<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Dallas-Fort Worth News - NBC 5 Responds]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/localen-usMon, 20 Nov 2017 09:37:12 -0600Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:37:12 -0600NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Toys For Every Budget: Under $50, $40 and $10]]>Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:48:16 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/toy-list-2017.jpg

Toy expert Laurie Schatch believes the toys below will make your kids and wallet very happy this holiday season.

TOYS UNDER $50

BB Junior My First RC (Maisto)
• This Ferrari and Jeep are designed as a first-time, radio-controlled toy.
• These cars run with a 27 mhz controller with forward and backward buttons, motion sensor to control left and right, realistic horn sound button, and working headlights and taillights.
• Age: 2+
• MSRP: $40
• Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

Ben 10 Rustbucket Vehicle & Playset (Playmates Toys)
• The main vehicle seen in Cartoon Network’s new Ben 10 animated series, the Rustbucket is a 2-in-1 vehicle that transforms into a 3-level playset standing over 2 feet tall.
• It's packed with action features, allowing kids to create their own adventures with all of the Ben 10 basic action figures (sold separately).
• Kids can re-create adventures seen in the show or use their imagination to create all-new ones. Features include an alien transformation chamber, plasma blaster, “alien-vator”, grabbing claw, alien lab, and more.
• Age: 4+
• MSRP: $49.99
• Available: Target, Toys R Us, Walmart

Sweetlings Sprinkle Shop (Alex Brands)
• ALEX DIY Sweetlings Sprinkle Shop is a decoration station that comes with everything kids need to bring three Sweetlings characters to life.
• Use whipped clay icing to frost two plastic cupcakes and a cone in the Sprinkle Shop workstation.
• Frost the characters easily as they rotate on the base.
• When ready, add the final pizazz with the glitterizer -- star shaped glitter will sparkle as your creation rotates on the stage for their special moment under the strobing lights.
• Age: 6+
• MSRP: $39.99
• Available: Amazon, Toys “R” Us

8-in-1 Construction (Laser Pegs)
• With this mighty 8-in-1 Construction kit from Laser Pegs Builder kids are the foreman who can get the job done.
• This kit comes jam-packed with heavy-duty models like the Claw Crane, Bobcat, Worksite Truck, Bulldozer, and many more. Light up the creations to keep the fun going all night long at the construction site.
• There are 11 LEDs, 129 pieces, includes batteries, 100 percent compatible with other major construction kits, auto off.
• Age: 8-14
• U.S. MSRP: $32.99
• Available: Amazon, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

TOYS UNDER $20

Crayola Color Wonder Light Brush (Crayola)
• Crayola Color Wonder Magic Light Brush lets kids create colorful art without the mess.
• Color Wonder paints are clear and only work on Color Wonder special paper— it won't color on skin, carpet, or furniture. The Magic Light Brush lights up to match whatever paint color kids are using.
• The set comes with six classic colors and 18 sheets of Color Wonder paper
• Ages: 3+
• MSRP: $19.99
• Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Crayola.com

Pikmi Pops Surprise Pack (Moose Toys)
• Pikmi Pops combines collectible scented plush with a range of mystery items packaged inside a lollipop vessel.
• The Surprise Pack include two scented Pikmi plush, three mystery items, two secret messages, and a collector’s guide. It’s totally blind, so you never know what you’re going to get.
• Each plush delivers a sweet surprise in terms of material finishes, scent, levels of rarity, and mystery items.
• The lollipop vessel is fun, fresh and iconic, and designed with bright colors & graphics to “pop” on shelf.
• Age: 5+
• MSRP: $10.99
• Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

Mayka Toy Block Tape (Zuru)
• Nimuno Loops, the original toy block tape, is now in collaboration with the Zuru’s Mayka Toy Block Tape construction brand. The product originally launched on Indiegogo, raising over $1.6 million dollars in crowdfunding in just 30 days and has been billed as one of ‘2017’s greatest inventions,’ revolutionizing the way construction bricks are played with.
• Mayka Tape transforms virtually any surface into a base for construction toy bricks and figures. One side features a bendable, flexible surface with a toy block pattern that is compatible with LEGO toys and other toy construction brands and can be cut to any desired size. The other side has a re-usable adhesive backing to allow builders to construct on nearly any object, around corners and on curved surfaces to make 3D creations.
• Each roll will feature an exciting new way to play with Mayka Tape. The line will comprise of 3 core sizes - Small (2 stud / 3.3 ft), Medium (2 stud / 6.6 ft)
• Age: 3+
• MSRP: Small: $12.00, Medium: $18.99
• Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

Fingerlings (WowWee)
• Fingerlings baby monkeys come to life with endless ways of play and realistic sounds to let kids know how they are feeling. Kids can wrap them on their finger to have a new friend at their fingertips.
• These silly critters have happy monkey sounds, blinking eyes, heads that turn, hands that grip, and a curly hanging tail.
• Kids can swing them, pet them, kiss them, and even rock them to sleep.
• There are six different Fingerlings to play, share, and collect.
• Ages: 5+
• MSRP: $14.99
• Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

Rubik’s Flip (University Games)
• Flip it – block it – win it! Win or lose in only eight moves! Rubik’s Flip is a fast-moving, easy-to-learn, but challenging game. There are few rules and a maximum of eight turns per player. Every tile is two-sided with two colors. Just FLIP your opponent’s tile to another color, then place your tile. The first to place three tiles of the same color in a row wins!
• A fun competition for 2 players.
• Age: 7+
• MSRP: $14.99
• Available: Amazon, Fred Meyer, Mills Fleet Farm, Kroger

Break Free (Yulu)
• Break Free from YULU Toys is a new, challenging action skill game full of urgency, suspense and tons of fun. The objective: players must race to pick the lock on their handcuff as quickly as possible and before everyone else!
• Players are handcuffed together and insert a maze into each handcuff.
• Includes three maze colors; each represents a different level of difficulty, making each round unpredictable.
• Using a pick lock, players have to pick the lock as quickly as possible.
• Each game comes with tokens that correspond with the different colored mazes and has points on the back.
• Each player will receive a token after each round in the order they released themselves from the handcuffs.
• The player with the most points at the end of three rounds wins the game.
• Age: 6+
• MSRP: $19.99
• Available: Target

TOYS UNDER $10

FlipaZoo Mini Collectables
• The FlipaZoo toy is two buddies in one - each mini Flipazoo features two animals that flip back and forth for two sides of fun.
• Over 101 different animals to collect and share.
• Available in blind bags, three pack collectibles and seven pack collectibles.
• Age: 4+
• MSRP: $1.88
• Available: Walmart

Hatchimals Colleggtibles (Spin Master)
• Introducing Hatchimals Colleggtibles! Hold! Hatch! Play!
• These adorable Hatchimals come inside of small, speckled eggs; and they need your help to hatch!
• Hold the egg in your hands, rub the heart, and when it changes from purple to pink, you know it's ready to hatch! Gently crack the egg to discover the Hatchimal inside! Each Hatchimal has a set of magical, glittery wings!
• With over 70 to collect in Season One – finding the ultra-rares is half the fun!
• A beautiful collector’s map introduces you to their home! With landmarks like the Giggling Tree, Lilac Lake, Fabula Forest, and more, there's so much to explore!
• Hatchimals Colleggtibles: 1 Pack; MSRP: $2.99
• Hatchimals Colleggtibles: 2 Pack + Nest; MSRP: $4.99
• Hatchimals Colleggtibles : 4 Pack + Bonus; MSRP: $9.99
• Ages: 3+
• Available: Toys “R” Us, Target, Walmart

Beat Bugs Fab Figures (Blip Toys)
• Children’s animated Netflix series, Beat Bugs, has captured the attention of children and parents around the world. Beat Bugs are now alive at retail with a spectacular range of toys utilizing songs made famous by the Beatles.
• The colorful 3-inch scale Fab Figures are exquisitely designed with fine detail. The head and arms are articulated for posing, storytelling and other creative play.
• Ages: 3+
• MSRP: $5.99
• Available: Target

Cupcake Surprise Dolls (Sunny Day Ent)
• Children will love this pretty Cupcake Surprise Princess Candy Doll. The colorfully decorated and scented cupcake transforms into a pretty princess.
• Dolls come in six different sweet scents: Strawberry, Vanilla, Grape, Chocolate, Lemon, and Caramel. Multiple styles and colors are available; collect them all!
• Age: 3+
• MSRP: $9.99
• Available: Amazon, Walmart

L.O.L. Surprise! Tots (MGA Entertainment)
• L.O.L. Surprise Tots are collectibles that have seven layers of surprise hidden inside.
• Each layer reveals a hint of which fierce, fashion-forward L.O.L. Surprise doll kids are unboxing. Seven surprises include: a secret message, stickers, a baby bottle, shoes, an outfit, a fashionable accessory, and the L.O.L Surprise doll.
• Feed or bathe the doll with water to reveal her surprising water feature. The playset (ball) can also be used as a hangout, bath tub, doll stand, and a purse to carry for on-the-go fun.
• Final layer reveals the doll. Each character is completely different and packed with personality – from rockers to divas to merbabies.
• Ages: 3+
• MSRP: $9.99
• Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

Thumb Chucks (Zing Toys)
• CONTROL THE ROLL! Thumb Chucks from Zing are the newest and coolest skill toy for the ultimate finger rollin’ fun!
• Twirl, flip and twist Thumb Chucks around your fingers to perform awesome tricks.
• Two high-bounce plastic ‘Chucks’ are connected with a ‘belt’ and fit right in your pocket.
• Kids can master a wide range of tricks from intermediate to advanced. Thanks to the built-in motion-sensitive LED lights, the Chucks glow in the dark for the ultimate light show.
• The new free Thumb Chucks app, available on iOS and Android in January 2017, includes over 20+ tutorials that teach users a variety of mind-blowing tricks.
• The app also includes an easy-to-use recording feature with built-in special effects to enhance and personalize Thumb Chucks videos.
• The more kids master, the more belts they can collect. Learn how to earn special belts by going to ThumbChucks.Toys.
• Thumb Chucks are available in red, orange, green and blue.
• Ages: 5+
• MSRP: $7.99
• Available: Toys “R” Us, Amazon, Target



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Viewers Share Similar Stories of Walmart Oil Changes]]>Fri, 17 Nov 2017 21:49:27 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/walmart+oil+change.jpg

After NBC 5 shared a story of a North Texas driver whose car's engine had no oil after a Walmart oil change, other viewers came forward with similar stories.

Jose Betances got his oil changed at the Walmart on Farm-to-Market Road 423.

Hours later his car had a major malfunction.

"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," Betances told NBC 5 Responds in September.

His car's engine was out of oil.

Dozens of NBC 5 viewers — well over 100 — have reached out to us and our Consumer Investigative Center to share similar experiences.

"My mother went to Walmart this summer for an oil change on her vehicle. About an hour after she left she heard loud noises on her engine, and the vehicle would just stop in the middle of the street," Allen Maurice said.

Maurice's mother had her car towed to an auto repair shop and was told her car's oil cap was not screwed back.

They filed a claim with Walmart for the cost of a new engine, and their claim was denied.

The Welches also came forward. NBC 5 profiled them two years ago when their car broke down after an oil change at Walmart.

Two separate mechanics said the engine had too much oil — six quarts instead of the manufacturer's recommended five.

Walmart's own receipt shows they were charged for six quarts, which was too much for their car, but Walmart still denied the claim. The Welches said they haven't been back to Walmart since.

Neither has Mario Sanchez.

He got an oil change and drove to San Antonio, where his truck broke down. He took it to a Walmart in that city.

"He said it was the wrong oil, the wrong filter and the wrong amount of oil," Sanchez said.

Meaning, one Walmart discovered that another Walmart put in the wrong oil and it hurt his engine.

When asked if Walmart paid for the damage Mario said, "No, they didn't pay for it. They denied my claim."

NBC 5 Responds told Walmart about all the complaints we received after airing Betances's story.

A spokesperson told us, "We have a long withstanding policy if a customer has a legitimate claim we will examine it."

The "we" is CMI, a company which investigates all complaints and possible lawsuits against Walmart. All three men were initially under the impression that CMI was a third-party company.

"They don't mention that it is their own company. They don't mention that at all," Sanchez said.

CMI is, in fact, a branch of Walmart's parent company.

We did find people who said CMI paid them after their engines were damaged at Walmart, but the vast majority said their claims were denied.

That includes Ray Magruger, who says Walmart told him they had video proving they didn't break his car. However, he says they won't show it to him because it's confidential.

"It's just the sad fact that, you know, we know it took place there. If you have video footage that shows otherwise, show me," Magruger said.

The Texas Attorney General's Office says it has nearly 150 complaints against Walmart's auto service division.

They're now also looking into the complaints we brought to their attention and encourage anyone who had issues to report it to the Attorney General's Consumer Protection division for help.

Walmart also told us it stands by its previous statement — that they feel all procedures related to Jose Betances's oil change were properly followed.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: 'Aqua Dog' Water Bottle for Dogs]]>Fri, 17 Nov 2017 17:54:47 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dog+water+bottle.JPG

One of the best parts of fall is being able to spend more time outdoors, but just because the sun isn't quite as hot doesn't mean you don't have to worry about hydration.

You always see people carrying water bottles for themselves, but what about their dog?

There's a water bottle on the market geared toward dogs.

Brent and Erica Upham agreed to try it out.

They have three adorable, energy filled fur-babies: Winston, Maple and Sampson.

The family loves to get outdoors and walk their dogs, but it has its challenges.

They say their dog, Winston, requires some extra hydration. They can't go too far without him getting too hot and needing to take breaks.

Trying to walk and keep their dogs hydrated isn't always a breeze.

"When we bring the bottled water and a separate bowl, then carrying two things with three dogs is impossible for one person," Brent Upham said.

"This idea of a water bottle for your dog, yeah, it's genius," Erica added.

We filled the combination bowl and water bottle up. It only held a little more than one water bottle, though.

As for the carrying strap? It was a little tough to figure out.

The real testers were panting and ready to quench their thirst. If you lead these dogs to water, they will drink.

We paid $12.99 for Aqua Dog at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Remember if there's a product you want to see tested head to Facebook and send a message to Wayne Carter NBC 5.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds Answers Your Consumer Complaints]]>Tue, 27 Dec 2016 17:32:28 -0600https://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[Toys That May Sell Out Before Black Friday]]>Fri, 17 Nov 2017 07:28:57 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/black-friday-toys-2017.jpg

Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht reveals the toys that will likely sell out fast.

Hatchimals Surprise (Spin Master)
• New Hatchimals are arriving from Hatchtopia and they can’t hatch without kids’ help.  
• These eggs are different from any seen before, and they hold a very special surprise.
• Age: 5+.
• MSRP: $59.99.
• Available: Mass retailers.

Soft’N Slo Squishies (ORB Factory)
• Super squeezable and collectible, Soft'n Slo Squishies are based on the latest trend from Japan as a slow-rising and soft collectible.
• They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and produce a fun transformation that’s different every time.
• If kids are lucky they may even find the secret limited edition Soft’n Slo Squishies with a special holographic seal.
• Soft'n Slo Squishies Sweet Shop features favorite high-end bakery products, including slices of cake, cinnamon buns, ice cream cones, and super squishy s’mores.
• Ages: 8+.
• MSRP: $5.99-$14.99.
• Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart.

PAW Patrol My Size Lookout Tower (Spin Master)
• Big rescues call for an even bigger tower. Bring the most iconic location in Adventure Bay to life with the new Life Sized Lookout Tower play set.
• With a working elevator, a backpack storage unit, lights and sounds, a functioning periscope, a spiral slide with flipping mechanism, and a rotating base with vehicle launcher, it’s never been easier to recreate moments from the show and embark on new PAW Patrol rescues.
• Age: 3+.
• MSRP: $99.99.
• Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart.

