<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Dallas-Fort Worth News - NBC 5 Responds]]>Copyright 2019http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/localen-usSun, 18 Aug 2019 06:09:35 -0500Sun, 18 Aug 2019 06:09:35 -0500NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Dallas Man Fights For Life After Kia Soul Catches Fire]]>Thu, 15 Aug 2019 19:54:32 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/kia-fire-car.jpg

Jordan Carlton and his mom Rebecca were enjoying what started as an amazing trip in Oahu, Hawaii.

But their vacation took a horrifying turn when their 2019 Kia Soul rental car went up in flames.

Carlton's mother managed to escape the car, tumbling onto the side of the road, but Carlton was trapped.

He was burned over 85% of his body. His father said his son may not make it.

"Jordan's injuries are life-altering," he said. "I am very angry. It upsets me greatly that this has been going on for years."

For more than a year now, NBC 5 Responds has been investigating Kia vehicles bursting into flames without a crash.

We've heard from two North Texas women who were driving on local interstates when their cars caught fire out of nowhere.

Carlton, the latest victim, is now fighting for his life.

"There comes a time when something has to be done. Something has to change," his father said.

Earlier this year, Kia recalled hundreds of thousands of older vehicles, citing a risk of non-collision fires.

But the Kia that Carlton was driving, a 2019 year model, was not on that recall list.

It's a troubling saga, that in this case, may have put this Dallas man's life on the line.

Kia told me that it immediately notified the government about this incident to coordinate a joint inspection, but said an initial conclusion has not been made due to the significant damage.

Kia told us that a vehicle fire may be the result of any number of complex factors, but said it's working on a second, more comprehensive inspection of that car.

Meanwhile Carton's family has filed a lawsuit against Kia, and the rental car company from which he got the car.

Kia released a full statement:

"Kia Motors America (KMA) recognizes that the Carltons, as well as the general public, deserve an understanding of the cause of this incident and, in turn, the ongoing safety of our vehicles. We also recognize that the injuries suffered by the Carltons, particularly Jordan Carlton, are serious and significant.

While KMA will typically not comment about ongoing litigation with respect to questions about a lawsuit, we would like to transparently share the investigative steps taken to identify the underlying cause of this fire. KMA became aware of this incident on 7/8/19 and immediately notified NHTSA for coordination of a joint inspection with the vehicle’s owner, Avis Budget, and the attorney for the family. Because all automobiles contain combustible materials and a fire may be the result of any number of complex factors, such as a manufacturing issue, inadequate maintenance, installation of aftermarket parts, an improper repair, arson, or some other non-vehicle source, each incident must be carefully evaluated by qualified and trained investigators and/or technicians.

Therefore, KMA enlisted internal staff from the U.S. and Korea and two independent U.S. fire experts to join NHTSA engineers plus lawyers and experts for the injured party, amongst others, for the inspection on 7/23/19. The inspection was productive but, as is often the case with a vehicle fire, an initial conclusion was not able to be drawn due to significant vehicle damage. As a result, all parties are working on a protocol for a second and more comprehensive inspection. Should any defect be identified during the course of this entire investigation, KMA will immediately notify NHTSA and commence a recall."

Owners are encouraged to contact Kia Consumer Affairs at 800-333-4542 with any questions or concerns related to this matter.

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<![CDATA[Contractor Finally Issues Refund After NBC 5 Responds Report]]>Wed, 14 Aug 2019 18:35:52 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Contractor+Refund.jpg

Waiting for a refund that may never come, Linda Summers said she spent many hours on her porch wondering if Shawn Partain would ever return.

"He kept saying, 'Oh, my guys are on their way. They're on their way,'" she said.

Partain was the subject of several NBC 5 Responds stories in which customers claimed he took their money, promised to build their fences, but didn't finish the jobs.

After NBC 5 Responds reported the stories, some of customers received refunds from Partain, but Summers was left waiting.

So, NBC 5 Responds reached out to Partain on her behalf.

He said he would give her a call and take care of it.

"After the story aired, I got a call last night from Shawn. He said, 'I have your money. I have cash. I'm going to bring it to you in the morning,'" she said.

That next morning, Partain arrived with something for which Summers has been waiting for a long time.

"He brought me this! All my money," Summers said.

It was $2,000 in cash.

"I didn't think I'd ever see it," she said. "You responded beautifully and comprehensively and unbelievably!"

Summers said Partain apologized several times and wanted her to know that he really isn't a bad guy.

NBC 5 Responds still has one more consumer who's waiting on Partain to pay him back.

He told us, he's working on it.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Consumers File Police Report Against Local Contractor]]>Mon, 12 Aug 2019 18:35:03 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Hundred+dollar+bills2.jpg

Bill Betzen is the owner of not one, but two dogs.

As much as he enjoys walking them, He said it would be nice for them to run around and play on their own.

"We never have a fenced backyard. We now have dogs. You need a fenced backyard," he said.

He went online and found CCI Fencing and Construction.

He said the owner, Shawn Partain, offered him a deal, but said he'd have to pay $3,250 up front.

"They were going to start Thursday. It would take them two days. What they didn't finish Thursday they would finish Friday," he explained.

When they got started, Betzen said there were two problems: The holes the crew dug weren't deep enough and the posts were too close to the sidewalk.

He said Partain promised to get it fixed.

"They never showed up again. They told me at least 10 times they were going to show up within the hour or the next morning. They never showed up," Betzen said.

Little did he know, Partain has been the subject of several NBC 5 Responds investigations.

He once operated under the name Condor Fencing.

We've sat down with six other consumers across North Texas who said Partain took thousands of dollars, but did not complete their jobs.

After NBC 5 Responds got involved, Partain refunded some of his customers.

But others like Linda Summers, said they have been waiting for more than a year.

"He doesn't care about anyone else," she said.

Earlier this year, Partain said his business went south because consumers backed out of their contracts.

Partain said he was trying to get everything corrected, but it wouldn't happen overnight.

Partain confirmed that he recently got a new name, and is now working under CCI Fencing and Construction. 

He said he'd take care of Betzen and Summers' refunds, but couldn't give an exact time frame.

Betzen said he wouldn't hold his breath.

"He has stolen from people. Fraud, scamming ripoff all of those. The man is doing something dishonest," Betzen said.

Both Betzen and Summers said they have filed police reports with the Dallas Police Department.

Dallas police confirmed they were looking into the matter and encouraged other customers who felt they were ripped off to come forward.

"If the contractor accepted money and completed some of the work, the issue would be civil," Dallas police said. "If the contractor accepted money and did not do any construction work the issue would be criminal."



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds Answers Your Consumer Complaints]]>Tue, 27 Dec 2016 18:32:28 -0500https://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[2019 Back-to-School Fashion Guide]]>Fri, 09 Aug 2019 17:42:05 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/BTS+Fashion.jpg

Every kid has a different reason why their first day of school outfit is so important to them. 

Fashion expert Holly Quartaro walks us through the top back-to-school trends of 2019.

H&M

Cargo Pants: $29.99

T-Shirt with Printed Design: $4.99

Viscose Shirt: $14.99

Justice

Camo Cargo Skirt With Build in Shorts: $29.90

Graphic Ringer Tee: $16.90

Destructed Denim Jacket: $34.90

Old Navy

Moisture-Wicking Polo: $24.99

Skinny Built-In Flex Jeans: $39.99



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Tips for Texas Tax-Free Weekend 2019]]>Fri, 09 Aug 2019 22:50:26 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Generic+tax+free+weekend.jpg

Whether you're new to Texas or a longtime resident of the Lone Star State, tax-free weekend is an event that draws millions of shoppers to the stores, and it's all in honor of back-to-school.

"This is really a big deal. Texans can expect to save an estimated $102 million on back-to-school shopping on tax free weekend," said Holly Quartaro, fashion stylist for Galleria Dallas.

Families can expect to save about $8 for every $100 spent, and with most parents spending an average of nearly $700 on back-to-school items, the  savings should start to add up.

"Tax-free weekend is actually a great time to shop because you're saving the tax, but a lot of retailers are actually having sales," Quartaro said. "So, you're saving that initial money on the sale price and then you're also saving the tax, so its kind of double dipping on a discount."

But Quartaro said the tax-free rules can get tricky, so let's break them down.

Generally speaking, all individual school supplies and most clothing and footwear under $100 will be tax free, but there are some exceptions.

"First of all let's talk about backpacks and purses. Backpacks are for back-to-school, so they are considered tax-free this weekend, but purses and handbags will still be taxable," she said.

"Athletic shoes, footwear, boots, as long as it's under $100, you will save the taxes this weekend. However, sports specific shoes like cleats, will still be taxed," Quartaro said.

"Same with the necklace and the scarf. Two items that are both accessories worn around the neck. The necklace is jewelry. It will still be taxed. The scarf is considered an article of clothing, so its tax free," she explained.

"A hat is considered an item of clothing, they will be tax-free. However, the hair bows, they are accessories, so they are still taxed this weekend," Quartaro said.

Leather accessories can also be tricky.

"The wallet is considered an accessory. It will still be taxed this weekend, but the belt is considered something you wear as part of your outfit, so its tax free," she explained.

Also, look for sales!

Many stores will mark their items down to $99.99, just so you can save on the taxes.

Consumers can also save taxes from an online retailer doing business in Texas.

For more info on tax free weekend, click here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[How to Turn Annoying Robocalls Into Cash]]>Thu, 08 Aug 2019 11:34:24 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Robocalls+Money.jpg

Robocalls often try to sell you something like a car warranty or insurance, but what if you could actually make thousands of dollars on those calls? A McKinney, Texas man says he's mastered the art of turning robocalls into thousands of dollars -- legally.

Paula Currie, a realtor in Dallas, is one of many who make money from robocalls. She said she can't ignore random numbers, but it makes her a prime target for robocallers to flood her phone nonstop.

"[The calls] just constantly taking up my time when I'm trying to make a living for myself and my family," she said.

It makes her mad. So mad that sometimes certain phrases slip out when she's confronting the callers.

"I told him to kiss my ass!" she said.

Today, Currie welcomes every robocall she can get. Currie has made a total of $8,000 from robocalls. She credits Doc Compton, a credit repair expert in McKinney.

Over the years, he studied two federal laws that give people the right to turn those annoying rings into cash. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule make it illegal for any business to call a cell phone using an auto dialer without permission.

Every time they do, they owe you no less than $500. If your cell phone is on the National Do Not Call Registry, they owe you $1,500. Compton sells a $47 kit with step-by-step instructions explaining how to turn robocalls into cash.

"You actually have to take the calls. You can't just ignore them anymore," he said.

You'll want to keep the caller on the phone to try to get as much information as possible about who they really are. Then, ask for the name of the company, a website and address.

Compton's kit includes how to use that information to track them down, and a template for the demand letters. You send that letter to the robocallers, and wait for them to call you and make an offer.

What about robocalls that are recordings, not actual people? Compton says generally those calls want you to call or visit a website. That website or phone number is your first step toward knowing who to go after with the demand letter.

"Believe it or not, because these robocallers don't want to go to court," Compton said. "They don't want to have all their records exposed in a public forum because that brings all kinds of undue scrutiny from the federal agencies and so on, they very often will settle."

It's a new side hustle of Currie's that's paying off big time.

"I absolutely love answering my phone now," she said.

"I've had people ask me, 'If this works as well as people say it does, eventually aren't they going to stop calling?' Yeah. Exactly. That's the hope," Compton said.

It's important to note that the method only works on cell phones, not landlines. Compton has helped dozens of people across the country cash in on robocalls. He calls it the ultimate payback. 

MORE:CLICK HERE for Robocalls.cash



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Another Carmaker Under Fire For Melting, Sticky Dashboards]]>Tue, 30 Jul 2019 22:53:47 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Toyota+melting+dashboard.jpg

Since NBC 5's last investigation into melting, sticky and gooey dashboards, many viewers sent in their own pictures, demanding a fix. 

We first told you about melting Nissan dashboards, but it appears that another carmaker is under fire for the same issue.

Earlene Morgan said she didn't have any problems with her 2007 Toyota Camry hybrid, that's until her dashboard turned into a sticky board.

"One time it was a bug, it had flown in and it was just stuck there. I couldn't get it off," she said.

Morgan calls the problem gross gross, but even more concerning, she believes it's a safety hazard.

There's a glare that reflects on her windshield from her shiny dashboard, which creates visibility challenges as she drives around North Texas.

"My son and my daughter, they say, 'mom you can't drive that car like that. It's not safe to drive that car,'" said Morgan. "It's terrible. It's just terrible."

Morgan said she reached out to Toyota about a year ago to get it fixed, but was told because the car was no longer under warranty, it would cost her $1,100 out of pocket. 

"I don't have $1,100 sitting around to be put on something that I didn't have anything to do with," she said.

Automotive expert James Martin said regardless of your car's age, your dashboard is not supposed to melt.

He said it's possible that certain automakers didn't install their dashboards with the proper material, which can cause them to melt and create an unsafe glare on the windshield.

Since 2006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received more than 150 complaints about Toyota Camry dashboards melting, and becoming sticky and gooey.

"Where it's most prevalent is Florida and Texas," said Martin. "Your expectation is, you sell the vehicle in this climate, I expect that my interior will not melt."

NBC 5 Responds brought these concerns to Toyota, and the carmaker responded.

Toyota said that in 2014, it offered to fix certain vehicles with cracked, sticky and/or melting dashboards, but that program ended in 2017.

Toyota said Morgan's car was a part of that program, and they tried reaching her via first class mail.

But Morgan said she didn't receive anything from Toyota.

"Nobody ever called me. Nobody sent me anything in the mail," she said. "Live up to what I thought Toyota was. That's why I bought your car."

NHTSA said that they are aware of the issue with melting Toyota dashboards, and will take further steps if appropriate.

Meanwhile, auto experts say as a preventative measures, consumers in hot climates like Texas may want to put a sun shade on their dashboard.

To file a complaint about your melting dashboard, or any vehicle problem, click here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Businesses Offer Discounts After Event Venue Chain Announces Closures]]>Mon, 29 Jul 2019 18:37:33 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/wedding+venue+closes.jpg

This situation with Noah's Event Venue is truly a bride and groom's worst nightmare.

We focus so much on the dress, the food vendors and other relatively smaller purchases, but who really thinks their wedding venue is going to shut down on them?

That's exactly what happened to dozens of couples.

The people we spoke to paid thousands of dollars up front, found out their venue was closing and were only offered partial refunds.

Since our first story aired, several reception halls and caterers have reached out to me wanting to help these couples.

They've offered 50 percent off on spaces, food, the works.

But celebrity wedding planner Donnie Brown said no matter how desperate some couples may feel after this whole ordeal, it's important to still do your research.

"I would talk to every vendor you have secured. Ask their opinion. Your friends may or may not know about that vendor but I guarantee you the vendors do. Talk to your photographer, talk to your florist. Everybody knows something and they'll help you through it," he said.

Brown also said that hiring a wedding planner is huge because they usually have insight on the industry.. and can help you avoid problems.

"In the industry, we hear these things. We know this was coming. We've known that this venue was in trouble for a while. My clients would never be taken to a venue if there was a possibility they weren't going to be around in a year or even less," said Brown. 

Couples should also follow these tips before booking:

-Check online reviews.

-Ask your photographer or caterer if they've ever worked in the venue.

-Consider getting wedding insurance.

For more wedding planning tips, click here or here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[More Couples Speak Out After Wedding Venue Abruptly Closes]]>Thu, 25 Jul 2019 18:28:42 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Noahs+Events.jpg

When Alfonso Herrera laid his eyes on Madeline Howell, he knew she was the one.

The couple has three kids, and in November, they planned to celebrate their union at Noah's Event Venue in Plano.

"The last thing, last thing you have on your mind is your venue is going to go out of business and leave you hanging," he said.

But that's exactly what happened.

Back in May, the business filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and last week, Herrera and his fiancé learned their venue would be closing.

Herrera said he paid the venue about $8,000, but management is only offering up to $2,800 in refunds.

"They continued to take our money as late as two weeks ago and that's the part that bothers us the most," he said." It doesn't pass the smell test."

We've heard from other affected couples who are now scrambling. 

So far, we've learned locations in Plano, Richardson, Sugar Land, Louisville, Kentucky and Auburn Hills, Michigan will close next month.

There are three other locations in North Texas that are said to remain open: Fairview, Fort Worth and Irving.

But those are listed in the bankruptcy documents, as well, leaving customers there with great concern.

"Having to look for another venue 100 days from now adds stress from an already stressful process," Herrera said.

He said he feels swindled, but will do all he can to salvage the day and keep his bride calm.

In a statement, Noah's event venue said that their hearts were broken, and they weren't able to come to an agreement with several of their landlords, which is why they had to close those locations.

The company is trying to re-organize its finances so they can keep their remaining locations open.

If you've been affected by the closures, click here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Couples Panic After Wedding Venue Closes Several Locations]]>Wed, 24 Jul 2019 19:43:41 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Noahs+Events.jpg

If you had an event scheduled at Noah's Event Venue in Richardson or Plano, please call 817-654-6300, or email newstips@nbcdfw.com.

A tearful bride-to-be and her angry fiance, Julie Joseph and Shawn Brooks, are less than two months away from their wedding day.

They rented space at Noah's Event Venue in Richardson earlier this year, but last week they received an email that said, "Due to an inability to reach an agreement with our landlord, NOAH'S of Richardson will permanently close on Aug. 5, 2019."

"Basically, I just had to find a new place to have the wedding," Joseph said. "I didn't even think this would be an issue that would come up."

The couple went into panic mode, and then, more bad news followed.

The couple said when they asked for a full refund of $5,800, Noah's Event Venue offered a partial refund of $2,800. That's less than half.

"I feel like the rug was just pulled out from underneath me," Joseph said. 

"I'm just sad to see the love of my life this distraught. It's upsetting," Brooks said.

They're not the only couple left scrambling to find a backup plan.

Noah's locations in Plano, Sugar Land and Auburn Hills, Michigan, will also close.

NBC 5 Responds has heard from brides in Louisville who said they were told that Noah's venue may close as well.

"Who thinks that their venue is going to close and they're not going to have a place to have their reception," Joseph said. "You've helped a lot of people and I just thought, 'It’s worth a shot.'"

In a statement, Noah's Event Venue said they were unable to reach agreements with the landlords and were removed as tenants at the closing locations.

The company said in part, "Our hearts are broken, as we wanted nothing more than to stay in this location and host events."

But court documents showed the business filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, leaving many couples with more questions than answers.

"We need that money back. Venues are not cheap and it's a big chunk of money. I feel like we've been kind of lied to this whole time," Joseph said.

The couple told me the company said it could host them at their Fort Worth location, which is still open, but the couple said they don't trust it. They just want their money back in full.

When I asked Noah's Event Venue if they could give them a full refund, their response was, they do not have an answer for the refund.

The couple booked with a credit card and said they planned to dispute the charge soon. 

For wedding tips, click here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Texas Tenants' Rights: What Every Renter Needs to Know]]>Wed, 24 Jul 2019 18:09:21 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/renters+rights1.jpg

It's important for renters to know that they do have rights, per Texas law.

Many tenants don't know that if you're dealing with mold or other unsafe living conditions, you can take action.

Our Consumer Investigative Center has received 120 mold complaints since 2018, and we always tell people to file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General's Office.

But there's another organization that's right here in North Texas that's dedicated to helping renters. 

The Texas Tenants' Union is a non-profit organization that's been around since 1979.

Executive Director Sandy Rollins said their goal is to empower tenants to know their rights and to hold landlords accountable.

"We see people facing eviction, dealing with substandard conditions, trying to get repairs made, refunds and people need information to know what to do when they're in a dispute with their landlord," said Rollins.

So, if you're dealing with unsafe or unacceptable living conditions, here are some tips you need to know:

-First, do not withhold your rent. This practice is legal in many states, but not in Texas.

-Instead, send your landlord a certified letter outlining the repairs you need.

-If after a week the repairs haven't been done, you may be entitled to terminate your lease. You can also do the repairs yourself and deduct the cost from your rent.

The Texas Tenants' Union holds free workshops every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. for renters who need assistance. Workshops cover leases, eviction, deposits, and repairs. Afterwards, one-to-one help is available.

For more information on renter's rights, click here.

Recently, a Duncanville woman said her family was exposed to dangerous mold in their rental home and that she lost her job after she says she had to take time off to care for her sick children. You can read more about that story from Jack Highberger by clicking here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[You Could Be Risking an Infection With Dip-Powder Manicures]]>Mon, 22 Jul 2019 17:36:42 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/nail-dip.jpg

Nail dipping is something you may have tried to get a fresh, long-lasting manicure. But experts say you could be risking an infection if it's not done the safest way.]]>
<![CDATA[Equifax Data Breach Settlement: What You Should Know ]]>Fri, 26 Jul 2019 12:32:38 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/What_to_Know_About_Expiration_of_Equifax_Free_Credit_Lock.jpg

UPDATE: Here is the latest information on how to check if you're part of the Equifax class-action lawsuit settlement and how to file a claim. 

-----

Equifax will pay up to $700 million to settle with the U.S. and states over a 2017 data breach that exposed Social Security numbers and other private information of nearly 150 million people.

The settlement with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as 48 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, would provide up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers, a $100 million civil money penalty, and other relief. It stems from a class-action lawsuit. 

The breach was one of the largest ever to threaten the private information. The consumer reporting agency, based in Atlanta, did not detect the attack for more than six weeks. The compromised data included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver license numbers, credit card numbers and in some cases, data from passports.

The announcement Monday confirms a report by The Wall Street Journal that the credit reporting agency had reached a deal with the U.S.

The company said earlier this year that it had set aside around $700 million to cover anticipated settlements and fines.

The settlement must still be approved by the federal district court in the Northern District of Georgia.

If you suspect you have been affected by the data breach, here is what you should know:

When you can file a claim and what to do now

You'll be able to file a claim once a court approves the settlement. In the meantime, the FTC says to save any documents you have that are related to what you've done to avoid or respond to identity theft stemming from the 2017 data breach. Check this page for updates or call 1-833-759-2982 for other information.

How to know if you've been affected by the Equifax data breach

If you're not sure if you have been affected, you can sign up for an FTC email update that lets you know when a tool will be available to check.

You will be able to file claims for money spent on credit protection

Consumers may be eligible to receive money by filing one or more claims for conditions including money spent purchasing credit monitoring or identity theft protection after the breach and the cost of freezing or unfreezing credit reports at any consumer reporting agency. For any cash payments, you'll be able to get a check or debit card sent to your mailing address. 

You will be able to sign up for free credit monitoring and identity theft protection

All impacted consumers would be eligible to receive at least 10 years of free credit-monitoring, at least seven years of free identity-restoration services, and, starting on Dec. 31 and extending seven years, all U.S. consumers may request up to six free copies of their Equifax credit report during any 12-month period. Once you file a claim, you'll get an activation code with instructions by email or snail mail, the FTC says. 

You could get reimbursed for a credit-monitoring product of your choice

If consumers choose not to enroll in the free credit monitoring product available through the settlement, they may seek up to $125 as a reimbursement for the cost of a credit-monitoring product of their choice. Consumers must submit a claim in order to receive free credit monitoring or cash reimbursements.

"Companies that profit from personal information have an extra responsibility to protect and secure that data," said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. "Equifax failed to take basic steps that may have prevented the breach that affected approximately 147 million consumers. This settlement requires that the company take steps to improve its data security going forward, and will ensure that consumers harmed by this breach can receive help protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud."

When will you receive benefits? 

The settlement administrator will send out benefits after the initial claims period deadline has passed. Again, the claims process begins following court approval. 

Where to get more information?

You can sign up for FTC email alerts about the settlement at ftc.gov/Equifax or call 1-833-759-2982.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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<![CDATA[Plano Man Faces 'Out-of-Network' Surgery, Calls NBC 5]]>Thu, 18 Jul 2019 19:41:25 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2019-07-18-18h05m36s867.jpg

Sitting on the couch with guitar in hand is Jeff Krzeszinski's place of peace.

"I found it very therapeutic," he said. "It helps me focus."

But his strong relationship with his guitar was one that would eventually change.

"I couldn't feel my strings on my fingers," said Krzeszinski. "I was losing the feeling in both hands and up this right arm which had a lot of hot, burning, pain, shooting sensation." 

Several years ago, the military veteran said he was involved in a crash that nearly claimed his life.

He said he was one of seven who made it out alive.

Krzeszinski survived, but said his body took a beating with several broken bones and a spinal injury.

Over time, his problems returned.

"With the MRIs, the doctor pointed out my spinal fluid was cut off and my disk was pressing against the spinal cord."

Krzeszinski was told he needed neck surgery.

"The doctor said get it quick before it gets worse, or even worse make the wrong move and be paralyzed," Krzeszinski explained.

But when he scheduled the surgery, he said there was a problem.

He said his insurance provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield, wasn't processing his doctor as in-network, despite paperwork that his physician had filed proving he was in-network. 

The cost of the surgery, he was told, would be at least $80,000.

"$80,000 plus and out of pocket. No, I wouldn't have been able to pay for that. That's insane," he said. "I've seen the results that you get. Many different issues and I thought, I'll give it a shot. You don't know if you don't try."

A spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield told me they don't comment on individual member's situations., and that their top priority is to provide access to quality, cost-effective healthcare for their members.

"We work on behalf of our members to make sure they receive the right care, at the right place, at the right time," the spokesperson added.

"About 3 hours later they called with an approval for the surgery. I was elated," said Krzeszinski.

He said Blue Cross Blue Shield processed the doctor as in-network.

Krzeszinski had the surgery the following week.

He's still recovering, but fortunately his bills have only come out to about $500.

"It was really amazing," he said. "The local news lady coming to the rescue."

His new focus is healing his mind and spirit, with the help of his guitar.

Krzeszinski told me his recovery is going better than expected, and he hopes to play his guitar again soon.

If you believe your doctor is in-network, but was billed out-of-network, you can submit a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance here.

Before treatment, be sure to always ask your doctor if he/she is in-network with your insurance. 

As for the anesthesiologist and radiologist, you may want to check with them, too.

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<![CDATA[How Amazon Handles Prime Day Shipping Rush]]>Mon, 15 Jul 2019 09:55:06 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/amazon-boxes-belt-motion1.gif

Online shoppers will get a double dose of Amazon Prime Day this year.

The online retail giant has extended its self-made day of deep discounts to two days, which will run through the end of the day Tuesday.

Increasingly, Amazon is making Same Day shipping available in major markets like Dallas-Fort Worth. And that is only possible because of the systems the company has in place. Of the nine Amazon fulfillment centers "giant warehouses full of items ready for purchase" operating in the state of Texas, three are in North Texas: Dallas, Fort Worth and Grapevine.

To step inside one of the Grapevine facilities, called the Coppell Fulfillment Center, is to enter a seemingly never ending whirlwind of activity. The only thing more noticeable than the many miles of conveyor belts weaving through the facility, and the millions of individual items available for purchase and delivery at a moment’s notice, is the background noise of machinery in motion that fills all 1,000,000 square feet of the building.

Employees — called associates by Amazon — perform a variety of tasks with quirky-sounding names; they are pickers, packers or shippers. And they work in concert with an army of robotic assistants, designed to do the heavy lifting and increase the efficiency of the entire process.

"With the efficiency of the robotics technology a customer can click buy, and the amount of time for when that item becomes available has significantly shortened," said Brenda Alfred, an Amazon Operations and Public Relations manager. "What used to take basically hours is now reduced to minutes."



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Don’t Make These 6 Common Mistakes on Amazon Prime Day]]>Mon, 15 Jul 2019 12:55:57 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/PrimeDay.jpg

Amazon’s Prime Day kicks off at midnight on Monday, July 15. In recent years, Amazon’s Prime Day has become one of the most anticipated sales events of the year for online shoppers looking for deals — and, maybe, an excuse to splurge.

And, for Amazon, the annual event has become successful enough that the e-commerce giant decided to double-down this year.

Last year’s Prime Day was the “biggest in history” for Amazon, the company said at the time, with Prime members buying over 100 million products and sales on the site increasing by more than 400% over a typical day. This year, Amazon will look to improve on those numbers with a Prime Day event that will stretch over two full days for the first time, on July 15 and 16. That means 48 hours of “more than one million deals” on products ranging from smart TVs to household items like paper towels, according to Amazon.

