Consumer Wins and Losses in 2017 — Plus 3 New Tools That Will Make You Stronger

Dear Mom,I always fret that you, up there in heaven, don't see my work as The Watchdog. So I hope you don't mind if I take a moment to fill you in on how Watchdog Nation fared in 2017.We consumers had a rough year. We aimed high, but kept shooting low. I'll share three new tools I found that can make us stronger consumers, but first the bad news.Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, admitted that somebody stole the personal information of more than 140 million Americans. It's the mother of all data breaches, and a lot of folks freaked and learned how to put a security freeze on their credit accounts.It's strange. There hasn't been a burst of resulting ID thefts. Not yet. Are the crooks laying low? Waiting to see.Roofers' crime spree continuesMom, sometimes my partner Marina Trahan Martinez and I feel like we're knocking our heads against a wall with nothing to show for it. (Sort of like calling AT&T customer service.)We gathered a group of more than a thousand of our "citizens of Watchdog Nation" and tried to get a few state laws passed. We organized a Facebook group called "Dallas News Watchdog Posse" (ask to join and we'll approve) and also an email newsletter list (write to watchdog@dallasnews.com to be included).We had shared goals. Many of us want a system to regulate roofers. Dishonest ones engage in a crime spree here in the Lone Scam State. Without rules, Texas is easy pickings.A state legislator from Hill Country named John Kuempel made sure the roofing bill didn't get out of his committee. The Seguin Republican deceived us by telling us to limit testimony to several people, and then dropped the rules so opponents could testify as long as a roofer's ladder. We could have filled a bus with people, but he cheated us out of our moment to share at the Texas Capitol.Note to earthlings: If you get cheated on a roof deal, send a thank-you note to state Rep. John Kuempel, 523 E. Donegan St., Seguin, TX 78155.  Continue reading...

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