STAR WARS FORCE LINK BB-8 2-IN-1 MEGA PLAYSET (Hasbro)
• Kids can activate incredible "Force Link" sounds and phrases in the BB-8 2-in-1 Mega Play set. On the outside, this play set resembles the iconic astromech droid BB-8 from "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."
• This play set features three Force Link activation areas with sounds and phrases, as well as six play areas to recreate favorite scenes.
• Discover tons of features such as hidden trap doors, a firing canon with sound effects, and more. The play set also includes 3.75-inch Supreme Leader Snoke and Elite Praetorian Guard (with Single Blade) Force Link-activated figures.
• Includes play set, Force Link wearable technology, two figures and an accessory. Requires four, 1.5V AA Alkaline batteries, not included. Compatible with all products in the Force Link line, each sold separately.
• Age: 4+.
• MSRP: $199.99.
• Available: Most major retailers.

Cutie Cars Playset (Moose Toys)
• Kids can pull up their ride at the Cuties Car Drive-in Diner. This play set allows kids to take their Cutie Cars on a spin in the rotating drive-thru, ride up the elevator or grab a meal on the go, or pull up a tray at the parking bay. Each play set includes 1 Mini Shopkin and 1 exclusive Cutie Car.
• Over 25 cars to collect inspired by fan favorite SPK characters.
• Age: 5+.
• MSRP: $19.99.
• Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart.

SoundMoovz (Cra-Z-Art)
• SoundMoovz is a motion-activated electronic device that plays cool music and special effect sounds as users move.
• Kids can experience the excitement by moving, dancing, and creating unique musical beats.
• The device uses Bluetooth technology, just simply power on for pairing, download the free app, choose over 400 sounds, and start the fun.
• The product comes with two special bands that users wear to enable the device.
• Layer your beat onto a song. There are multiple sound modes including Robot, Karate, Instrumental, and Musical.
• Ages: 8+.
• MSRP: $79.99.
• Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Best Buy.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Customs Agents Warn of Counterfeit Products for the Holidays]]>Thu, 16 Nov 2017 17:47:59 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Customs_Officials_Warn_of_Counterfeit_Merchandise.jpg

Customs agents are warning consumers to beware of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that are too good to be true.

Agents say there is a lot of fake merchandise moving into the U.S. right now — everything from imposter YETI cups to athletic jerseys, designer brand merchandise and even MAC makeup.

"They're buying them online. That's why we're out here to make sure when you're purchasing your items from legitimate buyers," said customs officer Raul Arona.

Agents warn that not only are you losing money by purchasing a fake, but you could be also be putting yourself and your family at risk with products that have inferior materials.

In order to protect yourself make sure you buy from trusted retailers, not online classifieds, officials say.

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<![CDATA[Google Launches Program in DFW to Verify Repair Businesses]]>Thu, 16 Nov 2017 07:35:03 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Google+11.jpg

Google's Guarantee Badge promises to put trustworthy electricians, locksmiths, plumbers and other professionals in front of people who are looking to find and book quickly.

It's called "Local Services," and it could be a game changer for consumers as well as business.

How it works

If you're looking for a plumber in Dallas, you'll type that in the Google search bar as you normally would. You'll then see businesses at the top of the page with green check marks. It says, "Google guaranteed." This means the company or business was screened and vetted.

Google the indicator a "badge of trust," and only businesses who have met Google's qualifying criteria will get this badge on their ad.

How does Google vet these businesses?

Google runs background checks and requires licensing and insurance information from the business owner.

Background checks are required for all businesses that want badges. All employees of the business who serve customers at their homes must also complete the background check.

Businesses have to meet all state and local license requirements. They also need general liability insurance to qualify for the Google Guarantee. License numbers and proof of insurance are required as well.

How are consumers protected?

Google says if you aren't satisfied with the work, you'll get a refund of up to $2,000 (lifetime cap).

The service must have been booked through Local Services. However, add-on or future projects, damages to property, dissatisfaction with price or provider responsiveness and cancellations aren’t covered.

Google says claims must be submitted within 30 days of the initial service completion date.

What this means for businesses

Google Guarantee ads will allow businesses to stand out from others listed on the site. Google will also create profile pages so that people can see which services are offer and the hours of operation. Google says, "it’s the perfect place to source new leads and bookings."

Google Guarantee Availability and Locations

So far, Google Guarantee is only for locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, HVAC and garage door services.

The new feature is live in the DFW area as well as Miami, Chicago, New York, Seattle and a few other cities.

ONLINE: Google Guarantee



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds Helps After Laptop Repair Takes Several Weeks]]>Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:56:08 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/laptop+repair.jpg

Your computer can be your lifeblood these days. When it breaks down, you feel lost.

Michael Bruner’s laptop was just a year old when his hard drive went out.

He already bought a 3-year extended warranty. So, he wasn't worried when he took it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy.

They promised he'd get it back soon, with regular status updates.

A week later he got an email that said he had to pay for the repair.

He reminded them of the warranty but then got a message saying his laptop was being shipped back soon.

After more time passed, he was told other things were broken and they needed parts.

This kept going on weeks.

Bruner visited the store, talked to managers, and documented everything.

This all started in late August and by the beginning of October he still had no laptop, so he called NBC 5 Responds.

We called Best Buy and they apologized saying "We always want to provide a great customer experience but in this instance with Mr. Bruner we came up short."

They refunded him the original cost of the laptop -- $1,550. Problem solved.

We helped Michael get back on track, and if you're caught up in a consumer problem, we can help you too.

NBC 5 Responds solves problems every day for you.

Click here to leave a consumer tip




Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Couple Reports Flooring Problem in D.R. Horton Home]]>Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:51:57 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/azle-responds-grout.jpg

Sandra and Jerimiah, a couple from Florida, relocated to Azle after buying a D.R. Horton home that came with a one year warranty.

A few months in, they noticed something strange in the flooring. They said there were hundreds of holes in the grout throughout the home.

The couple called D.R. Horton, and a flooring contractor was sent out to fill the holes. But, after several work orders, they said the holes kept popping up.

The couple decided to bring in another contractor to assess the damage. That contractor told them the grout was improperly installed, and it would cost them about $3,600 to re-grout the home.

The couple said they took their quote to D.R. Horton, but was told they'd only be given $750.

They were not happy, and on top of that, they said their warranty eventually expired.

So, the couple called the NBC 5 Responds team to get on the case.

We reached out to D.R. Horton. Here's what the builder had to say:

"D.R. Horton is committed to superior customer service and providing families with quality homes and neighborhoods in the DFW Metroplex and throughout the United States. We have attempted to work with the customer to resolve their concern and will reach out again."

That next day, the couple said they got a call from D.R. Horton saying they were working with the flooring contractor to resolve the complaint.

We're happy to report that the contractor wrote the couple a check for $3,600. They plan on getting their floors fixed very soon.

Now if you find yourself in this situation, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

• Take plenty of pictures of the problem as soon as you notice it.
• Also, take notes. If a repairman comes in to assess the problem, ask them what happened and document their response.
• Always check with the warranty provider to determine what's covered and how damage is resolved.
• When all else fails, the NBC 5 Responds team is on the case. Submit a complaint HERE.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Trip Abroad Racks Up Hundreds of Dollars in Roaming Charges]]>Tue, 14 Nov 2017 16:16:28 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/215*120/phone+on+plane.JPG

It's getting harder for many of us to go anywhere without our smartphones. We use them for directions, banking info and taking photographs.

And if we travel out of the country, many of us pack our phones, too. But if you're not careful you could rack up a small fortune in roaming charges.

Elise Sher saved up to send her daughter, Emily, on a trip to Israel to learn more about her Jewish heritage.

"She was so excited to go to Israel, which she heard so much about," Sher said.

Shortly before Emily was set to head overseas, her mother signed up for an international calling plan so her daughter could use her smartphone.

"I wanted her to be able to call me in case of anything. She's a little directionally challenged, so I wanted her to be able to use her maps app," Sher said.

The plan promised full access to everything on her phone for just $10 a day. They have unlimited data already, so the $10 would just carry those benefits with Emily as she and the tour group toured Israel.

"Within an hour of landing, I get a text message that says she's $100 over her data. I call AT&T and they said they forgot to activate it," Sher said.

They promised to fix it, but she kept getting alerts of more overage.

Sher says she was told her daughter had traveled to Jordan and Lebanon, and those locations weren't covered in the international plan.

But Emily hadn't been there. Her tour was on a set itinerary that didn't take her there. Sher said she was promised it would get handled, but then the bill came with more then $500 in extra charges.

AT&T told NBC 5 Responds they issued a credit before we called and said, "We've spoken with the customer about this billing issue and the issue has been resolved."

AT&T and most phone service providers have a list of the countries covered under their international plan, so make sure the country you're visiting is on the list.

If you start getting overage alerts, it can't hurt to take photos and map screenshots to document where you truly were located.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Best Strollers for Easy Holiday Travel ]]>Tue, 14 Nov 2017 07:31:16 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/aria-stroller-recall.jpg

A safe stroller is priority number one, but along with testing stability and braking Consumer Reports also tests for ease of use.

“We test strollers for how you’ll use them in the real world - like for example is it easy to get in and out of the trunk, and when you’re at the gate check you don’t want to be holding up the line, so does it fold quickly and simply,” said Joan Muratore, Consumer Reports Stroller Expert.

Consumer Reports will never recommend a stroller that doesn’t meet mandatory federal safety standards. Your regular stroller might be just fine to travel with, but Consumer Reports says some features can make navigating the airport a bit easier.

“Maneuverability is key when you’re traveling, the wheels should be fluid and responsive, and a single handle makes it easier to push if you just have one hand free,” Muratore said.

The Chicco Bravo Trio travel system is a Consumer Reports best buy. The stroller folds easily and testers give it high marks for maneuverability. The infant car seat can pop right into it, or it can be used as a stroller for children six months or older, who are able to sit up on their own.

“Another good option for travel is an umbrella stroller. They’re small, and they’re light, and they’re great for getting around crowded places like amusement parks or museums.”

The Summer Infant 3D Lite is compact and lightweight, with a reclining seat and a carry strap. This one also makes it one of Consumer Reports best buys at only $80.

The Quinny Yezz doesn’t recline, but it’s compact and light, has a handy carrying strap, and according to CR testers it “turns on a dime."

Most airlines will let you gate check your stroller for free, so you don’t have to worry about fitting it into that overhead compartment, or taking up space as one of your precious carry-on’s.  Same goes for your child’s car seat, if you won't be using it on the airplane.



Photo Credit: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission]]>
<![CDATA[How This Greenville Student Won $150K in Scholarships]]>Tue, 14 Nov 2017 11:03:14 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Gabrielle+McCormick.jpg

She's earned her bachelor's, master's and she’s months away from a Ph.D.

To us, Gabrielle McCormick has got it going on. But to her -- "I'd say I'm a nerd at heart."

McCormick is a stellar student with a lot of wisdom. But there's one thing this North Texan won’t have when she graduates:  College debt.

"Debt free! Completely debt free. Never seen a student loan application at all," McCormick said.

Here in North Texas, McCormick is best known for her time on the court at Greenville High School, a basketball star who knew her skills would one day score her an athletic scholarship.

But life had other plans.

"I tore my Achilles completely," she said. "When I told the coaches that were recruiting me that I'd torn my Achilles they said, 'Oh, I hate to hear that. Best of luck on your surgery,' and I never heard from them again."

That's when panic mode set in.

"I was desperate and my parents were desperate too. I had lost my identity as a student athlete.  A large part of my life had been taken away from me," McCormick said.

But McCormick wasn't giving up.

She started reading books and searching the Internet, determined to apply for as many scholarships as she could. What she learned, shocked her.

"You can get a scholarship for contacts, for glasses or being over 5 feet 10 inches as a female."

There's a scholarship for almost anything: from playing video games and drawing birds to making your prom dress out of duct tape.

She won money for good sportsmanship from the Commerce Basketball Officials Organization. She even won an academic scholarship from her high school’s cafeteria food vendor.

After winning more than a $150,000 in college funding, she knew she was on to something. 

"This isn't luck. You've actually figured out how to do this," she thought.

McCormick is now working on her third degree while running her own company: Scholarship Informer.

She’s teaching parents and students how to avoid loans and debt.

"I do what I do because it could’ve easily been me saddled with outrageous student debt," said McCormick. "I never wanted to place my parents in a situation where they were sacrificing their retirement to pay for my education."

Scholarship Informer was designed to help people from start to finish with the scholarship process, regardless of income level.

McCormick says her website offers numerous free resources, a scholarship calculator to help families estimate how much money a student could win, and most importantly real people helping real people.

"It’s my goal to make college affordable for everyone that wishes to attend," said McCormick.

From a former athlete to a scholarship connoisseur, she said not only is the money is there, it's everywhere. And she's here to help North Texans find it.

Online: Scholarship Informer



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Don't Get Roped Into Scam for Wrapping Your Car]]>Fri, 10 Nov 2017 23:01:11 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/n5r+car+wrap.JPG

Advertisers pay big bucks to get the word out about their product, and with so many companies headquartered in North Texas there's plenty of promotion to go around.

A Carrollton woman has a warning for you about wrapping your car in an advertisement.

Catherine Jamieson's car is copper red and kind of looks like a can of Dr Pepper.

So she wasn't shocked when she got a text message saying that the company wanted to put a sticker on her car advertising the product and would pay her $500 a week to do it.

The text message said it was a new marketing campaign for the Plano-based company.

After she clicked the link, she got a letter in the mail now wanting her to wrap her entire car, not just place a sticker.

The letter had a big red flag for Jamieson, and should be one for you, too.

She was instructed to cash an enclosed $3,500 check and get money orders for a total of $3,000 to pay for the wrapping of the car, and keep $500 for herself.

Jamieson called Dr Pepper first.

The company confirmed to NBC 5 and Jamieson that no such program exists, and they said it's more likely a scam.

Jamieson knew if and when the check bounced she would be held liable for the funds.

MORE: The Federal Trade Commission has posted more information on car wrapping ploys.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Copper Grill Mats]]>Fri, 10 Nov 2017 18:24:33 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/212*120/asparagus+grill.JPG

Grilling outside pretty much any time of year is one of the many perks living in North Texas. Cleanup is not fun, though, and the Yoshi Copper Grill mat promises to help.

Its makers claim you can grill out without all the mess.

We took the copper mats to Byron Barnes, a member of the Armed Forces who loves good food, particularly bacon.

"Bacon is food that has been sent to us from the gods," Barnes said.

Just back from service in the Middle East, his body clock is still off.

"When you're up late at night, you get the infomercials, and you see the grill mats," he said.

We'll give you one guess why he wanted one.

"It's not all about grilling bacon, but it is all about grilling bacon," he said.

We got to work with the mat, grilling steak, asparagus and bacon.

Right off the bat, Byron had a problem.

"I have a reduced cooking area because I am keeping it on the pad. But I like what's going on with this bacon over here," Barnes said.

The mats didn't full cover his grilling surface, but he liked having the option to cook on both sides, mainly because of the steak, which wasn't cooking with many grill marks like the mat promised.

"It looks like a fried steak, without any direct heat," Barnes said.

Knowing we would overcook it, we still moved the steak directly on the grill to show the difference in grill marks.

For everything else, the mat made the grade.

"I'm liking this mat," Barnes said.

Clean up was easy, too, nothing much to do.

We paid $10 for the grill mat at Target.

If you have a product you'd like Wayne to buy, send him a message at facebook.com/wayneresponds.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Veteran's Day Deals in DFW]]>Fri, 10 Nov 2017 13:36:50 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/flags+veterans+day+2017.jpg

Denny's

All active duty and retired service members can build their own grand slam breakfast. That includes buttermilk pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage (but you can mix and match to build your own platter). It's happening Friday from 5 a.m. to noon.

IHOP

All active duty and retired service members are invited to come in and enjoy free red, white and blue pancakes. This deal is on Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

TGI Fridays

Dine-in guests who show their military ID will be treated to a free lunch menu item up to $12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11. The offer includes the new Big Ribs entree in the half-rack portion. These guests will also receive a $5 coupon for their next meal at Fridays.

Target

All active duty military, veterans and their spouse and/or dependent children are eligible to receive a 10 percent discount on purchases in store and online through Saturday.