To get the most out of the sales event, here are some common mistakes to avoid when shopping on Prime Day.

1. Paying $119 for Prime to participate
Yes, only Amazon subscribers can participate in all of the Prime Day deals, but even if you’re not already a subscriber, you don’t have to pay the $119 yearly fee to take advantage.

First of all, new subscribers can sign up for a 30-day free trial and get access to the deals. But, if you’ve already used up your free trial in the past 12 months — which would block you from getting another free trial — consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch notes that you can also consider signing up for just a one-month membership for $12.99 (or, just $6.49 if you’re still a student). But, Woroch tells CNBC Make It, only do that if you’re absolutely sure there are a few great deals available to make up for that month-long subscription.

“Only do this if there’s an amazing deal on something you were planning to buy in which the savings are greater than this fee,” Woroch says. “Otherwise, perhaps you can ask a friend [with a Prime subscription] to buy it for you!”

And, always remember to read the fine print when you sign up for either the free trial or a month-long Prime membership. Once your trial ends, Amazon will automatically enroll you in the paid membership plan unless you manually turn off the automatic renewal option before your trial or month-long subscription ends.

2. Forgetting to check your Amazon account beforehand
Double-check to ensure your credit card info, account and shipping info are up to date. You don’t want to find out you need to update an expired credit card mid-purchase if you only have a limited amount of time to secure one of Amazon Prime Day’s limited-time “lightning deals.”

3. Not planning ahead — and then falling down the Prime Day rabbit hole
One of the biggest challenges for online shoppers during Prime Day is that so many products will be discounted — over a million, in fact, according to Amazon — so, it’s important to have an idea of what you want to buy beforehand, says Rick Broida, CNET’s online deal expert and author of the blog The Cheapskate. Broida notes that just because Prime Day lasts for two days this year, that shouldn’t change how shoppers prepare for the event.

“The most important advice I can give is to plan ahead,” Broida tells CNBC Make It. “If there’s something you’ve been planning to buy, by all means wait for Prime Day to see if it goes on sale. If it does, grab it, because many items will sell out quickly.”

Another good way to sort through all the deals on offer is to download the Amazon app and enable alerts, Broida says. Amazon posts new deals every few minutes, and many are limited-time offers, so you’ll want to know exactly when an item you were already thinking about buying goes on sale.

4. Assuming Prime Day has the best prices
Of course, you might not have to wait to get that specific big-ticket item on sale. Broida and Woroch both point out that Amazon has already been trickling out limited deals in the weeks ahead of the two-day Prime Day event. “Amazon is offering limited deals now so waiting for Prime Day could mean missing out on big savings,” says Woroch.

For instance, Amazon is already selling a bundled deal of an Echo Dot smart speaker and a Ring Video Doorbell Pro for $169 (the list price would be nearly $299), and the site is also offering 30% off many back to school and college products.

And, by all means, remember to shop around. Amazon is not the only retailer offering deals. Woroch points out that Amazon rival Walmart’s “Google Week” runs from July 8 to July 16, and it includes limited-time deals on Google products. Like Walmart, other retailers — like Target, Macy’s and eBay — have taken note of Amazon’s Prime Day success and are offering their own mid-July deals in an effort to lure online shoppers.

5. Missing out on additional deals
Ahead of Prime Day, Amazon is offering multiple ways to save money during the event, including a $10 credit to use on Prime Day sales that you can land the first time you download and shop on the Amazon app. You can also score a $10 credit (off any purchase worth $50) by signing up for the free Amazon Assistant service, a web browser plugin that helps you find order updates, deals and product comparisons on Amazon. And, you can also get $10 to spend during Prime Day if you spend at least $10 at Whole Foods (which Amazon bought in 2017) or on Prime Now before July 16.

6. Making impulse purchases
It can be easy to get caught up in the many deals available during Prime Day, but that doesn’t mean you should talk yourself into buying a lot of products you don’t need just because they’re on sale.

“The most common mistake people make? Buying stuff they don’t need just because, well, “It’s Prime Day and it was on sale!” Broida tells CNBC Make It.

There are various ways to avoid overspending, including simply asking yourself questions like, “Do I need this?” And, according to Broida, it’s important to remember that Prime Day sales are far from the only, or even the best, deals that will be available all year. “Everything you see on sale [during Prime Day] will be on sale again for Black Friday — if not sooner,” he says.

This story first appeared on CNBC.com. More from CNBC:



Photo Credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Amazon, Target and Walmart Among Many Stores Offering Deals]]>Fri, 12 Jul 2019 17:39:41 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2019-07-12-17h03m30s008.jpg

The battle to win your hard earned dollars is on!

Some of your favorite retails giants like Target, Walmart, eBay and Old Navy are doing their own version of 'Prime Day.'

That means more competition and more ways for you to save.

"It's really an excuse for a lot of retailers to eject some excitement in a time of year that is typically slow for shopping," said Jim Willcox of Consumer Reports.

More than 250 stores are promising online sales on July 15 and/or July 16. 

But make no mistake, Amazon plans to come out of the gate swinging!

Promising more than a million deals, the retailer started this annual event four years ago.

It's gotten so big that last year, the site was overwhelmed with traffic and crashed.

The hashtag #primeday was trending on twitter shortly after.

"One thing to know though is you have to be an Amazon Prime Member to be able to participate in the Amazon Prime Day sales whereas for the other retailers, everyone can participate in those kinds of sales," Willcox explained.

While some back-to-school items could be marked down, money experts at Consumer Reports said the electronics section is where you'll find many of the deep discounts.

"A lot of TVs, printers, headphones and in the area of home goods, we expect smaller electronics like air fryers and probably instant pots. Also vacuums and other household items," Willcox said.

The prices will likely change more than once as businesses work to compete and offer the best deals.

"That can be a little confusing for consumers who are trying to find the best deal because these deals can change so frequently," Willcox said. One thing that we suggest is if you see an item that you like, immediately put it into your cart. You have 15 minutes before it's going to disappear from your cart before you have to complete that checkout. That will give you a lot of time to compare competitors' prices online."

Price comparison apps like Buy-Via, Now-Discount, Scan-Life and ShopSavvy can also tell you if there's a better deal out there online or even at a local store.

It's a week that many devoted online shoppers have been waiting for.

And so have many retailers, hoping to win your loyalty and rise above the competition.

Consumer Reports says it's also very important to create a shopping list, that way you aren't overspending.

If your daughter needs a new laptop for college, or your husband has a birthday coming up, those are items you'll definitely want to jot down on your list.

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<![CDATA[Local Business, Viewers Step Up to Help Vet with No A/C]]>Wed, 10 Jul 2019 18:47:40 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/209*120/vet+hug.PNG

Chuck White spent years dedicating his life to serving our country.

"I’ve got three branches of service under my belt: Army, Marine and Navy," he said.

But he never imagined he’d end up in a situation like this.

"The day that it got hot, and I turned the a/c on and it wouldn’t work, it was just blowing hot air," he said. "At night, I would actually end up having night sweats. Couldn’t really sleep, just toss and turn."

His air conditioner was out of order for weeks, but he said his home warranty claimed his a/c wasn’t covered, meaning he’d have to pay $1700 to fix it.

"It was heartbreaking," said Sarah Webster, his daughter.

She disagreed with the home warranty's decision and showed us his policy, which states that air handling units are covered.

When the home warranty company didn’t come through with a fix, a local air conditioning company stepped up.

Technicians at A#1 Air spent most of the day in the heat setting up White's brand new air conditioner. The labor and a/c unit came at no cost to White.

"You gave so much of your life for us, it’s the least that we can do for you in the hard times especially how hot it is right now," said Nathaniel Aguilar, a lead technician for A#1 Air.

But that wasn’t all.

A local veteran, who asked to remain anonymous, sent a letter for White to let him know that he wasn't alone.

The letter reads in part:

"Thank you for your service. Always remember, we leave no one behind. We take care of our own."

And then, another surprise from that same Vet.

He sent White a check for $1700.

"Wow. I got buddies out there who care. They really do care," said White.

I asked the viewer that sent the veteran the $1,700 check if he wanted the check back, since the a/c had already been fixed.

The generous viewer said absolutely not. He wants the check and letter to serve as a reminder that we never leave our veterans behind.

White said he plans to pay the good deed forward.

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<![CDATA[Dallas Family Calls NBC 5 Responds After Airline 'Loses Dog']]>Mon, 08 Jul 2019 18:40:05 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Dog-Reunion-070819.jpg

From the moment Kennedy Hermansen laid eyes on a rescue dog named Grace, she knew she had to bring her home.

"She really was like, 'You're my person," Hermansen said.

The two live in Los Angeles. 

But Hermansen wanted to introduce her 14-week-old puppy to her family in Dallas, so she booked them a flight with Alaska Airlines.

"I spoke to Alaska Airlines representatives three times about what to bring because I wanted to make sure it was a safe check-in, smooth check-in," she said.

Hermansen said she checked her dog in and boarded the plane.

"I was like, 'Of course she's on board, of course she is,'" she said.

Meanwhile in Dallas, Hermansen's mom, Monica, said she received a message from Alaska Airlines that said they were dealing with a lost luggage situation they were trying to rectify.

Hermansen said a phone call from her mother followed shortly after.

"I just want you to know your dog is not on board. She was left at LAX," her mother said. "Somebody had dropped the ball."

"I felt like I failed her. I was just mainly scared that she would feel neglected," Hermansen said.

A spokesperson for Alaska Airlines said in part:

“We made a mistake, and we're sorry about that. We want all of our guests - including our four-legged friends - to always have a great trip with us. During the check-in process in Los Angeles, Grace was moved in her kennel to the wrong waiting area….By the time the mishap was realized, it was too late to get her onboard the aircraft. We felt awful about it. Our team personally cared for grace overnight in our operations offices. They fed, walked and kept her entertained during her unexpected layover."

Alaska Airlines vowed to put Grace on the first flight to Dallas Love Field the next morning.

And after a long night of worrying about her fur baby, Grace was finally back in Hermansen's arms.

"I've got my puppy with me and she's good and I'm just ready to get home," she said.

While Hermansen was only without her dog for a short time, any pet lover knows the uncertainty of where the animal is can make a day feel like an eternity.

The U.S. Department of Transportation keeps records of lost animals in airlines' care, and these types of circumstances are actually pretty rare.

Alaska Airlines offered the family a $100 voucher. They declined and asked the airline to donate to an animal rescue.

Alaska Airlines agreed and the family said they were pleased with the outcome.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Veteran Spends 4th of July in Heat, Blames Home Warranty]]>Thu, 04 Jul 2019 19:49:15 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Chuck+white+home+ac+warranty.jpg

On a day where many are out celebrating our nation’s Independence Day, Chuck White is at home, just trying to keep cool. 

"The day that it got hot and I turned the A/C on and it wouldn’t work, it was just blowing hot air," he explained.

White called his home warranty company, First American, to fix the air conditioning unit. He said an inspector found several problems with the unit, including an issue with the condenser coils, which would need to be replaced.

He thought First American would take care of it without a problem, but he was wrong.

The veteran said he was told it would cost him $1,700 to fix the A/C.

His daughter, Sarah Webster, is furious.

"When I came here today and walked in I couldn’t believe he has been living like this for months. It’s ridiculous. It's hot. I am sweating," she said.

NBC 5 responds reached out to First American Home Warranty, and a spokesperson responded, saying in part:

"It is important to understand that in order to provide our customers with affordable home warranties, our coverage is limited to the terms of our contract. As a result, we are unable to pay for repairs or replace items not covered."

But if you take a look at White's home warranty policy, it states that an air handling unit is covered.

When I pointed this out to the spokesperson, he told me, ”please refer to our statement.”

And to make matters worse, White said he received a call from the company stating that they don’t care how much he calls NBC 5. They aren’t changing their mind.

"I’ve got three branches of service under my belt: Army, Marine and Navy," White said. "I'm just saddened by the fact that I am not the only veteran going through this. There are other veterans out there going through the same thing. I just feel like nobody cares that’s how I feel. I feel like nobody cares."

The local veteran said he's doing what he can to cool off and fight the heat on a day meant for celebration and honoring those who served.

Chuck said his daughter is happy to have him stay with her, but said he shouldn’t have to do that, and doesn't want to be a burden.

We’ll keep checking on White's situation and will keep you updated.

ONLINE: Our partners at Consumer Reports provides a list of things you should know before buying a home warranty.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Warning to Parents: Make Sure Your Vacation Rental Home is Child Safe]]>Wed, 26 Jun 2019 18:39:43 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R+-+Kids+in+Danger.jpg

It's no secret that kids are curious. 

And that curiosity only increases when they enter a new environment, like a rented vacation home, with so many new items to explore.

Nancy Cowles is the Executive Director of Kids in Danger, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating parents about child and product safety.

She said with more parents opting for vacation rentals through popular housing apps, it's important to know if the home you're staying in is safe for your child.

Cowles said tip-over accidents are the most prevalent among small children.

"A tip-over accident is when a child is either opening drawers to get clothes out of them, or maybe even using it to step up and get something on top of the dresser, the unit is unstable and will tip over on them, trapping them underneath it. It's a very common hazard that some people are aware of," she said.

So, if you're staying in a rental home for your next vacation, follow these child safety steps:

Ask the host if dressers or other heavy furniture in the home are anchored to the walls.

If they're not, and the host isn't willing to do so, you may want to find another rental.

Next, make sure the home has a suitable crib for your child, if needed.

"If there is a crib there, it should have crib sheets on it and not just a sheet from one of the beds because a fitted sheet is very important for a crib," she said.

You may also want to check the make and model to make sure there aren't any open recalls on the crib.

Last, but certainly not least, ask your host if they have a pool in the backyard.

"Drowning is the number one killer of children ages one to four. It just takes a minute for a child to fall in a pool and drown," said Cowles.

You'll want to make sure the pool has a four sided fence or barrier around it.

Also ask if they have rescue materials in case something goes wrong. Don't rely on inflatables.

And if you've never lived in a home with a pool make sure you have a plan in place for each parent to watch the children at the pool with no distractions. That means put the phone down.

These safety precautions may sound a bit stressful, but Cowles believes they're a must.

"We think if you start thinking safety from the very beginning, if you're already doing these steps at home, it'll give you greater piece of mind when you're there," she said.

If you plan on staying in a hotel or resort, it may not be a bad idea to ask these same questions to hotel staff, specifically about the dressers.

The Kids in Danger stated they know of at least one death in a hotel where the TV and the dresser tipped over on a young child.

We have more vacation safety tips, click here https://www.anchorit.gov/



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Consumers Demand Answers From Nissan Over Melting Dashboards]]>Tue, 25 Jun 2019 09:30:25 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/melting-dashboard-nissan.jpg

An auto safety group is calling for a nationwide recall after concerns over melting Nissan dashboards. The group says the issue is much more than a cosmetic issue, and is demanding a recall from the manufacturer.

Tammy French said an intense glare on her windshield has created major problems on the road.

When she takes a ride in her 2008 Nissan Altima, the melting dashboard projects images on her windshield. She said the glare has gotten so bad that she's had close calls on the road with bikers and even pedestrians.

"If there is a pedestrian about to walk in front of you, kids on bikes, you wouldn't see them," she said. "I feel like lives are at risk because of the reduced visibility."

At first glance, she thought there was an issue with the windshield. That was until she brushed her hand on the dashboard and realized it was melting.

"Everything sticks to it," French said. "If I go shopping and come out to the parking lot, it gets worse as its been sitting in the sun."

When the dash started releasing a foul, chemical-like odor, she said she called Nissan to address the problem but was told because the car was no longer under warranty she’d have to pay for the new dash herself. She then learned the dash could cost up to $2,000.

"It's disturbing. It's not just about my safety, it's about others as well," French explained. "I don't want them to wait until someone is hit on a bike on the street because someone didn't see them. I'm not the only one with this problem."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has logged hundreds of complaints about "sticky," "melting" and "gooey" Nissan dashboards from more model years than just 2008.

Our team found nearly 250 complaints on the Altima models alone.

Plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Nissan claimed the automaker sold vehicles that "do not withstand exposure to sunlight."

The lawsuit, which names several Nissan and Infiniti models from 2003 to 2009, states the dashboards, "melt, emit a noxious chemical smell," and more troubling, the dashboards create a glare on the windshield, "endangering everyone on the road."

Nissan ended up settling this case, agreeing to cover dashboard replacement costs for Altima model years 2008 and 2009.

But only for customers in the state of Florida.

"I feel as it is unfair. Texas, Georgia, Alabama, it gets hot in other places than just Florida," French said.

I asked Nissan why Texas drivers weren't included in its melting dashboard settlement, after all, Texas gets just as hot as Florida, if not hotter.

Nissan told NBC 5 Responds in part:

"Customer satisfaction is important to Nissan and we work directly with our customers to try to resolve any matters of concern. I have asked our consumer affairs team to look up this case and to be in touch with the customer."

When French finally heard back from Nissan, she said a representative told her there was still nothing they could do.

The Center for Auto Safety said it's very disturbed by Nissan's response and is demanding a recall. https://www.autosafety.org/

The Center said in part:

“Nissan's refusal to do the right thing has been dangerous and amounts to ignoring the safety concerns of a blinding glare in addition to the unacceptable cosmetic damage that results. As we enter the summer…Cars get hot in the sun and Nissan's resistance to recalling and repairing vehicles with this obvious flaw will now continue to cost consumers for years to come."

NHTSA said, "The agency is aware of the issue and will take further steps if appropriate."



Photo Credit: Tammy French]]>
<![CDATA[North TX Family Battles Airline Over DR Flight]]>Thu, 20 Jun 2019 19:13:31 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Photo00164.jpg

Carolyn Conklin and her family of five were supposed to be traveling to the Dominican Republic next week.

But their summer break excitement quickly turned into fear.

"The week after we booked the trip, we started to hear different stories on the news about people dying and it's relatively close to the area we were going to be in," said Conklin. "I'm terrified."

So far, 10 Americans have died in the DR In the last 18 months.

Their deaths remain a mystery, causing great concern for couples, families and parents like Conklin.

"It worries me that something would happen to my children or my husband and I while we're in a foreign country," she said.

Conklin said the travel company she booked with agreed to change their resort to a destination in Mexico.

But the airline, Sun Country, was another story.

Conklin said Sun Country would not waive their flight change fee, which was $200 per person, meaning she and her husband would have to pay $1000 in order to fly elsewhere.

Travel agent Angie Anderson said she worked with a few clients who were adamant about re-booking their trips elsewhere.

"My client came to me and said I'm afraid," she said.

Anderson said several airlines are handling change fees on a case-by-case basis, which why travel insurance is so important.

She said for major trips, select a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason.

Unfortunately, Conklin's policy covers illnesses, a death in the family, or a job loss, but it doesn't cover fear of travel.

"I expected empathy and compassion from the representatives, and it was just, 'this is our policy,'" she said.

Conklin said traveling to the DR was not an option, so a friend told her to call NBC 5 Responds.

They just said, "You know who you need to call?" I said, "The media?" He said,  "Channel 5 News, and then he told me your name," she explained.

I reached out to Sun Country and the airline responded the next day.

Sun Country said in part, "Our team has decided to handle these on a case-by-case basis and are calling customers back tomorrow to review options to either receive a credit for later use or switch to an alternate destination."

Not long after, Conklin received a call from Sun Country informing her that she now had the option to switch to another destination without a change fee.

"Yay! That's so amazing. That makes me happy," she said.

I reached out to several airlines who also said when it comes to the DR, they are handling change fees on a case-by-case basis.

Last week, the State Department issued a statement saying more than 2.7 million U.S. citizens visit the DR each year, and they have not seen an uptick in the number of deaths reported to the department.

Nonetheless, Conklin and her family still believe this change to Mexico will give them some peace of mind.

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<![CDATA[Fire Prompts $1 Million Dispute With Airbnb]]>Wed, 19 Jun 2019 18:22:44 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/RespondsFireStory.jpg

Millions of homeowners worldwide are making what seems like easy money, renting out their homes on vacation rental websites and apps. Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, and others offer short-term rental booking services for homeowners and renters alike.

Whether you're already renting out your home or considering it, we have a warning. It follows a five-month investigation by NBC Bay Area Responds that became the largest case we've tackled.

At stake: $1 million because a couple's home in Sonoma burned down while Airbnb guests were renting it.

'The house is on fire ... the whole house!'

This story begins in the early morning hours of May 21, 2017, when a frightened young woman called 911 from a mountainside just west of Sonoma.

In an audio recording of the call obtained by NBC Bay Area, a tinge of panic can be heard in the woman's voice as she describes the situation to an emergency dispatcher.

  • CALLER: "We're up in the mountains."
  • 911 DISPATCHER: "I see that. We're already starting help."
  • CALLER: "The house is on fire."
  • 911: "What part of the house?"
  • CALLER: "The whole house!"

Eight Airbnb guests were staying in the three-story house that overlooked the Sonoma Valley. Fortunately, all eight escaped the flames unharmed. Minutes after they made it out, the burning house came crashing down.

The Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue fire marshal's report on the incident notes non-code electric work near a wooden outdoor deck. Investigators also noted two of the Airbnb renters admitted they were smoking on that deck, about an hour before the fire started:

  • It was possible that one of them threw cigarette butts over the deck railing or dropped some on [the] deck.

Ultimately, the fire's cause was declared "undetermined" by the fire marshal. But no matter what ignited the flames, the house was a total loss.

The $1 million question

After the fire, the homeowners obtained a contractor's estimate to rebuild. The estimate: $1.8 million.

The homeowners -- who are remaining anonymous -- told NBC Bay Area they received a $600,000 payment from their property insurance provider, but not the $1 million they were counting on from Airbnb. Its "Host Guarantee" offers homeowners "Property damage protection of up to $1 million for every host and every listing—at no additional cost.”

Consumer attorney Robert Tauler says promises like the Airbnb Host Guarantee aren't always easy to redeem.

"They don't just write checks for a million bucks without kicking the tires, for sure," Tauler said.

Tauler specializes in holding tech companies accountable for their advertising. He says simple assurances spelled out on an app look easy, but putting those promises into practice -- like after a fire -- might meet resistance.

"Frequently, their acts are inconsistent with their words," Tauler said. "That's a real serious problem."

The Sonoma homeowners said Airbnb gave them the runaround. They said they filed a claim shortly after the fire, in June 2017, and expected the $1 million promised by the Host Guarantee. Sixteen months later, they were still waiting for an answer. That's when they reached out to NBC Bay Area:

"It's one thing if they communicate with us and dispute our claim; it's another thing to stay silent."
- Sonoma homeowner, in an email to NBC Bay Area Responds

NBC Bay Area reviewed the 25-page Host Guarantee and contacted Airbnb. We kept a conversation going over five months. Then, last week, Airbnb closed the case.

Are the Sonoma homeowners getting the $1 million payment? It's confidential. They homeonwers only told us, "We are not supposed to discuss it any further." However, in that same final email to us, they added, "The story is as we informed you before, and we are tremendously grateful for your help."

We asked Airbnb to talk with us about what happened. It responded:

"The issue has been resolved, though as part of it, we will not be able to participate in your segment."
- Airbnb spokesperson, via email

AirBnB later responded with an extended statement.

"We stand by our host community, which is why our Host Guarantee provides up to $1 million of protection for free on every booking for property damage caused by guests. That’s unmatched in the travel industry. In this case, the matter was resolved to both the hosts' and Airbnb's satisfaction."

Lessons for other homeowners

The Sonoma homeowners were lucky, in a sense. Not every home rental site carries a $1 million guarantee like Airbnb. And as the couple in this story learned, you can't count on full coverage from everyday home insurance.

Janet Ruiz, Director of Strategic Communication for the Insurance Information Institute, says homeowners should carefully review their coverage before signing up for a short-term rental gig.

"If you're thinking about renting out your home, your regular homeowner's insurance may not be adequate," Ruiz said.

Insurance providers are firm: risk increases with renters under your roof. Before checking in any guests, homeowners should check their policy. Extra insurance might be needed.

"These coverages aren't expensive," Ruiz said. "But they save you a lot of money if you have a loss."

Ruiz said if homeowners have the wrong insurance, they could get nothing after a renter causes damage. For some policies, a small add-on will do; others may need a "bed and breakfast" or "landlord" policy.

"Having the right insurance coverage will help you at the end of the day," Ruiz said.

AirBnb on Thursday afternoon responded to this report with the following statement:

"We stand by our host community, which is why our Host Guarantee provides up to $1 million of protection for free on every booking for property damage caused by guests. That’s unmatched in the travel industry. In this case, the matter was resolved to both the hosts' and Airbnb's satisfaction."

We stand by our host community, which is why our Host Guarantee provides up to $1 million of protection for free on every booking for property damage caused by guests. That’s unmatched in the travel industry. In this case, the matter was resolved to both the hosts' and Airbnb's satisfaction.

]]>
<![CDATA[Abbott Issues Order to Extend Plumbing Board's Operation]]>Thu, 13 Jun 2019 22:14:30 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/gov-greg-abbott.jpg

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday that extends the activity of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners through the end of the state's next legislative session, the governor's office says.

The board was set to be disbanded Sept. 1, after lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would have extended operations for the state agency.

Had the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners been abolished, so would have any requirements for someone to call themselves a plumber. That potential concerned many plumbers who said the lack of regulation could pose a major safety risk statewide.

To issue the executive order, Abbott used a part of the Texas Government Code that allows the governor to suspend regulatory statutes for state business if following them would hinder disaster recovery, the governor's office said.

Abbott's office said having a qualified workforce of licensed plumbers is critical to Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.

The executive order will extend the state plumbing board's operations through May 31, 2021, which would allow the 87th legislature time to address the matter.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds Helps Man Get Refund After Rental Car Mix Up]]>Wed, 05 Jun 2019 18:46:47 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Hotwire+Rental+Car+receipt.jpg

Fred Rosett was planning a trip for his wife, daughters and grandchild.

It was a girls trip to Georgia, and he wanted to make sure the women were squared away and had a reliable vehicle for the road.

"I went through Hotwire to book an SUV," he said.

The full-size SUV came out to $560 for nine days. And best of all, it came with unlimited mileage.

"Six weeks later we show up at DFW to pick up the SUV," Rosett said.

But there was a problem.

He said the rental company informed him that there would be a charge for 50 cents per mile because Georgia fell out of their domestic boundaries.

"That's going to cost us another $1,300 based on the mileage we'll end up using," he said. "We couldn't accept the car at that cost."

Rosett said he asked for a refund, but was told he'd have to go through Hotwire.

"I spent the following week trying to contact numerous supervisors at Hotwire and they all said the same thing, 'We'd like to help you, but the policy is no refunds,'" he explained. "We have a receipt that says unlimited mileage. That's what it should be."

But he was out nearly $600, and had to spend more money on another vehicle.

"That's when we called NBC Responds," Rosett explained.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Hotwire and the company quickly looked into the matter.

Hotwire said in part:

"We've reviewed Mr. Rosett's case and absolutely understand his frustration with his rental car experience. Hotwire takes customer concerns very seriously and we're always willing to hear about what we can do better... We will be applying learnings from this case to improve how we service our customers. Thank you as always for bringing this to our attention."

About a week later, Rosett received a full refund of $560.70.

"We're confident that we would have never received our money if we didn't receive NBC Responds' help. You guys were great. I mean, you brought the pressure, and they responded," he said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[TX Plumbers Soon Won't Need a License; What it Means for You]]>Mon, 03 Jun 2019 17:48:44 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Generic+Sink.jpg

Scott Ganske comes from generations of plumbers.

"My grandfather was a plumber. My dad's a plumber. Two of my sons are going to be plumbers," he said.

It's in his blood, and he's spent countless hours in the classroom, and in the field, to make sure he's the best plumber he can be.

But starting this September, plumbers in Texas will not have to be licensed, insured and they won't be required to take continuing education classes.

"We have to have regulation. We can't just have anyone out there doing plumbing," Ganske said. "Any guy with a pickup and a box of tools is going to be like, 'Oh yeah, I can fix that.'"

The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners oversees plumbing in Texas. 

But that agency will soon be abolished, eliminating state requirements for plumbers.

Here's how it all went down in Austin.

Some lawmakers felt it was more appropriate for plumbing to be managed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Others wanted to keep the the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners -- the stand alone plumbing agency.

