objects to wiggle their way into these boxes and pull out anything they can find.

            Postal inspector Amanda McMurrey calls it “fishing.”

            “What I think we're seeing is actually an increase in numbers in the city itself, in the Metroplex itself. So obviously the more people you have, the more crooks you're going to have,” she explained. “But we also see a portion of these people are involved in drug culture.”

            McMurrey said the Postal Service has measures in place to prevent this type of mail theft from happening, but they have to balance protection with convenience.

            “I could harden a collection box as much as possible to ensure that no one could break in, but then no one would be able to mail either,” she said.

            Meanwhile, Cynthia has picked up extra shifts to avoid foreclosure and get out of debt. She said she won't be putting mail in collection boxes again.

            “I work hard for my money and you almost took the roof from my kids, from my children. It’s horrible,” Cynthia said.

            To prevent this from happening to you, here are Samantha Chatman’s Solutions:

             

            • Do not mail anything after the last posted collection time. Those times should be posted on the box
            • You also shouldn't put mail in the boxes on Sundays and federal holidays
            • If you notice suspicious activity at a collection box, you're asked to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455

            There is a reward of up to a $1,000 for the arrest and conviction of anyone stealing mail



            Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
            <![CDATA[How to Protect Yourself Against the Increase of Skimmers]]>Thu, 13 Apr 2017 14:10:52 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/skimming+image1.jpg

            It's so simple and effortless. You swipe your card and get gas or cash from the ATM and its just as simple from crooks to grab your money too.

            Police often tell us crooks use devices even tiny cameras to steal your credit card info at the pump or ATM's but now banking experts tell us the payoff is huge.

            "Skimming as a crime actually nets criminals potentially 10 times more than a bank robbery would net them, from $30,000 to $60,000," said Doug Johnson of the American Bankers Association.

            Banks have been moving toward this new chip technology which makes it virtually impossible to steal the information. With more chips out there and less magnetic strips crooks are learning their super easy crime is quickly going away.

            "Because of that we're going to see and have seen an increase in criminals recognizing that this particular avenue will be less attractive going forward," said Johnson.

            The skimming cases are rising, the American Bankers Association report shows a sharp spike already this year and it's expected to keep rising. But you can try to fight back.

            "You want to make sure one the device give it a good tug it shouldn't be loose at all," said ATM inspector Stephen Taylor.

            He says check for anything or anyone unusual. Someone nearby could be stealing your info as fast as you use it. Also, according to the banking industries report you're more likely to fall victim on nights and weekends. More than 60% of ATMs hit with skimmers were hit on Saturday and Sundays.

            But no matter when or where you use an ATM or gas pump, conceal your pin number and stay alert.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Arlington Woman Battles For 2 Years With Auto Shop For Truck]]>Tue, 11 Apr 2017 07:55:29 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-truck2.jpg

              After waiting more than two years on the repair of her truck, an Arlington woman turned to NBC 5 Responds.

              Patricia Chapman wanted to make sure her son is in a safe, reliable car. She bought him a 2003 Dodge pickup truck a few years ago.

              “It was in good condition when I bought it," she said. "It was running very well."

              But a couple of years in, she said the truck started making strange noises and she wasn't taking any chances. She took it in to Reliable in Arlington to get it checked out.

              “The water pump went out,” she said. “[Reliable] replaced it and they did a good job.

              But Chapman later learned of a much bigger problem, one that no driver wants to hear: engine problems.

              “They told us it would be right at $2,500,” she said.

              Chapman said the mechanic agreed to let her pay in installments. When she made the final payment, she was expecting to have the truck a few days later.

              “It is now two years later and some months and he still has not finished the truck,” she said.

              Chapman tried calling the mechanic and the owner for answers. She even sent them a letter, demanding to have the truck repaired and returned.

              “He has ignored the phone calls. He has ignored the letter. He has ignored all the conversations that I’ve had with him,” she said.

              The Chapmans have also made trips to the auto shop and say the truck is in the same spot they left it in: outside. Meanwhile, the family has had to rent cars and share a vehicle for several months now. Her son said he even has to ride his bike to get to work.

              The NBC 5 Responds team reached out to the owner of Reliable, Ramon Robles, and he said the mechanic that the Chapman's worked with, AJ, is no longer employed at the shop. He said he paid AJ commission for the work he did in the shop, but never received the Chapmans' money.

              Robles promised to have the truck ready in a couple of weeks, but another month went by and the truck was still in the shop. The NBC 5 Responds team met with Chapman to visit Reliable and find out what was going on with the truck.

              “[AJ] told me [Chapman] hasn't paid nothing. She hasn’t paid all of it. I'm waiting for her to give me more money,” Robles explained.

              But Chapman doesn't owe the shop any more money, as the receipt signed by AJ shows Chapman "paid in full.” But Robles said he still isn't sure what happened and that it was "out of his hands."

              “It's just a big headache and I’m just trying to resolve it so she don't have no problems and I don't have no problems,” he said.

              We left the shop to give Robles more time to work on the truck. He said it would be ready that day, but later discovered a problem with the radiator.

              Later that week, he called Chapman and her son with good news: the truck was finally ready and she didn't have to pay any more.

              “Eventually I'm probably going to have to replace it but I'm just glad to have it back in my yard,” she said.

              Before you take your vehicle to any auto shop in North Texas, here are Samantha Chatman’s solutions:

              • Check reviews online.
              • Get referrals from friends or family members who have a mechanic or shop they have been happy with.
              • Visit the shop, talk to customers about their experience.
              • Keep all receipts and documents.
              • File a police report if you feel a shop is withholding your vehicle.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Collin County Deputies Seek Victims of Bad Contractor]]>Mon, 10 Apr 2017 20:50:20 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rusty-summit-mugshot-inset.jpg

              Deputies with the Collin County Sheriff's Office want to hear from homeowners who fell victim to a bad contractor.

              In a news release issued March 30, deputies said the owner of D&S Construction, Rusty Summit, had been jailed in Oklahoma on felony theft charges -- three of which were out of Collin County.

              Deputies said Summit was taking money for construction projects and never finishing the work.

              The sheriff's office said while several of the man's victims have been located they would like to speak with anyone else who had a complaint about his work. Those with complaints should call the sheriff's department at 972-547-5114.

              Summit is being investigated for similar crimes by several agencies in four states, officials said.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News/Marshall County Sheriff's Office (Oklahoma)]]>
              <![CDATA[Man Loses More Than $200,000 Selling Protein Powder Online]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 22:41:31 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R_Paypal_Scam_10p_09222017.jpg

              The owner of a North Texas company says his business is on the brink of bankruptcy after someone posing as a legitimate customer launched a scheme that cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars.]]>
              <![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Insulated Cups]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 17:41:40 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Yeti_Cups_5p_92217.jpg

              NBC 5 Consumer Investigative Reporter Wayne Carter checks out different version of insulated cooler mugs to see if one outperforms the other.]]>
              <![CDATA[Car Engine Had No Oil, Hours After Getting An Oil Change]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 17:51:11 -0500http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/Oil_Change_5p_92117.jpg

              A young man who had his oil changed at a Walmart service center said the check engine light soon came on, and no oil was on the dipstick. After not receiving any financial help from a claim to Walmart, the family spent about $8,000 on a new engine.]]>