Bed, Bath and Beyond

Veterans, active duty members and their spouses get 25 percent off their entire in-store purchase through Sunday.

Chili's and Olive Garden are giving away a free meal from a special menu this Saturday.

Fogo de Chao is offering 50 percent off meals for Veterans and active duty personnel through Sunday. Plus, their three guests will get an extra 10 percent off their meals.

Spaghetti Warehouse is encouraging guests to "invite a veteran or soldier to lunch or dinner." For three days, Nov. 10-12, guests can enjoy a buy one entree, get one free coupon offer featuring its more popular enrees. Get the coupon here.

]]>
<![CDATA[Man's Car Damaged By Runaway Construction Equipment]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 18:01:59 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Car_Vs_Spool_5p_110917.jpg

It's never a good time when you're at work or shopping and someone dings or dents your car. It happened to a Prosper man, but it wasn't just a little dent.

A huge metal spool caused nearly $9,000 in damage, and the culprit was left sitting right next to his car.

Getting his money back wasn't easy, until he turned to NBC 5 Responds.

Jonathan Bilotta found the spool sitting next to his car after work. He didn't know what it was at first, but it wasn't hard to figure out.

Construction was underway on the road in front of his office, and the large metal spool was on that work site until the wind picked up and rolled the heavy metal wheel into his car.

The spool left a note — in the form of a stamp right on it — from the owner, AT&T.

"There wasn't a number, or anything you can call," Bilotta said.

He went in circles trying to find someone with the telecommunications giant to own up to it.

Their claims provider told him the spool was left there by a construction company laying phone lines. Bilotta reached out to the construction company, but they told him they couldn't help.

"He's not going to do it. It's not his fault. If anything this was an act of God," Bilotta recalled.

NBC 5 Responds contacted AT&T, and the company convinced the contractor to pay up.

The contractor texted Bilotta that his site was clean and it wasn't his fault, but he still handed over the check for nearly $9,000.

An AT&T spokesman told NBC 5, "We regret this situation, but are pleased we could facilitate a resolution."

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<![CDATA[Plano Woman: TripAdvisor Shielded Report of Rape at Resort]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 21:11:17 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tripadvisor1.jpg

For seven years a Plano woman says she's been trying to share her allegations of rape by an employee at a popular Mexican resort.

Her reviews of Iberostar's Parsiso Maya were pulled from the travel review website TripAdvisor, but now the company says that was a mistake.

TripAdvisor says it will now place icons on its website to let users know if there's been a safety issue reported at a particular hotel.

Plano mother Kristie Love fought to share her story, and she says the fight is far from over.

Love said she made the trip to that resort near Cancun many times. But on her last trip the room key wouldn't open her hotel door, so she approached a security guard for help.

She said the guard then pulled her in the bushes and attacked her.

Love said the resort wouldn't call the police — something they deny.

A spokesperson for Iberostar told NBC 5:

"The hotel offered her medical assistance as well as recommended she file a complaint with the police. Ms. Love refused both and indicated that she wanted to meet with American Embassy staff. Iberostar staff contacted the U.S. consulate at the time and offered to transfer her to another hotel if she wished. Ms. Love chose not to file a complaint, nor did she provide information that would have permitted further pursuit of the matter."

Love told her story on TripAdvisor, hoping to tell others about her experience.

The travel review website deleted the review, saying it didn't follow their family-friendly guidelines.

"It may not have gone the way I wanted legally to protect others, but I never thought telling my story about rape would be deleted for not following family-friendly guidelines," Love said.

An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found dozens of other travelers reporting rejected posts containing allegations of tainted alcohol, blackouts and even rape.

"I think consumers are starting to understand that reviews can be manipulated on these sites, and I think the level of trust is decreasing slowly," said Pauline Frommer, a travel expert.

TripAdvisor changed its policy and posted Love's review. Now it says it will add a badge letting you know if the hotel you're looking at has been the location of a sexual assault or major concern, for up to three months.

Love found the time limit insulting.

"People can take what they want, discard what they want, but we are all privy and we deserve the truth," she said.

A spokeswoman for TripAdvisor told NBC 5:

"Our new badges are intended for instances in which news reports bring new health, safety or discrimination information to light that may not be present in traveler reviews or forum posts."

She added, "A few years ago, we updated that policy to allow more descriptive reviews and content about first-hand account of serious incidents like rape or assault on our site. We recognized then that our previous guidelines went too far in preventing information like this from being shared."

"No hotel can 'bid' for higher placement within our rankings. None of our ranking positions are for sale," the spokeswoman said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Contractor Indicted for Felony Theft]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 06:52:51 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/kevin-kissire-cu.jpg

A North Texas contractor accused of stealing from a local business and church is now the subject of an active arrest warrant.

Jaime Fernandes and his son, Matt, run a small, family business: Azure Pools and Outdoor Living. Operating in their leased office space has made their jobs challenging. So, they turned to Kevin Kissire to build a showroom for their pool company.

"He took us out for steak lunches. I thought he'd be a great, honest person to do business with," said Matt Fernandes.

They said Kissire showed them some of his work from around North Texas and assured them Standard Steel Buildings would get the job done.

Fernandes signed a contract and later wrote a check for $18,000. But, Kissire said he needed more cash up front to secure the price of steel.

After receiving the design, they put down more money, paying Kissire nearly $40,000 up front. Shortly after, they said Kissire disappeared.

"He wasn't answering any emails or calls," Fernandes explained.

Jaime Fernandes called another one of Kissire's clients, Pastor E.G. Roberts.  His church needed a new sanctuary. Roberts said that after shelling out nearly $50,000 to Kissire, they have nothing to show for it.

"From a fleshly side, I would love to get my hands on him," said Roberts. "From a spiritual side, I have to forgive him. But, if I actually saw him, the flesh may win this time."

They learned Kissire had closed up shop and moved to the Philippines, something Kissire's own father told NBC 5.

"You're a coward. If you steal from a church and other business you're a coward. You're the lowest of low," Fernandes said.

Fernandes and Roberts each filed police reports. However, they weren't sure if justice would ever be served. 

Months later, the Wylie Police Department reached out to Azure Pools and told them of the indictment.

"Azure Pools contracted with Kevin Kissire, owner of Standard Steel Buildings to construct a building within the city limits of Wylie," a Wylie police spokesman told NBC 5 Responds. "During the investigation, it was determined that Kevin Kissire received payments for the construction of the building, but did not have any intent on completing the project. Investigators were able to speak with other victims and determine that this was a common practice of Kissire."

A case was filed with the Collin County District Attorney’s Office, and Kissire was subsequently indicted on a charge of theft of property.

"We want to see that money back and we want justice to be served," said Fernandes. 

"We are prayerful that the authorities flag his passport so when he does come back into the country, the authorities will be sitting at the airport waiting on him when he gets there," Roberts said.

Kissire is still believed to be in the Philippines. There's no word yet if extradition is on the table.

NBC 5 Responds has tried reaching out to Kissire multiple times through multiple channels. We are still waiting on a response.

Police said the case is still ongoing, and if more leads point to other people involved, they will investigate them as well.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds Helps Family Get Refund From Nursing Home]]>Wed, 08 Nov 2017 18:15:44 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/counting+money+generic.jpg

When dealing with a big company it's easy to get passed around from person to person. It's extra frustrating when that company owes you money.

Ken Fung was in this very situation at the worst possible time in his life.

Ken's mother was in a nursing home and died on Mother's Day, right in the middle of the month of May.

Ken Fung asked the facility for a refund for half of the month's charge.

We called around and many nursing homes don't do that, but Fung tells us Victoria Gardens of Allen agreed to do so.

However, he didn't get a check. Every time he asked about the delay, he says he was given different reasons like: he still owed on another account, the finance person was out, or the corporate system was down.

So, he finally turned to NBC 5 Responds.

We reached out to the nursing home repeatedly by phone and through email.

Our team never got a call back to verify the claims and work out a deal. However, days after we started making contact, the nursing home called Fung and provided him the full refund.

When you're caught in a back and forth with a company, document what everyone tells you, takes notes, and try to find some other person in the company to listen.

If they don't, call us. NBC 5 Responds works for you: Send us tips anytime



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Hackers Take Over McKinney Woman's Amazon Account]]>Wed, 08 Nov 2017 07:03:08 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Amazon-PackageGettyImages-461842880.jpg

Rene Lynn can't imagine a life without Amazon. Unbeknownst to her, something strange was happening to her Amazon account. 

The red flag was raised after she received nearly 250 emails from Amazon.

"I noticed they were items that had been listed for sale on Amazon," Lynn said. "This was not me. I did not set up anything to be sold on Amazon."

There were dozens of items for sale under her name. 

She logged into Amazon and realized a seller page had been added to her account. 

Lynn said she reached out to Amazon and received a reply that they'd get back to her within 24 hours. But, she never heard back.

As the emails continued to pour in, she said she started doing some research and realized she may have been a victim of fraud.

Here's how the scheme works:

  1. Hackers steal log-ins and take over an Amazon customer's account.
  2. They then add a seller account and add their bank account information to the profile.
  3. Next: The hackers advertise nonexistent merchandise, make a sale and collect the cash.

There are two sets of victims in this scheme: The primary account holder and the Amazon customer that never receives the product for which they paid.

"I needed help getting Amazon to realize what the situation was and that I have a problem," she said.

Not only was Lynn's account still being abused, but Amazon charged her $240 in seller fees. 

She called the NBC 5 Responds team to step in.

Amazon wouldn't comment on the fraudulent activity, but they said they'd work with Lynn directly.

The seller account was later taken down, and Amazon refunded Lynn the $240 it withdrew for the seller fees.

Lynn said Amazon informed her that customers did buy products listed on her account, but the company has given all of those customers their money back.  We reached out to amazon about this, but haven't received a response.

If you have an amazon account, here are some extra layers of protection:

• Change your password regularly.
• You can also set up "two-step" verification for all of your amazon accounts.  This sends a security code to your phone to verify your log in.
• watch out for third party-sellers. Check their reviews and watch out for the prices. If it seems too cheap…it could be a scam.
• If you're not getting a response back from amazon via email or call the customer service line at 888-280-4331.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chandelier Crashes to Ground in North Texas Family's Foyer]]>Tue, 07 Nov 2017 17:45:50 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/Fallen_Chandelier_5p_110717.jpg

Crashes aren't unusual in the Word family's home.

Their son, Colby, loves playing with his wrestling action figures with his dad.

As tough as Colby may be, even he was shaken by the crash in the foyer of their home.

"It sounded like a whole glass bottle falling," Colby said.

His father, Marcus Word, had just walked in from getting the mail when the fixture fell, and he is counting his blessings his son wasn't playing underneath the light when it crashed.

The home is about five years old, and the builder, Lillian Custom Homes, first told Word they couldn't help, because they were the second owners and the warranty was up.

"I told him, I said, 'You realize this could have hurt or killed someone,'" Marcus Word said.

He hired an electrician who blamed the junction box which held the heavy fixture. It was plastic, not metal, and it cracked under the weight of the chandelier.

Word was worried the same box might be on other fixtures in his home and asked NBC 5 Responds for help.

Lillian Custom Homes told us, "Words cannot express how truly sorry we are for the anxiety, frustration and inconvenience Mr. Word and his family experienced."

They said this was the first time such an issue happened in one of their homes and the employees with whom Marcus Word first spoke weren't trained on how to properly handle it. They paid for the cost of the repairs and sent crews to inspect the other fixtures in the home, where they found the same junction box in the dining room.

They replaced it, and told us, "The plastic junction box in question is rated to hold up to 50 pounds. The chandelier installed weighs 26 pounds, according to the manufacturer. While our electrician did follow code ordinances and the house passed all code inspections, obviously a component of the electrical/light fixture failed."

The Word family hopes the only crashes and smashes in their home now are with Colby's action figures on the family room rug.

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<![CDATA[Companies Aren't Keeping Promises on Gift Cards: Consumers]]>Tue, 07 Nov 2017 06:41:57 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/0222-2017-GiftCard.jpg

The NBC 5 Responds team has received dozens of complaints about gift card promotions. Consumers often tell us that the only reason they signed up for a product was because of the gift card.

Take Dr. Kaz for example: She's a busy woman who needs reliable internet service at all times. She said she heard about a promotion with AT&T that offered a $100 gift card after signing up for service.

It sounded like a good idea. So, Kaz accepted the offer.

She had her internet installed, but the gift card never came in the mail. Three months went by and still, nothing.

Kaz said she called AT&T and was told the promotion ended in September.  She wasn't happy, so she asked to speak with a manager.

The woman said she was then offered $50 off her bill. She became increasingly angry because all she wanted was the gift card she was promised.

Kaz called the NBC 5 Responds team and we called AT&T to find out what happened.

"Customer service is a top priority for us, and we were able to resolve this issue with the customer," an AT&T spokesman told NBC DFW.

About a week later, Kaz finally received that $100 gift card along with a $50 bill credit.

If this sounds familiar, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions: 

• When you sign up for a promotion, always read the fine print.
• Make sure you keep track of the dates: When you signed up and when you can expect the gift card.
• If you don't get anything in the mail or online, call customer service immediately and ask for it. If you wait, it may be too late.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Putting the iPhone X to the Test]]>Tue, 07 Nov 2017 04:11:59 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/iPhone+X.jpg

The iPhone X includes the highest resolution screen Apple has ever offered, plus facial recognition technology to unlock the phone, since there’s no longer a physical home button.

Consumer Reports is testing that facial recognition and other features of the new iPhone in its labs. So far it’s performing well in early tests.

"The iPhone X, like the eight and eight-plus before it, has glass on the front and the back. So we were a little concerned about durability, so like the other phones we test here, we subjected it to a series of drop tests where we put it on a specialized slider. We dropped it from five feet onto concrete on it’s front, it’s back and it’s corners. And after all that it survived with just a few minor scrapes,” said Bree Fowler, Consumer Reports Electronics Editor.

And the new facial recognition feature continued to work after drop tests from three feet.

Over the next few days Consumer Reports will conduct battery, camera and additional durability testing including a tumble test and water immersion test. Those results will be available soon.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Joanna Gaines Warns Fans About Fake Skin Care Ads]]>Mon, 06 Nov 2017 09:16:36 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/joanna-gaines-face-cream.jpg

The world can't seem to get enough of Chip and Joanna Gaines. Texans call them the first couple of Waco.

In July, Janie Carpenter came across an ad that nearly broke her heart. It said the couple was parting ways with their famous show to "start a new project."

"It stated that she was starting up a skin cream line," Carpenter said.

It even included testimonials.

"And I thought 'woo hoo,' I'm going to try this product," she recalled.

Carpenter signed up for a free sample of "Zarza Revive Cream," but another product also appeared in her cart.

"A secondary product for an eye cream, and I had no options to delete that eye cream," she explained.

It was only an extra $5.95 for shipping, so she just went with it.

But after receiving the two products, she realized she was charged $94 for one sample and $104 for the other.

Carpenter called the number on the website to find out why she was overcharged. She said a representative informed her that there was a 14-day window where she had to return the product, and she was already beyond that 14-day window.

When the company only agreed to a partial refund, she says she realized it may be a scam.

The Responds team in Boston found customers with similar complaints.

"About two weeks later, I was scrolling through my online banking account and I saw a couple of odd looking charges, and they were for $97 and 98 each," said Jean Straupenieks. "I couldn't determine. There were these strange names. We figured out it was this company."

The NBC 5 Responds team has learned that Joanna Gaines isn't endorsing this product.

In an April blog post, she warned fans, "I am not getting into the business of facial creams."

Her company, Magnolia Market, issued this statement:

"We are aware of the ongoing scam linking Joanna to a line of skincare products. We have been working to identify as many of the skincare scam sites as possible and we have been able to shut down several already, but we'd love everyone's help in spreading the word that this is a scam and to not click or engage with any of these ads." 

Documents obtained by the Responds team show 37 complaints about the Vlamorous free trial offer have been filed with the Federal Trade Commission.