But last week, lawmakers took no action Senate Bill 621, and as a result, state plumbing regulation as a whole went down the drain.

"The tragedy is that this didn't need to happen," Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Canton) said.

Flynn is a member of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, which evaluates the need for agencies in the state and proposes recommendations for positive change.

Flynn said he fought to keep the state's plumbing agency alive, but was open to a compromise that would have allowed plumbing to be overseen by the TDLR for a short period of time.

"It's unfortunate that some legislators wanted their way or the highway and that brings us down to the situation where we are," Flynn said.

But plumbers like Philip Sanders called this unacceptable.

He's owned his own plumbing company for nearly 33 years, 

From gas leaks to frozen pipes and raw sewage, he said a plumber's job is no easy task.

Sanders said he believed the lack of regulation could pose a major safety risk to homeowners statewide.

"We deal with the safety of protecting from fire and explosion... this is serious," he said.

And while some unlicensed plumbers come cheaper, he said consumers will end up paying in the long run.

That's why he, and many other plumbers in Texas, are demanding a special session called by Gov. Greg Abbot to reinstate plumbing regulation in the state.

"It's not going to get done unless our governor steps up to the plate. If he doesn't, my opinion, that's bad leadership," Sanders said.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Gov. Abbot's office about a special session, but had not heard back Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile plumbers across the state plan to rally in Austin on June 14.

They said they're fighting for their industry, and consumers who deserve better.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[TX DMV Investigating Local Dealership After 200+ Complaints ]]>Tue, 04 Jun 2019 10:02:30 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Fenton+Hyundai.jpg

A Mesquite car dealership is accused of not issuing titles, license plates and worse, not paying off trade-in vehicles.

Carl Barns said his credit score dropped 140 points in just a few months. He said he has no doubt that Fenton Hyundai in Mesquite is to blame. 

"This has turned into a nightmare and I just want to get the car back," he said 

Last year, he went to Fenton Hyundai and traded in his old car for a new Hyundai.

"I thought, OK. I trade in the car. I get a new car. They pay off the lien and that's the end of it," he said.

But he said Fenton Hyundai never paid off his trade-in.

He found this out when the bank started calling him, demanding payment.

But Barnes said the dealership told him not to worry.

He said he was told Fenton Hyundai was in the process of selling the dealership and they'd get his payment out soon.

But a month later, Barnes received another bill from the bank saying he owed more than $27,000 on a car he no longer owned.

Each month he doesn't pay, he said his credit score drops.

And to make matters worse, Barnes said the dealership still hasn't sent him the title or license plate for his new car, and his temporary tag is about to run out.

"We're just common people. I just work a job, every day, and I expect people to be fair with me ... it's disturbing," he said.

According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, Barnes is far from alone.

The Texas DMV currently has 241 open cases against Fenton Hyundai and have opened a formal investigation into this dealership.

Many customers claim the dealership didn't pay off their trade-in vehicles.

Others, like Cheryl Jones, can't get the dealership to send their license plate.

"I'm worried I'm going to get pulled over. I don't know what to do at this point," she said.

Hyundai corporate sent this statement regarding the claims against Fenton Hyundai:

"Hyundai is aware of the issues some customers are having with Fenton Hyundai, the independent Hyundai dealer in Mesquite, Texas. We are concerned about the situation and understand our customers’ frustrations. We are doing everything we can based on our dealer agreement and Texas franchise rules. We have also voiced our concerns directly to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Enforcement Section to assist in addressing the situation. We are fully committed to providing Hyundai customers in the market with a reliable, honest dealer that provides them with an outstanding shopping, buying, ownership and service experience."

Capital One bank has even filed a lawsuit against "The Fenton Dealers" for overstating customers' incomes and failing to pay off trade-in liens.

"Consumers of Dallas can't be treated this way," said Barnes.

NBC 5 Responds went down to Fenton Hyundai to find out what was going on.

The general manager declined to talk, but a receptionist said they are still selling cars, leaving Barnes even more angry.

And with a $27,000 bill hanging over his head, he's demanding the Texas DMV do all it can to shut this dealership down.

"All dealerships have complaints. This goes well beyond just a typical complaint. This is straight fraud," said Barnes.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Barnes' bank, Capital One.

The bank said because the dealer is unwilling to pay off his trade-in, they're forgiving him of the outstanding debt. So, that's $27,000 Barnes doesn't have to worry about.

NBC 5 Responds asked if the bank will help Barnes restore his credit score, but Capital One didn't respond to that question.

The Texas DMV said customers who are still waiting on plates and titles should contact Jason Ortiz in the Dallas County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office (even if they live in a surrounding county) for assistance.

The Texas DMV said the dealership could face fines and could even have its dealer license revoked.

The investigation into Fenton Hyundai is ongoing.

MORE:Texas Department of Motor Vehicles | Enter a Complaint



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[City Denies Claim After Raw Sewage Floods Woman's House]]>Mon, 20 May 2019 19:04:59 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Sewage+in+Bathtub.jpg

In March, Erin Jackson said raw sewage flooded her home, damaging her floors, baseboards, bathrooms, bedrooms and many of her appliances.

"There is not enough bleach in the tub that will get me to sit in that tub again," she said.

A backed-up city sewage line caused the problem, costing Jackson roughly $50,000 in repairs.

Since NBC 5 Responds' first story aired, we've heard from a few other homeowners who claimed this was not just a freak accident.

"They have historic problems that they knew existed and did not take steps to fix," Jackson said.

She thought she had all of the evidence she needed to convince the city that this was their responsibility to fix.

But Jackson recently got a call from the city informing her that they were denying her claim, but would offer $7,700 as a gesture of goodwill to help with the clean up.

"This is a giant economic burden for me," she said. "How can a consumer get stuck paying all of this? How can a citizen get stuck paying all of this when I did nothing wrong?"

NBC 5 Responds had the same questions for Kennedale's city manager, George Campbell, who hasn't returned recent emails.

So, we went down to city hall to pay Campbell a visit.

He didn't agree to talk on camera, but he did sit down to break down the law.

Campbell said because of the Texas Tort Claims Act, there isn't a city in Texas that's liable for damage due to a city sewage backup.

He said if they decided to approve Jackson's claim, it would set a precedent all over the state, and consumers would be subject to higher premiums.

Campbell said they city had no control over what people put down their drains, and in this case, the city did all it's obligated to do for this homeowner.

"It's sounds ludicrous. But when you look at the law, that's how it's written. That's what our elected officials have chosen to do to the citizens," Jackson said.

She said because the city has neglected it's sewage lines for years, she believed her case should be an exception to that law.

"They don't know me. I have nothing but time on my hands. I have years to pursue this and that is what I will do," she said.

Jackson said that she rejected the city's gesture of goodwill because she saw it as an insult.

She said she's currently meeting with attorneys and other homeowners who said the same thing happened to them.



Photo Credit: Erin Jackson]]>
<![CDATA[Local Bride, Others Say Dallas Designer Left Them Without Dresses]]>Fri, 17 May 2019 22:41:27 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/wedding+dress+ripoff.jpg

Tina Peoples said she searched high and low to find a backup wedding dress for her daughter, Belinda Hatchet.

"It's nice, but not what she envisioned for her special day," said Peoples. 

They said they paid Dallas dress maker Anthony Weaver $700 up front to design a custom wedding dress.

The women said he operated out of his mother's house, and when the dress was ready, Weaver gave them a date and time to pick it up.

But he was a no show.

"I'm crying. My husband's trying to keep me calm. I was beyond pissed," said Hatchet.

"He took her dream. He stole that from her," her mom explained.

They're not alone.

Damya Puryear and her mom Reyna Colunga said they paid Weaver $591 for a prom dress, but on the scheduled pick up date, Weaver was nowhere to be found.

"No dress? It's prom! Senior prom! Anthony is the reason my prom is ruined," Puryear said. "This can't happen to me."

"To see her like this, it's very upsetting. That's the reason I need to let everyone know to not use his services," her mom said.

Several other parents have voiced their anger on social media, saying they paid Weaver hundreds for dresses he never delivered.

"He's making a living off of destroying dreams," said Peoples. He's a liar and he's a scammer."

But over the phone, Weaver told NBC 5 he's not a scammer.

He admitted his communication "sucks" and that he accidentally double booked himself at the time of their appointments, which is why he was a no show.

Weaver said the dresses were ready, but he chose not to deliver or issue refunds because the ladies bashed him on social media, which he said is a breach of contract.

Weaver said others on social media are "not telling the whole truth."

He said he's a one-person team and he's a busy guy.

"Well, you told me you had a crew. That's what he told us. He had plenty of help," said Peoples.

The ladies said Weaver is the one who breached the contracts when he didn't deliver the dresses.

Peoples said Weaver even agreed to send a refund and said he would still deliver her daughter's dress for their troubles.

But once again, she said he didn't show and did not send her a refund for the dress.

"You destroyed my daughter's wedding, and you should pay for that," she said.

Weaver told me that he plans to take legal action against these women for slandering his name.

Meanwhile, the Glenn Heights Police Department tells NBC 5 that they are investigating Weaver and are cooperating with other agencies who may be looking into him as well.

When doing business with a company that involves a contract, consumers should make sure it specifies a completion date in writing. That way, both parties understand when the product should be delivered.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Woman Threatened With Lien Notice For Unpaid Materials]]>Wed, 15 May 2019 19:13:57 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R+Driveway+Repair+Bill.jpg

After living in her Dallas home for 46 years, Mary Norton decided it was time for a new driveway.

"We saved up our money and so we were excited. We needed it and we were excited about getting a new driveway," she said.

Norton said a friend referred her to a local contractor who started on the job right away.

It only took two days and she was very happy with the finished product.

But a few weeks after they finished, Norton received a notice in the mail from a cement company claiming her contractor failed to pay them for materials, and because they couldn't reach the contractor, she would have to pay the invoice of $2460.

"I'm in shock to be honest with you. I was just totally in shock. I couldn't believe it," she explained.  

Norton said she and her husband had already paid the contractor $4500 cash.

But she said the cement company insisted that if they didn't get their money from the contractor, they would put a lien on her home.

"I called you because I've seen you numerous times on channel 5 and I needed help and I felt like you were the person that could help me," said Norton.

I started by calling her contractor, who told me he made sure the cement company was paid and said he didn't know what they were talking about.

Meanwhile, the cement company said the contractor never paid them and still owed money, leaving Norton in the middle of a nasty dispute with a potential lien on her home.

Dallas Attorney Steve Badger with Zelle LLP isn't representing either side, but he knows a thing or two about liens.

He said Texas law tries to strike a balance between the interest of contractors and consumers.

But in this case, Badger said the cement company wouldn't be able to pursue a lien.

He said in order to have a valid lien on this home, Norton's original contract would need a disclosure like this…

"...If a subcontractor or supplier who furnishes materials is not paid, your property may be subject to a lien for the unpaid amount...."

But no such disclosure was included in Norton's contract.

"There's a lot of things that have to happen when you're dealing with someone's home to make one of these liens proper. Otherwise they're improper and they can be invalidated. But sadly, that requires judicial action, and that's hard for homeowners," Badger explained.

So, I called the subcontractor back to ask him more questions about this lien notice.

The contractor told us he wasn't going to pursue the lien any further, and a few days later, Norton got a notice in the mail:

"This releases the signer for all labor, services, equipment or materials furnished to the property or to the owner."

"Because of your swift action, you and your team, I got immediate results," said Norton. "We are released from any type of obligation. I'm so happy."

That means a nearly $2500 debt has been wiped clean.

"If you want action, call NBC 5 Responds. You said you respond to every call and you do," she said.

Badger said there are other deadlines and requirements a business must meet in order to put a valid lien on your home.

He said consumers who receive a lien notice should click here for more information: https://www.bicanet.com/filing-a-mechanics-lien-in-texas/



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[1 in 4 Online Shoppers Have Bought 'Fakes': BBB]]>Tue, 14 May 2019 18:52:14 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/better+business+bureau+counterfeit+shopping.jpg

One in four people who have purchased items online have unwittingly bought counterfeit goods at some point, according to a new report from the Better Business Bureau.

The report, titled "Fakes Are Not Fashionable," which will be released in detail Thursday morning during a news conference in downtown Dallas, is the result of months of work and more than 2,500 counterfeit complaints filed by consumers across the country.

The most common items that the BBB office serving North Central Texas has encountered are electronics, shoes, fragrances, clothes and jewelry, according to a BBB spokesman.

According to the report, "a massive number of deceptive web-sellers illegally use copyrighted pictures of brand-name goods, and then send fake items, low-quality substitutes or nothing at all."

The average amount of money lost by counterfeit victims is $350, according to the BBB report, and the most common age range of counterfeit victims is 30 to 39 years old.



Photo Credit: Better Business Bureau]]>
<![CDATA[Seniors Feel 'Trapped' After Several Elevator Outages at Dallas Facility]]>Mon, 13 May 2019 22:38:44 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R+-+Broken+Elevator+Seniors.jpg

Residents at the Waterford at Goldmark senior living facility in Dallas said the elevator keeps breaking down.

"This is not a convenience. This is a necessity. It scares me to think about going down the stairs," said Catherine Marr.

She and her neighbors told NBC 5 Responds Samantha Chatman that some seniors have even been trapped in this elevator for hours.

Others like Cindy Carson, who has osteoarthritis and scoliosis, said they haven't left the house in weeks.

"I can't get down the stairs. If it weren't for my friend making trips for me, I'd be out of insulin," she said.

Since August of last year, Dallas Fire Rescue has responded to 14 elevator emergency calls at this facility.

Rosalie Stepp said she and others have asked for a permanent fix, but were told a new elevator would leave them without service for 3-5 months, so the repairs have to suffice.

"There are people here who do not have access to the outside world. I'm concerned about the safety of people here who cannot go down the stairs," Stepp explained.

So, NBC 5 Responds went down to the leasing office to speak with the property manager, but was told they could not speak with the media.

They referred me to Quest Asset Management, the company that oversees the building, and the executive vice president responded.

He told NBC 5 they were made aware of the problem nearly 10 days ago.

But Stepp said that's not true at all.

"I started writing letters last fall, asking for help, offering help," she said.  "I have been to the office so many times that when they see me coming, they want to go the other way."

The company told NBC 5 they've maintained their elevators per code for many years.

However, the VP said "We cannot predict all problems. When they occur we have to rely on the contractor. We have no control of how long it takes to make repairs."

The company said staff even offered to relocate residents who were unable to use the stairs.

But the women NBC 5 spoke with said they were never given that option, ever.

"Nobody's bothered to come by and check and say, 'are you doing okay? You need anything?'" Carson said.

But a day after NBC 5 reached out, the ladies said they received a notice from the building:  "As of yesterday afternoon, the elevator in building one is fully operational. You can now use the elevator."

"It's like, y'all were here yesterday, by yesterday evening it was fixed," said Carson. "I couldn't believe it."

It's a relief for several residents here at this senior living facility who didn't just want the elevator fixed, they needed it.

"I’m so grateful to you guys," Stepp said.

The seniors told NBC 5 they're happy it's fixed, but said this has happened before.

They said "the elevator goes out, gets fixed, and then goes out again."

But if that happens, NBC 5 Responds will be here to make sure they don't feel stranded and alone.

Under the Department of Justice's ADA regulations, elevators for those with disabilities must be maintained in operable working condition, but there are exceptions for temporary interruptions due to maintenance and repairs.

But under this act, facilities are obligated to make sure repairs are done promptly and properly.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Texas Lawmakers Vote to Kill Roofing Bill]]>Fri, 10 May 2019 17:42:02 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Photo000653.jpg

This is the furthest the roofing bill has ever gotten with the Texas Legislature.

But in the end, it did not get enough votes to move on to the Senate.

It was called the Re-Roofing Registration bill, authored by Represetative Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake.  

It would've required roofers to register with the state in an effort to crack down on roofing scams. 

Those who supported the bill called it a no brainer, but opponents said it would make it harder for small roofing companies to do business in Texas.

Many homeowners we spoke with were optimistic that lawmakers would hear their cry and do something about the rampant scams in our state.

But ultimately, it did not pass through the House.

The bill failed by a vote of 99 to 33.

Now, supporters of the Re-Roofing bill will have to have to try again in 2021.

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<![CDATA[NTX Woman Suing Over Exploding Cans of Cooking Spray]]>Thu, 09 May 2019 16:43:13 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Photo000612.jpg

Reveriano Duran said he was working at a restaurant in 2017 when a can of cooking spray exploded, leaving him with severe burns.

He's one of eight people who filed lawsuits this week against Conagra, alleging they were injured by exploding cans of cooking spray.

Six of the plaintiffs said they were using the popular spray Pam, including Y'tesia Taylor, a woman in Greenville whose friend called 911.

"I need a fire department. I need an ambulance...She was cooking and something exploded...She's got burns all over her arms and her face," her friend said.

Taylor has heard the recording several times, but to this day, it still brings her to tears.

"It doesn't get easier," she explained.

Y'tesia said she was preparing a meal for her family and used a can of Pam cooking spray to coat the dish.

"As I rose up and closed the oven there was like a red fog that covered my eyes, I was screaming like 'I'm, I'm dying," Taylor said.

She said she was left with burns, scars, partial blindness and lung damage.

"I'm dealing with my son having moments when he breaks down and just can't deal with the fact that I was in a fire," she said.

According to the lawsuits, unlike many cooking spray canisters, the exploding cans had U-shaped vents on the bottom.

Those vented cans are 10 ounces or bigger, and while they've never been recalled, Conagra says Pam's "vented-can design is no longer in production," not because of any lawsuits, but because the company "standardized the cans" across its product line.

Conagra says Pam is used in 95% of American households, and has clear warning labels, adding, "When Pam is used correctly, as instructed, it is a 100% safe and effective product."

But those who are suing, like Taylor, believe the cans were faulty and prone to life-changing explosions.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Family Demands Answers After Puppy Drowns in Pet Sitter's Pool]]>Tue, 07 May 2019 16:17:53 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Dog+Sitter+Death.jpg

For Amy and Sean Houston, the loss of their French bulldog, Coco, is still very fresh.

"Coco was our family member. She wasn't just a dog," said Amy. "It hurts because I smell her."

It was just last year the Coppell couple surprised their kids with Coco.

"It was one of the best days as a family to be able to bring her home," Amy explained.

Last month, the couple was planning a party in their home for their daughter's high school graduation. They were afraid that Coco would escape through the front door or she would accidentally get bumped into their pool in our backyard. So, they booked a pet sitter through the app "Rover" to watch their dog at the sitter's house.

"It appeared that they were safe. They market that safety is number 1 on their site," said Amy.

They thought Coco would be safe, but a couple hours into the party Amy received a disturbing message from the sitter.

"She said 'Oh my god! She's out! We're looking all over the neighborhood,'" Amy explained.

The family said they combed the neighborhood in search for Coco. But the sitter said it was too late.

When the family arrived at the sitter's home, they could see their puppy at the bottom of the sitter's pool lifeless.

"I had her wrapped up in a blanket and let me hold her. To have the kids walk in and see that, it's heartbreaking. This is the worst thing that's happened to our family," Amy explained.

The couple said they reported the incident to Rover and were told Rover is a neutral party, essentially a middle man, and the sitter is completely independent.

"If that's what we were looking for, I could have just gone down the street to find somebody to take care of Coco, but I went with something that was portrayed of having a guarantee and safety," said Amy.

Attorney Robert Tauler said Rover's negligence is not an isolated incident.

"What has shocked me since day one is not only that Rover has such a cavalier attitude towards it, but that they're not doing anything to fix it," he said.

Tauler has filed a lawsuit against Rover on behalf of his client, whose 1-year-old dog Snoopy was hit by a car while under the Rover sitter's watch.

There's even a Facebook group entitled "My dog was killed while in the care of Rover.com" with more than 100 members.

"If us reaching out to you saves one dog and one family then it's worth it," said Amy.

But Rover told NBC 5 these types of incidents are highly unusual.

Rover said in part:

"Incidents of this nature are extremely rare, and our heart goes out to Coco's family ... Our trust and safety team conducted a thorough review of this sitter, and has removed them from our platform. We will continue to support Coco's family throughout this challenging time."

"Safety is one of Rover's top priorities, and there are many different aspects we consider to create the safest experience we can. It starts with high standards for our sitters. We review every sitter's profile to ensure our standards have been met. All new sitters and dog walkers complete general background checks, pass a safety quiz, and are offered educational programs focused on safety throughout their time as a sitter. Additionally, we leverage data from every stay and walk to facilitate smarter, safer matches and ensure sitters continue to meet our standards. On the rare occasion something does go wrong during a stay, we have 24/7 support from our dedicated Trust and Safety Team, reservation protection, access to veterinarians and the Rover Guarantee."

The couple said that Rover offered to pay for Coco's cremation, but refused to pay for the cost of their puppy, which was $2,000. They said they were told for that cost, they'd have to go directly to the sitter.

Of the guarantee, Rover's website says, "We support Rover pet parents, sitters, and dog walkers by offering an unmatched level of protection. That's why every booking made on Rover is backed by the Rover Guarantee. Simply put, the Rover Guarantee is our commitment to you in the rare instance that something goes wrong during a booking. We offer the Guarantee because we believe that being there for our community is a fundamental part of what it means to be The Dog People."

"When you look at the marketing, you think you're going to get a good sitter. You don't know what you're getting. If you decide to use Rover, you're taking a risk, and if something should go wrong, don't expect rover to take care of you," said Sean.

After reaching out to the media, the couple said that Rover offered to cover the cost of their dog. The couple said they were asked to sign an agreement that would clear Rover of all responsibility, so they declined.

Rover maintains that incidents like these are extremely rare and that pet owners in the Dallas area have booked 200,000 services through the Rover, with nearly every stay going exactly as planned.

But Rover would not give me an exact number of how many dogs have been lost, or died, under the care of their sitters.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Veteran Finds Facebook Pages Using His Photos to Scam Women]]>Fri, 03 May 2019 23:44:26 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R+-+Fake+Facebook+Pages.jpg

After 40 years of marriage, Terry Hestilow and his wife Becky said they're happier than ever.

"He's mine. He's my man. Has been for a long time," said Becky. 

But according to a Facebook profile using her husband's pictures, he's a widow. 

Another Facebook page says he's single, and apparently looking for love elsewhere.

"I's an assault upon my character," said Hestilow. "No matter what name they use, they're using my photo."

Becky said she was the first to learn about these mysterious pages when women started contacting her and her daughters.

She said the women on Facebook told her that they were messaged by someone who was using Hestilow's photos, and eventually developed a relationship with this person online.

They thought the person was single, and over time, they said they sent this person thousands of dollars.

"I had these pages, like two or three pages of people contacting me wanting to know if this was my husband and if we are divorced," Becky explained.  "I just very nicely said, 'I'm sorry. My husband's pictures are being used by hundreds of people and you have been a victim of fraud."

She said one woman told her she lost $20,000 after meeting someone on Facebook using her husband's photos and convincing her to send him money after months of dating online.

But after looking up the last name "Hestilow" on Facebook, she found Becky.

"It's not flattering," said Hestilow. "It's the uniform they're exploiting to pull off the scam."

He said in many cases, these women thought they were chatting with a retired soldier overseas who was lonely and looking for love online.

Hestilow said he and his family have reported dozens of pages to Facebook.

He said the ones that are identical to his real page have been taken down.

But the profiles using different names with his pictures, he said many of those are still up.

Hestilow said he received this email from Facebook saying "We reviewed the profile you reported and found that it doesn't go against our community standards."

"I was angry. I was angry. I knew it was my photograph. I knew that this was a fraud. If they investigate and found that it doesn't violate their community standards, then something is wrong with their community standards," Hestilow said. "Facebook, I want them to recognize that they are being used to defraud them."

Facebook told NBC 5 there may be a good reason why Hestilow got that email response, or, they may have made a mistake…

But Facebook said pretending to be another person is explicitly against its policies.

The site said it's developed technology to specifically combat impersonation and will continue to make improvements.

Facebook said it removed 1.5 billion fake accounts just last year, and uses facial recognition and machine learning to detect and block these kinds of scams and content.

But if you type in "Hestilow" on Facebook, the Veteran said several profiles with his pictures remain on Facebook.

Hestilow said he'll continue to report them and warn as many women as he can about this scam.

"It's a scam. Don't send them any money! Tell your mother's, don't do it," he said.  

Facebook told NBC 5 people can report impostor accounts whether they have a Facebook account or not.

Facebook said last year alone, it increased the number of people who work on security and safety issues to more than 30,000 people.

So, if you believe that someone is pretending to be you on Facebook, or if you've been defrauded by someone on Facebook, you can report it to Facebook here facebook.com/help/fakeaccount.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Roofers Assoc. Wants to Kill House Roofing Bill]]>Wed, 01 May 2019 17:31:15 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Roofing+Laws.jpg

It's a problem Texans have faced for decades: Roofing contractors going door-to-door after a big storm.

Consumers like Joseph Dickens said he was convinced to sign a contract and pay thousands up front, but he said the roofing company vanished.  

"Right now, Texas law provides them no protection," said Dallas Attorney Steve Badger.

Badger and Texas Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake Dist. 98) have been instrumental in pushing the Re-roofing Registration Bill (HB 2101), which would require roofing contractors to register with the state, have an actual business address and pay a small registration fee.

But according to Badger, there's one organization that's trying to do all it can to kill this bill.

"The Texas Independent Roofing Contractors Association," he said. "They show up and testify every session in opposition to this legislation."

Carl Isset, a lobbyist for the The Texas Independent Roofing Contractors Association believes the bill would create an added barrier of entry for contractors, which would hurt small businesses.

"I mean, we're talking about thousands of guys up on roofs who will never know that this has passed," said Isset. "The guy on the roof would be sanctioned once and then the next time it's a class A. So, it's going to be difficult, I think, to get that word out."

The Texas Independent Roofing Contractors Association also believes there are already laws in place to protect consumers and that this proposed bill is redundant.

"It seems to me a lot more energy could be spent in informing folks how to choose a good roofer. It's not that hard. But there are protections in place. This bill doesn't change current law," said Isset.

The president of the organization, Jon Conner, believes that the majority of the bill is left wide open for rules and requirements to be determined later by the commission.

But Badger said the Texas Independent Roofing Contractors Association is creating unwarranted fear in Austin.

"This bill is needed for Texas consumers who are getting ripped off by bad contractors. These guys are trying to advance their own personal anti-regulation agenda to the detriment of all consumers in Texas," he explained.

Badger encourages all consumers who care about their homes to contact their representative and support this bill.

He said the bill is currently with the Calandars Committee in Austin and they'll take a vote on the bill this week.

If it passes, it will go to the House floor.  If it doesn't, the bill is killed and they'll have to try again next session, which is in 2021.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[$30 Million Recovered for Viewers by NBC Responds]]>Mon, 29 Apr 2019 17:14:58 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cash-generic-knctv.png

NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, a division of NBCUniversal, announced Monday that it has recovered more than $30 million for consumers.

Launched in 2014 to help fill a void in the marketplace, the "NBC Responds / Telemundo Responde" consumer investigative units are charged with speaking up for those who may have been wronged. The NBC and Telemundo owned stations' consumer units are often the first resource that consumers turn to for help. Working with the units' Consumer Investigative Center team of producers -- who are tasked with answering every email and call that stem from NBC/Telemundo owned station markets -- the "NBC Responds / Telemundo Responde" units have answered more than 350,000 consumer tips across 18 markets.

"The ‘NBC Responds / Telemundo Responde' units deploy a remarkable level of resources to assist consumers who feel they have been wronged in the marketplace, and have nowhere else to turn. The NBC and Telemundo stations' consumer teams answer every call and email they receive and see every consumer complaint and concern through to the end. Not only do the ‘NBC Responds/Telemundo Responde' teams provide direct help, they deliver vital information to local and social/digital audiences through their units' associated consumer news reports about the issues it uncovers," added Ken McEldowney, Executive Director, Consumer Action.

Recent "NBC Responds / Telemundo Responde" stories include:

• In New Jersey, a consumer called NBC 4 New York's "Better Get Baquero" consumer unit after making numerous calls and visits to her local Social Security Administration office to find out the status of the refund she was owed from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). NBC 4 New York's consumer team reached out to CMS on behalf of the consumer, and as a result, CMS reviewed the consumer's records, processed the refund and the consumer received the money she was owed.

• In North Texas, a multi-year investigation by NBC 5 and Telemundo 39's consumer units into a contractor accused of scamming more than 100 homeowners out of thousands of dollars to fix their roofs and homes resulted in the contractor being sentenced to eight years in prison. The local authorities credited NBC 5 and Telemundo 39's investigation for encouraging families that had been victimized to come forward with their stories, thereby assisting authorities in establishing the pattern of criminal activity.

• In Southern California, a family who lost their home to the Woolsey Fire turned to NBC 4's "Randy Responds" consumer team after their cable company refused to stop billing them for services and threatened collections even though their home had been obliterated by the fire. After NBC4 reached out to the cable provider, the company refunded the family the funds they were owed.

$30 million is a huge milestone for our Responds teams, but we're just getting started. 



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Local Student Falls Victim to Financial Aid Scam ]]>Fri, 26 Apr 2019 17:00:20 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/UTA-Fake-Check-Scheme.jpg

With only a few weeks left of high school, Ana Jaramillo is trying her best to stay focused and finish strong.

The Dallas student was accepted into the University of Texas at Arlington for the Fall 2019 school year. Problem is, she's not sure how she's going to pay for it.

Jaramillo said she applied for federal student aid or FAFSA online and last week, she received an email from someone who appeared to be from UTA's  student employment office offering her a job.

"I thought maybe this could help me out with the money," she said.

Jaramillo said she received a follow up email from her soon-to-be boss who asked her to provide her name, address, phone number and a bank name.

She said the next day, she got a check in the mail for $2,870 and was asked to deposit that into her bank account and wait for further instruction.

"I thought about it and I thought, someone who doesn't know me wouldn't trust me with all this money," she said. "I got paranoid, because I thought if this is a fraud, I'm going to get affected and maybe that's going to affect me school-wise and in my future."

The fake check scam has been around for years, but this version hits a new low.

Here's how it usually works.

Scammers convince you to deposit a check into your bank account and then instruct you to send a portion of the money to them.

A few days later, the check bounces, the money you sent is gone and you're on the hook for the bad check.

Fortunately, Jaramillo didn't send any money and only owed the bank a $15 fee for the bad check.

But she said other students may not be as lucky.

"There is people out there who are selfish and want to do the bad, especially for a lot of teenagers since we're not grown. We don't know what's life out there," she said.

UTA told me it's sorry to learn that one of its future students experienced this and will continue to look into the matter.

UTA also said, "these types of scams are a problem nationwide. Unfortunately, UTA is not immune. The university uses a number of tools and resources to remind our community to be vigilant against scams and to reduce your chances of becoming victim to one."

For tips on how to score a college scholarship, CLICK HERE.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dress Designer Speaks Out After Students Claim She Ruined Their Prom]]>Wed, 24 Apr 2019 22:46:29 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Prom+Dress+Designer.jpg

After weeks of criticism from customers nationwide, Dejza Stevenson said she's ready to speak her truth.

The 23-year-old Dallas designer said her work speaks for itself.

"I hand sew every piece of applique that's on the dress," she said.  "It's always been a passion of mine, making people feel good."

But Tonyce Govan said the designer made them feel anything but good, in fact, she was left in tears.

"There was no phone call from Dejza. I did not have a number to reach Dejza, no type of communication," her mom said.

After paying the designer a deposit for her daughter's prom dress, Sondra Davis said Dejza disappeared.

"So that first week of April, that's when Tonyce told me, 'mom, I think we've been scammed,'" Davis explained.

Other parents and students have posted similar complaints on social media, saying they paid Dejza deposits, but when it was time to deliver their dress for prom, she was a no show.

"I'm not a scammer. Why would I do that? This is my business," Stevenson said.

The designer said she dropped the ball on about six customers and was not able to deliver their dresses.

But she said other customers, like Govan and her mom, are lying.

She said many customers backed out after seeing social media comments and wanted their money back.

Others, the designer said, knew she was working alone and were impatient and unreasonable.

"So, for anyone in Dallas that said I went ghost on them, I can't work, talk and text at the same time," she said.  "It's me. This little girl. A 23-year-old that makes these pieces by hand, self-taught. You made that decision to push forward."

But Davis said there is no excuse for ripping off children.

"You are a business person. You broke hearts. You took money and you did not refund it," she said. 

The designer said she's working on a plan to make things right with six of her customers, but after that, she's taking a step back to reflect.

"I'm actually going to be giving my business a break," said Stevenson.  "I just want to clear the table reset it. Just start fresh."

But parents like Davis said they have no sympathy for Stevenson, and want their money back now.

Davis said she's already filed a police report against Stevenson and encourages other parents to do the same.

Meanwhile, Stevenson said she'll be taking legal action against all the people who are wrongfully accusing her of ripping them off.

I reached out to Paypal and helped get Davis most of her money back.

And with that money, Davis said she was able to find a different designer last minute who came through with a prom dress for her daughter.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Puppy Scam Victim Receives Heartwarming Gift From Viewer]]>Mon, 22 Apr 2019 17:09:44 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R+Puppy+Scam+Folo+042219.jpg

Earlier this month, NBC 5 Responds told you about a woman in Denton who lost hundreds of dollars in an online puppy scam.

Julia Laney's 6-year-old daughter, Maddie, just wanted a puppy of her own.

But when her mom started to look online, she fell for a scheme that left them empty handed.

Laney was hoping to surprise Maddie with a Goldendoodle puppy she found online.

Laney wired a total of $700 to the alleged seller and thought the dog would be shipped the next day.

But after she was asked to send more money, she realized she'd been taken and the dog never came.

"I was so blinded emotionally for this dog for my daughter that I just kept going," Laney said.

She was out hundreds of dollars, meaning Maddie's dream pup wasn't happening.

But little did she know, an NBC 5 viewer refused to see her sad any longer.

So with the help of that viewer (who would like to remain anonymous) and Maddie's mom, NBC 5 Responds coordinated the ultimate surprise: a miniature Goldendoodle!

The dog lived in Houston and needed a new home.

Our viewer drove down to Houston, picked her up and brought the dog to Denton just for Maddie.

"Oh my goodness! I can't believe it," Maddie said.

The pup is 8 months old and she's already becoming Maddie's best friend.

Maddie decided to name her, Annabelle. She is happy and bonding with her new puppy everyday. 



Photo Credit: Julia Laney]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Man Says Locksmith Caused Nearly $3,000 in Door Damage]]>Fri, 19 Apr 2019 22:45:11 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/n5r+locksmith+company.jpg

After a fun night on the town with friends, Deon Johnson found himself locked out of his apartment.

"It was extremely frustrating," he said. 

Johnson said he called maintenance and was told because it was after hours, he was told to call a locksmith.

He said he googled "Dallas Locksmith" and found a dispatch number.

"She said someone would be here in 20 minutes. But that was at 12 a.m. and they didn’t get here til about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning."

He said someone from Marshall Locksmith showed up and tried to pump the door using an airbag method, but that didn’t work.

"So, he went back down to get something else. He came back with a flat head and a crow bar.  I was like, 'Is this going to cause any damage?' He said, 'No, it’s not going to cause any damage at all,'" Johnson explained.

But it did cause damage.

According to his apartment complex, the door would cost nearly $3,000 to fix. 

And Johnson was responsible for paying for it.

"My apartment was letting me know if I don’t pay it, then they’re going to take my rent and apply it to that balance and I’ll be evicted and have late fees," he said. 

Johnson said he reached out to the Marshall Locksmith to file a claim.

But he said he was told by a manager that they would refund him the $108 he paid for the service, but would not be paying for the door.

So, Johnson called me in to investigate.

After doing some digging, I realized we’ve dealt with this locksmith company before.  

You may remember our previous story on Avenue Locksmith, which also went by Supreme Locksmith and 24/7 Mobile Locksmith.

The owner is Matan Abuhazira.

His business was accused of overcharging customers and damaging property.

They even caught the attention of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which opened a formal investigation into the business.

We've since learned that they changed their name once again to Marshall Locksmith, the business that damaged Johnson's door.

"I was going to have to pay the $3,000," he said.  "My door is still damaged. If anyone was to come off the street, they can just push my door and use a flathead to get in."

I reached out to Marshall Locksmith about Johnson's case, and the company quickly responded.

An office manager told me the technician who damaged Johnson's door has been let go for damaging property.

She said since the state opened its investigation into their company, they’ve really gotten their act together.

The manager confirmed that they changed their business name to Marshall Locksmith and have handled consumer complaints swiftly.

She told me she wasn’t aware of the conversation Johnson had with another manager, but said she’d be filing a claim with their insurance right away.

But I reached out to Johnson's apartment complex and explained the situation, just in case the locksmith company didn’t come through.

After I reached out, the complex said Johnson was no longer responsible for fixing the damage.

They installed a new door that same week.

Johnson said he’s happy, but is putting Marshall Locksmith on notice that their old ways will not be tolerated in North Texas.

"There are hardworking people out here and this is wrong," he said. 

If you ever find yourself locked out, here are tips from the Texas Department of Public Safety:  

• Consumers are encouraged to obtain the name of the locksmith and expected charges beforehand.

• They can check to see if a company or locksmith is licensed by the department here.

• Consumers may request to see a locksmith’s pocket card to verify their credentials.

• Contact the Better Business Bureau.

• Record the locksmith’s vehicle information and/or take a picture of the vehicle.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Student Says His Bank Account Was Hacked Via Zelle]]>Wed, 17 Apr 2019 17:15:21 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Zelle+logo+041719.jpg

Zelle, a digital service used by millions of people to transfer money, is a tool now being used by hackers to steal money. One of the more recent victims is 17-year-old KJ Debela.

Debela loves video games. But this kid also has range, playing drums with the Salvation Army band and volunteering on weekends.

"He's a great kid, he's fun loving. Generous too. He's kind-hearted. Just an all around good teenager," his dad said.

When KJ's father noticed money pouring into his normally empty bank account, he knew something was up.

"He was like, 'Do you know how much money is in your bank account?' And I was like, 'No.' And he showed me and I was like, 'What the heck,'" KJ said.

It's a mystery because suspicious checks made out to KJ were deposited from a business in a Chicago suburb -- the Malnati Organization, where KJ never worked.

The Malnati pizza company confirmed it, too, was a victim of this ruse, and said the checks were bogus.

Four checks, $1,700 in all, were deposited into KJ's account at four different Chase banks.

"I told them I am 100% sure this account is being compromised, and to, you know, stop any activities, any monies being deposited or taken," Debela said.

But it was too late.

The crooks used the balance created by the bogus checks to send themselves money via Zelle.

When the checks bounced, KJ was left in the hole.

"It was like negative $2,000. I had like $10 in there," KJ said.

A good chunk of the mysterious money was drained from his account via Zelle, the peer-to-peer money transfer service.

For example, one transaction sent $690 from KJ's account to someone named Mariah.

It's an issue NBC 5 Responds has covered before.

Bank customers told NBC 5 Responds they lost thousands after thieves somehow accessed their Zelle accounts.

Known for its speed, the features that make Zelle so appealing to consumers also make it irresistible to hackers, who are in and out before users know what hit them, experts said.

"I never heard of it until I got hacked," KJ said. 

Meanwhile, KJ's dad filed a claim with Chase bank, which denied it, twice.

They also tried reporting the crime.

"The police told me they can't investigate something Chase says it legit. So I was at a loss. That's why we decided to, you know, call NBC," KJ's father said.

But Chase changed it's tune after our sister investigative team in Chicago got involved.

A few days later, Chase told NBC 5 Responds, "based on new information" it was "able to provide (KJ) a credit of $2,186.30."

That wiped out the debt.

After the original story aired, Chase provided following statement.

"Our research confirmed that all the withdrawals passed multiple security measures, including a confirmation code sent by email, and chip-embedded debit card transactions with no PIN errors. We decided, however, to credit the amount because of the longtime relationship with this customer's family."

Zelle said it worked with partner banks to investigate reports of unauthorized activity. In some cases that means shutting off the ability to send or receive money to phone numbers and emails involved.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Garland Woman Says Builder Ran Off With Cash]]>Mon, 15 Apr 2019 18:14:02 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R+check+graphic+041519.jpg

April Givens wanted to have a shed built in the backyard of her Garland home.

"My daughter loves playing and putting her stuff everywhere, so just to have more room in the house, the shed would really come in handy," Givens said.

Givens said she visited one of her favorite websites to find a builder: Thumbtack.

"I've used Thumbtack on three different occasions. The guys who did my roof, I found them on Thumbtack," she explained.

Givens said she discovered a profile for Harpers Roofing in Plano and scheduled a meeting with Steve.

"When Steve came out, he brought Tony with him. He said Tony is his finance manager."

She said Tony Yobnovich gave her a quote of $2,600 and asked for half up front.

"Usually I don't do a deposit, but he's coming out with a crew the next morning and everything, so that's fine. He's on Thumbtack. I've used Thumbtack before," she said.

She said she made the check out to Tony Yobnovich and was excited.

But the next morning, she said Steve and Tony were no shows.

"I said, 'Are you guys still coming?' He said, 'I think it'll be better because there's rain in the forecast.' I said, 'There's no rain in the forecast in Garland,'" Givens explained. "At this time, I'm really nervous."

She said Tony and Steve told her not to worry, because they'd be in the next morning with the materials.

But she said once again, they didn't show.

"You guys already have my money. All I have is your word. You said that you would be here. What's going on," she said she asked.

Givens said she contacted Thumbtack, hoping they could help get her money back.

"They have a guarantee. So, you're responsible for people you have listed on your site," Givens said.

Thumbtack emailed her and said, "We've set the expectation for Steven and Tony to reach out to you by Friday to work towards a resolution."

But when Givens reached back out to Steve and Tony, she said she got this message from Tony:

"Yeah, blah b**** you wrote me a check for the work, but I am getting my lawyer that handled this to figure out the best way to straighten this matter out thank you."

It was at that moment, Givens realized she had one more call to make.

She called NBC 5 Responds.

"I called because I feel like you will get the job done," she said.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Steve and Tony and their assistant answered the phone.

She said Steve was dealing with a death in the family and Tony was injured on another job.

When asked if any other customers were affected by this, she said it's none of anyone's business.

However, the assistant promised to hand deliver the money to Givens herself.

About an hour after NBC 5 Responds called, the assistant agreed to meet with Givens.

"She pulled it out her purse and then she started counting. I have $1300 here," she said

"You guys were on the job. Give you a call, you'll get the job done," Givens said.

Thumbtack told NBC 5 it has high expectations for the businesses on its platform and when they receive a complaint, they investigate and try to work with both parties on a resolution.

The company said when a business doesn't meet its standards, it will be removed from the platform.

I checked Thumbtack's site today, and the contractor's page has since been removed from the site.

Givens said the company still owes her $50, but said they can "keep the change."



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Calls NBC 5 After Target Cancels Mom's Ins. Policy]]>Fri, 12 Apr 2019 17:24:20 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Photo00117.jpg

Lauren Ybarra is still coping with the loss of her mom, Pam.

The mother of three was a huge Texas Rangers fan, enjoyed helping people and loved working for Target in Frisco.

"Target meant so much to her," said Ybarra.  "Every time we went in to Target, we would always go check and see if mom was there."

But last summer, Pam was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer and eventually went on long-term disability.

"My mom was really worried. She actually cried to my sister. She just wanted to leave us with something. My sister promised her all the paperwork was going to be done and everything would be fine and she had nothing to worry about," Ybarra explained.

She said they went to Target and met with someone in HR who assured them that their mother’s life insurance policy was in place.

"A month or so after my mom passed, they told us everything was fine and we’d be hearing from the insurance policy," Ybarra said.

But the family said they they never got a call, so they reached out to Target again. 

They said that's when they were told their mother's life insurance policy had been canceled.

"I'm just shocked because we had gone through all this work to make sure that it's in place," she explained.

Ybarra said a life benefits agent told them that all Target employees lose their life insurance if they're out of work for more than 120 days, even those on long-term disability.

"I thought, that can't be right," she said.  "We want to be honoring my mom's memory, not fighting over somebody over something that was one of her last wishes."

Ybarra and her sisters said they made sure their mother's policy was in tact before she died, and when they couldn’t get Target to provide more answers, they called me.

"You've have had success helping people out with problems like this," she said.  "I just wanted them to take care of her, to fulfill their promise to her."

I reached out to a Target spokesperson, who told me in part, "We worked with Target's benefits provider to thoroughly review this claim and found that the policy holder did not complete a necessary step to get the claim approved."

But Ybarra said Target's response is just an excuse.

"We kept getting the runaround, and not until you guys contacted them did they say anything about missing paperwork. That was the first they did anything of the sort," she said.  "It felt like they were being dishonest."

But a week later, the family received a call from Target that changed everything.

"We get a call saying we're going to get a check and it’s going to be overnighted," she said.

They received a check from Target for more than $23,000.

"Mom was probably smiling down on us, glad she was able to leave us something," said Ybarra.

The loss of their mom is still hard, but the family is thankful to have this problem solved.

Target told me Pam's life insurance policy was within a grace period where their employees can make changes, and based on this, they were able to pay out the policy in full.

The daughters wondered why Target didn't just tell them about this grace period in the first place, but they're glad to have that $23,000 their mother worked so hard for.

]]>
<![CDATA[Denton Woman Falls Victim to Puppy Scam on Facebook ]]>Wed, 10 Apr 2019 20:22:26 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Puppy+Scam+041019.jpg

Six-year-old Maddie Laney has a really strong bond with dogs.

She wanted a pup to call her own.

"I was excited. Told everyone I'm getting this dog," her mom said.

Julia Laney had her eyes set on a goldendoodle, not just for her daughter, but to one day train as a therapy dog for those in need.

But she couldn't find any goldendoodles at the local shelters.

"So, I started looking on Facebook and would just search for goldendoodles," she said.

Laney discovered a Facebook page called "Goldendoodle Pups for Sale," and that's where she saw Ruby.

"The puppy was just so beautiful. He was perfect. I was picturing the dog with my daughter sleeping in her bed and it was like, 'This is perfect,'" Laney said.

In a Facebook message, she was told the company was based out of New York, and shipping to Texas "won't be a problem."

She paid $450 and was sent a link to the airline's website where she could track the shipment.

According to the site, the dog was in transit. But that quickly changed.

"He messages me and says, 'My wife is mad at me because I didn't have you pay more,'" she said.

The seller said he'd been scammed before, and until he received more money to make his wife happy, they were putting the dog on hold.

"I said, 'You can't put the dog on hold. We already agreed to this,'" Laney said.

But she had already promised Maddie that she was getting the dog, so she reluctantly sent another $250.

According to the website, the dog was back in transit and would arrive in six hours.

"I was on my way to the airport and I get a call from someone telling me that the agency is trying to get ahold of me because the sender sent the wrong crate. And now I have to pay $400 for a new crate," Laney said.

"I was like, 'Ugh! This is a scam. I know I'm being scammed now,'" she explained.

With more than 10,000 followers on Instagram, a legitimate looking Facebook page, a professional looking website and a tracking link that appeared to be United Airlines' website, Laney said she was in shock.

"That was a lot of money. That was part of my savings," she said.

Laney said she reported the pages to Facebook weeks ago, but they were still up and running.

"Facebook hasn't shut it down and that makes me really mad," she said. "My daughter, she was most upset. She was really devastated."

A page with a similar name on Facebook, "Goldendoodles for Sale," said it was not affiliated with the alleged scammer or their business practices.

For now, they're finding comfort in the dog they actually have and trying their hardest to forget about the scam.

"I got lied to. No one likes to be lied to," she said. "I was so blinded emotionally for this dog for my daughter that I just kept going."

United Airlines said the tracking website with United's logo was a bogus site.  It's working to get it taken down as soon as possible.

NBC 5 Responds also reached out to Facebook three times to ask why the goldendoodle page was still up.

Facebook said it reviewed the page and removed it from Facebook and Instagram for violating its policies.

The alleged scammers told NBC 5 Responds not to call them anymore, and hung up the phone.

It is not uncommon for people to buy dogs online, but it can be extremely risky, especially when paying with cash.

For more tips on how to avoid a puppy scam, click here.



Photo Credit: Facebook/NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Plano Caterer Cancels On Couple Weeks Before Their Wedding]]>Mon, 08 Apr 2019 21:10:26 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Photo00105.jpg

A Bride's Worst Nightmare

Like most brides-to-be, Elizabeth Arnold has been planning for her wedding day for a very long time.

"Honestly, probably since I was a kid, thinking of different things that I want to do for the wedding," she said.

The couple attended the Dallas Bridal Show last year, and that's where they met Patrick Carter of Lone Star Catering.

The business is based out of Plano.

The couple said they were so impressed with their booth, they scheduled a tasting.

"We went in and everything's amazing. We were like, 'wow!' Not only is this a great deal but these people can throw down cooking," said Arnold. 

They signed a contract with Lone Star Catering last year, which included entrees, appetizers, desserts, servers, the works.

"We thought it was going to be perfect. We were super excited about it," Arnold said.

They made two payments totaling up $2,600.  Half was paid via credit card and the other half by debit card.

They thought their wedding was set, but in February, they received a text from the caterer that would turn their plans upside down.

"They text messaged me at night to break up! They said we're closing. 'We won't be able to do your wedding,'" Arnold explained.

According to the text, the owner was ill, so they were closing effective immediately, but the couple would be getting a refund "as quickly as possible."

"Six weeks is not long enough. They started giving me suggestions on other catering companies and I'm like, 'do not give me suggestions. I do not want your advice and I do not want anything except for my money back so I can pay for a different caterer,'" she said.

When the couple gave the company a deadline to return the money, they received another text saying, "She can wait like everybody else. Threats don't scare me."

The couple said they sent a demand letter to the Plano business and even went to the police, but were told it was a civil matter.

"Weatherford Police Department suggested I contact NBC 5 news. I contacted Samantha and here we are," said Michael Rutherford. 

The Company's Response

I reached out to Patrick Carter, who told me he was sick, filing for bankruptcy and didn't have any money to pay the bills.

When I asked him what other couples were supposed to do now, he said "I don't know how many couples are affected, but I'm closing…"

He then hung up the phone on me.  

"He should not be able to do this to people. Period," said Arnold.

I helped the couple get half of their money back from their credit card company, but that still left them $1,300 in the hole.

Wedding Community Steps Up

So, I called the organizers of the Dallas Bridal Show who were heartbroken for this couple:

"We go over and beyond what most bridal shows do by requiring that our exhibitors have business insurance. We do not know of any other bridal show that requires this. We try to take this extra step to help the bride feel more secure about doing business with those companies in the shows. Unfortunately, no consumer trade show can guarantee that a company will stay in business. When this type of situation happens, we do not allow that company back in our shows."

The Dallas Bridal Show gathered donations from the wedding industry and presented the couple with a check for $1300 as a gesture of goodwill.  They were ecstatic and thankful for their generosity,

Wedding Planning Tips

Celebrity wedding planner Donnie Brown says all couples should ask these questions before hiring a caterer:

1. Do you have the date available?

2. How many weddings do you cater per year?

3. How many weddings (other than ours) will you cater on the day of our wedding?

4. Is the deposit refundable?

5. What is the attrition schedule and liability for postponements or cancellations?

6. Is there a food and beverage minimum?

7. Have you ever worked in our venue?

8. Do you have a pre-set menu of selections or will you customize for us?

9. Will you do a personal tasting of items for us to choose from for our wedding? If so, is there a fee for this per person attending?

10. What guarantee do we have that the food will be hot and good on the date of the event?

11. Do you provide TABC certified bartenders for our event?

12. Do you require we buy alcohol from you or can we supply our own?

13. If we supply our own alcohol, can you provide all other bar related mixers, fruits, etc?

14. Do we do catering rentals through you? Or do we have to contract that through a third party?

15. How many service staff per person do you normally bring?

16. What additional fees can we expect (i.e. bartender fees, additional staff, etc)?

17. What kind of food would you suggest for our budget and guest count?

18. Are you licensed and insured to cater events in the state of Texas?

19. Do you have references?

For more wedding planning tips, click here.   

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<![CDATA[Police Identify Man Who Allegedly Sold Fake Cowboys Tickets]]>Fri, 05 Apr 2019 04:51:27 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cowboys+Fake+Tickets+010819.jpg

NBC 5 Responds first told you about a man accused of selling fake Dallas Cowboys playoff tickets.

Now, police have identified him and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

According to the Irving Police Department, the man seen in video taken by a buyer is Marco Aguilar, a 26-year old from Downey, California. 

Earlier this year, he was accused of advertising Cowboys Playoffs tickets and selling them for hundreds of dollars.

We heard from one couple who met him at the Irving Mall and managed to get video of the seller.

Another person said they met him at an Applebee's in Irving. 

But when they got to AT&T Stadium, they were told the tickets were fake and were turned away.

Irving police say they've issued a warrant for the man's arrest.

Apparently, someone saw our story and contacted police saying they knew him.

Police said that tip proved to be accurate.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Beware of Social Security Administration Scam Calls]]>Wed, 03 Apr 2019 17:43:37 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/social-security-scam.jpg

According to the Social Security Administration, scammers are calling consumers across the country and urging them to act fast, because their Social Security number is being used and abused by a fraudster.

We've heard from several people who received similar calls and thought they were speaking with a real agent.

Phylissia Clark with the Better Business Bureau said it's one of the fastest-growing scams their office has seen in the last two years.

"We’re looking more like 35,000 people that had reported this scam and more like $10 million lost in it," said Clark.  "What they'll say is that you need to confirm your Social Security number so that we can take action against it."

For people who are hesitant, Clark said the scammers will them they'll file a lawsuit to get this information from you or will issue a warrant for their arrest.

Clark believes it's very similar to the IRS scam.

"The scammers are really smart and the IRS scams have gotten so much media attention that they do have to be creative and find something new to do," she explained.

The scam targets seniors, but people of all age groups have fallen for it.

"This scam hits everyone," she said. "We always say stop, pause, even if it seems urgent. You do not have to handle it in that moment and once you check with another relative or a friend, they can call these agencies directly and find out whether or not there is a legitimate thing to be worried about."

The Social Security Administration told us they are seeing a significant increase in reports of this scam.

They said SSA employees will never threaten a consumer for personal information, money, or gift cards, nor will they promise a Social Security benefit increase in exchange for personal information, money, or gift cards. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and the consumer should just hang up.

If you believe you have fallen victim to this scam, click here for a recovery plan. You can also find more information on this scam here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[US Gov't Investigating Kia, Hyundais After More Than 3,000 Reported Fires]]>Wed, 03 Apr 2019 21:10:38 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Kia+Fire.jpg

The U.S. government's highway safety agency has decided to open two new investigations into fires involving Hyundai and Kia vehicles after getting complaints of more than 3,100 fires and 103 injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday that it granted a petition filed last June seeking the investigations by the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group.

The investigations, one for Hyundai and the other for Kia, cover non-crash fires in almost 3 million vehicles from the affiliated Korean automakers. The probes cover the 2011 through 2014 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe, the 2011 through 2014 Kia Optima and Sorento, and the 2010 through 2015 Kia Soul. The complaints came from consumers and from data provided by both automakers.

One death was reported involving a Kia vehicle, according to the documents.

NHTSA had previously said it would incorporate the noncrash fires into a 2017 investigation that examined recalls of Hyundai and Kia vehicles for engine failures. It opened the new probes "based on the agency's analysis of information received from multiple manufacturers, consumer complaints and other sources."

The NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth Responds team has been investigating non-crash fires for nearly a year.

Two women in North Texas called NBC 5’s Samantha Chatman after they said they were driving on local interstates when their Kias burst into flames.

Another man called the NBC 5 consumer team after he said he and his daughters barely made it out of their Hyundai alive.

Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said in a statement that it is long past time for the agency to investigate why so many Kia and Hyundai vehicles have caught fire when not involved in crashes.

"While it may be six months post-due, we are gratified to see NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigations open formal investigations based on our petition," Levine said.

The center contended that there are more noncrash fires in the Hyundai and Kia cars and SUVs than in similar vehicles made by other automakers.

Messages were left Monday seeking comment from Hyundai, Kia and the safety agency.

In documents detailing the investigations, NHTSA reported that it had received complaints of engine compartment fires, as well as fires involving other components including tail light housings, wiring harnesses, and light bulbs. Agency investigators sent information requests to both automakers in September and October of last year, according to the documents.