We tried calling both Vlamorous and Zarza, but couldn't reach anyone for comment.

"It was very deceiving because they made you think this was Joanna Gaines' skin products," Carpenter said.

Fortunately, she was able to dispute the second charge with her credit card company, so she got the rest of her money back.

As for the Zarza ad, it's still falsely advertising products using Joanna Gaines' name.

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<![CDATA[North Texas Church Says Contractor Ran Off With $50,000]]>Fri, 03 Nov 2017 21:44:38 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Church_Ripped_Off_10p_10032017.jpg

Pastor E.G. Roberts says preaching was never a choice, and for him it is much more than just a job.

"We need to save lost souls. People are searching for a higher calling," Roberts said.

As membership grows at the Way of Christ Christian Church in Duncanville, so does the need for more space.

"It's nothing wrong with this place. We feel this place is home, but we're trying to reach a larger population," Roberts said.

The congregation made it their mission to raise enough money to build a new sanctuary from the ground up. They settled on land in DeSoto. A builder with whom the pastor worked on another project referred him to Standard Steel Buildings in Rockwall. The church wanted to build their new church using steel, and thought Standard Steel Buildings could help begin the construction process.

They did research and looked at different churches the company built.

"We just made sure that he was a legit company, which he was, so we thought," Roberts said.

The pastor and his board members were impressed with the designs and blueprints, so they signed the contract. They paid about $13,000 up front. According to Roberts, that's when the trouble started.

"They said that the price for steel was gonna go up, and we had to put down another $10,000. And we said, OK, so we did that," Robert said.

Months went by and the church didn't hear from the company.

Roberts says the owner, Kevin Kissire, stopped returning his phone calls almost immediately. The project manager, Jason White, wasn't answering either.

They couldn't get either to pick up until they started calling from different numbers.

Roberts says whenever they could reach the owner and project manager, their list of excuses for not moving forward on the project ranged from being out of town to family emergencies. Ultimately, they kept saying the pastor would need to put down more money to move forward. The church ended up shelling out nearly $50,000 for the project.

More than a year later, and still nothing.

"By now we figured the first phase would be finished," Roberts said.

The pastors says the project manager eventually informed him he was no longer affiliated with Standard Steel Buildings and that the owner moved to the Philippines. That manager, Jason White, confirmed with NBC 5 Responds that he no longer works for the company. But when asked where all the money had gone, he hung up the phone.

After looking into the owner's background, we learned Kevin Kissire has been convicted of at least five theft charges over the years, including writing a bad check. We also discovered he stopped paying taxes on Standard Steel Buildings back in 2015 and the state yanked the company's business license. We tried to call Kissire, but all of his numbers have been disconnected. We also reached out to him via Facebook days ago and have yet to hear back.

How does Pastor Roberts feel about all of this?

"From a fleshly side, I would love to get my hands on him; from a spiritual side, I have to forgive him. But if I actually saw him, the flesh may win this time," Roberts said.

The pastor says he started doing some research of his own and learned his church was far from alone. Azure Pools and Outdoor Living tells NBC 5 Responds they, too, were ripped off by Standard Steel Buildings. They say they paid that company more than $40,000 to build a new office, but they were left with nothing.

"We also have documents stating that his mama, his daddy, his uncle, his aunties, all of them are part owners in the company," Roberts said.

We reached out to Weldon Kissire, the owner's father. He confirmed that many family members worked with his son many years ago as advisors, but he tells me they eventually parted ways.

Weldon says he's spoken to the pastor many times and he'd believe what the pastor says over his son any day.

The congregation is raising money once again hoping to have a new building sometime next year. Financially crippled, but not broken.

"The money don't belong to me, it belongs to the Lord. When you're brave enough to steal from God, you'll steal from anybody," Roberts said.

The pastor has filed a police report with the DeSoto Police Department. He says he was told the matter was civil and there wasn't much that could be done. Roberts says they can't afford to sue, but he's not giving up. He hopes that sharing his story will prevent someone else from falling victim.

]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Baseboard Buddy]]>Fri, 03 Nov 2017 16:39:07 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Baseboard_Buddy_5p_110317.jpg

Big, white, bright baseboards are a staple in so many of our homes, but cleaning them can be a hassle.

The Baseboard Buddy promises to help, as a fast and easy way to clean both baseboards and moldings.

Susan Lackey's home is right out of a magazine. She loves to clean, but there is one little problem.

"I have four cats, which almost qualifies me as a crazy cat lady," Lackey said. "They walk by, and fur falls off."

Lackey saw a commercial for the Baseboard Buddy and let Wayne buy it.

After wetting the pad and applying to the wall at a 45-degree angle, they got their answer.

"I love it! I love it," Lackey said.

We took a look before and after, and the Baseboard Buddy did a good job removing the dirt.

"It's a simple problem, and a simple solution," said Lackey, who plans to add it to her FMP — "Fur Management Plan."

If you have a product you're curious about trying out, tell us at facebook.com/wayneresponds and let Wayne buy it.

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<![CDATA[Affordable Care Act Enrollment Begins Wednesday]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 17:10:37 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/health-care-exchange-story.jpg

The Affordable Care Act is still on the books, and if you don't get insurance through your employer, the window to enroll for health insurance is Dec. 15.

The IRS says this year your income taxes will be incomplete if you aren't covered.

The Dec. 15 is much earlier than last year, and if you miss it you could face significant fines.

You can begin the enrollment process at healthcare.gov.

The enrollment marketplace has fewer insurance choices, after Anthem and Aetna dropped out. Eight insurers remain in Texas — and rural areas have the least choices — but most counties will have one or two insurer choices.

Premiums will likely go up this year, however, a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds many of you will now qualify for insurance for free for the first time.

It was an unintended result of changes the Trump administration made to the law.

By cutting funding, the survey found subsidies increased, making Bronze-level insurance policies free for many who qualify.

The Trump administration did cut money for the government to help answer questions about signing up for ACA.

Many organizations that support it are providing the service free of charge.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollment Starts Nov. 1]]>Thu, 02 Nov 2017 08:15:19 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/obamacare2.jpg

Open enrollment starts Nov. 1 in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

This enrollment period is shorter than the previous ones at just 45 days.

Those who don't enroll for health insurance by Dec. 15 will need to experience a qualifying life event to sign up. That's something like losing a job or getting married.

The cost of insurance will likely be higher this time around, now that the cost-sharing reduction subsidies have been cut.

The best place to register is online through the government's healthcare website.

Parkland Hospital is also offering free assistance during the enrollment period.

Counselors will be on hand to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and help with Marketplace enrollment between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday in Parkland's Business Office. 

The Business Office is located here:

Parkland OPC
5201 Harry Hines Blvd.
Dallas, Texas 75235

Free assistance is also offered at Parkland's community health centers in Dallas, Garland and Irving during regular business hours on Tuesday and Thursdays.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rent-A-Center Faces Suit Over Billing Practices, Bookkeeping]]>Tue, 31 Oct 2017 16:31:02 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rent+a+center.jpg

Complaints against Plano based Rent-A-Center are coming in from all sides.

A Houston debt collector told NBC 5 Rent-A-Center sold him names of phone numbers of people behind on their bill. But when he contacted them, they had proof the bills were already paid. He also says payments the debt collector took on delinquent bills were allegedly never credited to the customers.

This news comes after an investigation by NerdWallet that says the Plano based rent to own company has failed to properly update credit files for many paying customers, and that they threatened non-paying ones with arrest.

A source close to Rent-A-Center told NBC 5 this was the first they heard of many of the complaints and that they don't condone or accept many of the actions.

NBC 5 Responds also got this statement from Rent-A-Center saying:

“The company believes NerdWallet included a number of exaggerated and inaccurate claims and grossly mischaracterized Rent-A-Center’s business practices. The company is confident in the merits of the business and industry to empower those striving to enjoy the American dream.”

Rent-A-Center won't specifically comment on the debt collection issue because a lawsuit has been filed.

We also confirmed with the Tarrant County District Attorney's office that 1 out of 5 of their theft of service cases have to do with rent to own furniture companies.

Dallas and Collin County are looking into their reports for us.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Halloween Deals, Freebies and Discounts]]>Tue, 31 Oct 2017 05:53:49 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/halloween-candy-generic.jpg

Chipotle's Boorito deal is still going strong. It brings out big crowds every year. Stop by any Chipotle in costume after 3 p.m. and you'll get a burrito, bowl, salad or tacos for $3.

Online: Boorito

If you get tired of all that candy today, Krispy Kreme says they have the perfect alternative: A free Halloween doughnut, no purchase necessary. All you have to do is come dressed in your costume and the free treat is yours. It's happening all day at participating Krispy Kreme locations.

Online: Krispy Kreme

How about FREE PANCAKES at IHOP? Kids ages 12 and under can create their own scary faced pancake from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday. It's one pancake per child, but we're told it's a pretty good size. Kids can also enter their pancake creation for a chance to win an IHOP gift card. Use the hashtags SCARYFACEPANCAKE and ENTRY.

Online: IHOP

Kids under 12 years old get a FREE MEAL at Dickey's Barbecue Pit. The promotion is on Halloween from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. All the kiddos have do is come dressed in a costume.

Online: Dickey's Barbecue Pit

Sonic is offering CORN DOGS for just 50 cents. The promotion is going all day on Halloween.

Online: Sonic

Plano-based PIZZA HUT wants you to take 25 percent off your order on Halloween by using the promo code. SCARYGOOD25

Online: Pizza Hut



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Getting the Lowest Price for Online Purchases]]>Mon, 30 Oct 2017 16:31:15 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Paribus+app.jpg

Prices change frequently on just about everything you buy online. Some times it can happen several times a day.

Amazon and other online retailers often promise to pay you the price difference if the item you buy lowers in cost after you make the purchase, but most people don't track prices on things they've already bought.

Paribus is one app that helps. It scans your email for receipts and searches to see if the price for the item you purchased goes down.

The app's developer says it will automatically send an email to the merchant asking for the lower price and credit your bank account.

It also keeps track of shipping time, too.

"A lot of stores promise that your package is supposed to be in by Thursday, and it ends up getting in a little later, like Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Well, you can get the shipping costs back or if you're a (Amazon) Prime member — get an extra month of Prime," said Eric Glyman, of Paribus.

There are other plugins and apps like Honey, a handy service that will save you money, before you spend it. They let you know if the item you're about to buy is cheaper at another merchant.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Drivers Across US Report 'Exploding' Sunroofs]]>Mon, 30 Oct 2017 05:30:47 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-exploding-sunroofs.jpg

Hundreds of drivers across the country have reported cracking, shattering and exploding sunroofs from different makes and models of vehicles.

Alicia Quinn said she was only doing 20 mph on a residential road in Southlake when the sunroof on her 2015 Nissan Altima exploded.

"I actually thought that I was shot," she said. "It sounded like a gun."

Quinn said nothing hit the glass — it just shattered on its own.

She took the car into a Nissan dealership near her job. She said the service department kept the car for several days and later determined something must have hit the sunroof, meaning she would have to pay for repairs.

"No way, no way anything hit it," Quinn explained.

Keisha King, in Chicago, shared a similar story.

"I really thought I got shot at," she said. "Did my sunroof just, like, explode?"

She was driving her 2013 Nissan Altima on an expressway when she said, all of a sudden, she heard a boom. There was shattered glass and a large hole in her sunroof.

"I feel like it's a safety issue," said King.

Others across the country seem to agree.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received hundreds of complaints about shattered sunroofs across multiple brands.

Mark Meshulam, a glass expert, pointed to three likely culprits: Rock or debris hitting the glass, an installation flaw, or imperfections in the glass itself.

"Tempered glass can be like a ticking time bomb...There are little imperfections," explained Meshulam. "They're like little stones. If they happen to be inside tempered glass, there's potential that down the road that little stone will grow sufficiently to actually spontaneously break the glass."

As of writing, a federal class action lawsuit was underway against Nissan. The complaint focuses on Nissan and Infiniti models from 2008 to 2017, claiming the sunroofs are "defective" and prone to "spontaneously shattering."

Nissan North America tells NBC 5 Responds the following:

"The safety and security of our customers is always our number one priority. While we cannot speak specifically on behalf Nissan dealerships, which are independently owned and operated, regarding questions related to reports of moon roof breakage, Nissan does not have evidence of any issue related to design or manufacturing. Consequently, damaged moon roofs should be submitted to the owner's insurer as a comprehensive claim."

Quinn had to pay $800 to repair her sunroof.

"If my child was in the car and that thing was open, she would have been covered in glass because the car seat is under the glass," she said. "This is a major issue."

NHTSA tells NBC 5 Responds it has an open investigation into sunroofs and encourages the public to contact them if they have any information about this matter.

As for Alicia Quinn's sunroof, we reached out to her local dealership and it has processed a refund for $800 as a goodwill gesture.

ONLINE: Contact NHTSA



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Faulty Furniture Leaves Customer Looking for Answers]]>Mon, 30 Oct 2017 15:57:54 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/faulty+furniture.jpg

Spending time outdoors is a way of life in North Texas. Even when home, we're often dining or lounging in our yards and patios. Investing in quality outdoor furniture can set you back quite a bit, so imagine the frustration when that pricey patio set doesn't last long at all.

Rachel Sipperley has a rooftop patio with quite the view. She knew it is where she and her friends would be spending some serious time.

"To grill out and sit up here and have a glass of wine at night, look at the gorgeous skyline and some sun," Sipperley said.

She saw an ad on Craigslist for some all-weather furniture — brand new and still in the box — from Vrienden Outdoor.

"And then when I contacted them, they told me that they were wholesalers, and that they had just done a home and garden show in Dallas, and that they were leaving and that they kind of just had this extra set here that they were kind of trying to get rid of," Sipperley said.

She says Alex and Suzanne Ricitelli told her it was high quality, commercial grade furniture with a five-year warranty.

Sipperley paid more than $2,000 in cash for the set, and she was pretty happy with it at first.

"I started noticing in the tables kind of little almost melted holes," she said.

She showed how the wicker in the furniture was breaking, and the webbing on a couch arm was falling apart. The coffee table also has broken pieces, she said.

She took video of how the material was sliding away.

Alex and Suzanne Ricitelli reportedly told Sipperley they never had this issue before.

"She kind of said take it up with the manufacturer, there's nothing we can do," Sipperley recalled. "So I reached out to the manufacturer, and what they said was, 'Well, you didn't buy it from us, so we're not going to honor the warranty.'"

Vrienden Outdoor is based out of Minneapolis. And right on its website are photos of Sipperley's furniture and a list of their installations, including, allegedly, the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.

Vrienden owner Kevin Mach said he wasn't obligated to replace the furniture, because Sipperley bought it from the Ricitellis and not from his company directly.

He offered to sell Sipperley new tables for the set at a discount. But she would also have to pay shipping, and it was going to cost more than $200.

Sipperley asked Mach if he could ship the replacement to the Ricitellis with their next order to cut down on the cost.

He wrote, "We could, but it might be the spring."

She agreed, but it never happened. And Sipperley says it proves the Ricitellis did have a relationship with the company owner.

Vrienden told NBC 5 Responds because Sipperley bought the product second hand, they weren't obligated to help.

To this day, Sipperley says she doesn't know exactly how the Ricitellis are connected to the company.

And the Hilton Anatole tells us they've never purchased any patio furniture from Vrienden.

We've also found the exact same ads running in other cities, word for word.

Vrienden and its owner have yet to return any more of calls or answer any more emails from NBC 5 Responds.

"I don't think I'm getting my money back," Sipperley said.

Sipperley says she's learned the hard way the dangers of buying things online at a discount, and what is said verbally means little.

We tracked down Suzanne Ricitelli — the woman who sold Sipperley the furniture over Craigslist — and tried for days to connect with her, with no luck.

There's also a handful of Better Business Bureau complaints about Vrienden Outdoor's quality and warranty from consumers across the country.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Clorox Scrubtastic]]>Fri, 27 Oct 2017 17:10:49 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/LWBI_Scrubtastic_5p_102717.jpg

Most of us don't look forward to cleaning the bathroom, as scrubbing soap scum can be hard work.