The investigation will look into how often fires happen, how many vehicles are affected and the safety-related consequences, the documents said.

Engine failure and fire problems with Hyundais and Kias have affected more than 6 million vehicles since 2015, according to NHTSA documents. So far, Hyundai and Kia have recalled about 2.4 million vehicles to fix problems that can cause fires and engine failures.

In addition, the automakers are doing a "product improvement campaign" covering another 3.7 million vehicles to install software that will alert drivers of possible engine failures and send the cars into a reduced-speed "limp" mode if problems are detected.

Just last Friday, NHTSA announced a recall of about 20,000 Veloster cars with 1.6-liter engines in the U.S. and Canada because fuel can prematurely ignite in the cylinders around the pistons. That can cause excessive pressure and damage the engine, causing vehicles to stall and in some cases catch fire.

But that's a different problem from what has caused the rest of the recalls since 2015.

In February, Kia announced that it would recall the Soul small SUV with the same-size engine due to fire and engine failure problems, but for reasons unrelated to the Veloster's issues.

Most of the engine failure recalls are for problems with Hyundai's 2.4-liter and 2-liter "Theta II" four-cylinder engines. Debris left from manufacturing can clog a port and cut off the flow of oil, causing the connecting rod bearings to fail. That can damage the engine block and cause oil to leak and catch fire.

Levine has said fire complaints to NHTSA have come from across the country, including a death in Ohio involving a Kia Soul in April of 2017. Kia says the driver in that incident damaged the transmission by pushing on the brake and gas pedal at the same time, causing transmission fluid to leak and catch fire. It's not clear whether this death is the one cited in NHTSA's figures.

To see if a vehicle has been recalled, owners can click here and key in their 17-digit vehicle identification number.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth



Photo Credit: NBC5]]>
<![CDATA[MoviePass Faces Legal Action After Customers Complain]]>Sat, 30 Mar 2019 02:13:38 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/MoviePass.JPG

Frustrated film fans say they paid for a service they didn't get, and that the company behind it is ignoring them.

MoviePass saw its subscription numbers soar above 3 million when it launched a plan in 2017 letting moviegoers watch one flick each day for $9.95 per month.  Since then, the troubled movie ticket service has repeatedly changed pricing plans, strictly limited the number of films users can see each month, and endured technical problems.

Some of its remaining customers are fed up.

"It's frustrating," said Catherine Berry, a MoviePass subscriber. "I feel like I've been cheated."

Berry paid $90 for a yearlong MoviePass subscription. It originally let her watch one movie a day in select theaters. She says she loved it for about a month -- before available movies stopped showing up in the MoviePass phone app.

"I was lucky to get maybe one a month in," Berry said.

David Silver shares Berry's dismay at the box office dud. He lives walking distance from his favorite cinema, but he says frequent visits show "no screenings at this theater."

"Boom. No movies available," Silver said, demonstrating the lack of showings on his MoviePass app.

Silver says the poor response from company representatives makes the experience even worse.

"I might as well start a fire and try to send customer service smoke signals," he said. "They're more likely to answer that, than their phone or the email I sent."

NBC Responds has received dozens of MoviePass complaints from viewers since early 2018, including 15 in the Bay Area.  Customer complaints also got the attention of San Francisco attorney David Rosenberg-Wohl.

"It's very, very frustrating," he said.

Rosenberg-Wohl has filed a federal lawsuit against MoviePass. He's framed the case as a national class action.

"This is MoviePass," Rosenberg-Wohl said. "This is not, 'come and see an occasional movie when we say so and when we want to.'"

NBC Bay Area contacted MoviePass about the case.  It directed us to its contract with members, and told us they can't sue -- neither individually, nor as an ensemble.

In a statement, MoviePass told us:

“The claims asserted in this action are covered by an arbitration provision and a class action waiver in MoviePass’ Terms of Use, which all of the Plaintiffs were required to accept before they could begin using the MoviePass service. On March 8, 2019, MoviePass and its parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc., moved the Court to compel arbitration of each Plaintiff’s claims on an individual (i.e., non-class) basis. That motion is currently pending, and we await the Court’s decision. Because arbitration is a confidential process, we cannot comment further on the merits of the underlying disputes at this time.”

Rosenberg-Wohl says a jury should decide if MoviePass is a bad actor, and whether it actually delivered the access it touts as "Uncapped, unrivaled, and unbelievable" that subscribers paid nearly $10 per month to get.

"We're not talking about great amounts of money on a monthly basis, or even an annual basis," Rosenberg-Wohl said. "It's the principle of the thing."

The lawsuit is Tabas v. MoviePass, Inc. 18-7087, filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District Court of California.



Photo Credit: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for MoviePass]]>
<![CDATA[Home Security Tech Raises Privacy Concerns for Renters]]>Fri, 29 Mar 2019 06:48:41 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/home+security+camera1.jpg

Keeping an eye on your home is more accessible and affordable than ever. But as smart devices grow in popularity, more people are raising concerns about privacy inside rental properties.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Drunk Driver Slams Into Home, Insurance Company Goes Silent]]>Wed, 27 Mar 2019 17:21:00 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Richardon+Fence+Destroyed+032719.jpg

Darvi and Jon Moore were looking forward to a relaxing evening after celebrating their 17th wedding anniversary.

But when they were on their way home, they noticed flashing lights and first responders surrounding the area.

"We have four dogs and I didn't know if my dogs were dead, if they got out. I literally jumped out of the car before he could get the car stopped," Darvi said.

Thanks to a neighbor, their dogs made it out OK. But their backyard looked like a disaster had occurred.

"It was bricks, it was car parts, everything was in our yard," Darvi said.

They learned a drunk driver crashed through a church parking lot and slammed into their fence.

The driver survived and, fortunately, he had insurance with Allstate.

"I wanted to know, do we just fix the part where the car came through or do we fix the whole thing so that it looks nice," Darvi said. "The representative said no, we are taking 100 percent responsibility for this. Get it fixed correctly."

So, that's what the couple did.

They paid $4,700 for a new fence and landscaping and waited for Allstate to call them back. 

"No communication for weeks," Darvi said. "Crickets. Nothing."

Twenty-three days later, the couple said an adjuster called them to get their own estimate.

"The fence is fixed already. Everything's done, so I can't get an estimate on what was damaged because it's no longer there. Everything's finished," John said.

They eventually got an email from Allstate with a copy of a check for $17,000.

But there was one problem.

"When I look at the email a little closer, it was made out to the church next door, but with our address," Darvi said.

The check was sent to them on accident, which caused more frustration for this couple.

So, when they couldn't get Allstate to pay their claim, they called NBC 5 Responds.

"We've seen you do other results for other people and I thought, 'Man, she's a pistol,' so I want someone who's loaded for battle to go after Allstate," Darvi said.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to an Allstate spokesperson who quickly responded and said they've reviewed the couple's claim and agreed to pay for the full damages.

Allstate said their original offer was for the actual damage that was done to the fence, not the whole fence.

But after the couple had already paid the damage, they wanted to make them whole again.

Not long after, the couple's $4,700 was back in their bank account.



Photo Credit: Moore Family]]>
<![CDATA[4 Steps to Take Before Hiring a Roofer After a Hail Storm]]>Mon, 25 Mar 2019 19:17:25 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Roofing+Laws.jpg

It’s only the beginning of severe weather season, but Henry Dinh can't imagine it getting any worse.

"The hail damaged the window and damaged all the screens," he said.

His windows, gutters and fence were damaged, but worst of all, he said his roof took a beating.

So far, he's had three different roofers come to his doorstep offering free inspections and estimates.

"Some of them, they don't have any business cards. It looks like they're storm chasers just wanting to get your business," Dinh said.

Sarah Burns with the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas said roofers are flooding the Collin County area after Sunday's hail storm.

While many roofing contractors have good intentions, she said the bad ones are out there.

Burns called them "door knockers" or "storm chasers."

Their M.O. is to play on your post-storm emotions and get you to sign a contract fast.

"I can knock on these doors and do 80 roofs and we can make all this money. And when this storm is over we'll shut down and we won't have business anyways," she explained.

So before you hand over your hard earned cash, consider the following roofing tips.

  • Call your insurance company and schedule time for an inspection as soon as possible.
  • Research reputable roofing companies with great online reviews and excellent references. Make sure they have an actual business address and phone number.
  • If a roofer wants to waive, cover or "eat" your deductible, walk away. That, my friends, is insurance fraud.
  • Understand the risk of paying cash deposits up front.

Dinh said he hasn't handed over any money yet, but admitted he's anxious to get the work started and put this storm behind him.

The day after a storm can be a very stressful time for homeowners.

The Texas Legislature is currently reviewing a bill that would protect homeowners from dishonest roofers.

Under this law, every roofer in Texas would be required to register with the state, provide a physical business address and contact number, and pay a small registration fee.

But until the bill is passed, homeowners in Collin County are going to have to do their research and use their best judgment when they hire a roofer.

For more tips on hiring a roofing contractor, click here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Another Viewer Speaks Out After Home Floods In Sewage Water]]>Mon, 25 Mar 2019 22:52:55 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/another+sewage+house.jpg

Toilet paper, murky water and worst of all "poop."

Sewage waste spilled all over Erin Jackson’s Kennedale home, costing her nearly $60,000.

"All of the wood in the whole house has to go. All of the baseboards have to be replaced. The master shower and quite frankly, I am never sitting in the bathtub. There’s not enough bleach that will get me to sit in that bathtub again," Jackson said.

And if you thought our first story was disgusting, Jerry Light said the same thing happened in his Kennedale home. 

"This actually happened in here three times," he said. "It never dawned on me that it was sewage until you can smell it."

Light said his problems date back to 2011, but the worst incident happened in 2017.

"It probably had six inches of water in the tub. Every toilet was topped out.  It was coming at such a high rate of speed that there were ripples," he explained. 

Light tried to bury the memory, but when he saw our recent story on Jackson's home...

"When I found out I’m not the only one having this problem, it’s infuriating," he said.  "And she’s getting told a lot of the same stuff I was told, which was the city’s not liable."

Both homeowners believe the city is not keeping up with their sewage lines, causing a backup and then, flooding.

"The city’s main sewage line was broke and filled with tree roots. The city was trying to tell me cleaning out tree roots is my responsibility," Light explained.

In a statement to NBC 5, the city manager told me it’s unlikely the city is liable or required to cover such a backup.

But he eventually said the city would offer Jackson $7700 for cleanup.

Light, whose repairs came out to $15,000, said he wasn't offered a dime. 

"When I see this, I get pissed," he said.

And he’s not the only one upset.

Sandra Lee, the Mayor Pro Tem of Kennedale, went off on the city for its lack of concern for the residents.

"For us to try to make an excuse for why we won’t take care of it, it’s just so wrong," she said.  "They get out to bust their *expletive* to work every day and pay their taxes. When are going to do what we’re supposed to do as a city," she said

I sat down with Lee after that meeting, who said she was stunned after our story first aired.

"We have to do a better job of protecting our citizens," Lee said.

She said the city has a long history of neglecting infrastructure and believes the city can and should do more to protect residents from accidents like this.

"Why are we neglecting the simple things that citizens expect from us? Clean water, clear sewer lines, those things," she asked.

Councilman Rockie Gilley and Councilwoman Jan Joplin said they, too, were appalled by what happened to the consumers and were stunned by our reporting. 

Both Jackson and Light are happy the city is taking notice now, but they believe if something isn’t done soon, someone else in Kennedale could soon have a nasty mess on their hands, too.

"Having someone else’s poop run through your house? That’s nasty dude," said Light.

The Mayor of Kennedale plans to discuss the sewage issue with council members at their next closed session meeting.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Lee said it is her hope that they will vote to resolve these sewage claims soon and give the residents what they deserve.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Homeowners Upset After HOA Installs License Plate Readers ]]>Tue, 19 Mar 2019 22:45:17 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/HOA+CAMERAS.jpg

Brian Davidson has lived in the Bedford Stonecourt HOA for 17 years.

"It's a very comfortable and safe neighborhood and we have almost no crime," he said.

Davidson thought last month's HOA board meeting would be business as usual.

But during that meeting, he and his neighbors were informed that license plate readers would be installed.

"Our HOA has installed big brother into the front yard," he said. "They're telling us these are normal cameras. These aren't just normal cameras."

The HOA hired the tech company Flock to provide these cameras.

The cameras read license plates when someone enters or exits the community, and that information is then stored in a database.

Board members with access can search by time of day, license plate, vehicle type or vehicle color.

"They need to take these cameras out," said Davidson. "It's a violation of our privacy."

He said he's among several residents who take extreme issue with the license plate readers.

"Once you capture that in and out information, that's a tag, that's like badging in and out at work. I'm not at work I'm at home. I paid for the privilege to live here," said Davidson.

Ryan Coleman, who also lives in the community, said he and his neighbors didn't even vote on these cameras or the data being stored. 

"Comings and goings and the time of day and who we go with, it's none of their business," said Coleman.

But according to the HOA, board members will not conduct any spying activities.

The law firm representing the HOA tells NBC 5 the license plate readers are more cost effective, and the purpose of the new camera system is the same as the old camera system: to identify the vehicle responsible if there is damage to the entry or exit gates.

But Davidson said the HOA's statement contradicts the handout that they issued to residents, which says the company will install cameras that "track cars and read license plates" at the ingress and egress points of the community. 

Dave Maass, a researcher at the non-profit digital rights group "Electronic Frontier Foundation" calls the readers "the nosy neighbor on steroids."

"Automated license plate readers are a form of mass surveillance," he said.

Maass said he thinks it's bizarre that an HOA would replace its old cameras with license plate reading cameras if its only intention was to monitor gate damage.

"It could show how often you're coming into the neighborhood and when you're leaving the neighborhood, and who you're visitors are and who they're not, when they're coming and when they're going. What if I don't want people to know my girlfriend was over late at night," he said.

Maass said there's also a potential security risk if this type of data gets into the wrong hands.

"Unless you have very rigorous controls in place to ensure that every time someone searches the system that its actually monitored and audited, you're really opening up the potential for abuse," he explained.

According to the HOA, all data is securely stored with state of the art encryption, and the HOA maintains that it will not track individual's vehicles that enter and exit the property.

Davidson, who has an IT background, said he isn't buying it.

"This isn't about safety and security. It's about privacy and having someone looking over your shoulder like big brother," he said. "It feels like I'm being spied upon."

The company that provided the cameras, Flock, told NBC 5 that all of the footage and data from the cameras is automatically deleted after 30 days.

The company said residents who are uncomfortable with this system can opt out, so that when they drive in, the footage will automatically delete.

Nonetheless, Davidson said he's currently working with other residents to petition the removal of these cameras.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Massive Sinkhole Finally Filled After NBC 5 Responds Report]]>Mon, 18 Mar 2019 17:41:25 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cleburne+Sinkhole+Filled+031819.jpg

For nearly a decade, Isaac Green Jr. was concerned for his neighbors.

"If anybody was to get caught in there, and the water is running, they're not going to get out and it's going to be deadly," he said.

He was referring to a crumbling storm drainage pipe that caused the area around it to cave in, creating a sinkhole. 

Green said the city made promise after promise to get it fixed, but nothing got done.

"It's an embarrassment to have something go on like this for such a long time not being addressed," he said.

And that's why he called NBC 5 Responds.

When reached, Cleburne officials called the conditions "unacceptable."

After NBC 5 Responds got involved, contractors got to work the following week.

The sinkhole that was years in the making has finally been filled.

"My pastor thanks you. Our community thanks you. God bless you," Green said.

He's hopeful that this will serve as a reminder to other small cities that their residents matter too, and they deserve to have secure, safe land.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Local Woman's Home Flooded In Raw Sewage, NBC 5 Responds]]>Fri, 15 Mar 2019 22:48:08 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/sewage-house.jpg

Imagine coming home after a long day of work to raw sewage water in your flowerbed. 

Erin Jackson, a local judge, said her nose tipped her off to the problem.

"It smelled like poop," she said.

As she walked through her home, she was even more disgusted.

Raw sewage from her neighborhood made its way inside her home.

Jackson said she called a plumber and the City of Kennedale.

When they arrived, she said she learned one of the city's sewage lines was backed up, and since her house is on the end of the sewage line, it all streamed her way.

"The city finds the clog. They start to clear the clog. When the city started to clear the clog, all you hear is rushing water. Water is coming out of all the toilets. And it is rushing and I start screaming," she said. "There was just poop water all over."

When it was all said and done, she said her home was ruined.

"All of the wood in the whole house has to go. All of the baseboards have to be replaced, the master shower and quite frankly, I am never sitting in the bathtub. There's not enough bleach that will get me to sit in that bathtub again," said Jackson.

Erin said the cleanup and repairs came out to roughly $60,000.

"The city is not going to pay for this. They say that I have to pay for it," she explained.

Jackson said city officials told her they weren't paying for anything because the sewage backup was caused by her surrounding neighbors, not the city.

So her claim was denied.

"I absolutely had nothing to do with it," she said. "The city has an obligation to maintain the lines and the simple fact is if the city was maintaining the lines, this wouldn't have happened. It's their responsibility."

Jackson does have a city water policy on her insurance, but she said that'll only cover $10,000, leaving her to somehow come up with $50,000.

She called me in to have her back and hold the City of Kennedale accountable.

When I reached out, the city manager responded.

In a written statement, he said, "Unless the city caused the backup, it is not likely liable or required to cover any damages caused by such a backup. Nonetheless the city may offer to cover, at least in part, the direct cleanup cost associated with the backup into the resident's home and yard. We continue to work with the owner to resolve the issue."

But Jackson said the cleanup is just a small fraction of the overall cost and believes if the city had been managing its sewage lines to begin with, this nasty incident would have never happened.

"I was literally pooped on, I had a poop crisis and I'm being treated like poop," she said.

Jackson said the city did send someone out to take pictures, but said that individual did not examine her floors or take any measurements.

She said if the city is only willing to cover the bare minimum, she will take legal action.

Meanwhile, Jackson has hired contractors to make her house a home again.

But deep down, she feels it will never be the same.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 Responds]]>
<![CDATA[Emergency Raises Questions About Cruise Cancellation Policy]]>Wed, 13 Mar 2019 20:16:16 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cruise+Woes.jpg

All John Truillo wanted was to whisk wife Janet away for a romantic cruise. So, in August 2017 he booked a trip with Royal Seas.

If ever a parent has earned a break, it's Janet, who is both mother and caregiver for her third son Dillon.

Born at just 24 weeks and less than two pounds, Dillon was so tiny at birth his arm fit inside his father's wedding band.

He's had heart and eye surgeries, suffers chronic lung disease and his developmental delays are significant.

Dillon is fed through a gastrointestinal tube, so his mother quit her job because he required full-time care.

Around the time her husband booked the cruise, Dillon's health had improved.

He was in therapy to learn how to eat, and there was optimism his feeding tube would be removed and his parents could set sail.

But well before the vacation date, doctors informed the family that Dillon would need his feeding tube for the foreseeable future, so they canceled their vacation.

Janet Truillo said she explained Dillon's medical condition to Royal Seas and asked for a refund of their $1496 and said the cruise company had a requirement.

"Get us a letter from the doctor and we'll refund the money back," Janet Truillo said Royal Seas told her.

She submitted a letter from Dillon's doctor, describing him as "medically fragile," and said his parents couldn't travel.

She even sent a list of his daily medications.

"It was over and over again the same thing non-refundable, non-refundable," she said.

In emails she shared, Royal Seas suggested she could postpone and reschedule the trip, transfer it to someone else or sell it -- but no refund.

"If it wasn't for my mom, she's the one that told me to contact [NBC 5 Responds]," she said. 

Mama was right.

Janet contacted NBC 5's sister station in Los Angeles, who then reached out to Royal Seas.

We wanted to know if they had a medical cancellation policy regarding refunds and if so, why hadn't the consumer received one. The vacation company never responded to us, but did reach out to the consumer.

"The next day, I got an email saying your refund has been issued," she said.

Dillon is progressing and his parents hope to take vacation in the future. His mother said perhaps with a different vacation company, as pursuing a refund she said had been quite the trip in itself.

When paying for a trip upfront ask about cancellation policies and if your money is non-refundable.

Travel experts said most trips are non-refundable, that's why many recommended you spend a little extra and purchase travel insurance in case your plans or availability change.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Couple Says Their Wag! Sitter Stole From Them ]]>Mon, 11 Mar 2019 17:10:57 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Wag+Complaints.jpg

Gem and Whitney Begolli said their first clue that something was wrong came the second time they hired a Wag! sitter to watch their dog at their home in August.

"It’s one of the credit card companies contacting me that there’s fraudulent, suspicious activity, can you contact us right away," said Begolli.

More alerts would follow: reporting pricey purchases, including airline tickets on cards the Begollis said they were not using.

"Something insane like over $100 of pizza. Um, that’s a lot of pizza," she said.

A total of $8,300 in fraudulent charges on four different cards.

"I’m like, 'that’s impossible. I don’t have these cards with me. Who would even have access to them,'" said Begolli.

The answer became crystal clear, they said, when a bank reported the name on one of those plane tickets.

"And immediately I’m like 'you’ve got to be kidding.' It was our dog walker," Begolli explained.

They believe the Wag! sitter somehow found their hiding place for both credit cards and checkbook.

"Knowing that someone was in our bedroom, like rummaging, I don’t know how many other things in our home did he touch, did he go through, did he sleep in our bed," Begolli said.

We won't tell you his name; police are still investigating this case.

But the couple said what's more concerning is what a detective told them after they reported the theft.

"They’ve identified three different social security numbers to this individual, which to me is mind boggling," Begolli said.

It's mind-boggling because Wag! tells customers all employees must pass a vetting process and a thorough background check.

We found hundreds of wag complaints, raising similar questions:

On Twitter: "So... I guess this shirtless man is "watching" my dogs? Does he do bachelorette parties?!?"

Another: "My house robbed; don't use wag"

The Better Business Bureau warning of a "pattern of complaints" involving Wag! customers who said "items have gone missing from their homes" after hiring the company.

"I don’t know what kind of psycho, who this person is, who else has access to our home anymore, so we want to change locks, change everything," Begolli  explained. 

On their behalf, NBC 5 Responds in Chicago asked Wag! about this case:

Did the sitter in question get a background check? Is he still a Wag! employee?

Wag! says everyone who applies has a "robust background check in accordance with federal and state guidelines," adding the sitter is question has been "suspended while the police department conducts its investigation."

Wag! then reimbursed the Begollis for the dog walks and new locks, replacing their money but not their trust.

"I can’t allow anyone else in our home to put us in jeopardy, and my family," Begolli said.

After that interview Gem Begolli tells NBC 5 Responds in Chicago he ID'd a photo of the dog walker in a police lineup.

Chicago police confirmed for us they do have a person of interest in this case and say they are trying to locate and interview that person. 

Wag! provided the following statement:

"We provided the Begolli’s a full refund for their boarding services and a reimbursement for their locksmith expenses. In addition, we've suspended the walker in question from doing business on our platform.

At the core of our platform is the trust and safety of the entire Wag! community. This process includes robust background checks on all independent contractors who serve as walkers and sitters.

Every day, walkers and sitters on the Wag! platform successfully complete thousands of services for pets across the U.S. In the rare instance when an incident occurs, we work with all affected parties to resolve their concerns."



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Couple Says They Were Locked Out Of Airbnb Rental]]>Thu, 07 Mar 2019 17:18:29 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Airbnb+Locked+Out.jpg

Imagine being stranded in a foreign country in the middle of the night. That's what happened to one local couple when they were locked out of their Airbnb.

John Gray and his husband Garth Person have traveled all over the world. One of there favorite places to travel is Israel. They browsed through Airbnb and found a home ... the perfect home.

"It had expansive beach views, it was all new, we were excited to go," said Person.

The couple would be arriving in the middle of the night, so the host provided them with a code for a lockbox where they would find the key to get inside.

But when they got to the lockbox, they said there was no key.

The couple said they were locked out and their host was unresponsive, so they had no choice but to walk in the middle of the night, in the rain, until they found the nearest hotel, which cost them $340.

They were furious and called Airbnb.

"She told me, 'You know, oh yes this is a problem. You know, we take this very seriously,'" said Gray.

They said Airbnb re-booked them with another host for the rest of their stay, agreed to reimburse them for the hotel and offered 10 percent off their next booking. But when the couple got home, they said Airbnb backtracked.

"Two or three different times they said, 'Sorry. We can't help you,'" said Person.

The couple said Airbnb wouldn't reimburse them for the hotel, or provide the 10 percent credit.

But after days of back and fourth they said Airbnb agreed to give them $97 back.

"To be stranded in the middle of the night, in the rain storm, in a foreign country, $97 is an insult," Grey said.

So, NBC 5 contacted Airbnb.

The company apologized saying, "We strive to provide exceptional customer service and work hard to support our community when things don't go as planned."

A supervisor acknowledged that an agent did promise to reimburse them for the hotel stay, but didn't write it down in their notes.

After we got involved, the company agreed to refund them $340 for the hotel and an additional credit for their next stay.

Airbnb does have a travel refund policy and said it will reimburse guests who experience travel issues, but it's at Airbnb's discretion.

The couple said the host told them it was a mix-up and that he put someone else in their unit by mistake.

They said the host refused to pay for their hotel, so thankfully Airbnb stepped up and did the right thing.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[More Consumers Speak Out About Fraudulent Zelle Transfers]]>Mon, 04 Mar 2019 20:59:11 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Zelle+Fraud+FOLO.jpg

Leah Montez was stunned when she saw more than $1680 transferred from her checking account to someone she doesn’t even know.

She said she called Chase's fraud department to alert the bank of the transaction and was given a temporary credit pending an investigation.

But last month, the Carrollton woman said Chase reversed the charge. 

Montez said Chase told her the transaction in question was sent from the same IP address she normally uses, so it must have come from her computer.  Therefore, they would not refund the money.

"We've banked with you all for over 20 years. We have our mortgage and I just felt really upset that you didn't believe me," she said.  

Justin in Red Oak said nearly $5000 was transferred from his account to a complete stranger.

"I immediately call the bank and I'm like no, no, no this is fraud, fraud, fraud," he said.

But just like Montez, he said Chase said the transfer came from his IP address, so his fraud claim was denied.

Tech expert Randy Haba at DKB Innovative in Frisco said it's happening to people across the country.

Hackers have found ways to remotely access consumers' account from a customers' IP address and send money to themselves in a matter of minutes.

"Any kind of convenient payment platform where you don't have to give a credit card and you can just provide a log in, those are all entry points of risks for your personal life," he said.  "It's a tough position to be in because the bank has all the evidence on their side, whereas you have to prove that you were in fact taken advantage of."

Both consumers refused to let Chase have the last word.

They contacted me and I reached out to Chase about their money.

Chase would not say how many fraud cases related to Zelle it's received in the last year, but said "We identify and prevent the majority of attempted fraud. We're also always working to educate customers to make sure that they're protecting themselves.

After another investigation, Montez and Justin were informed that they would get their money back and that it was fraud after all.

"I felt vindicated but I felt like if I hadn't called NBC, would I have ever gotten my money back," Montez wondered.

The company behind Zelle, Early Warning, tells us it constantly monitors fraud levels across the Zelle network and works closely with banks to investigate fraud cases.

To protect yourself from fraud, here's what Chase said you should watch out for:

We encourage customers not to share account information. Never leave checks unattended, give your PIN number out, or write your PIN number on the back of your debit card, and don't reply to an email, phone call or text message that does these things:

• Requires you to give your personal or account information either directly in the email or on a website the email sends you to. Some attackers, for example, use pop-up windows on web pages to ask for your confidential information.

• Threatens to close or suspend your account if you don't take immediate action

• Invites you to answer a survey that asks you to enter personal or account information

• Tells you your account has been compromised, then asks you to give or confirm your personal or account information

• Tells you there are unauthorized charges on your account, then asks you to give your personal or account information

• Asks you to confirm, verify or update your account, credit card or billing information

If for some reason you aren’t getting help, you can file a complaint with the consumer financial protection bureau by clicking here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Contractor Found Guilty of Theft]]>Fri, 01 Mar 2019 18:59:01 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/kevin-kissire-responds.jpg

A North Texas contractor accused of stealing from a local business and church has been found guilty of theft.

His customers said Kevin Kissire took large deposits of money, promised to come back and finish the work, then ran off with the cash.

After NBC 5 Responds starting looking into Kissire's business and aired numerous stories, Kissire was indicted for felony theft. A jury found him guilty of that charge on Friday. 

The contractor was ordered to five years probation, 100 hours of community service and he was also ordered to pay $40,000 in restitution.

NBC 5 reached out to Kissire's attorney but he had no comment.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Parents in Cleburne Concerned Over Growing Sinkhole]]>Fri, 01 Mar 2019 23:40:18 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Church+Sinkhole.jpg

There's a giant sinkhole that continues to grow in Cleburne.

"It looks an asteroid came down," a local kid playing nearby told us.

One person who measured it said it is nearly 10 feet deep.

"That terrifies me," said Kelly Litsinger

She and her daughter live just yards away from the sinkhole.

"She walks home from school every day and she...hopefully doesn’t go over there," she said.

Last week, her neighbor's dog got loose and fell inside the sinkhole.

"He's lucky to still have his dog and I'm lucky the dog wasn't hurt," she said.

The root of problem is a storm drainage pipe that's crumbling, causing the area around it to collapse.

The sinkhole is growing on the property of a Cleburne church.

Isaac Green, a deacon for the church, said the sinkhole has been growing on his church’s property for years.

"I've been going down to the city for the last seven to eight years, longer than that," he said.  "It's not being taken care of. It's not being addressed."

Green said the city of Cleburne said they would fix it.

"We've waited a long time and this thing is growing by leaps and bounds," he explained.

As residents continue to wait, more sinkholes in the area are popping up.

Instead of addressing the problem, Green said the city put up orange barriers.

He believes this is not enough.

"I mean, when I was a kid, a fence couldn't stop me from going where I want to go," he said. "We have a lot of children. Behind us there's children. In front of us there's children, and if they get in this hole, they're not getting out."

"So, we hope that in contacting you, it will put a fire up under them so they'll do the right thing," Green said.

The city of Cleburne didn't want to talk to me on camera, but in a statement, a spokesperson called the current conditions "unacceptable."

The city said in part "Although this sinkhole is in the middle of an open field and has not affected services, staff identified this repair as a priority and immediately made plans to remedy the sinkhole."

Green said this is the first sign that Cleburne is actually going to do something.

As the safety officer of this small church, he said it's his duty to protect the congregation and the residents who believe they deserve better.

"It's going to be a bigger problem if someone gets hurt in there," he said.

The city of Cleburne tells me they are in the process of obtaining the necessary materials and hiring a specialized contractor to make the repairs as quickly as possible.

The contractor is scheduled to come out next week to examine the drainage pipe and those sinkholes.

I will stay on top of this to see how soon the city will have a solution.

The city has not yet determined the costs of the repairs. That will be arranged with the contractor at a later date, and those costs will be paid for by the city.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Are You Paying for the Pink Tax? An Experiment in Shopping]]>Fri, 01 Mar 2019 16:50:54 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-942439196.jpg

Are you paying the "pink tax?"

It's the increased amount of money women spend versus men for similar products, and it could be inflating your budget.

In California, it's illegal to charge more for services based on someone's gender, unless the service takes more time, is more difficult or it costs more to provide.

However, when it comes to products, manufacturers can charge whatever they want -- even if it means women pay more.

Just how much more?

The aisles of most stores are broken down in sections, with some products catering to men, others to women, but experts say it's women who are paying more on everything from shampoo to razors.

Woman may spend as much as $1,400 more per year, according to one state study provided by Congresswoman Jackie Speier's office.

NBC4's I-Team decided to conduct an experiment.

They sent two interns, Tyrah Majors and Trevor Sochocki, to buy some products.

First, they both stopped at the drugstore deodorant aisle.

"This Dove men's deodorant is $6.19," Sochocki said.

"I'm purchasing the Dove Advanced Care for women, and it costs $6.99," Majors said.

Both deodorants offer 48-hour protection and "advanced care." They even have the same amount of the active ingredient.

But the women's version costs 80 cents more than the men's. And the I-Team found there's slightly less of it in the women's container.

In a statement to the I-Team, Unilever said: "We do not price our products based on gender. We provide a suggested price to our retailers" and "prices vary...based on a variety of factors including different technologies, formulations, and promotions..."

Next, the I-Team interns hit the vitamin aisle.

Sochocki bought adult gummy multi-vitamins for him that cost $17.99.

Majors bought Nature Made Multi for Her, which cost $19.49.

Both bottles have 80 gummies, and have "omega-3's added."

The list of ingredients is also similar, though the percentages are slightly different.

But the women's vitamins cost $1.50 more than the men's.

The I-Team repeatedly reached out to Nature Made, but never heard back.

For the final selection, the I-Team went to the dry cleaners.

Majors provided a women's white button-down long sleeve dress shirt, which cost $6.25 - a full dollar more than her male counterpart spent to dry clean his plain white button-down.

California Congresswoman Jackie Speier says it's time to end the "pink tax."

She plans to re-introduce legislation she says would stop gender-based discrimination when it comes to pricing products.

"I think the pink wave that overtook congress in the 2018 elections speaks volumes about how women are stepping up and speaking out," she said. "This is a retail issue, this is a pocketbook issue -- this is an important issue."

As for our I-team experiment, at the end of the day, Sochocki spent $29.43.

Majors spent $32.73. That means she spent $3.30 more than he did for similar products.

Congresswoman Speier says that's just wrong.

"We're not going to tolerate it anymore," she said.

CVS, the drugstore where NBC4 bought the deodorant and vitamins, responded with a statement.

CVS says it "makes every effort to ensure the products we sell are priced competitively in the marketplace. Retail prices for products are based in part on the supplier's costs."

Until there are laws in place that prevent the "pink tax" permanently, what can you do? Experts say to buy some men's products to save money. They're just as good and many times they're exactly the same.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Refinery29]]>
<![CDATA[Women Demand Refunds After Local Med Spa Suddenly Closes]]>Wed, 27 Feb 2019 18:26:22 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/McKinney+med+spa+022719.jpg

Kala Svevo wanted to get her 20-year-old daughter Megan something special for Christmas last year.

She said Megan is into cosmetics and beauty, so she bought her a $130 gift certificate to Laser Impressions Med Spa in McKinney.

"This was something that her friends had been talking about and she wanted to check it out," Kala Svevo said. "It was for six sessions. Her third appointment was on Tuesday."

But Tuesday, Svevo said her daughter could not get inside the med spa.

The door was locked with a sign on it that said "closed until further notice."

"I was upset because what are we supposed to do get the money back," she asked. "It’s frustrating, it's very aggravating."

Other women expressed their anger on Facebook.

One woman said she spent more than $700 on her spa package, another woman wrote, "I'm one of their victims too. Didn't find out till [sic] today when I was supposed to go in for session 2 of 6."

The sign on the door told customers do not solicit neighboring tenants. But customers told NBC 5 Repsonds they didn't have a choice because, they didn't have answers.

An employee of a neighboring business said people had come in demanding answers for the last several days.

According to its website, which has been taken down, Laser Impressions Med Spa was owned by Gita Khadivar, who wanted to expand her business in McKinney "and provide clients with the best service and results in Collin County."

NBC 5 Repsonds tried to call, email and send a Facebook message to the owner, had has not heard back.

Svevo said she was disputing the charge with her bank, and warnedg other women about the salon and its owner.

"Watch out for this person because it's not a real deal," she said.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation said if someone paid for treatments they did not receive, they could file a complaint here.

The state has a fund to help consumers who have been defrauded by certain businesses, but it does not cover medical spas.

Affected customers should dispute charges with your bank and contact the Texas Attorney General's office here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Three Tips to Avoid Modern Odometer Fraud]]>Mon, 25 Feb 2019 18:48:24 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Odometer+Rollback.jpg

It takes less than a minute for a vehicle's odometer reading to be drastically changed.

"Odometer fraud is a scam that's been around for decades but it's entered the digital age," said Chriss Basso, a spokesperson for Carfax.

He said crooks no longer have to rollback an analog odometer to fraudulently reduce the miles on a car.

"Now, it's a simple matter of plugging the device into the car's computer and changing the mileage, making a vehicle look like it's worth more than it is." Basso explained.  

He said many of us aren't looking for it because we don't think odometer fraud exists anymore.

"It really makes criminals think they can get away with because it's cheap and nobody's looking," said Basso.

According to Carfax, odometer fraud in North Texas is up nearly 10 percent from last year, with 65,500 cases identified in the DFW area and 174,000 cars in the state.

It's a problem Steven Smith in Grand Prairie knows firsthand. He found a used SUV online and bought it from a local dealership.

"Good mileage, it didn't have dents all over it and the price was right," Smith said.

But the odometer was wrong.

He said he discovered the fraud when he did some research after handing over $2,500.

The current reading shows just over 128,000 miles but a vehicle history report shows more than 191,000 miles. 

"It's bogus! It's not representing the actual miles on it," he said. "I consider it a fraud, a fraud. Taking advantage of people."

Smith said it didn’t take long for this SUV to break down, costing him hundreds more dollars to repair.

Basso called this a classic tale.

"The average person loses about $4,000 buying one of these cars unknowingly with a rolled back odometer, and that’s the value of the car you're losing but also the cost of repair because the car has so many more miles," he explained.

So how do you avoid purchasing a car with a rolled back odometer?

First, check that the wear and tear on the inside and outside match the mileage reading on the odometer.

Next, get an auto history report from sites like Carfax, Autocheck or VINCheckPro.

Third, get the vehicle inspected by a mechanic.

Those were simple steps that Smith wished he would have taken before handing over thousands of dollars.

Car experts also told us that in some cases car sellers may not actually be aware that the odometer is rolled back.

But the Texas DMV said if a dealership is aware, they are legally required to disclose this info on the title application.

You can also check for odometer fraud online, for free.

For more information, click here: www.carfax.com/odo



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Local Contractor Still Taking Deposits, Not Finishing Work]]>Fri, 22 Feb 2019 18:40:12 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Photo00267.jpg

Angus loves saying hello to his next door neighbor Sue, but sometimes his greetings get a little out of hand.

"Her dog started jumping the fence and then getting out from my yard," said Sue Ferrell.

She didn't mind the dog's visits, but his owner, Lynette Garrett, did.

Garrett said her dog had been hopping the fence for weeks.

So, the ladies agreed to split the cost on a new fence, and Garrett had just the guy for the job: Shawn Partain, the owner of Condor Fencing.

She hired him 15 years ago on another fence job.

"I was very happy with him," Garrett said.

They said Partain sent one of his workers out to do measurements, but he wanted to collect payment immediately.

"I said, 'Today, it has to be today?' He said yes because we want to get this order and get the material," Ferrell explained.

The ladies signed a contract and paid $1300 up front.

"But then as time went on, we didn't hear from them in October. We didn't hear from them in November," said Ferrell.

By December, the ladies were furious.

They said Partain promised to come by a number of times to start on the fence, but he never showed.

"We're both single, senior citizens and I just felt like he was taking advantage of the situation that we didn't have like men pressing down on him," said Garrett.

The ladies wanted to know who they were really dealing with.

A simple google search, led them to our previous reports on Shawn Partain.  

Three consumers called me last year to get their money back, and each time I stepped in, Partain sent refunds.

I called Partain and he told me that my reports were to blame.

He said ever since we aired stories about him, his business went south because consumers backed out of their contracts.

Partain said he's trying to get everything corrected, but it won't happen overnight.

Partain said between the holidays and the weather, he got backed up.

He said all you can do is trust him, bear with him and know that he's going to get everything corrected.

The next day, Ferrell and Garrett got a special delivery from Partain: $1300 cash.

"I'm so relieved. This entire thing has been so stressful and calling Samantha Chatman and NBC 5 was a wonderful thing to do," said Ferrell.

She and her neighbor are happy to have their money back but we've still got eight people who said Partain has yet to pay them back.

Grapevine Police were investigating Partain, but since the women were finally paid back, they said the case is closed.

But police say if you believe that you're a victim, call them at (817) 410-8127

If that doesn't work, call Samantha Chatman NBC 5 Responds.

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<![CDATA[TX Lawmakers File Roofing Bill To Protect Consumers ]]>Thu, 21 Feb 2019 18:06:35 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Photo00256.jpg

Lawmakers filed a bill in the Texas legislature on Thursday to protect consumers and hold bad contractors accountable.

Many have called Texas an "anti-regulation state," but this proposed bill challenges that narrative and is aimed at putting the consumer first.

NBC 5 Consumer Responds has aired many stories on dishonest roofers.

You've heard the cries of consumers who lost their savings or insurance checks to roofing companies.

Many people we've spoken to are storm victims who are just wanting to rebuild, but their money ends up in the wrong hands.

Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R) is sponsoring the bill and believes it's long overdue in Texas.

"What happens is, individuals who have worked hard for their money, hard for their house, start signing up with contractors who don't have the best interest at their heart and basically losing money and possibly ending up in an endangered situation. So, I strongly believe that the government has a role to play in providing basic protection for consumers in the marketplace," he said. 

Here's what this re-roofing bill would entail:

Roofing companies would have to register with the state by paying a small fee, providing a business address and phone number.

If a roofing company is not registered, they will not be able to get any building permits in Texas.

Some are surprised that Texas doesn't already have such rules in place, but Capriglione sees it as a first step in protecting consumers statewide. 

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<![CDATA[Pyrex Under Fire for Reported Explosions; Lawsuit Filed in Chicago]]>Wed, 20 Feb 2019 21:30:30 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/exploding+pyrex.jpg

Pyrex, a well-known type of bakeware advertised as oven and microwave safe, has come under fire for shattering without warning, prompting a class-action lawsuit in Chicago alleging the bakeware is dangerous and defective.

Hundreds of people have complained online and have posted photos of shards of glass in ovens, microwaves and on counter-tops, saying the shards came from their Pyrex dishes.

Pyrex has been a kitchen staple for more than a century now and is manufactured by Corelle Brands.

It originally was made from a type of glass called borosilicate that experts said is heat-tolerant and less likely to shatter, but somewhere along the way, that recipe changed and it now is made of the less expensive soda lime glass. It's unclear when the change was made.

"Fifteen minutes in, it was just like, 'Kaboom!'" one consumer told NBC 5 about her experience with a Pyrex dish. "It was like a bomb had gone off."

Corelle Brands called those type of cases unusual, saying it "produces glassware of the highest quality that is safe to use in conventional, convection and microwave ovens."

NBC 5 Responds found 850 reports of shattering or exploding glass cookware, including Pyrex and other brands, submitted to the Consumer Product Safety Commission over the past seven years.

Corelle Brands said that while "any glass bakeware has a risk of breakage, Pyrex glassware has an exceptional safety record."

So why is it happening? In a demonstration, NBC 5 Responds brought two brand-new baking dishes. One was Pyrex brand, made of soda lime glass, and one was a different brand, made of borosilicate.

Using sand, which is common in this type of demonstration, glass expert Mark Meshulam filled both baking dishes and put them in a standard oven at 450 degrees.

"It has mass," Meshulam said of the sand. "It can absorb heat and really hold it just like a liquid can."

Nearly an hour later, Meshulam took out the Pyrex dish and placed it on a wet stone slab.

Though this is an extreme condition and not advised, Meshulam said it can and does happen. The same thing can happen, he said, when a cool glass dish goes into a preheated oven.

The Pyrex instantly exploded, sending shards of glass flying.

"This was an actual explosion brought about by thermal shock," he said after the demonstration. "It was pretty sobering. Pretty scary."

As soda lime glass heats up, Meshulam said, it grows and expands. If you put it on a cool surface, "that movement is retracting suddenly."

The surface quickly absorbs the heat, creating thermal shock. "The bottom is trying to shrink really, really rapidly, and it just can't."

The baking dish made out of borosilicate was kept in the oven for almost two hours and put on the wet stone slab.

"Instead of breaking catastrophically and spraying shards all over the place, it broke in what looks to me to be three pieces," Meshulam said.

He said that's because borosilicate does not expand nearly as much as soda lime glass when heated.

One thing the maker of Pyrex and its critics can agree on: The best place to put hot glassware out of the oven is onto a cloth potholder.

The other questions may be answered in the class-action lawsuit filed in Chicago containing allegations that Correlle Brands has denied in court.

The company said it does not comment on pending litigation.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Contractor Helps Another Local Family With Free Roof]]>Tue, 19 Feb 2019 16:41:57 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Roof+Repair+021819.jpg

For nearly three years, life has been hard for Juan Fernandez and his family.

He said it was back in 2016 when a roofer promised to fix his roof and repair his fence for $10,000 dollars.

But the contractor never showed.

So, it was up to Fernandez to somehow stop the leaks and fix the damage to his home.

He invited NBC 5 Responds inside and pointed out the problem spots in the living room, dining room and bedrooms.

Fernandez was among a group of people NBC 5 Responds interviewed last month who said they were ripped off by the same roofing contractors.

"It really hurts. It really bothers me that I even let these people in my house, you know, believing in them," he said. "We were so proud and happy, me and my wife and kids that we were going to get a good roof and we just got robbed in the blink of an eye."

But just when he started to lose faith in all contractors. Robin Lloyd of K-Rose Custom Homes heard his cry and responded.

"There's so much bad things going around and people taking advantage of people. This serves as something to say that everyone's not bad. There is some good," he said.

It only took Lloyd and his crew a day to finish Fernandez's roof, for free.

"I just want to say thank you so much Mr. Robin for helping us out," Fernandez said. "You just don't know how you made us feel today."

Fernandez's trust in others now mended with the help from K-Rose Custom Homes and its North Texas team.

With the help of an anonymous donor, Lloyd is currently in contact with another homeowner from our previous story.

He said he hoped to fix her roof as well, for free.

He wanted to remind viewers that there are still business owners out there with good and honest intentions.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[New Mom Handed $18K Surprise Out-of-Network Delivery Bill]]>Fri, 15 Feb 2019 23:45:01 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cassidy-jacobs-+%284%29.jpg

For two and a half years, Cassidy Jacobs and her husband were hoping to expand their family.

They tried everything.

"Shots, medications, multiple doctor visits.  Nothing was working," she said.  "So, we essentially stopped everything we were doing and ... two months later ..."

Two months later, Jacobs found out she was pregnant. Later that year, she gave birth to her very first child: Edison Joseph.

"It was magical," she explained. "Everything that I had been hoping for and praying for had finally come true."

The couple was halfway through the construction of their dream home when Edison was born.

But those plans quickly changed when they received a unexpected hospital bill in the mail for more than $18,000.

Jacobs said the hospital told her the delivery was billed "out-of-network" by her insurance.

"Out of network? Even though I'd been told by six different people, six times, that we were in network," she said. "I thought I had taken every step to ensure something like this would not happen."

That same day, Jacobs said she called Medova Healthcare, the third-party administrator who manages her insurance plan.

Jacobs said she was told that Medova was no longer in contractual agreement with the hospital, so the bill would remain as out-of-network.

"My jaw dropped," she said. "I have a baby and now an $18,000 bill and no income coming in because I'm on maternity leave."

"My husband considered walking away from his business and getting a new job," said Jacobs.

The family has been living inside an RV, which is parked on the construction site of their soon-to-be new home, and only planned to be there for a few weeks.  But with an $18,000 bill hanging over their heads, weeks turned into months.

"This was not what I had envisioned," she said. 

Jacobs called NBC 5 Responds in a panic, so we called Medova and got a hold of a manager.

The manager wouldn't tell NBC 5 Responds why Jacobs' delivery was billed out-of-network, but she did confirm that their board of directors were discussing her case and would contact her directly.

"It was the first sign they were going to do anything. You were the first one to even get them to respond," she said

The following week, she got a call from Medova and learned that she would only be responsible for the copay of $500.

"I don't know what you said to them, but it worked," she said. "You changed, possibly, the future of our life."

After the bill was resolved, Jacobs and her husband got back to work on their forever home.

Medova told me that based on the circumstances, they were able to make an exception in Jacobs case.

A grateful mom, a happy baby boy and another problem solved.

If you have any problems with your insurance coverage, you can file a complaint with the Texas department of insurance. Click here to be taken to their website.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Influencer, Fitness Guru Accused of Ripping Off Customers]]>Wed, 13 Feb 2019 11:33:26 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Brittany+Dawn+Youtube+021219.jpg

There's something about being a mom that makes Melina Brunson abundantly happy.

"Those first few months, you're just really all about being a new parent," she said. "But shortly after that, I was like, 'Why isn't this weight going away? It's been three months.'"

Brunson said she was depressed and unhappy with her body.

"I started feeling uncomfortable in my own skin and I was really just trying to find something that could help me," she said.

Scrolling through Instagram, Brunson discovered Brittany Dawn, a local social media influencer and virtual fitness coach with more than 500,000 followers, who seemed to have it all.

"She was inspirational, motivational. She looks like the person that I think a lot of people want to be," Brunson said.

So, she signed up for a customized fitness plan through Dawn's company for $250.

Brunson said the plan included a custom macronutrient breakdown, 60 days of workouts and, most importantly, weekly check-ins with Brittany Dawn.

But when Brunson wasn't seeing any results, she said she couldn't get a hold of Dawn.

"That was the whole point, to be able to communicate with her week by week," Brunson said. "She didn't help me."

Brunson is among thousands of people across the country who have joined the Brittany Dawn Fitness Complaints page on Facebook.

Many have claimed that the influencer used her platform to sell women nothing but a dream.

Some women have compared their so-called customized fitness plans and claimed that their plan wasn't customized at all.

Others said the fitness guru was unresponsive, leaving them hanging when they needed her guidance.

In a public statement on YouTube, Dawn addresses complaints from her fans.

"I apologize to anyone who like feels they got scammed from me and I genuinely process that my intentions from the start were pure," she said.

Dawn said that her business took off so fast that she didn't know how to mentally handle it, and as an influencer, she didn't have much guidance.

"When you are given an opportunity like this, you would be stupid not to take it and run with it and unfortunately I ran too fast for one person," she said.

But Brunson doesn't believe Dawn's apology is genuine.

"I think it was because she got caught and not because she felt sorry for what she had done," Brunson said.

When she asked Dawn for a full refund, she said she was only offered 20 percent back.

"That's a joke," she said. "I'm disappointed in her. I feel like she has used her platform to get away with stealing money from tons of people. Do better!"

Dawn declined to talk with us on camera but said via email that she had set up a customer service email where she has rectified more than half of the complaints through make-goods, refunds and plans extensions, depending on each specific situation.

Dawn said she hoped to move forward so that this wouldn't happen again.

However, some clients tell NBC 5 Responds this policy was added just recently and there was no policy posted online a few weeks ago.

Under the Frequently Asked Questions page on her website, it says all purchases are final.

This could serve as reminder for consumers to always check the refund policy before signing up for new services.



Photo Credit: YouTube: Brittany Dawn Fitness
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[East Texas Company Recalls 59 Pounds of Smoked Sausage]]>Tue, 12 Feb 2019 09:38:19 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/panola-county-processing-sausage.jpg

An East Texas company has recalled 59 pounds of smoked sausage items due to possible under-processing of the food.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the voluntary recall involves Panola County Processing of Carthage. Federal inspectors discovered the problem on Friday.

A USDA statement released Tuesday says the pork smoked sausage links and venison and pork sausage links, in 1.3-pound packages, were produced Jan. 29 and packaged through Jan. 31. The sausage was labeled Panola County Processing and distributed to retail stores in Texas.

Click here to see the labels of the affected items.

The items have EST. 48219 inside the USDA mark of inspection.

USDA officials have no reports of anyone getting sick. The sausage should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

ONLINE: Smoked Sausage Recall News Release



Photo Credit: USDA]]>
<![CDATA[5 Money-Saving Tips for Wedding Planning]]>Mon, 11 Feb 2019 18:26:47 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Dallas+Wedding+Planning+021119.jpg

For many couples in North Texas, wedding planning season has officially started.

"About 60 to 65 percent of all engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine's, so this is the time of year when it's all coming together," celebrity wedding expert Donnie Brown said.

NBC 5 Responds caught up with Brown at the Dallas Bridal Show, where many brides-to-be get inspired. 

But in the age of social media, many people take the do-it-yourself approach. 

Brown advised to be careful, because pictures online can sometimes be deceiving. 

"There's the millennials and they're shopping on Instagram. They're shopping on Pinterest. There's really no way of knowing the reputable companies versus the not-so-reputable companies," he said. "I have seen websites with pictures of my work on them."

Brown said to use social media as a starting point, but when it's time to book, put on your investigative hat and know who you're dealing with.

The Cake
"Talk to other brides, look at reviews and make sure you know what it's going to taste like on your wedding day," Brown said.  "Ask the bride, 'How did your cake taste.'"

Brown said some companies will bake the cake a week or two in advance.

"Have you ever had two-week-old cake? Kind of stale," he said. "Personally, I would rather forego a little beauty to get a lot more flavor."

The Caterer
"A bad caterer is not going to produce a good tasting. They're just not good," Brown said.

He said he believed it's important to have someone at the tasting with a culinary background. Have the best cook in the family sit down and try the food too -- their pallet may be more advanced.

"I'll sit in the tasting and I will critique every single thing on the menu. It's not personal to the chef. The chef wants you happy," he explained.

The Venue
When it comes to the venue, Brown said a contract is a must.

Expect to put down a deposit to lock in a date. This protects not only the consumer, but the company as well.

"You're buying their date. Let's say you cancel your wedding two months out. They're never going to re-book that date. Think about how many clients have tried to book that date, but couldn't because you had it reserved," Brown explained.

Credit Card Is Key
Try to book or buy everything for a wedding, from the dress to the flowers, with a credit card.

And Brown said don't worry about racking up credit card debt.

"Don't rack up debt! Just pay at the end of the months. Plus, most credit cards these days have points miles. Get some benefit from this. This is one of the biggest expenses of your entire life," he said.

Brown said if a venue or caterer refuses to accept a credit card, that could be a red flag.

He said the majority of businesses out there are in it for the right reasons, and with a little extra homework on the consumer's end, everything should be smooth sailing.

Wedding Planners
Brown advised to consider hiring a wedding planner. It could save money in the long run.

He explained that he gets big discounts for brides all the time, because he has a lot of connections in North Texas and knows how to negotiate. 



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[To Tip, Or Not To Tip? Here's What Your Server Expects]]>Wed, 06 Feb 2019 19:17:03 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tipping+tips.jpg

From the teenager who made your sandwich at the deli to your local coffee shop barista, more and more service providers might expect something a little extra, but does that mean you must pay up?

In a recent Consumer Reports survey of more than 1,000 American adults, 27 percent said there are more situations today where they’re expected to tip than there were just two years ago.

"Consumers are becoming increasingly resentful about the idea that they have to tip people just for doing their jobs. Like really? I have to tip a smoothie maker? Or what about the barista at the coffee shop who swivels a little point of sale iPad in your direction with a pre-calculated tip," said Margot Gilman, Consumer Reports Money Editor.

As for how much to tip, Consumer Reports has some guidelines.

"A simple rule of thumb is to tip 15 to 20 percent of the pretax restaurant tab. Don’t tip less than 15 percent. If the server was rude or offensive, speak to the manager but don’t stiff the server," said Gilman. 

Another finding from Consumer Report’s survey on tipping, 46 percent of Americans say they favor a system that would do away with tipping altogether and instead charge higher prices, a remedy promoted by restaurateur Danny Meyer, the founder of Shake Shack.

If you’re looking for some tools to help, apps such as Tab, Settle Up, and Plates let you split tabs or keep track of who owes what. To see Consumer Report’s complete list of recommended service providers to tip, and the amount, check out their full report on ConsumerReports.org.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Contractor Repairs Veteran's Roof for Free Following Report]]>Mon, 04 Feb 2019 18:39:06 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Roofing+Contractor+020419.jpg

Joseph Dickens hasn't been this happy in a long time.

For two years, he's been waiting on a contractor to come back and start to repair his roof.

"I was just going to have to crawl myself up there and start knocking the nails and do what I had to do," he said. 

Dickens signed a contract and paid the roofer nearly $10,000, but his home remained untouched.

"I was kind of stuck. That's all there was to it. I was just stuck," Dickens said.

He's among thousands of people in Texas who have been played by dishonest roofers.

Last week, NBC 5 Responds delved into the laws on roofing contractors and learned that consumers had very little protection. 