The Clorox Scrubtastic is a powered brush that promises to make that job a little easier. It comes with three different brushes for different chores in the bathroom.

"I'm picky about my bathroom. I just want it to shine," said Liz Trevino.

She has a disability which makes maneuvering around the house a little tough. She agreed not to clean her bathroom for a few days so we could really see what Scrubtastic could do.

We tried the flat brush on her shower door. While the glass wasn't quite crystal clear, the Scrubtastic made a big dent, especially on the chrome.

We also tried it on the grout.

You could see how much dirt came off by looking at the white, turned brown brush bristles.

We also used the extender, which allowed Trevino to clean all around the sides and bottom of her tub without bending down.

"I'm impressed with it, because I like the way it worked in the tub," she said.

We paid $39.95 for Scrubtastic on Amazon.

This product test came as a suggestion from Trevino on Wayne Carter's Facebook page. If you have a product you want Wayne to buy, log on to facebook.com/wayneresponds and let him know.

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<![CDATA[What You Can Do in Case of a Canceled Concert]]>Mon, 30 Oct 2017 16:02:40 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Canceled_Concert_5p_102617.jpg

It's always exciting to score tickets when your favorite singer comes to town, and it's equally disappointing if that show gets canceled. But what happens if you don't get your money back.]]>
<![CDATA[Contractor Pleads Guilty to Theft After NBC 5 Investigation]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 10:20:23 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Mario-Vila.jpg

His customers thought the man who introduced himself as "Dino Milutinovic" was an honest businessman.

Sophia Gray found him on Craigslist and paid him $4,300 to renovate her backyard. But she said he never returned after receiving the money. Consumers in Tarrant, Dallas, Parker and Ellis counties were faced with the same dilemma. 

"Within this group we have...$26,000 in a very short period of time that this man has taken away from us," said Terry Hill, a North Texas homeowner.

During our investigation, NBC 5 Responds learned "Dino Milutinovic" wasn't the contractor's name after all. His real name is Mario Vila. Vila said his name was tarnished by bad reviews, so he needed to come up with something different to get jobs.

Vila also revealed that his business got out of hand. He took deposits from new customers and used the money to finish other jobs and pay back loans.

"It's still stealing," said John Cole, a homeowner who says he was victimized by Vila. "We all need money, but I don't steal from people."

After our report aired, the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office brought Vila in for questioning. Officers arrested him that day and charged him with theft of service.

"We kind of just thought he was just going to get away with it and we'd lose out," Hill explained.

Nearly a year later, Vila accepted a plea deal, admitting guilt and agreeing to pay his victims back.

The DA's office tells NBC 5 Responds: "We reached an agreement in this case with the defense that ensured every victim in this case was paid back every penny that they lost. The total amount mr vila took from his victims was $39,900. Yesterday he paid back that entire amount."

Hill was shocked by the news, but she's glad she can put all of this behind her.

"Hopefully he realizes he can't go through life ripping people off and thinking he can get away with it, because there's always someone out there who will not let the situation go, and they're going to work until you're held accountable," she said

The DA's office says it is often difficult to recover lost funds in these incidents.  So they're glad the victims in Tarrant County, in this case, were each paid back in full.

The NBC 5 Responds team has recovered more than $700,000 for consumers.  If you have a consumer complaint that you'd like the team to investigate, click here: www.nbcdfw.com/consumer-form/



Photo Credit: Tarrant Co. Sheriff's Dept./NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA[FW Couple Reimbursed for Tow-Damaged Car]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 06:14:22 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tow-truck-sign-generic.jpg

Faye and Gregory Caldwell said they picked up their car from Metro Parking Solutions in Fort Worth.

They said front bumper was damaged and they were furious.

The couple said an employee assured them they'd pay to get it fixed, but later came back and said they'd only reattach the rubber mask on the bumper.

The Caldwells weren't too sure about this, so they went to three different auto body shops to get another opinion.

They were told the damage would cost them anywhere from $1,400 to $1,800, and reattaching the rubber mask wouldn't be enough.

The couple said they went back to the towing company, but at that point, all of their calls were being ignored.

So the couple called NBC 5 Responds for help.

Metro parking solutions told NBC 5 Responds, "We did not see any evidence that the tow operator damaged this vehicle. However, because Mr. Caldwell seemed so convinced that the damage did occur we offered to remedy the situation by paying to have the plastic under the front of the car clipped back up to the undercarriage....We offered to have a local shop we do business with secure the plastic pieces I spoke of. They declined, insisting there was other damage."

We sent the company the estimates again so they could take another look.  Not long after, they agreed to write Faye and Gregory a check to cover the damage.

The Fort Worth couple is glad their problem is finally solved.

If you have an issue with a towing company, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

  • You can file a complaint with the texas department of licensing and regulation
  • You can also file a claim on the tow company's insurance if you have damage



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[3 Things You Need to Know About the Wi-Fi 'Krack Attack']]>Tue, 24 Oct 2017 06:01:16 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/wifi-logo-hack.jpg

The Krack Attack is a newly discovered internet security flaw. It's a bug so vicious that it can cut through secured Wi-Fi networks in homes and businesses.

The Problem

If a hacker gains access through this type of attack, that person would have a front row seat to everything on your network. 

From your private chats on apps to baby monitors, if the device uses Wi-Fi, it can be hacked.

How It Works

The attack takes advantage of what's known as "the four way handshake."

This process between a device and a router delivers a fresh, encrypted session every time you get online.

That encryption is what is supposed to make your data uncrackable.

This newly discovered bug can crack that encryption, leaving all of your data exposed.

Good News

Experts at DKB Innovative, though, say they don't know of anyone who actually has these "krack" tools yet.

And many manufacturers have already released several patches across multiple platforms to close this loophole.

More Good News

Hackers can't just do this anywhere.

They have to be physically close to the Wi-Fi network. So they couldn't do this overseas.

Samantha Chatman's Solutions

• Make sure all of your devices are updated. Manufacturers will usually send your device a reminder, but it's up to you to authorize the update.

• You can also try using connections other than Wi-Fi, such as your cell phone's 3G or 4G connection

• You can also try using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, which can give you another layer of protection



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Yearlong Headstone Dispute Finally Resolved]]>Mon, 23 Oct 2017 06:12:39 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/consumer-responds-tombstone.jpg

As if burying her favorite aunt wasn't hard enough, Wynona Stone is now faced with yet another struggle. 

Her aunt Aline passed away in 1999 and her mom died last year. Both were missing the date of death on their headstones.

"We couldn't make the money right then and there," Stone said.

But last November, Stone and her sister scraped up enough cash to pay for their date plates. They paid Hughes Family Tribute Center about $400 for the date plates and expected both to be installed in a month or two.

But each time Stone and her sister visited the gravesite, the dates were still missing. Stone called the funeral home to find out why it was taking so long. 

"They said they order them out in California and as soon as they come in that they'd notify us," she said. "But we were never notified."

By spring, Stone said her mom's date plate was finally installed. But her aunt's still wasn't there. 

Stone's aunt's name was eventually taken off the headstone. She thought it was a sign that a new plate was coming soon. 

So Stone and I decided to go to the funeral home together to find out why this has taken nearly a year.

"There's nothing there and it doesn't prove that she even existed! It's a shame," Stone said.

After about five minutes of waiting, the owner pulled the date plate out of the drawer. 

The owner tells NBC 5 Responds "The bronze manufacturer for this plate is no longer in business and it took time to find a company that could make a matching plate. The first plate, unbeknownst to us, was delivered to the cemetery after hours on a Saturday and left at the door. We were unaware that it had been delivered and didn't realize it was missing for a few weeks, because bronze has a lengthy manufacturing time frame and this was a special order. Once we realized it had been delivered, and was most likely stolen, we paid to have a second plate made. In order to get the second plate here as quickly as possible, we also paid to have it expedited." 

That same day, the funeral home finally installed the plate on the headstone.  Putting Stone at ease. 

The funeral home, which also owns Crown Hill Memorial Park, says they tried to keep the family up to date on the status, as new information was received.  "Most of the delays have been outside of crown hill's control, but we are looking at the process to see if we can make internal changes that could have reduced the time it took...One step already taken is the change with Federal Express, which should help eliminate the need for a second plate needing to be ordered."

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<![CDATA[Contractor Hired to Paint Home as Part of Fake Check Scheme]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 21:40:40 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/fake+check.png

There’s plenty of work for home improvement contractors around North Texas, but this is a business often driven by recommendations and referrals.

When new contractor Charles Brand got an online lead for an estimate to paint an entire house, he was pretty pumped. “He sent me a location for an address. He stated he wasn’t in the state, he was away undergoing surgery with a specialist in California. He wanted me to give an estimate while he was away, and wanted me to do the work while he was away,” said Brand.

This was odd, but Brand says not unheard of. He’s done work for many customers who live out-of-state or wanted work done while on vacation.

So, he headed to the home in Garland, sized it up and texted an estimate for the job to his potential client. “The estimate was $1,600, and he gave me a total of $5,100 in the form of two separate checks,” said Brand.

The homeowner told Brand he couldn’t start painting just yet. He claimed to have  just bought the house and still owed the previous homeowner a few thousand dollars as part of the deal. He wanted Brand to help.

The text he sent Brand about the transaction said, “You will deduct $1,600 for your service and send the extra $3,500 to the initial ex-homeowner via cash deposit.”

He wanted Brand to deposit those checks, quickly, he asked the manager at the bank for advice. They researched the checks and yes they were fake.

Brand says, “Small businesses like myself we’re an easy target for people to send fraudulent checks and we’re gullible to accept”

Typically in schemes involving checks written for more than the amount of service, crooks ask you to deposit the checks and your bank will put the money in your account. The crook will then ask you to send the extra money back to them, or wire it to some third party. Days, sometimes even weeks later, the bank realizes the checks are fake and the money is taken back. But, you have already sent the extra cash and so that money is gone from your account.

If the scammers had succeeded, Brand says “they would put my business under the ground if that had turned back on me”.

The contractor referral site Home Advisor tells it's contractors if significant work is requested but the home owner has little regard to contract terms or job details. This can be a red flag. They also say that many times fraudulent homeowners will choose to only communicate over text or email instead of on the phone

Bottom line: if something seems fishy, it likely is, so trust your instincts, like Brand did. Never accept a check from someone who wants you to send money back, or in this case give it to someone else.

While some see red flags immediately, others don’t. New business owners looking to build clientele can be particularly vulnerable.

If someone feels they may have been a victim of fraud, they should contact their local law enforcement, FBI office, or can register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Active Bright Coconut Charcoal Powder]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 09:10:28 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/teeth+white.png

When you talk about your smile, most of us want it to be its whitest and brightest.

There are so many treatments out there promising to do just that. Fresh on the market is Active Bright. It claims to use activated charcoal to whiten teeth and remove stains. So, we decided to see how it works.

For years Kristen McMahon has wanted pearly whites, “That’s the first thing that people look at whenever they look at you,”said McMahon.

We asked if she'd be willing to try Active Bright’s Activated Coconut Charcoal Powder. The benefits listed on the packaging gave McMahon some hope, "It says its great for sensitive teeth which is what I have,” she said.

We got our jars of active bright, a soft toothbrush, and brushed for two minutes, as directed.

We had the activated coconut charcoal all over our face, clothes, and all in the cracks of our teeth.

McMahon was not a fan of the taste, “it says it’s peppermint flavor but I don’t taste peppermint," she said.

The feeling wasn’t too nice for our sensitive teeth either, “The back of my teeth, like in the back, they are kinda sore,” she said.

Kristen and I both agreed a little mess and bad taste would be worth it if our teeth instantly got as white as they did on the box.

“I will say my teeth do feel clean. I do have a clean feeling in my mouth, it’s just not white,” said McMahon.

The makers of Active Bright told us: “Active Bright has been found to be more effective in removing stained dental pellicles (film) from your teeth in comparison to other American Dental Association approved products. The mild stinging you described may have been the sensation of the coconut charcoal which absorbs the plaque and bacteria. She should not worry as active bright is gentle and can be used every day.”

They encouraged us to use less powder, which we did and it was less messy.

While we did like how clean our mouth felt and some stains were likely gone we didn't have dramatically whiter teeth.

McMahon says, “I might keep using it to see, but I don’t have high expectations at all”.

Active Bright also said the condition of your teeth prior to use may effect an outcome. The company says its studies and tests were conducted and reviewed using FDA policies.

Kristen says she’s going to keep trying it out and I will too and we'll post on Facebook if we think our teeth have gotten any whiter.

You can also head to @wayneresponds on facebook to tell me if there's something out there you're thinking about buying but are on the fence.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds Helps With Mattress Returns]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 06:41:53 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Responds_Mattress_Complaints.jpg

Two North Texans find out buying a new mattress can be stressful if it turns out the one you bought isn't the perfect fit.]]>
<![CDATA[Student Loan Debt Can Haunt Even After Payoff]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:52:56 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Responds_Student_Loans.jpg

For the nearly 70 percent of graduates who leave college with student loan debt, the Federal Trade Commission warns to beware of companies promising to reduce or eliminate that debt.]]>
<![CDATA[Harvey Led to Some Issues for Consumers Doing Business]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:39:16 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NBC+5+Responds+Placeholder.JPG

The NBC 5 Responds center helps when you run into a consumer issue. Here's some recent cases in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.]]>
<![CDATA[Plano-Based Pizza Hut Notifies Customers of Security Breach]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:23:19 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pizza-hut-101012.jpg

Plano-based Pizza Hut tells NBC 5 Responds that nearly 60,000 customers were affected by a data breach.

Information that may have been compromised includes names, billing ZIP codes, delivery and email addresses, payment card information and gift card numbers.

The company would not confirm which stores were impacted, but says affected customers have been notified electronically and will also be notified by mail.

Pizza Hut officials released the following statement.

“Pizza Hut U.S. experienced a brief third-party security intrusion on our website and mobile app that compromised the information of a limited number of customers. Pizza Hut quickly detected the intrusion and immediately took steps to halt it and remediate the security issue. We estimate that less than one percent of the week’s traffic was affected. We take the information security of our customers very seriously and invest in resources to protect the customer information in our care. We value the trust our customers place in us, regret that this happened, and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."

NBC 5 Responds advises Pizza Hut customers to check their bank and credit card statements. If fraudulent activity is suspected, consider getting a new card altogether.



Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Alert: CEO Email Scheme Targets Dallas Business ]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:42:23 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-ceo-scheme.jpg

Deborah McMurray has put her heart and soul into her small business, a strategy and technology company in Dallas.

"Our employees are all really smart," she said. "Lots of engineers. Everyone has college degrees."

In May, McMurry received a text from one of her employees. It was a message she said made no sense at all. 

"The text said 'I'm about to get that transfer for you.' I had no idea what she was talking about," she said. "So I quickly texted back and I asked 'What transfer?'"

The employee then sent her a screenshot. It was an email from McMurray asking her to transfer $24,500 to a bank account. 

McMurray said she never sent that email, yet it was coming from her email account.

"It looked entirely legitimate," she said. 

It's happened seven different times; emails that appear to be from McMurray asking her employees to wire tens of thousands of dollars

"I was horrified, wondering who in the world would do this to us," she said. 

It's known as "CEO Fraud." The FBI says it's claimed more than $2 billion in funds globally.

Here's what happens: An imposter finds an executive's email address, typically from a company website. They spoof the address and ask employees to wire money, hoping someone takes the bait.

Small businesses may be more vulnerable than others because of smaller budgets and fewer resources. Fortunately, McMurray's employees were vigilant and called her first.

"And praise the Lord, no one transferred money," she explained.

McMurray is relieved, but at the same time, disturbed.

"It felt like someone had broken into my home," she said. "It felt that personal and that targeted and that intrusive it was really frightening."