"Every week, I get a call from a homeowner ripped off by a bad roofer. It is time for Texas to regulate roofers," Steven Badger, an attorney who represents a group of consumers filing a lawsuit against contractor House of Tomorrow.

That's why Badger said he was working with lawmakers to introduce the "Re-Roofing Registration Bill" to the Texas legislature next month.

Under this law, every roofer in Texas would be required to register with the state, provide a physical business address and contact number, and pay a small registration fee.

Getting the bill passed could take some time, leaving consumers like Dickens in despair. 

But just as he was ready to give up on all contractors, Robin Lloyd of K-Rose Custom Homes called NBC 5 Responds.

"Each one, reach one," Lloyd said. "When someone reached out to me, I in turn reached out to Mr. Dickens."

Lloyd received a lump sum of cash from a local donor who would like to remain anonymous, and K-Rose Customs Homes got to work.

"We picked up everything we needed last night and we're here," he said.

A project that Dickens has waited on for two years was finished in a matter of hours.

K-Rose Customs Homes repaired Dickens' roof free of charge.

"Somebody cares," Lloyd said. "We're not all bad."

Lloyd restored Dickens' faith in the construction industry.

Loyd said he planned to help two other consumers in NBC 5 Responds' first story on roofing contractors.

He wanted to serve as a reminder that there are still good roofing contractors out there with honest intentions and big hearts.

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<![CDATA[How to Spot a Flood-Damaged Car]]>Fri, 01 Feb 2019 19:36:53 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Photo00203.jpg

Storms like Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Florence have made a huge impact in the U.S., affecting millions of lives over the past few years.

But a lingering affect of the storms continue to invade our roads every day.

"One problem, especially here in Texas and in the DFW area, our data shows that there's over 12,000 flood damaged vehicles that are back on the road in this area and Texas has the most flood damaged cars in the entire country," said Christopher Basso, a spokesperson for Carfax.

He said there's nearly half a million flooded cars from these recent storms that are putting people's lives at risk.

"Unfortunately, a lot of people think it's no big deal but these cars rot from the inside-out. Sooner rather than later, the water is going to affect the mechanical system, short out the electrical system," he said. "It could affect airbags to deploy when needed, anti-lock braking system and even mechanical parts to the car. Once those parts start to rust and break down, their inability to work properly can make those cars stop running and turn into ticking time bomb.

In many cases, he said the red flags are easy to identify:

  • Check for rust or corrosion on the engine.
  • Look for condensation in the lights.
  • See if there's sand and dirt in unusual places.

"Especially in the inside of the car, the metal parts of the inside of the car, the seat rails, seat belts, the steering column underneath, those parts all rust out and are places that we typically look for or pay a lot of attention to. But those are going to be the most telltale signs that water was most likely in this vehicle and you could have a flood damage car on your hands," Basso explained.

But even the best auto dealers know how to clean these areas up, that's why checking the auto history before purchasing a car is vital.

Next, check the car's title.

If there's any flood damage, it should be marked "salvage" or "flood damage."

"If you see one of those on the title, you want to proceed with caution," Basso said. "Make sure you know what you're getting before you lay down your hard earned money and if you decide to buy that car, have a mechanic check it out, taking it for a test drive and know you're going to be comfortable with that car before you buy it."

While Carfax is a great place to look at the history of your vehicle, there are other resources like autocheck.com or VINCheck.

For more tips on how to identify a flooded car, click here at Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

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<![CDATA[How Retailers Grade You to Determine Customer Treatment]]>Wed, 30 Jan 2019 20:51:19 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/consumer-lifetime-value-os.jpg

 
From retailers to wireless carriers to airlines 
   
Some businesses are busy crunching data to give shoppers a secret score called a c-l-v, or customer lifetime value   
A projection used not only to estimate what a customer may be worth over time --  but in some cases- how well to treat them
    
A grade experts say is based on things like how much you spend, age, zip code, marital status-- 
   
Even details on your social media profiles  
(Sots) “that’s a little big brotherish.”
“yea that’s not good” 
So why are businesses doing this?  
Experts say it’s to hold on to their best customers...
“when you call in, when you either have a complaint or when you’re seeking some sort of discount or when you’re saying hey my neighbor got this but i didn’t get this, they’re going to know who you are and if they’re really sophisticated about it they’ll know whether you really deserve it or not.” 
Shoppers with a high score probably make frequent purchases and spend more money...
They would be more likely to get a call or email answered *fast* or get a refund without much trouble.
“its going to be purely based on what you’ve done and what we think you’re going to do next”  
   
In short, marketing professor pete fader says c.L.V. Comes down to your relationship with the retailer. 
“if we see you engaging with the company more deeply, we have a sense that you’re going to be worth just that much more in the future” 
Retailers don’t share this information with each other -- your c.L.V. Is different each place you spend money. 
"so i may have a clv, // one clv with my cell phone company, but have another clv with say my gym or another company that i’ve opened a line of credit with
Some consumer advocates think customers should be clued into their secret score.
John breyault bray-yo from the national consumers league says more pressure is needed on regulators for companies to release the grades. 
“if these scores are being used to make important decisions about me, decisions about what kind of offers i’m going to be given, whether or not i’m going to be accepted as a customer at a bank or a company then i think consumers deserve to know that and i think it’s an area where consumers are demanding more control 
Tag: 
The scores essentially might frame you as a serial returner, chronic complainer or just a plain old cheapskate. If that's not accurate,  privacy experts say, that is why consumers should have a chance to review their secret score. We asked the national retail federation for a comment on this practice. They told us they don't follow the issue. 
 

From retailers to wireless carriers to airlines, some businesses are busy crunching data to give shoppers a secret score called a "CLV," or Customer Lifetime Value.

It's a projection used not only to estimate what a customer may be worth over time, but in some cases, how well to treat them.

It's a grade experts said is based on things like how much you spend, age, ZIP code, marital status, even details on your social media profiles.

So, why are businesses doing this?

Experts said it’s to hold on to their best customers.

“When you call in, when you either have a complaint or when you’re seeking some sort of discount, or when you’re saying, 'Hey my neighbor got this but I didn’t get this,' they’re going to know who you are and, if they’re really sophisticated about it, they’ll know whether you really deserve it or not,” said Marketing Professor Pete Fader.

Shoppers with a high score probably make frequent purchases and spend more money, they would be more likely to get a call or email answered fast or get a refund without much trouble.

"Its going to be purely based on what you’ve done and what we think you’re going to do next,” he said.

In short, Fader said a customer's CLV comes down to the relationship with the retailer.

“If we see you engaging with the company more deeply, we have a sense that you’re going to be worth just that much more in the future,” Fader explained.

Retailers don’t share this information with each other. Your CLV is different each place you spend money.

Some consumer advocates think customers should be clued-in to their secret score.

John Breyault from the National Consumers League said more pressure is needed on regulators for companies to release the grades.

"If these scores are being used to make important decisions about me, decisions about what kind of offers I’m going to be given, whether or not I’m going to be accepted as a customer at a bank or a company, then I think consumers deserve to know that and I think it’s an area where consumers are demanding more control," he said. 

The scores essentially might frame you as a serial returner, chronic complainer or just a plain old cheapskate. If that's not accurate, privacy experts said that is why consumers should have a chance to review their secret score.

We asked the National Retail Federation for a comment on this practice.  They told us they don't follow the issue.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Tyson Recalls Chicken Nuggets That May Contain Rubber]]>Wed, 30 Jan 2019 07:02:40 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tyson-panko-chicken-nugget-recall-013019.jpg

More than 36,420 pounds of chicken nugget products are being recalled because they may be contaminated with rubber, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Tuesday.

The recall is for certain 5-pound packages of Tyson White Meat Panko Chicken Nuggets sold nationwide.

There have been no confirmed reports of anyone getting sick or having adverse reactions because they consumed the chicken, the USDA said.

The packages had a "best if used by" date of Nov. 26, 2019, case code "3308SDL03 and time stamps 23:00 through 01:59. Click here to see the label.

The manufacturer received complaints from people who found "soft, blue rubber" in the chicken nugget packages, the USDA said in a news release, adding that anyone who has purchased affected packages should throw them away or return them to the store.

The USDA did not immediately disclose which retail outlets sold the recalled chicken.

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Tyson Consumer Relations at 1-888-747-7611.



Photo Credit: USDA]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Could Protect Homeowners From Dishonest Roofers]]>Mon, 04 Feb 2019 18:15:43 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Roofing+Laws.jpg

Joseph Dickens put off fixing his roof for years. But he said that all changed when House of Tomorrow showed up at his doorstep.

"They appeared to be upfront. They appeared to be honest," he said. 

Dickens said House of Tomorrow agreed to repair his roof, fence and shed for $9,900.

He said he handed over a check and never heard another word from the company.

"Kept calling, no answer. Kept calling, no answer," he said. "They were gone."

Becky Jane said that same company was supposed to start on her roof the day after payment.

"We were in shock. We couldn’t believe it that someone would be so strategic to set us up," she said.

Jane and Dickens are among 117 consumers who are a part of a class action lawsuit against House of Tomorrow, and the owner, Jorge Garcia.

But now that House of Tomorrow is closed and Garcia has filed for bankruptcy, the homeowners believe they will never get their money back

"Where's our protection, Samantha. Where is it," she asked.

Attorney Steven Badger, who's representing the group, said the issue is bigger than his clients.

"Texas needs to regulate roofing contractors because of this very situation," he said.

For years, NBC 5 Responds has covered storm chasers and door knockers; roofers who are in the business of taking money and vanishing.

"Every week, I get a call from a homeowner ripped off by a bad roofer. It is time for Texas to regulate roofers," said Badger.

That’s why Badger said he planned to work with lawmakers to introduce the "Re-Roofing Registration Bill" to the Texas legislature next month.

Under this law, every roofer in Texas would be required to register with the state, provide a physical business address and contact number and pay a small registration fee.

"Then, an important part of the bill, when that contractor gets a building permit to re-roof a house, only registers roofing contractors can get re-roofing permits in Texas," Badger explained. 

Badger hopes to tackle the licensing issue down the road, but sees his registration bill as a first step.

"The reality is that Texas’ political climate is anti-regulation. So, we need to do something," he said.

It’s the beginning of what Dickens believes is way overdue in Texas.

"Fix it. Fix it yesterday. Fix it tomorrow. It needs to be fixed," he said

The proposed bill is currently being reviewed by the legislative council and is expected to be introduced in the house and senate in the next couple weeks.

As for House of Tomorrow, the former owner’s attorney confirmed that he has filed for bankruptcy and his business is closed.

We tried reaching out to Garcia directly, but we have not heard back.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Giant Sinkhole Causing Big Concerns For North Texas Family]]>Mon, 28 Jan 2019 12:31:45 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/n5r-sinkhole.jpg

A North Texas woman says there's a major safety hazard right in her own backyard -- a sinkhole.

Jennifer Grierson knew something wasn't right when she noticed a crack in her backyard last year. But she never thought that slope would turn into a sinkhole.

“And it goes all the way across my backyard,” she said.

Grierson and her husband rent their home in North Richland Hills.

She said they told their landlord about the sinkhole, and he contacted the HOA.

“It's going to take lots of money and we don't know how we're going to pay for that. That's what the HOA says,” Grierson explained.

The issue stems from the retaining wall, which is owned by the HOA.

According to the HOA's engineers, rain water continues to erode the base of the wall, causing Grierson’s backyard to crack and buckle.

The family added a wired fence to serve as a partition.

“I have children here. I have animals that live in this backyard and it's not safe to have them wandering around with a giant hole,” she said.

The HOA, Grierson said, is anything but helpful.

“The last time my HOA representative came by was last summer,” she said.

And when she couldn't get answers or help, she called NBC 5 Responds' Samantha Chatman.

Chatman called the president of the Emerald Hills HOA, and he admitted they are responsible.

The president said they've had an engineer examine the sinkhole and it could cost them anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000.

He said the HOA has never dealt with anything quite like this before and is unsure how they're going to pay for it.

They have 65 homeowners, who would each be responsible for 1/65th of the total amount.

He said it's a project that's so massive that even some contractors have turned it down.

The HOA hopes to have this fixed by March, but isn't making any promises.

“I want to be able to take this fence down. Half my backyard isn't even being used,” she said.

It’s a deep rooted issue that Grierson fears will soon become a disaster.

The HOA president tells Chatman they may have to consider taking out a loan to repair the retaining wall and the sinkhole.

Chatman asked Grierson why she hasn't moved. She said her kids' school is across the street, she's a teacher in the district, so she shouldn't have to leave.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Local Roofer Sentenced to Prison after NBC 5 Responds Investigation ]]>Fri, 25 Jan 2019 19:17:50 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Roofer+Sentenced.jpg

We first learned about Patrick Will Jenkins and his roofing company (SOS Roofing and Construction) in 2017.

Tarrant County prosecutors compiled the cases of 41 victims who paid Jenkins to have their roofs repaired, but he never even started the jobs.

As a result, Jenkins was arrested and recently plead guilty to theft.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison and will have to pay $230,000 in restitution.

The Tarrant County DA's office said in part:

"We have made it a priority to put white collar criminals on notice in Tarrant County - we will not tolerate scammers preying on our residents... By raising awareness through your coverage, more victims learned of the investigation and came forward, which assisted in establishing the pattern of criminal activity.”

NBC 5 reached out to Jenkins' attorney, but so far has not heard back.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Contractor Accused of Stealing and Misleading Customers]]>Wed, 23 Jan 2019 18:13:03 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/John+Segovia+2+012319.jpg

As a full-time grandmother and a caregiver, the last thing Sharon Najar needed was a disaster inside her home.

Last year, she dealt with flooding that completely ruined her carpet.

After she saw an Empire Today commercial, Najar said she didn't waste any time.

"I called the number in the yellow pages for Empire Carpet," she said.  "I was thinking it was the one on TV."

But instead, Najar reached John Segovia, the owner of Empire Carpet (not Empire Today, the one on TV).

"He told me that he wasn't that one that was on TV, but he could do me a better deal," Najar said.

So, she hired him. But from the jump, she said she wasn't a huge fan.

"He had broken multiple appointments," Najar said.

When Segovia finally arrived, she said he made her mad all over again.

"He wanted cash, up front, right away," Najar said.

She said she refused, but did agree to pay $3,850 up front via credit card and would pay the remaining $1,250 once the job was done.

But Najar said Segovia charged her the full $5,100.

"I told him, 'Look, I did not agree to $5,100 up front and you need to give a credit until I see the carpet,'" she said.  "So he said, 'Well, I'll get that done. It was late. It was a mistake.'"

Najar said she never got a credit.

After she took a closer look at her contact, she noticed the top said Shop-At-Home Custom Floors.

She Googled that business name and came across an NBC 5 Responds report from 2015 on John Segovia.

Two other women said Segovia misled them too.

They said they thought they were doing business with Empire Today.

According to public records, Segovia is no stranger to police.

He pleaded guilty to theft just last year in Harris County.

According to court documents, Segovia was involved in a scheme where he gained more than $1,500 from his victim.

The carpet giant Empire Today called John Segovia a "fake."

In a lawsuit filed in July 2014, they claim Segovia was cashing in on the company's good name.

A judge agreed, ordering Segovia to stop using Empire Today's "trade name," "business name" or anything "confusingly similar."

But when NBC 5 Responds called Segovia, he answered the phone as "Empire Carpet."

He said Najar was "dumb as hell" for thinking he was affiliated with Empire Today, and that he only rescheduled with her once because he was ill.

Segovia said Najar instructed him to charge the full $5,100 and she just wanted to cancel so that she could give the money to her kids.

As for the business name discrepancy, he said he legally owns the name Empire Carpet, but is in the process of changing it.

He said if anyone is out of money, it's him, and that Najar is just an evil woman with an attitude, and he has every right to put a lien on her home.

"I told him I hope he did because he would look like the fool that he was," Najar said.

She said Segovia was a cheat and a liar, and warned anyone looking for carpet to stay far, far away from this carpet contractor.

"Run," she said.

Najar never got her carpet, so she disputed the charge with her credit card company, and thankfully that $5,100 is back in her account.

Here's what Empire Today had to say about John Segovia and his business name:

"Segovia has already been found in contempt for using Empire Today's good name to trick customers into giving him money for flooring he doesn't deliver. We have been working with the appropriate authorities to stop him and protect people in Texas from this fake."

The company reminds consumers that if they're interested in Empire Today to make sure they call the national chain.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Tips to Save on Your Gym Membership]]>Mon, 21 Jan 2019 18:10:23 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Generic+gym+012119.jpg

If you are considering enrolling in a gym, but want to save some money, the beginning of the year may be the right time.

"It's a good time to start because there are many offers to start, to try out because it's when there are many people trying to go to a gym," gym owner Cesar Hernandez said.

Consumer Reports also advises asking for a no-commitment trial. Many gyms offer day passes to try out their facilities. And if you have friends or family interested in signing up with you, they may offer you a lower monthly rate for a group.

Hernandez said that trying the place before you commit will help you identify what type of gym is best for your goals.

"Are you are looking for someone to help you, to guide you from the beginning or are you looking for a gym that has machines and that you can do yourself," Hernandez said.

When you find the perfect gym for you, you can negotiate a better price. Speak with a salesperson or manager to see if they can give you a free month or eliminate the registration fee, especially if you sign a contract. Hernandez gives his customer a significant discount when they sign a contract.

"The incentive to sign a contract is that you will save money. For example, if you sign up for 12 months you can save between 40 to 50 percent compared to the person who is paying monthly," Hernandez said.

Consumer Reports said to read the contract from beginning to end.

"Look to see if there are subscription or cancellation fees and if you need to notify them months in advance to avoid being charged," Consumer Reports money editor Donna Rosato said.

And be sure to keep a copy of the contract in case you need to reference it in the future.

If you have health insurance through your employer, find out if they offer a discount on gym memberships. Some insurance companies offer hundreds of dollars in reimbursement if you are a member of a participating gym.



Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Police Release New Video of Alleged 'Cowboys Ticket Scammer']]>Wed, 16 Jan 2019 18:37:13 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ticket+scam+folo.jpg

Police believe the man shown in new surveillance video is the same man in a Snapchat video who allegedly sold fake Cowboys tickets in exchange for cash.

"Judging by the clothing he was wearing and at some point he takes his hat off so we can see a clearer picture of who he is," said Officer James McClellan with the Irving Police Department. "It's a pretty good piece of video." 

Police said hours after selling fake playoffs tickets to a local couple at the Irving Mall, the suspect went across the street to an Applebees in Irving, waiting on his next victim to arrive.

After leaving the bar, police said he met his customer outside the restaurant to complete the transaction.

When that consumer got to AT&T Stadium for the Cowboys vs. Seahawks playoffs game, the customer was denied entry because the tickets were fake.

"In addition to that, there were two additional victims that we're aware of from the suspect in other cities," said McLellan.

Police said this type of scheme is not uncommon and it's not exclusive to Cowboys fans.

"It happens at the Mavericks games, the Rangers games, the Stars games, it just continues to happen," McLellan said.

He said ticket scammers will usually create a fake profile on sites like OfferUp.

They'll typically purchase a burner cellphone that's hard to trace and easy to disconnect.

But rarely do police get pieces of video like this of the alleged ticket scammer.

"You've got the general public that are being ripped off and losing money to this. You've got an organization such as the Dallas Cowboys whose trademark images are being counterfeited," he said.

That's why Irving police are asking the public to take a close look at this suspect.

"The video that we've captured is good enough video that if there's somebody who knows who that is, they can call us with that information," said McClellan.

The person or people responsible could face theft, forgery or even copywrite infringement charges.

If you have any information on this ticket scheme, you're asked to contact the Irving Police Department at 972-273-1010.

OfferUp released this statement to NBC 5.

"We're so sorry to hear about Mr. Davila and Ms. Rogers recent experience. OfferUp's number one priority is to provide a trusted and secure experience, and the sale of counterfeit items is very much forbidden. When engaging on any item in our marketplace, we encourage people to take advantage of our user ratings, verified ID program TruYou, and to transact at well-lit and monitored Community MeetUp Spots which we've set up in partnership with local police departments across the country. That said, in this specific case, and when purchasing event tickets, we recommend meeting the seller at the ticket office where the tickets can be confirmed in real time before making the purchase - this ensures complete authenticity."

A few other tips:
• Check the venue's ticket policies. For example, some events only accept e-tickets or don't allow the transfer of tickets at all
• Inspect the tickets. Some events have tickets with holograms or other features that are difficult to replicate. Check both the front and the back of the tickets
• Be skeptical of prices that seem too good to be true, especially for events that are sold out or in high demand"

"Please report suspicious or offensive user behavior and any items that violate our posting rules. Reports are kept anonymous and our dedicated investigations team removes offending posts."



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Beware of Some Pop-Up Ads on Social Media]]>Mon, 14 Jan 2019 18:22:07 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Instagram+Waist+Trainer+Ad+011419.jpg

Latasha Williams' 9-year-old son Steven is smart and energetic.

"I want to be able to keep up with him and not be huffing and puffing trying to chase them around," she said. 

So her goal for 2019 was to get in shape.

As if it were a sign, Williams said she was scrolling on Instagram when an ad for a sweat vest popped up on her timeline.

"It's supposed to help you sweat off the water weight as you exercise," she said. "I decided to just give it a try."

Williams bought a sweat vest and a sweat cami, which came out to $41.

She expected her order to be delivered in 7-to-14 business days, but that didn't happen.

"I kept waiting and waiting and never received anything. So, I started to read through the comments. And a lot of the comments were saying, don't purchase from this company. It's a scam," Williams said.

Phylissia Clark with the Better Business Bureau told NBC 5 Responds they've received 476 complaints on The Perfect Sculpt since 2017. Of those complaints, 232 were regarding non-delivery and 40 came from people in Texas.

Clark said she's seen more companies post ads on sites like Instagram as a way to lure consumers into buying their products.

"People are looking for a product that's going to help get them in shape. So, the hook is putting them where people are looking," she said.

Clark said it usually starts with an ad that has great videos or pictures, sometimes including reality TV stars trying out the gear.

"On the one hand, the celebrities might buy in on it," she said. "But either way, just because you see a celebrity face, doesn't mean a product will work."

Williams said it's been nearly two months since she placed her order and still no word from the company.

"I remember on NBC Channel 5 with Samantha Chatman, she always helps people get their money back," Williams said.

She tagged Chatman in a comment on the company's Instagram page, and Chatman immediately reached out to The Perfect Sculpt.

After several attempts, the company finally got back to Chatman on Instagram, saying there was a delay due to an issue with a large import of certain items.

"It so happened to be the busiest time of the year, so the effects were felt at a large scale," the company said.

That same week, Williams said she received an item that she did not order. 

So, NBC 5 Repsonds reached out to The Perfect Sculpt again, and Williams finally received a refund.

"Thank you so much for your help. I appreciate you getting it done for me," she said.

But before purchasing a product after seeing an ad on social media, here are some tips:

  • Search the company's name online and see what kind of reviews it has.
  • Don't get caught up in how many followers the page has. The Prefect Sculpt has more than 500,000 followers, but an F rating with the BBB.
  • Always order with a credit card in case something goes wrong -- there's more protection for consumers there.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Viewer Says Warranty Company Wouldn't Cover Car Repairs]]>Fri, 11 Jan 2019 18:46:48 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Car+Warranty1.jpg

For Krista Bell, watching her youngest daughter get ready for college hasn't been easy.

She was itching to go away for college in Arizona, and eventually, she got her mother's blessing.

Bell said she found the perfect ride to help her daughter get around campus, a 2008 five series BMW.

"It had been taken care of very well," she said.

Before leaving for school, her daughter wanted to visit some of her friends in Lubbock to say goodbye.

But as she got closer to Lubbock, she said the car started jerking, shaking and making loud noises, so she called her mom.

They had the car towed to a mechanic in Lubbock and were told the problem was a blown transmission.

The repairs would cost them nearly $8000.

Bell filed a claim with her warranty company, and eventually received a letter that stated the following:

"Unfortunately, your request for reimbursement for these repairs is denied."

According to the warranty company, the blown transmission was a pre-existing issue, but Bell said the mechanics assured her that wasn't possible.

There was no way this car would have made it from Rockwall to Lubbock, so the damage had to have happened on the road.

"They sent the inspector out for the second time, and spoke to the mechanics again, and still denied the claim," said Bell.

We reached out to the warranty company, Royal Administration.

We sent them the mechanics report and asked them to take a closer look at her claim.

The company told us they don't disclose customer information to any third parties, but will work with Bell directly.

"The next morning at 9 a.m. I got a call from the warranty company stating that they were approving the claim," said Bell.

The company agreed to cover the repairs, which came out to $7,780.

"You're here to help people, and you get it done," Bell said.

A happy mother and college student, and another problem solved.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Toyota Recalls 1.7M Vehicles in N. America to Fix Air Bags]]>Thu, 10 Jan 2019 10:01:54 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Toyota-Recall-AP_19009670186567.jpg

Toyota is recalling 1.7 million vehicles in North America to replace potentially deadly Takata front passenger air bag inflators.

The move announced Wednesday includes 1.3 million vehicles in the U.S. and is part of the largest series of automotive recalls in the nation's history.

Takata inflators can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 23 people have been killed worldwide and hundreds have been injured.

The recall covers Toyota models including the 2010 through 2016 4Runner, the 2010 through 2013 Corolla and Matrix, and the 2011 through 2014 Sienna. Also covered are Lexus models including the 2010 through 2012 ES 350, the 2010 through 2017 GX 460, the 2010 through 2015 IS 250C and 350C, the 2010 through 2013 IS 250 and 350 and the 2010 through 2014 IS-F. The 2010 through 2015 Scion XB also is included.

Takata used the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate the air bags. But the chemical can deteriorate over time due to high humidity and cycles from hot temperatures to cold. The most dangerous inflators are in areas of the South along the Gulf of Mexico that have high humidity.

Toyota and Lexus dealers will either replace the inflator or the entire air bag assembly with equipment made by other manufacturers that does not contain ammonium nitrate. Owners will be notified by mail or other means in late January.

Toyota wouldn't say if anyone has been injured in vehicles covered by the latest recall.

Owners can check to see if their vehicles have been recalled by going to https://www.toyota.com/recall or https://www.airbagrecall.com and keying license plate or vehicle identification numbers.

Toyota's recall is part of a phased-in replacement of Takata inflators. Automakers are scheduled to replace 10 million starting this month. Ford and Honda have already announced recalls.

More than three years after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took over management of recalls involving Takata inflators, one-third of the recalled inflators still have not been replaced, according to an annual report from the government and a court-appointed monitor last year. The report says 16.7 million faulty inflators out of 50 million under recall have yet to be fixed.

Safety advocates say the completion rate should be far higher given the danger associated with the inflators.

The recalls forced Takata of Japan to seek bankruptcy protection and sell most of its assets to pay for the fixes.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth



Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Fan Buys Fake Playoffs Tickets, Loses $900]]>Wed, 09 Jan 2019 13:24:21 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cowboys+Fake+Tickets+010819.jpg

Jamie Davila and Katie Rogers have only been dating for a few months, but there's one thing that instantly drew them closer: the Dallas Cowboys.

"We were really excited to get some tickets, to come to the game and celebrate them being in the playoffs again," Davila said.

He spotted a deal on the site OfferUp for four tickets to last week's game against the Seattle Seahawks for $900.

Davila said he contacted the seller to see the tickets in person.

"He was like, 'Hey, I'm going to the Irving Mall to pick up my daughter. Can you meet me there?' And I'm like, 'Yeah, sure,'" Davila said.  

When Davila got to the mall, he said the man was alone, without his daughter.

This made him skeptical, but the tickets put him at ease again.

"They felt like real, real tickets," he said. "He said that on tickets it turns green (if you use a light). On regular paper, it's white."

But Davila said there was another red flag: He saw more tickets tucked in the seller's pocket.

"And he was like, 'Oh, oh! Those are mine,'" Davila explained.

Davila said he gave the man $900 in exchange for the tickets, but before he left, he decided to get a video.

"Last minute, I was like, 'I was gotta get this guy on camera.' I'm like, 'Hey, let me get you on Snap,'" he said.

Davila said he took the video of the seller as insurance.

He's glad he did, because when he got to the AT&T Stadium, he and Rogers learned the tickets were fake.