The FBI says business email scams are among the fastest growing internet fraud schemes. They cost American businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

Here's what businesses of all sizes can do to protect the company:

• If your boss ever asks you to wire money via email, pick up the phone and call them.
• Meet with your IT department and come up with an action plan if your email account has been hacked.
• If you ever suspect fraudulent activity, call the FBI at 800-CALL-FBI.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[ID Theft Victims May Have a Criminal Record and Not Know It]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 16:30:35 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/identity+theft1.jpg

You could have a criminal record right now and not even know it. The major problem is expected to get much bigger, and it's all due to identity theft.

When you think of identity theft, you may think about someone opening a bank account in your name or using your credit card numbers for purchases you never made.

But when crooks have your name, address and Social Security number, they can do much more.

Fake IDs can be made with your stolen information. Crooks can cash bad checks and even hand over the fake ID to officers if they're being arrested. It's no longer their name on the record, but yours.

It happened to Adrien Boyd. She's a member of the military and was deployed when someone stole her identity and used it to commit financial crimes in her name.

"She had a hindering apprehension, injury to a child, assault, failure to appear — she had done quite a few things with my name, Social Security number," Boyd said.

Most of us monitor our credit report, but how often do you check to see if you were arrested?

This could be going on without your knowledge, and you would never know until a police officer comes to arrest you for missing court or you go to get a new driver's license.

Like Boyd, only then will you learn what the legal system thinks you did.

"These are innocent people," said the Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson. "Ms. Boyd served in the Air Force, and she [came] home and someone had been using her ID all the time she was gone defending her country."

Just like you check your credit, you should check your criminal history.

Run a background check on yourself.

If there are crimes on there you didn't commit, the Dallas County district attorney is holding an Identity Theft Expo on Oct. 28 where the DA's office and sheriff's will verify your identity and help you clear your name.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Woman Calls NBC 5 to Help Fix Erroneous ER Bill]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 05:27:09 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-first-choice.jpg

In March of 2016, Carla Spurgeon heard a thump in another room and found her husband lying on the floor.

Spurgeon said it's one of the hardest things for a caregiver to witness. At first, she thought it was just a minor scrape, but a couple days later the cut got worse.

Spurgeon said she wasn't taking any chances, so she took him to a nearby free-standing emergency room in Richardson called First Choice.

"I said all the right things when I went in," she explained.

Spurgeon said the receptionist confirmed they were in network, so they went on with the appointment. Their insurance covered most of the bill, but First Choice apparently forgot to bill Medicare, leaving her with a balance of $269.

Health care providers that accept Medicare are required by law to submit bills on the patient's behalf, but Spurgeon says that never happened.

"So I called and, 'I said you need to charge Medicare,'" she said.

But a year later, Spurgeon said she received a collection notice for $6,098. She then called First Choice and was told they'd look into it, but months later, nothing. 

So she got NBC 5 Responds on the case.

We reached out to Adeptus Health, the parent company that owned First Choice ERs at the time of their visit. The company never got back to us and has since filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

But days after we reached out, Spurgeon said she got a call from First Choice letting her know they would stop all collection attempts and that her bill was taken care of.

The NBC 5 Responds team has received a half dozen complaints about first choice facilities. The state is now cracking down on free-standing ERs and a  new law went into effect that requires these facilities to post which providers are in-network.

But if you're having issues with a Medicare claim, like Spurgeon did, you should visit medicare.gov. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE if you believe a health provider hasn't billed Medicare.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[BBB Warns Crooks Could Target Dreamers]]>Fri, 13 Oct 2017 23:56:37 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Generic+BBB+Generic+Better+Business+Bureau.jpg

Young undocumented immigrants are waiting for lawmakers to finalize what will happen to DACA. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program let undocumented immigrants brought to America as children apply for work permits every two years.

Now, its future is in limbo. As the stories dominate the news, con artists are noticing and using the political drama to trick people out of their money.

Grisel Villareal is one of many North Texans born in another country and brought here as a minor. She could face deportation now that the DACA program is ending.

She feels her life is on pause now, and doesn't know what's next. That type of fear is one of the basic things crooks look for to take advantage of someone.

Michael Sedio with the Better Business Bureau is putting out a warning about people pretending to be legal experts, charging for free paperwork, or worse.

"We see that with senior citizens especially, we're going to see that with immigrants. They're going after people who are especially vulnerable, and that is, in a word, despicable," said Sedio.

There are no specific threats right now, but the Better Business Bureau fully expects an uptick in these types of crimes as the DACA debate continues.

Police say threats and extortion happen frequently with crooks trying to intimidate immigrants. Using topics that are frequently in the news help legitimize their bogus and sometimes outrageous threats.

The best advice is to slow down and think before handing over large amounts of cash. As new stories and concerns surrounding the end of DACA continue, experts say you have to make smart choices.

“There's a lot of things going on that people might be afraid of, but don't let that fear make you make a bad decision," said Seido.

Look up professional licenses for people who offer to help and also seek free legal assistance.

Below are places you can find legal assistance with immigration matters:

Human Rights Initiative of North Texas
(214) 855-0520
2501 Oak Lawn Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219

Dallas Bar Association LegalLine
(214) 220-7476
2101 Ross Avenue
Dallas, TX 75201

East Dallas Counseling Center
(214) 821-5393
4144 North Central Expwy
Dallas, TX 75204

Mosaic Family Services
4144 N. Central Expwy
Dallas, TX 75204

Catholic Charities Immigration Counseling Services Pro Bono Project
(214) 946-4889
325 W 12th St.
Dallas, TX 75208

Catholic Charities of Dallas Immigration and Legal Services
(214) 520-6590
9461 LBJ Freeway
Dallas, TX 75243

Peace and Justice Immigration Clinic
(214) 381-0901
6670 Military Pkwy
Dallas, TX 75228

Justice for Our Neighbors
8301 Bruton Rd.
Dallas, TX 75217

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<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Reel Roaster]]>Fri, 13 Oct 2017 16:45:39 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Reel+Roaster.jpg

When it comes to building a campfire, who could be better company than the young men of Boy Scout Troop 214 in Haslet?

These guys love making s'mores and tease each other nonstop about who can do it better.

Roasting marshmallows can require a bit of skill, each scout with their own idea of perfection.

Part fishing rod, part skewer, the Reel Roaster may seem like it's geared toward someone younger, but even with its telescoping reach Alex Allen couldn't reach the flames.

Between the helpings, laughs, and glow of the fire, reviews of the roaster started to reel in.

“I think this product is a must buy,” said Austin Travinski.

Another Scout, Aiden McCash, said the marshmallows on the Reel Roaster don’t fall off like the ones we tried with a straightened out wire coat hanger but he had cooking issues.

“I didn't get the bottom of it, just the top part of it,” said McCash.

Just like any good conversation over a campfire, the conversation got serious.

“You can take the money from the Reel Roaster and go buy the chocolate and the marshmallows,” said Connor Doughtie.

Overall, the scouts felt the Reel Roaster did a good job of making it easier to get that crunchy outside and gooey center.

We reached out to the manufacturer for a comment but didn’t hear back.

We bought it for about $16 on Amazon.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Confusion and Anger Over LuLaRoe Refund Policy]]>Fri, 13 Oct 2017 17:51:17 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lularoe-refund-responds.jpg

LuLaRoe is known for its flamboyant leggings and other clothing items, but a change in company policy has prompted some sellers to protest.

Amanda Goldfarb spends much of her time selling clothes from LuLaRoe through a Facebook page as an independent fashion retailer. It's work she can do from home, as she takes care of her son.

"I really wanted to be home with him, so my husband and I looked into a couple of different multi-level marketing companies and LuLaRoe was on the upswing. Everybody wanted it," she said. 

Goldfarb began selling in December. She figures she's purchased about $30,000 worth of clothing.

"We did very well, we were in the top one percent of the company," she explained.

To get those sales, Goldfarb said she had to put in up to 12 hours a day. Last April she heard about a special offer for retailers who opted to resign and had leftover inventory.

"They said, 'you know what, we're gonna pay back a hundred percent. We're gonna pay your shipping back to the warehouse,'" recalled Goldfarb.

She estimates she had about $20,000 worth of LuLaRoe clothing still unsold.  So, she shipped them back and was told in August that "returns are processed in the order they were received." 

Come September, there was another change in LuLaRoe's policy.

"Instead of 100 percent, they're giving back 90 percent and charging that 10 percent, and it's actually and then a five percent restock and that was their original policy. But they actually added in a five percent restock. So really, you're getting back 85," Goldfarb explained.

After waiting six weeks and growing concerned about how much money she'll get back, Goldfarb knew she needed help. So, she called the NBC 5 Responds team.

LuLaRoe said Goldfarb submitted her cancellation in late July and they received her inventory in late August. In her case: problem solved!

LuLaRoe explained that after they verify Goldfarb's product returns she will be issued a 100 percent refund.

Here is what LuLaRoe is now saying online about their policy change:

"This waiver, in place from April to September…was never intended to be permanent...We decided to end the waiver when it became evident that a good number of retailers were abusing the program by returning product in extremely poor condition and providing inaccurate claims, as well as retailers using it as temporary solution to struggles in their business."


Other LuLaRoe sellers have told NBC 5 Responds they felt angry that LuLaRoe switched their refund policy without warning. Many we spoke to were hoping to finally be relieved of their leftover inventory and receive 100 percent of their money back, per the special offer.

But the sudden switch has left many sellers confused and motivated to protest.

Saturday's protest is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the AT&T Center in Arlington.

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<![CDATA[TX Company Says Customers' Credit Card Numbers Were Stolen]]>Thu, 12 Oct 2017 16:40:02 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/Tommy_Cooper_Breach_5p_101217.jpg

Data breaches are happening all the time, and some cases are more significant than others.

Texas-based Tommie Copper, which produces compression and active wear, reports hackers installed malware on the company's website, which allowed them to steal customer information.

In this incident, card numbers, addresses, expiration dates and security codes were taken, as well as addresses.

Las Colinas resident Ted Henderson is one of the people affected.

He has a disability after being shot while working in law enforcement and still wears a back brace daily for pain.

He bought one of Tommie Copper's braces to help him while he waited for a new one to come from his doctor, and when he made that purchase, his information was compromised. He says he's frustrated with having to go through the steps to check his credit repeatedly every time a store has a data breach.

"They wanted me to repair my own credit when they were the ones who failed to maintain proper security to protect consumers from getting their credit card breached," Henderson said.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Tommie Copper for a comment Thursday and hasn't received a response, but the company is telling customers to monitor their credit reports closely and reach out to the credit bureaus for assistance.

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<![CDATA[Tips to Pay Less For Auto Insurance]]>Thu, 12 Oct 2017 05:55:35 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/save-on-car-insurance.PNG

High car insurance premiums driving you nuts? Consumer Reports says there are plenty of ways to cut your premiums and still get coverage you can count on.

Start by picking a top-rated insurer.

“Don’t be short-sighted. It’s not just about getting the lowest premium. You want to make sure you get a company that’s going to pay your claim, in a reasonable amount of time and gives you good service,” said Tobie Stanger, Consumer Reports Money Editor.

Then, be sure to set the right deductible. A higher deductible reduces your monthly premium, but you’ll pay more out of pocket if you have a claim.

“It’s generally a good bet, just make sure you have enough to pay that deductible if your luck runs out,” said Stanger.

If you’re a driver with low risk behaviors, you can lower rates by asking about discounts for things like drivers who don’t use their car for long commutes, students with good grades, teen drivers who take driver training or mature drivers who take a defensive driving course.

Having a good credit score can also save you a few bucks.

And consider bundling your policies. Buying auto and home insurance from the same company could lead to a hefty discount.

All are good strategies to help you drive down your auto insurance costs.

People often think that by staying with the same insurance company for many years, they’ll get a loyalty discount, but it isn’t always true. Consumer Reports suggests shopping around often. You may find some significant savings.

For ratings of various companies, click here.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Paying Bills Ahead of Time Does Have Its Risks]]>Wed, 11 Oct 2017 16:32:31 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Chris+Knott.jpg

It's not always the best decision to pay for something in advance, even if you're just trying to get ahead.

When something goes wrong, you're often out of cash and will have a hard time getting it back.

Fishing is in the Knott family DNA.

"My dad took my brother and I fishing when I was 7 or 8 years old," said Chris Knott.

Now, Knott's boys have the itch, too.

They paid $2,700 to lease a boat slip on the pier at Joe Pool Marina, a place they could all sit together to fish as a family.

"My father and I and maybe my boy used it maybe three times, then it started raining," Knott said.

A tropical depression dumped heavy rain on North Texas, and wind pounded the area.

Joe Pool Marina sustained damage in the storm.

There would be no more fishing for the Knotts, but since Chris Knott paid in advance, his money is gone.

His contract clearly states "acts of God" aren't covered.

"I think my money is just gone. It's wasted, $2,700 gone," Knott said.

He did nothing wrong, but because of the way his contract is written he's out of the cash.

There are plenty of other cautionary tales.

Patricia Stanley paid $4,000 of her daughter's tuition at St. Peter's Classical School ahead of schedule.

She loved the school and felt they would be there for years to come.

Then the school called a meeting earlier this year.

"They were having a major budget shortfall. They didn't know how they were going to make up the difference," Stanley said.

The school's transcript of the meeting shows that board members discussed the possibility of closing the school.

Stanley and her husband found a new school and enrolled their kids there.

"I just couldn't sit around and wait and see if they could swing the next school year. I didn't think it was fair to my children," Stanley said.

Ultimately, St. Peter's didn't close.

The money Stanley paid in advance is still in the school's bank account, and Patricia Stanley can't get it back.

St. Peter's tells NBC 5 Responds, "Our temporary financial issues were put behind us within a few days of the announcement. It is unfortunate that one of our parents misunderstood our intentions and made some unfounded assumptions about our future."

Stanley's contract with St. Peter's gave her a March deadline to notify the school that she was leaving. The notice of the financial problems came after that, so despite her concerns she was locked in for the full payment.

When prepaying anything, make sure you look at your contract with the company to know how they handle refunds in case something goes wrong.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Grocery Products Shrinking in Size, Prices Holding]]>Wed, 11 Oct 2017 05:45:58 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-shrinking-grocery.jpg

Rosemarie Lauria considers herself a savvy shopper… and she recently noticed something different about the six-pack of coke she buys.

"The really small cans started out as a fat small can with 8 ounces and then they introduced a taller can," she said. "I looked at the ounces. It went from 8 ounces to 7.5."

Consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky has been tracking the downsizing of products for 30 years.

"Its not your imagination that you have to keep changing the toilet paper roll more frequently or make more trips back to the store to buy this stuff," he said.

Dworsky's research has revealed that the shrinking of products comes in waves.

"Manufacturers like to keep prices seemingly stable while increasing their bottom line," he said. "How do you do that? The only way you can is to shrink the product. But when they do it deceptively where the package looks just like it always did but they are giving you less, that's a sneaky way to pass on a price increase."

On a recent shopping trip, Dworsky found new and old versions of the same products sitting on the shelf together and priced the same. Two $13.99 containers of Maxwell House coffee, one with more than 30 ounces and the newer addition with only 26.8.

"What does that translate into cups? We've lost 30 cups! We went from 240 cups in a container down to 210 cups," he said.

Two 12-packs of Ultra Charmin priced at $13.29 are about the same size, but one has 154 sheets per roll and the other has 142.

"So you lost a dozen. But on each of the rolls, you got 12 rolls. So you basically lost a whole roll in this package. But you can't tell because it looks the same," Dworsky said.

And seemingly identical 2-packs of Crest toothpaste priced at $9.49. One has 5.1 ounce tubes another has 4.6 ounce tubes.

"Same size box. You would have no idea," he said. "Looks exactly the same but you lost about ten percent in each tube. So unless you become net weight conscious and actually look at the package and memorize the net weight you'd never known you'd been taken."

We reached out to the companies that make these products. Proctor and Gamble, the makers of Crest and Charmin tell us "there is a cost element to innovation...Adjusting the count per pack or the package size is one way of delivering this innovation, while maintaining a competitive price point....Pricing is at the sole discretion of the retailer."

Coca-cola says “consumers have told us they love our smaller, more convenient packages. In North America, we’re seeing double digit growth in these sizes.

The maker of Maxwell House said "the alternative to changing the price of any given product is to change the package size."

Want to get the best bang for your buck at the grocery story? Here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

• Be price AND weight conscious. Look and compare the price per ounce.
• Look for sale items and use coupons.
• Take advantage of rebates and buy in bulk if you find a good deal



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds Answers Your Calls For Help]]>Tue, 10 Oct 2017 19:29:38 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Responds_Roundup_5pm101017.jpg

NBC 5 Responds is here for you. Here's some of the emails and phone calls we have recently helped resolve.]]>
<![CDATA[Digital Oversharing: Putting Your Child at Risk]]>Tue, 10 Oct 2017 05:44:24 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/social_media_debate_president.jpg

Artist and motivational speaker Rosie Jon never shies away from posting her artwork to social media.

But when it comes to her three young children, she takes a different approach.

“I have an 8-year-old son who’s old enough to understand his own privacy," she said. "So if it’s a picture of him I always check with him and ask him 'Are you happy for mommy to share this?'"

Along with respecting your child’s privacy, you should also be be concerned about their digital identity. Child identity theft is a real threat and Consumer Reports says our culture of digital over sharing is likely to blame.

“Seemingly harmless information like your child’s name, their age, what they look like, where they go to school, all of that information can be used to create a profile, that a hacker can use down the road for identity theft,” said Consumer Reports Privacy Editor Bree Fowler.

Consumer Reports says follow these digital parenting tips: First, tighten up the privacy settings on the sites you use. You can set your Facebook posts to go to just your “friends,” rather than the entire public.

And limit your circle of friends even more by creating a list of “close friends.”

Another option: a closed Facebook group, which requires you to approve everyone who requests access.

Always use caution before sharing a picture of a child’s actual location, anything that could reveal hints of your home or their school. And be careful about sharing pictures of your kids in any state of undress.

“Even a very innocent photo of your kid naked in the bathtub, might kind of haunt them down the road since nothing on the Internet truly goes away,” said Fowler. 

As for Rosie Jon, she will continue to share, but with purpose.

“Every post has to be intentional. So just like my artwork, I make sure that each posting has a purpose and has a meaning.”

Another thing to think about, wait until you get home before posting any vacation photos. You don’t want to reveal to any would-be burglars that you’re away from home.

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<![CDATA[NBC 5 Recovers $2,000 in Refunds for Consumers]]>Mon, 09 Oct 2017 16:32:11 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-100917.jpg

Becky Ives said she has no time for a rusty refrigerator in her Waxahachie home.

And when her restaurant's prep table went down, too, she went online and found Anthony's Appliance Repair. 

"Seemed to be a reputable company," she said.

Ives talked to the owner, Anthony Wynne, who was happy to come by and take a look. He told her he needed $1,050 up front, so she paid him.

"He had an immediate answer on what needed to be repaired on each item," she said. "He went out to his car, got a box, and came back in."

Wynne claimed he fixed the prep table. She was also told he'd have to order a new door for the fridge, but it never came.

"It's been almost a year that I'd been try to get my refund back from him," Ives said.

She's not alone.

Cesar Suarez said he tried getting his money back, too. He paid Wynne $950 to fix an appliance set for his man cave.

The NBC 5 Responds team called the owner myself to investigate. He said he mailed Ives' check and didn't know she never received it.

Ives disagreed.

And as for Suarez's refund, the owner said he couldn't get ahold of him. They were "playing phone tag."

Suarez said that's not true.

Within days of our calls, the owner paid Ives $1,050 in cash and Suarez got a check for $950. But their appliances were never fixed.

If you look up Anthony's Appliance Repair online, you'll find several bad reviews. We asked Wynne to come in and talk about it, but he sent this statement instead.

"My company has had bad reviews because I've had dishonest employees that have been terminated. I am diligently trying to rectify each and every complaint slowly but surely."

Here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

• Never pay all of the money up front.
• Check reviews online to see what others had to say about a company.
• Document everything just in case things go south.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[October is Window Covering Safety Month]]>Sun, 08 Oct 2017 20:36:37 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/20130712+Blinds.jpg

The Consumer Product Safety Commission wants you to inspect your window coverings inside your home for possible hazards.

The group has declared October as window covering safety month.

Parents are encouraged to inspect their window coverings for any long cords that may hang down, creating what could be a deadly situation for kids.

The CPSC says using a cordless or inaccessible cord window coverings can prevent a tragedy involving loose or a looped window covering cord.

For a free repair kit that will make your window coverings safer, just call 1(800)506-4636 or you can click here.

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<![CDATA[Money Raised to Harvey Victims Tied Up in Facebook Platform]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 21:44:54 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Scotti+Rzepniewski.jpg

Hurricane Harvey's damage was evident — and everywhere. For Dan and Tracy Moses, a home they spent all of last year remodeling was gone. Hundreds of miles north in Weatherford, cousin Scotti Rzepniewski couldn't believe the couple's video of the damage.

"It looked like it had been hit by a bomb, and then someone hosed it down. It's just devastating. Tears just stream down your face when you look at it," Rzepniewski said.

She immediately asked for help on Facebook.

"I'm just making a call on Facebook for household donations, for items. And the minute I posted that on Facebook this fundraiser popped up on my newsfeed," Rzepniewski said.

The message from "Facebook Donations" asked if she wanted to start a fundraiser for Dan and Tracy Moses.

"I started the fundraiser on a Thursday. By Saturday, we had three to four thousand dollars. I just thought it was so sweet, people that didn't even know them were donating," Rzepniewski said.

Facebook soon sent a message asking for her banking info and her Social Security number, claiming it was needed to send her the money raised and report the earnings to the IRS.

She gave them the info, but Facebook staff told her they couldn't verify it.

Rzepniewski said she then kept sending emails and asking for help.

"Any time they ever responded, it's, 'We're looking into it, and it's going to be 7-10 days,'" she said.

When she realized she had given banking and Social Security information to someone who sent her a message on Facebook, she panicked.

"I said, 'Should I just end this? You're not responding. I'm starting to think this is fraud. Should I hire an attorney? All these people, they don't know me. People are donating big amounts of money, and I'm just sick. I'm gonna jump on a plane and head to Palo Alto. Where is my money?'" Rzepniewski said.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Facebook on her behalf, and almost immediately she received her cash.

"From the minute you responded I took a breath and, 'OK,'" she said.

The money is in the Moses hands now, and the rebuilding process is underway.

"The money we raised is not going to buy a house, by any means, but they're both so grateful for it," Rzepniewski said.

Although it turned out to truly be Facebook, and the donations were legitimate, it's another reminder we all have to be careful online.

Always make sure you know exactly who you're talking to before turning over such valuable information, and have a reliable way to communicate with them should something go wrong.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Top Financial Planning Concerns: College, Retirement Savings]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 17:14:38 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R_Phone_Bank_2017_10_06_17_00_11.jpg

NBC 5, The Dallas Morning News, Telemundo 39, and Al-Dia teamed up to help you answer your financial questions Thursday night.

Some of the most common questions had to do with paying for college.

Young adults wrote in on Facebook and called our experts worried about the cost of college, student loan debt, as well as having enough money to retire. Our financial planner said don't build up huge amounts of student loan debt if your career won't pay a high salary.

"You need to look at the goal, and if it's, 'I really want to go to Stanford,' you talk about it and weigh it against other things. And make sure you and the kid knows, 'I'm going to give up X to get that,' and then it's maybe, 'I'm going to go to community college,'" said Lora Hoff.

Remember, you have to pay the minimum on however many bills you've racked up. So look into whether there's a way to lower the interest rate.

Many of you also said by the time you pay off college, you worry it's too late to save for retirement. The answer is to do them both together. But start small. If your company offers a 401k, use it.

"You definitely want to start putting in enough to get the full employer match, even if you're still carrying some debt, because otherwise you're just missing out on free money," said Jean Keener.

Many employers will double the amount that you save, up to the first 5 percent or so. If you save 5 percent, you then get 10 percent in the bank.

"Some people, when they're in their working years, have lots and lots of expenses from raising a family. Just the type of lifestyle they want to lead. And in retirement, they plan a very simple lifestyle. I think it's much more helpful for people to really understand what they want their retirement lifestyle to look like, and then to build a plan from there," Keener said.

So before you drive that fancy car now, think about if you want to travel later in life, or where you want to live. It may make driving that simple compact car a lot more appealing.

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<![CDATA[Sam's Weekend Deals: DFW Pumpkin Patches]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 06:09:55 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dallas-arboretum-oz-2017-+%2812%29.jpg

DFW has some of the best fall events in the country, including pumpkin patches and corn mazes.

Hall's Pumpkin Farm in Grapevine, which dates back to 1929, includes a corn maze, hayrides and plenty of plump pumpkins. Admission and parking are free. The corn maze costs $5 and the hayrides are $5 during the day and $3 at night. Keep in mind it's cash only. Hall's is open everyday through Oct. 31.
hallspumpkinfarm.net

There's also Autumn at the Arboretum in Dallas, which is absolutely breathtaking. The theme this year is "The Wonderful World of Oz." It includes beautiful flowers, fall blooming plants and the internationally acclaimed pumpkin village, which features more than 90,000 pumpkins, squash and gourds. Kids younger than 3 years old get in free, children ages 3 to 12 are $10 and adults are $15. The event ends on Nov. 22. www.dallasarboretum.org/visit/seasonal-festivals-events/autumn-at-the-arboretum

The Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch is also super cute. They have hay rides, bounce houses, pumpkin picking and food! Admission is $10, parking is $5 and all activities are included! This pumpkin patch goes through Oct. 31. flowermoundpumpkinpatch.com



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Money Tips For Every Age Group]]>Thu, 05 Oct 2017 05:57:54 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/counting+money+generic.jpg

Financial burdens do not discriminate so, no matter what age you are, NBC 5 wants to help you get on track.

Millennials
Remember that time is on your side and you don't want to take it for granted.

Financial experts say millennials should invest aggressively. They typically don't have as much responsibility as someone in their 40s and don't have as many people relying on them for financial support. Now is a great time to start putting money into your 401k.

If you wait until your 30s, you could be losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars. So even if money is tight, always try to make this a priority.

Gen-Xers
If you were born in the mid-60s to early-80s and your finances aren't in order, we have some work to do.

One of the hardest things to avoid is the lifestyle creep, when you get a pay raise and you increase your lifestyle. Here's how to avoid that. If you get a $200 a month raise, take $50 of that money to reward yourself. The rest of it should be used to pay off debt or put toward your retirement fund.

Baby Boomers
We want to make sure you're all set for that next phase of life, whether you're continuing to work or preparing for retirement.

Track your monthly spending. This will give you a rough idea of how much income you'll need for the next phase.

And don't cut yourself short. It's better for your savings to outlive you than the other way around.

Also, consider outside circumstances like aging parents or adult children. The earlier you can have conversations about who will need your help, the better off you'll be.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Spending Money to Help You Save Money]]>Wed, 04 Oct 2017 16:57:25 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/160*120/Piggy+Bank+Saving+Money.jpg

Saving money is never easy, especially for those living paycheck to paycheck. No matter how tight your budget, chances are you splurge on something.

If you're like me and prefer to fly by the seat of your pants and not plan out how you spend your day and dollars, savings plans can sound awful.

Financial planner Jean Keener says she can help with a spending plan.

Keener says you should map out what you get to splurge on and how often.

"The most important thing about a spending plan is that you have to do what works for you," Keener said.

I am able to build mine around date nights, Caribbean cruises, and Italian ice!

The experts say start with a calendar and plan out a date night every other week. Space out those cruises and Italian ice every Sunday with the kids.

Then, total it all up.

"The most important thing is to spend less than you earn," Keener said.

Now, here's where we save: dial it back just a bit.

Maybe take just one date or Italian ice trip off the calendar, and you've got extra money to put toward more fun on that cruise.

You can save for vacations, putting kids through college or whatever it is on your list of goals.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[4 Signs You Need Help With Your Finances]]>Wed, 04 Oct 2017 05:54:42 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ask-a-cfp-.jpg

NBC 5, Telemundo 39 and Al Dia have launched "Ask a Certified Financial Planner Week."

Thursday, Oct. 5 from 4 to 7 p.m., you can call in or join our Facebook Live and ask an expert any financial question. 

There are a lot of people out there that know they're in financial trouble. There are others out there who may not be aware that there could be a problem, and those are the people NBC 5 wants to help.

1. You're avoiding your bank statements
Technology has made it easier than ever for consumers to stay on top of their recent purchases. Every major bank has an app you can download to monitor your spending right in the palm of your hand. Problem: Some folks dread checking it, almost like it'll just go away if you don't look.

2. You're going through a major life change
If you're getting married, having a baby, going through a divorce, any major event can quickly throw you in a financial spin. Ask yourself this question:  have you figured out how this change is going to impact your finances? If not, this week is for you.

3. You're tapping into your savings on a weekly basis
Now, don't get us wrong; it's your money and you have every right to spend it. But it's also meant to serve as a nice little nest egg or money you can use on a rainy day.

If you find yourself moving that money into your checking account for daily expenses, you may need to get a financial plan in place.

4. You're not investing your money
Some of us have no clue how to invest. Others have a 401k plan, but no idea how it works. If this sounds like you, we've got to get a good plan in place.

"Parts of your faith, parts of our health, parts of our education, and family and experiences, they're all tied, in a sense, to money," said Victor Garza of Garza Financial Planning. "If it's something so valuable and something that touches so many things in our lives, why not treat it with a lot of respect?"



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Equifax Promises New Product to 'Lock' Credit From Phone]]>Tue, 03 Oct 2017 16:35:51 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/equifax_1200x675.jpg

Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith faced lawmakers Tuesday, apologizing for the company's massive data breach that exposed millions of Americans' personal information.

Smith blamed human error and technology failures for the breach and announced a new service Equifax is providing to help consumers control their credit data.

It's an app on your phone that will will let you lock or unlock your credit instantly whenever you want from your smartphone.

Smith told Congress the free service won't be up and running until the end of January, so it's hard for anyone to know all the specifics on what it will do or its effectiveness.

And it's unclear if Equifax will put in any stipulations like asking you to give up your right to sue the company over the data breach.

It appears to be similar to credit freezing, but that process is regulated by state laws, something this service would not offer.

Of course, you'll have to wait several months for the service to begin, so freezing your credit or installing fraud alerts still is the best protection now.

Smith challenged Equifax competitors TransUnion and Experian to come up with a similar system.

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<![CDATA[Concerned Travelers Getting Help With Vegas Trips]]>Tue, 03 Oct 2017 08:17:45 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/southwest-airlines-love-field.jpg

Airlines are stepping up to help consumers change their flights to Las Vegas, if needed.

Many people have voiced concerns about their upcoming trips on social media, given Sunday's deadly shooting. For the most part, people say they are sticking with their plans, but believe it won't be the same.

One Dallas man said his travel plans to Las Vegas are up in the air. Jeff Platt told NBC 5 he's heartbroken for the victims and can't wrap his head around a vacation right now.

He and his college friends go to Las Vegas every year. But now, the group isn't sure if this is the best time.

"Carter was standing by the TV and said, 'Daddy, I don't ever want to go to Vegas,'" Platt said. "My first thought was, my family is not going to like that. ... I'm not worried about my personal safety. I'm worried about people worrying."

For anyone else who's rethinking their upcoming trip to Las Vegas, here are the airlines we've heard from so far that are waiving their change fee for Las Vegas flights this week: Southwest, American Airlines, Delta, Jetblue, Spirit, United, Virgin America and Allegiant.

Travelers have to call ahead to re-book and need to do so before their scheduled flight.

As for hotels, consumer's should call the hotel and ask if they will waive the cancellation fee if you're within that 24-hour window.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Mother Says Google Listing Led a Stranger in Her Home]]>Fri, 29 Sep 2017 22:05:29 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2017-09-29-22h59m47s132.jpg

When Courtney Pearson's washing machine started leaking she knew just who to call.

"I looked up Al's Guaranteed Appliance Repair on Google," Pearson said.

After all, Al fixed it for free last time, helping her with a fairly simple issue. She felt she could trust him and called for help, but this time she didn't get an answer.

"I got a text message almost immediately that said, 'Do you need appliance repair?'" Pearson said.

She arranged the entire appointment by text.

Two men then showed up, worked on her washer, and charged her $420.

"I went to run a load, the water was at a slow trickle, there was leaking under the machine," Pearson said.

She called back, and the men promised to return, but never did. Days kept going by and she says her calls weren't returned.

Eventually, she found a photo online of the owner of Al's Guaranteed Appliance Repair online. He was standing next to a photo of his truck, which had a different phone number than the one she was texting.

She called the number in the photo, and got Alonso De La Cerda.

"I was like, whoa, I don't remember going to your house last week," De La Cerda said.

After a few minutes Pearson realized the men who showed up to her house were not connected to Al's business.

She went back to the number she texted, and it was still listed on Google.

Al said it wasn't his number, it wasn't even close to it.

They couldn't figure out how it happened until they saw a link on the listing.

"Right where it lists the info for the business, it has a link that says suggest an edit," Pearson said.

Someone was able to edit the phone number for Al's business to something else.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Google and confirmed this is possible.

A company spokesperson said, "We recognize there may be occasional inaccuracies or bad edits suggested by users. When this happens, we do our best to address the issue as quickly as possible."

Google added that business owners who sign up for their free business listing service should get alerts letting them know where their number is changed.

If you don't sign up, like Al, you may not find out this is happening.

By the way, the real "Al" fixed Pearson's washer for a little more than $200, and we tracked down the competing company who came out, and they gave her a refund. The phone number was changed back on the listing.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Let Wayne Buy It: Finishing Touch Yes! Hair Remover]]>Fri, 29 Sep 2017 16:46:40 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/LWBI_Hair_Remover_2017_09_29_16_55_05.jpg

Brittany Meister is a new mom, taking care of 7-month-old Braylee Grace. She loves every minute of being a mom, but there's one think she really misses — taking long showers.

Meister says it means almost no time to shave her legs, so she jumped at the chance to try Finishing Touch Yes!, which promises to safely remove her hair, anywhere.

We cracked it open in her family room, while Braylee happily played with her toys nearby.

"It's actually really fancy. It's a lot fancier than I though it would look like," Meister said, examining the tool. "This is like a blade so it's going to be interesting."

The directions said use a 45-degree angle and press it on the skin to activate.

Meister said it didn't hurt and left her legs pretty smooth, but not as smooth as she'd like. No worries, though, because the Finishing Touch Yes! comes with a second attachment you're supposed to use afterwards to get a closer, smoother shave.

Meister was pleased and plans to buy the Finishing Touch Yes! for herself.

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<![CDATA[State Fair of Texas Deals: Freebies, Discounts]]>Fri, 29 Sep 2017 11:49:59 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/215*120/state-fair-opening-092917.jpg

The State Fair of Texas opens Friday at Fair Park in Dallas. General admission is $16.50, but there are a number of discounts available that will allow you to spend more money on food and other items.

Freebies

Friday is Military Appreciation Day at the State Fair of Texas. All active military, retired military and veterans get in free with valid documentation. But that's not all: they can also bring their spouses and kids younger than 18 for free.

Oct. 13 is First Responders' Day. Law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics get in free with a valid ID. And they get up to 3 extra tickets for family.

Anyone 60 years old and older can get into the fair for free every Thursday.

Discounts

On Friday, if you bring a 20-ounce bottle of Dasani water or any 20-ounce Coca-Cola product, you'll get in for only $10. Your donation is going to the North Texas Food Bank.

Every Tuesday, you can bring an empty Dr. Pepper can and your admission is just $6!


On Wednesdays, you can get in for just $4 if you bring 4 cans of food.

Every Thursday, you'll get in for $7 if you bring an empty 20-ounce Coca Cola product.

If you eat at McDonald's, check your bag before throwing it out.  The food chain's takeout bags and tray liners have coupons for $5 off and half off children's tickets.  They can be used any day!

If you want to hit the fair at night, bring an empty Dr. Pepper can for half price admission after 5 p.m.

And consider buying your tickets online that will save you a little money, too.

General admission for the state fair is $16.50. So all of these discounts should allow you to spend more money on food!

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<![CDATA[Puppy Adoption Brings Family Large Bill for Parvo Treatment]]>Thu, 28 Sep 2017 17:12:18 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R_Puppy_Parvo_5p_92817.jpg

Veterinarians say parvovirus is prevalent in Texas, and young animals are especially at risk.

The Zeffer family first saw their little pup, Sugar, on East Dallas Pet Rescue's website.

"My daughter fell in love with her, I fell in love with her, my husband. All of us just instantly knew that was the puppy for us," said Brittney Zeffer.

The rescue group said the dog had a clean bill of health, but Sugar wasn't home long before the Zeffers noticed something wasn't quite right.

"Sugar was very lethargic, and as soon as she got home there was some diarrhea," Zeffer said.

She reached out to the rescue, and both sides agreed Sugar needed to see a vet.

Zeffer took the puppy to a vet whom the rescue routinely uses.

Sugar was diagnosed with having a parasite, and the vet prescribed antibiotics and sent her home, but Zeffer still had a feeling it was more than a simple parasite.

A second vet confirmed her fears.

Sugar had parvo, even though she already received two rounds of vaccinations for parvo through East Dallas Pet Rescue.

It took seven days of treatment and more than $5,400 in vet bills to get the puppy healthy again.

East Dallas Pet Rescue says it has refunded the adoption fee to the Zeffer family, started a GoFundMe campaign and will also hold a happy hour fundraiser all to help with the Zeffers vet bills.

The rescue group reiterated to NBC 5 Responds it had no knowledge the puppy would become ill.

When picking a new pet, how do you know you're adopting one that's truly healthy and not one in need of thousands of dollars worth of care?

Dr. Cynthia Rachal, with the Animal Health Care Center in Arlington, says when animals are young they can pick up illnesses anywhere as their immune system is still developing.

She said it's important to know as much as you can about where an animal came from even before it arrived at a shelter.

"I have 10 rescues that I work with. The ones I work with, I work with for a reason. I know they take excellent care of their animals," Rachal said.

She said Sugar could have easily gotten parvo from just about anywhere, because it's very prevalent in North Texas and contagious.

She added when puppies are young it's almost impossible to prevent it until fully vaccinated.

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<![CDATA[Driver Finally Reimbursed for Road Debris Damage]]>Wed, 27 Sep 2017 05:53:01 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-debris-damage-driving.jpg

Road debris damage is enough to make any driver cringe, and it happens a lot in North Texas.

Lee Wade said he was driving westbound on Texas 121 when he saw rocks and cardboard fly off a waste truck. He tried to swerve and dodge the debris, but it was too late. It cracked his windshield.

Wade decided to follow the waste truck until the driver eventually pulled over.  He was told to call management to report the incident.

Wade said a manager told him he would "take care of it." But weeks turned into months, and his windshield was still cracked.

That's when he called NBC 5 Responds.

We sent pictures of the damage to the waste management company. A couple of weeks later, Wade received a check for nearly $400, and he finally got that windshield fixed.

We tried calling and emailing the company for a response, but we're still waiting.

Here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions before you hit the road:

• Consider buying scratch and dent protection from your dealership. Many places offer it in North Texas.
• Don't tailgate. Leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you, especially if it's hauling junk or debris. This will also help you see potential objects in the road.
• Some insurance companies recommend installing a dash camera. It would help you record any flying debris and maybe capture a license plate number.
• Document, document, document. Take pictures of the damage and send it over to your insurance company.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds To Your Consumer Problems]]>Tue, 26 Sep 2017 16:38:03 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NBC+5+Responds+Placeholder.JPG

The NBC 5 Responds team is working every day, taking your calls and emails helping you resolve disputes and issues. Not all of them are complicated. We're working for you with problems big or small.]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Buying Condo Could Be Cheaper Than Paying for Dorm]]>Tue, 26 Sep 2017 06:03:03 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dorm-v-condo.jpg

Dorms can be expensive and financial experts say buying a condo in some cities may save students money in the long run.

Real estate company Redfin compared the monthly dorm rates at 195 U.S. public colleges to the median monthly mortgage on a condo. Based on this study, students at the University of Texas at Dallas spend about $769 per month in a dorm — about $76 more than the median monthly mortgage cost.

Students at the University of Texas at El Paso spend about $546 per month in a dorm. In a condo, they could save $100 per month. Students at Sam Houston State University spend $570 per month in a dorm, and they would save nearly $150 every month if they bought a home.

Financial planner Laura Hoff said parents may feel uneasy about their kids living off campus during their first year. But year two and beyond could be a great time to move on to a home of their own.

"I think it's a great idea," Hoff said. "I have a number of clients who have gone ahead and bought houses in Waco and Austin or wherever. And then yes, their child can live there and have a friend or two also and then the rent supports the real estate investment in itself."

Redfin pulled on-campus housing data from the National Center for Education Statistics. They only looked at U.S. public institutions that grant Bachelor's degrees. They ranked the colleges by enrollment to narrow down the list to the 15 most popular colleges.

The results from this study do not ring true for every city in the U.S., such as areas like Los Angeles and Seattle where homes are notoriously expensive.

Another challenge to buying a home is inventory. If availability is stressed, a student might have a hard time finding a home, or they may already be priced out of the market.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Hackers Use Facebook to Push 'Government Grant Scam' ]]>Mon, 25 Sep 2017 06:38:12 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-fb-grant.jpg

Veronica Gavia uses Facebook every day and got really excited when a message from what appeared to be a distant relative popped up on her app.

"I haven't had communication with her for two years," she said. 

And did her "cousin" ever have some news! She claimed she had just received $120,000 from a government grant.

"I'm thinking, "Well, OK, it's probably true if she paid off all her debt with this money. Then I can probably do the same thing,'" said Gavia. 

Before she knew it, Gavia was messaging a woman she thought represented the government, in charge of handing out grants. That so-called government agent told Gavia the more money she puts up front, the more grant money she'll receive.

The next day, Gavia wired the woman $4,000. And Gavia's promised cut: $153,000. All she had to do was wait at home for the day and UPS would make the delivery.

"It came to be 5 o'clock and that's when I kind of suspected a little bit 'what's going on' you know," said Gavia. 

She sent the woman several messages but didn't get a response until days later. That's when the woman told Gavia she needed $15,000 more.

"I said, 'Oh no!'" Gavia said. 

That's because she was slowly learning nothing was as it seemed. It wasn't even her real cousin. Someone had hacked that relative's Facebook page.

So Gavia contacted NBC 5 Responds Samantha Chatman for help. 

According to grants.gov, the government will never award grants to people who never applied and would never ask for a fee in exchange for a grant.

If you search "government grant scam" on Google, you'll see dozens of articles and complaints from people who fell victim to this scheme.

"I was real desperate to get this money," said Gavia. "I don't want anybody else to fall in the same trap."

Gavia said she reported this scam to the Mesquite Police Department, the FBI and Facebook. She said she's not the only one in the family that's been duped.

To avoid this scam, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions: 

• Remember, the government will never ask you to pay a fee to receive a grant.
• When in doubt, visit grants.gov to find out if a grant is real.
• When you're talking to friends and family members on Facebook, make sure it's them. Pick up the phone and call them, especially if they're talking money.
• If you ever believe a page is hacked, visit the Facebook help center at the top of your profile.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Man Loses More Than $200,000 Selling Protein Powder Online]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 21:42:10 -0600https://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 16:42:43 -0600https://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 05:46:35 -0600https://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[Car Engine Had No Oil, Hours After Getting An Oil Change]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 03:03:15 -0600https://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]]>Mon, 25 Sep 2017 03:41:48 -0600https://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 16:31:49 -0600https://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 16:49:47 -0600https://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 05:44:54 -0600https://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 02:56:25 -0600https://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 17:04:22 -0600https://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 05:56:41 -0600https://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 16:25:13 -0600https://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 06:09:54 -0600https://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 16:24:07 -0600https://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 08:35:26 -0600https://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 16:35:44 -0600https://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 21:17:57 -0600https://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 06:15:07 -0600https://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 16:39:27 -0600https://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 05:47:43 -0600https://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.

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<![CDATA[How to Protect Yourself From the Equifax Security Breach]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 09:02:45 -0600https://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 06:17:26 -0600https://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 11:39:44 -0600https://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 17:08:03 -0600https://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 05:54:59 -0600https://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 17:03:26 -0600https://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 05:55:20 -0600https://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 10:20:38 -0600https://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 06:35:37 -0600https://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 10:37:07 -0600https://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 05:49:26 -0600https://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 22:22:59 -0600https://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 16:49:16 -0600https://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 16:33:23 -0600https://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 22:06:54 -0600https://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 03:11:41 -0600https://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 21:35:00 -0600https://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 21:17:00 -0600https://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 05:55:40 -0600https://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 17:21:29 -0600https://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 05:50:15 -0600https://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 05:49:59 -0600https://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 17:21:31 -0600https://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 06:00:39 -0600https://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 21:47:19 -0600https://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 16:42:42 -0600https://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 06:05:05 -0600https://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 19:08:31 -0600https://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 08:22:03 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/bts-fashion-lead.jpg]]><![CDATA[Homeowner Upset With Condition of New Cabinets]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:28:45 -0600https://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 06:15:33 -0600https://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 17:17:19 -0600https://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 06:00:40 -0600https://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 16:45:06 -0600https://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 06:24:53 -0600https://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 16:45:55 -0600https://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 04:52:44 -0600https://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 17:10:21 -0600https://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 06:54:19 -0600https://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 17:03:17 -0600https://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 05:59:33 -0600https://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 16:58:56 -0600https://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 05:54:27 -0600https://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 06:07:38 -0600https://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 16:40:24 -0600https://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 16:47:10 -0600https://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 18:27:41 -0600https://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 06:00:10 -0600https://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 22:32:25 -0600https://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 17:56:22 -0600https://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 16:47:33 -0600https://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 05:50:17 -0600https://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 13:43:15 -0600https://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 06:30:59 -0600https://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 17:30:42 -0600https://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 17:05:17 -0600https://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 16:46:30 -0600https://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 05:56:10 -0600https://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 09:42:23 -0600https://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 09:27:37 -0600https://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 19:15:17 -0600https://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 17:36:05 -0600https://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 05:08:54 -0600https://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 19:18:04 -0600https://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 02:57:44 -0600https://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 09:51:00 -0600https://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 16:43:55 -0600https://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 05:46:08 -0600https://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.

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<![CDATA[Veteran Shares Warning of Timeshare Scheme]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 06:26:15 -0600https://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.

]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Man Can't Get Car Title After Dealer Goes Dark]]>Fri, 14 Jul 2017 21:50:16 -0600https://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 16:43:42 -0600https://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 05:46:53 -0600https://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 22:27:25 -0600https://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 17:22:38 -0600https://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 05:53:28 -0600https://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 19:44:52 -0600https://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 05:42:34 -0600https://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 21:49:26 -0600https://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 18:17:29 -0600https://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 17:24:17 -0600https://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 05:43:58 -0600https://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 03:04:59 -0600https://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 05:57:33 -0600https://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 17:09:42 -0600https://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 21:50:32 -0600https://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 16:55:18 -0600https://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 05:43:18 -0600https://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 17:10:46 -0600https://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 05:49:48 -0600https://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 02:55:22 -0600https://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 05:48:42 -0600https://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 05:44:32 -0600https://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 06:22:24 -0600https://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 05:59:49 -0600https://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 21:59:50 -0600https://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 18:50:35 -0600https://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 06:05:34 -0600https://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 07:42:46 -0600https://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 17:01:45 -0600https://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 13:45:33 -0600https://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 06:49:07 -0600https://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 09:21:00 -0600https://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 05:46:18 -0600https://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 07:35:12 -0600https://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 22:06:21 -0600https://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]]>