"Your heart just sinks, because you're so excited to go to the playoff game and you just got scammed," Rogers said.

Davila said the seller deleted his OfferUp account and blocked his number.

NBC 5 Responds tried to reach the alleged seller, but the phone was turned off with no option to leave a voicemail.

"I just felt embarrassed," Davila said.

His date night quickly turned into a nightmare, but he hoped the person or people behind the scheme are caught.

Irving police told NBC 5 Responds that they would investigate this case and plan on using Davila's video as part of their investigation.

If you have any information about this fake ticket scheme, call 972-273-1010.

When buying tickets or any items from people you don't know, here are some solutions:

- See if you can meet the seller at your local police station.

- Try to record the transaction like Davila did.

- When in doubt, make purchases through verified sellers. Sometimes, it's just not worth taking the risk to lose that much money.

If you need help from NBC 5 Responds, tell us your story here using our form.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and download our smartphone app.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[NBC 5 Viewers Help Woman Recover Money After Job Scam]]>Mon, 07 Jan 2019 20:12:34 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/job+scam+Priscilla+Perez+1.jpg

When we first heard from Priscilla Perez of Fort Worth, she was embarrassed and devastated. Right before the holidays, she fell victim to a fake job scam.

She thought she’d been hired to work for a charity, but after depositing bogus checks and sending the money off to so-called orphanages, the military wife learned her $2,500 was long gone.

"That was all the money I had to survive. I just feel so stupid," she said.

We received hundreds of calls and Facebook comments about her story.

Some viewers were wondering how she could possibly fall for something like this, but others showed compassion.

So, it was time to bring Perez in to show her how North Texans stepped up, and she couldn't stop crying. 

"It’s God’s work," she said.  "Oh my God!"

She received five checks from our viewers, which wiped her debt clean and made her whole again.

"I was so scared to do this. But I knew that I needed to get this story out because I didn’t want anyone to go through what I went through," Perez said.

And because she used her voice, people in North Texas responded.

"Thank you, Samantha. Oh my God thank you so much. Oh my god. God bless those people," she said.

Perez said she was recently hired for a position at Goodwill and she looks forward to giving back just like our viewers did for her.

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<![CDATA[North Texas Contractor Arrested for Theft]]>Fri, 04 Jan 2019 17:50:14 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Fortino+Solorzano.jpg

We've learned that Fortino Solorzano, a local contractor, was arrested on a theft charge.

Last year, we heard from Micheal Williams who paid Solorzano $1,300 to upgrade his kitchen, but Solorzano never came back to finish the job.

At this point, I know that he's not a legitimate contractor," Williams said. "I know I just got scammed. To me, it is a criminal offense and I think he should be locked up."

Back in April of last year, local police told us this was a civil case.

But after our story aired, the Dallas County District Attorney's office responded.

Solorzano was indicted on a theft charge.

The DA's office pursued the case and the contractor agreed to pay Williams his $1,300 back.

Even though Solorzano paid restitution and his charge in Dallas County was dropped, he was also on Tarrant County's radar.

He was transferred to Tarrant County on another theft charge involving contractor work and he just plead guilty to a lesser charge.

We've reached out to his attorney and have not heard back.

However, we did hear from Williams, who said he's happy he got NBC 5 Responds involved because no one was listening to him at first, but they are now.

And he finally has his $1,300 back!

If you need my help, CLICK HERE.

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<![CDATA[Bride Refunded Money After Wedding Venue Abruptly Closes]]>Wed, 02 Jan 2019 18:14:31 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Oaks+Event+Center+Burleson.png

A local bride and groom were shocked to learn their wedding venue abruptly closed without warning, and without giving them a refund, just a few months before their big day.

Bride Krysha Bruitt and her fiance Jarad Woods booked space at the Oaks Event Center in Burleson, signed a contract and left a $1,250 deposit to secure their wedding date for April 2019.

"I thought the room itself was gorgeous," said Bruitt. "It was always people there. It was always some type of activity going on."

Bruitt said she called to make another payment two months after signing their contract, but found a problem.

"This time it rings, and it rung for seven minutes. It never went to voicemail," she said. "So, I go to the website and the website is unavailable. And I'm like, 'Ummm.'"

When she looked up the venue on Google, it said "permanently closed." 

"I said, 'You know what? I'm going to drive by there because something's not right,'" said Woods. "I go by there. No kidding. The place is fenced up."

When they couldn't track down the owners, the couple reached out to NBC 5 Responds to help get their deposit back.

NBC 5 Responds visited the venue and confirmed the space did appear to be closed.

NBC 5 Responds eventually located the attorney for the Oaks Event Center, who confirmed that the location is closed. He said the owners weren't in financial trouble, they just made the decision to cease operations.

The attorney said they made sure to notify all customers of the closure by mail.

"I think that's a bold-faced lie because I know for a fact I didn't get a letter," said Bruitt.

The attorney assured me that the couple would get a full refund. Two weeks later, that's exactly what happened and $1,250 was deposited back into their account.

Their wedding plans are now back on.

The attorney for the event center said they're working on processing refunds for all of their customers.

Bruitt told me she recently got a call from the new staff at the center who informed her that they had new owners and wanted her to re-book with them.

She respectfully declined.

The couple said she got a better deal with a venue in Cedar Hill and can't wait for their special day.

If you need help from NBC 5 Responds, send us a message here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Alert: CEO Email Scheme Targets Dallas Business ]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 06:42:00 -0500https://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[Consumer Confusion Over 'Use By' Dates on Food]]>Fri, 28 Dec 2018 14:39:15 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-food-labelling.jpg

A confusing system of food labeling has led to consumers throwing away billions of dollars worth of food products every year, and much of that food is completely safe to eat.

As a result, the U.S. grocery industry is taking steps to simplify food labels, with the goal of reducing waste and helping households save money.

"A lot of people confuse quality and safety," food research scientist Linda Harris said. "That's a big problem."

Harris is the chair of Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis. She said most food is perfectly safe to eat past the date on the label. That's because most dates on food are not "expiration" dates. They actually tell consumers when peak freshness or flavor drops off.

"The date is meant to signal quality," Harris said. "It's not a safety issue."

Some consumers may be surprised to learn federal law requires an actual expiration date on only one food product: baby formula. Every other date you see on food is voluntary, under federal standards.

"It's not illegal to sell a product past its 'best-by' date," she said.

So, even the beef with no date at all meets federal criteria.

Without clear government guidelines, we're bombarded with terms:

  • Best By
  • Expires On
  • Use By
  • Best Flavor By
  • Sell By
  • Enjoy By

The meanings vary, and so does the science used to calculate the date. Megan Stasz of the Grocery Manufacturers Association says that's a problem for ordinary shoppers.

"What the confusion leads to is consumers unnecessarily throwing away some food when it might still be good to eat," Stasz said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates as much as 40 percent of all food grown, produced and shipped in the U.S. will never be eaten. That amounts to about 218 pounds of food per person per year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It will end up in landfills, in part because consumers don't understand the labels.

That should change this summer. The Grocery Manufacturers Association is telling companies to start using either "Best if Used By" or "Use By."

"Rather than having 10 or 20 phrases on your food products now, you'll just see one of two," Stasz said.

Most products will get "Best if Used By", since the association said most food "is safe to use or consume" after the date.

The remaining few product date labels will read "Use By." Stasz said that's reserved for highly perishable food, that could pose a health risk after the date on the label. "Maybe something like a sliced deli meat or raw shellfish that would have that food safety concern over time," she said.

Food experts are hungry to teach families about the new labels and help them stop wasting so much food.

"In turn, that can help them save money, which I think is a win for everybody," Stasz said.

The new labels are voluntary, and federal law remains mostly silent. If you ever suspect you were sold spoiled food, you may report it locally.

Online: Texas Department of State Health Services



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Mom Says Natural Gas Detector Saved Her Family's Life]]>Wed, 30 May 2018 12:55:00 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/215*120/gasdetector2.JPG

Tara Rasheta cherishes the time she spends with her two little girls.  

"We have a lot going on right now. I'm battling breast cancer," she said.  "Nothing is more important to me than my family, my staying healthy, keeping my kids safe."

But earlier this year, she questioned just how safe her Dallas home was.

"I had been seeing a lot of reporting about the gas explosions here in Dallas and that was alarming! This is our first home we ever owned, so to me, I didn't know a lot about gas safety," she explained.

Back in March, NBC 5 introduced viewers like Rasheta to natural gas detectors.

"It really stuck with me. So, I bought one right then and there," she said. 

Rasheta got it the very next day, but she admits it was neglected.

It sat in her garage for a good two months, and quite frankly she never thought she'd ever need it.

"All of a sudden, I started smelling a stinky smell in our house. I smelled a stinky smell for about a week. I kept thinking, oh I need to take the trash out." said Rasheta. "We have chickens so we literally have eggs almost every day that we're eating."

But the odor wouldn't go away.

"And then finally I thought, oh my goodness! I have that gas detector sitting in a box in a garage," she said.

Rasheta rushed to get the natural gas detector, and when she plugged it in, the alarm went off.

She called Atmos Energy's emergency line. 

"The operator said you need to evacuate the property immediately," she explained.

Later that day, she said a technician confirmed that they had a gas leak.

She believes it was a close call for their family.

"While I'm lighting candles around the house to mask the smell, that was the worst thing that I could have done," she said.

It was a $42 purchase she believes saved her home, and more importantly, their lives.

Rasheta said she now swears by her natural gas detector, so much so that she purchased a second one for her bedroom.

There are several different models available online. We found a natural gas detector online for as low as $18 on Amazon.

The one that Rasheta purchased is a dual detector for both gas and carbon monoxide. The dual detectors are highly recommended.

Most home insurance policies don't require gas detectors, but plumbing experts tell us they encourage them because in many cases, they can save lives.

We reached out to Atmos to see if they'll provide natural gas detectors to residents upon request.

Atmos said until further testing is complete, Atmos Energy believes your best line of defense is using any and all your senses to detect a natural gas leak.

Smell the distinctive odor that makes natural gas detectable. Natural gas in its original form has no smell or color, that’s why gas companies add a “rotten egg” odor called mercaptan.

Listen for a hissing or whistling sound near a gas appliance or a roaring sound near a pipeline.

Look for blowing dust, bubbling water or dead vegetation near a gas line.



Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Kids Test Out Toys]]>Mon, 24 Dec 2018 17:59:28 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Photo000681.jpg

Nothing says "holiday cheer" like seeing kids wake up on Christmas Day--anxious to open up their new presents. NBC 5's Samantha Chatman is toy testing with some North Texas kids.]]>
<![CDATA[2018's Hottest 'Radical Reveal' Toys]]>Fri, 21 Dec 2018 18:19:02 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Radical-Reveal-Toys.jpg

Every year, NBC 5 teams up with toy expert Laurie Schacht to find out which toys are likely to fly off the shelves during the holiday season. This time we're looking at toys that feature some sort of 'radical reveal' or change.

Boxy Girls (Jay@Play)

  • Boxy Girls love shopping online for anything fashion – shoes, clothes, bags, makeup, jewelry and more! They can’t wait to receive their online orders in packages shipped right to the door! Unbox the packages with Boxy Girls to discover tons of fashion surprises.
  • Each Boxy Girl comes with four packages to unbox. Unbox shoes, bags, makeup, and more!
  • Plus, get more package to unbox with the Boxy Girls Fashion Pack. The fashion pack features six packages of fashion surprises to unbox. Each package looks just like a real shipping box, it even includes a shipping label.
  • Experience the excitement as kids tear open the shipping tape to open the package, inside you’ll find your fashion surprises wrapped delicately in tissue paper and packing material. Plus, you’ll find stickers
    and thank you notes inside.
  • Boxy Girls are 8 inches tall and feature five points of articulation.
  • Age: 6+
  • MSRP: Doll Set $14.99, Fashion Pack $9.99
  • Available: Walmart exclusive

    Scruff-a-Luvs (Moose Toys)

    • Each Scruff‐a‐Luv comes as a matted ball of colored fur with only its eyes showing, so it’s a mystery what animal kids are rescuing! The adorable animal is revealed by washing the matted ball in water, towel drying the animal, blast drying it with a hair dryer, and brushing and styling its fur.
    • Each Scruff‐a‐Luv comes with a collar, name tag, adoption certificate, brush and hair clips.
    • Scruff‐a‐luvs can be washed over and over again. This special kind of plush allows kids to play with it in the bath, role play with it, and care for it like a real pet – the possibilities are endless!
    • Age: 4+
    • MSRP: $19.99
    • Available: Amazon, Target

    Cupcake Surprise Classic Tales (Sunny Days Entertainment)

    • With a little sweet magic and infinite imagination, decadent desserts transform into princesses with every Cupcake Surprise!
    • Every princess doll will be the belle of the ball and all the bakeries of the land in her sparkly gown and decorative bonnet, or indulge in a sugary treat and serve these charming cupcakes fresh from the oven.
    • Expect endless playtime and never-ending wonderment in each Cupcake Surprise – discover deliciously scented fragrances with every doll!
    • Whether in the bakery, kitchen, or castle, the sweet-smelling 2-in-1 toy will surely inspire imaginative play.
    • Each doll comes with her own styling hairbrush.
    • Packaged in new and different styles with six available scents: strawberry, vanilla, grape, chocolate, lemon, and peanut butter.
    • Age: 3+
    • MSRP: $9.99 each
    • Available: Amazon, Fine retailers, Specialty stores

    Smooshy Mushy Babies (RedwoodVentures)

    • Special Delivery – it’s Smooshy Mushy Babies! A magic baby bottle holds the Smooshy babies you’ve been waiting to adopt.
    • Pop the top to find out who the stork brought you. And babies just can’t leave home without their favorite squishy plushies!
    • Tons to collect.
    • Age: 5+
    • MSRP: $14.99

    Hatchibabies (Spin Master)

    • Use your love and care to help your HatchiBaby Ponette hatch and they’ll come to life! Will you hatch a boy or a girl? Check the secret message to find out!
    • With big color-changing eyes, beaks that move and real rocking motions, Ponette HatchiBabies are the sweetest new characters from Hatchtopia!
    • Once you’ve hatched your HatchiBaby, there are even more surprises to discover! Reach into the egg to peel-and-reveal four hidden accessories: a rattle, hairbrush, bottle and cuddle buddy! You’ll even find a high chair and birth certificate!
    • Care for your HatchiBaby using these accessories and they’ll respond in adorable ways! Shhh, it’s a secret: different species may come with different accessories!
    • Feed, burp, tickle and snuggle your HatchiBaby and they’ll respond – just like a real baby! Teach your baby to talk and play EGGciting games like “find my toes” and bouncy baby!” The more you play, the more response you’ll unlock! Will you learn your baby’s secret trick?
    • 2 x AA batteries included
    • Age: 5+
    • MSRP: 59.99
    • Available: Amazon, Target, Walmart

    Party Popteenies (Party Popteenies)

    • Pull, twist and pop two confetti-filled poppers! With a colorful burst, you'll discover a stylish doll, her adorable pet, themed party accessories and more. Invite a friend to pop with you!
    • Add an exclusive Party Popteenie to your collection. Strutting head-to-toe glittery accents, this Party Popteenies outfit features adorable details and cute styling.
    • Set the vibe with the deluxe party accessories, including themed stickers and much more!
    • Age: 4-6
    • MSRP: $9.97
    • Available: Walmart, Amazon


      This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
      <![CDATA[30 Vehicles Get Top Safety Marks from IIHS]]>Wed, 19 Dec 2018 18:29:19 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/car+safety.jpg

      The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just released its annual list of the safest cars to drive. To qualify for 2019 TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. It also must earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and a good headlight rating.

      2019's list is twice as big as last year's with 30 cars that have received good grades.

      Subaru has the most vehicles on the list with six cars and SUVs. The 2019 Subaru Outback did exceptionally well in front crash prevention, roof strength and the easy to use child seat anchors. It's on the market for about $26,300.

      The 2019 Honda Insight is being called a fuel economy champion with an overall average of 54 miles-per-gallon in test. Results from a test dummy indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a severe crash. It's on the market for about $22,830.

      If you are looking for a midsize luxury SUV, the Mercedes Benz GLC Class is another top safety pick. This vehicle got superior ratings for its driver side, passenger side, head restraints and front crash prevention. It's on the marjet for about $53,500.

      You can see the full list of top safety picks from the IIHS by clicking here.

      ]]>
      <![CDATA['Free Trial' Ads Costing Consumers Thousands of Dollars]]>Wed, 19 Dec 2018 19:14:05 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/free+trial+dangers.jpg

      Leota Ball, 85, said she could kick herself for something she recently did in the name of smooth skin.

      "I was on Facebook just scrolling and, like a dummy, I clicked it," she said.

      She clicked an ad for a "risk-free trial" of face cream, using an image she knew and trusted.

      "It was Dr. Oz," she said.

      There he was touting it, and then, here it came: The cream only cost $4.95 plus shipping.

      But Ball's credit card told a different story, racking up multiple orders.

      "I said, 'I didn't order two.' They said, 'oh yes you did.' I said 'why would I order two,'" she asked.

      The Better Business Bureau has received nearly 37,000 complaints related to so-called free-trials that end up costing consumers hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

      "We've seen Joanna Gaines, we've seen Oprah, Rachael Ray," said Phylissia Clark with the BBB of North Texas.

      Clark said the hook usually starts with a picture of a famous celebrity claiming to endorse the brand and its success rate.

      We're talking face creams, weight loss pills, teeth whitening kits and other beauty products.

      "We have yet to have a company provide us any science that would corroborate their claims," Clark explained.

      The Federal Trade Commission has also opened an investigation into what it calls misleading advertisement.

      Complaints to the FTC about these scams more than doubled from 2015-2017 and they show no signs of slowing.

      The average loss to consumers: $186.

      The majority of victims: women.

      The charges in Ball's case accounted for more than her monthly shopping budget.

      "I said 'you bank on it. I'm going to report you,'" she said.

      The company that sold the cream didn't respond for comment.

      But Ball's credit card company did end up removing the charges.

      A spokesperson for Dr. Oz said he has no affiliation with the face cream in question.

      Joanna Gaines has been linked to similar ads, and her company called such ads a scam.

      Rachael Ray said she doesn't endorse any skincare lines and we haven't heard back from Oprah's people.

      If you need my help. click here: https://www.nbcdfw.com/consumer-form/



      Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
      <![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds Helps Viewer Get Travel Insurance Refund]]>Tue, 18 Dec 2018 18:23:55 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Travel+Insurance+121818.jpg

      If you spend a little time with Karen Bellessa, chances are, you're going to hear about Sam.

      "He is my only son. I'm a single mom and it's always been us," she said. 

      The mother-son duo planned a trip to Southern California later this month, during winter break.

      But Bellessa's vacation plans were later compromised after massive wildfires in Southern California.

      Bellessa's son, Sam, has had asthma since fifth grade.

      Even with the fires out, she feared the aftermath would be too much for Sam's lungs to handle.

      She said her son's doctors agreed, stating "It is not in best interest or medically advised that he goes to California."

      Bellessa said she filed a claim with her travel insurance company, AIG Travel Guard, but the claim was denied.

      So, Bellessa said she submitted another claim, which included notes from her son's primary care doctor and lung specialist, but that claim was also denied.

      "I made phone calls. I asked to speak to supervisors. I was at a dead end. I  really didn't know where to go."

      But then, Bellessa remembered she had NBC 5 Responds on her side.

      We reviewed her trip cancellation policy and line one instantly stood out.

      It essentially states that a traveling family member is covered if his or her doctor restricts them from going on the trip.

      I brought this specific line to the travel insurance company's attention, and that same day, it responded.

      "I received a phone call from the travel insurance saying that my claim should have never been denied, and they sent me a check and that they were sending me a check for full payment," Bellessa said.

      The following week, she received a check for $860.

      "I don't know what you said but… I'm just so grateful," Bellessa said.

      AIG Travel Guard told us that travelers must provide all information relevant to their claim, including medical documentation at the time they file.

      Bellessa said she eventually sent the doctor's notes, and still got denied, so she doesn't think this would have been resolved without our help.

      If you need help from NBC 5 Responds, click here.



      Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
      <![CDATA[2018's Hottest Toys From When You Were a Kid]]>Fri, 14 Dec 2018 18:15:29 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Toys-from-When-You-Were-a-Kid.jpg

      Every year, NBC 5 teams up with toy expert Laurie Schacht to find out which toys are likely to fly off the shelves during the holiday season. This time we're looking at toys from when you were a kid.

      Lite-Brite Ultimate Classic (Basic Fun!)

      • The most fun and nostalgic way to create art with light!
      • New retro-inspired styling resembles the original Lite-Brite from the 80’s and now features a bigger screen, brighter pegs, and more templates including six retro patterns!
      • Just insert the pegs into the templates or freestyle an original design – then press the button to see the creation light-up in four different ways, from steady to blinking.
      • With an updated stand on the back, kids can easily create and display their masterpieces...then turn off the lights for the ultimate effect!
      • Ages 4+
      • MSRP $19.99
      • Available: Amazon, Walmart

        Colorforms Classic Picture Panels Play Sets: (Kahootz)

        • There are so many ways to play and learn with the Colorforms Picture Panels Play Sets! Build colorful themed scenes and puzzles, mix and match over 150 Colorforms pieces to create endless creatures and scenes, then re-stick the shapes to imagine your own stories over and over again!
        • Double-sided Picture Panels enhance creative storytelling with colorful play scenes on one side and fun puzzles on the back.
        • Each Picture Panel also features magnetic edges that connect together to expand and connect your Colorform worlds… panels even stick to the refrigerator to display your creations!
        • The sturdy storage box doubles as a 3D play tray.
        • Titles available now: Animals and Vehicles (sold separately). NEW titles: House, Food, School, and Town.
        • Age: 3+
        • MSRP: $24.99
        • Available: Amazon, specialty stores

        Barbie Ultimate Kitchen (Mattel)

        • The set includes Barbie chef doll, kitchen counter, appliances, cooking and dining utensils, and five different colors of dough to make food items.
        • Lift the cutting board for vegetable molds -- fill with dough, press down, and lift to reveal veggies.
        • Make the perfect sandwich - fill the sandwich mold with dough. Place into the machine and press the silver handlebar, watch the dough rise, and slide the lever across.
        • Cook up a side of fries -- drop the yellow dough into the fryer, press the handlebar down and watch as the perfect batch of fries emerge.
        • Don't forget the dessert -- place dough into the pie baking mold and slide into the oven. Press the button and listen for the ding.
        • Age: 4+
        • MSRP: $54.99
        • Available: Fall 2018, all major retailers

        Power Action Pikachu (Wicked Cool Toys)

        • Cuddly and innovative Power Action Pikachu reacts to motion, lights up, has sound effects, speaks and has a light-up tail!
        • Fans of all ages are going to love making friends with this adorable addition to the Pokémon line-up.
        • Engage with Pikachu by squeezing its hands to either see its tail and cheeks light up or for sound effects and to hear Pikachu speak! Innovative sensor technology gives Power Action Pikachu unique interactivity; the more you play and engage with Pikachu, the more varied and dynamic its responses become.
        • Hear Pikachu say “Pika-chuuuuu!” when thrown into battle mode or hear a response with a sad “Pikaaa ” when it does.
        • Age: 4+
        • MSRP: $29.99
        • Available: Amazon, Target, Walmart

        Lots-of-Licks Adoptimals (Wicked Cool Toys)

        • Adoptimals: A Pet Collectors’ Dream Come True – Adorable, cute and looking for their forever home, the Adoptimals are Cabbage Patch Kids’ best friends!
        • Loaded with cuteness, these precious pets come with a delicious ice cream cone that your Adoptimal really licks!
        • Pair the Lots -of-Licks Adoptimals with any brand new 14-inch Cabbage Patch Kid’s lollipop for even more sweet interaction.
        • Age: 3+
        • MSRP: $19.99
        • Available: Target

        Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 43-Inch Epic Sewer Lair Playset (Playmates)

        • This massive playset is the biggest TMNT action figure playset ever, standing 43 inches tall!
        • This deluxe playset is packed with over 20 features and includes four levels of play and seven rooms for training, kicking back, or taking out the bad guys!
        • Features include Splinter’s Dojo, Raphael’s Weight Training Room, Leonardo’s Rotating Weapon storage wall, Michelangelo’s arcade, the catapult Basketball hoop, hidden projectile launchers for villain invasions, rotating skateboard ramp, collapsing balcony, and so much more.
        • Compatible with Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles basic action figures, which are sold separately.
        • Ages: 4+
        • MSRP: $119.99
        • Available: October 2018


        This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
        <![CDATA[How to Make Sure Your Gift Cards Are Secure]]>Thu, 13 Dec 2018 18:39:34 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Photo0000813.jpg

        What’s on your holiday wish list? If you said gift cards, you’re not alone.  About 6 in 10 people prefer to shop for themselves with a gift card.

        But Consumer Reports says those physical cards for specific stores and vendors that you buy off a rack can be an easy mark for criminals.

        "Scammers copy the gift card codes and then they scratch off the strip on the back of the card to steal the PIN. And then once you load money into the card, they can steal from you," said Tobie Stanger, Consumer Reports Money Editor.

        Consumer Reports says always check the packaging of any gift card for physical tampering. Make sure the protective stickers or coating are intact. And never buy any card if its PIN is revealed.

        "Consumer Reports thinks a more attractive option is to get a reloadable, prepaid card from a charge card or credit card company like Visa or American Express. These issuers will limit your liability to $50 and sometimes zero if you report the theft within two days," said Stanger.

        An additional benefit of those cards? They’re more widely accepted as a form of payment.

        And what about e-gift cards, the kind you purchase and send by text, email or on social media. They’re convenient and fast, but are they safe?

        “First of all, make sure you’re sending the e-gift card to the right person. Before you send it, depending on where you’re sending it, get the right email address, phone number or social media account,” said Stanger.

        Since you’ll be revealing personal information about yourself and the recipient like email addresses and credit card numbers, buy e-gift cards only from trusted merchants.

        If revealing a lot of personal information concerns you, stick to the plastic cards you can buy off the rack. And be sure to keep the receipt and copy down the card numbers, some merchants will replace a lost or stolen card with proof of purchase and the card number.

        ]]>
        <![CDATA[Fort Worth Woman Falls Victim to Job Scam, Loses $2,500]]>Thu, 13 Dec 2018 12:31:25 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R-JOB+SCAM.jpg

        Priscilla Perez is facing one of the hardest times of her entire life alone.

        Not only has her husband been deployed to Kuwait, but a few months ago, she lost her job.

        "It was a big blow. In fact, I was depressed for several weeks," she said.

        Perez didn’t waste anytime, though.

        She started applying for jobs online and updating her profile on popular job websites.

        But as time went on, Perez started to panic.

        "I’m getting scared. I’m getting really afraid if I don’t get something," she said.

        In October, she did get something: An email from someone who appeared to be a manager with the Feed the Children organization.

        He informed her that she’d been hired as a receptionist for Feed the Children.

        "I was so excited about it. Being the big heart that I am, I was overjoyed just thinking of all the good things I could do," said Perez.

        She said the manager emailed her a check for nearly $2,500.

        She was asked to take pictures of the check and deposit it using her mobile banking app.

        "He said I was going to purchase gifts and send money to orphanages," she said. "I got money orders, I put into their Wells Fargo account and it didn’t hit me until the next day."

        The next day, Perez learned the check she deposited had bounced and the $2,500 she sent the so-called charity was long gone.

        "I was so sad, depressed, crying. I couldn’t believe that I allowed myself to be scammed. That was all the money I had to survive. I just feel so stupid," she said.

        But the real charity told NBC 5 Responds that Perez is not alone.

        Since 1979, Feed the Children has taken on childhood hunger here in the states and abroad.

        But over the last two years, they’ve heard from people in Texas, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio who have fallen victim to this scam. 

        The scammers are even impersonating the charity’s board members to pull off this scheme.

        Feed the Children said they’ve reported this scam to the FBI, Attorney General and the U.S. Postal Service, but they can’t seem to track the thieves down.

        "Thinking about it after the fact, saying it out loud, you know, it definitely doesn’t make sense," said Perez.

        She had to break the news to her husband that the little money she did have, is now gone.

        "He was really mad at me because he's not in a position to help me right now. So he was really, really mad at me," she said.

        Perez is now working to forgive herself and warn others, especially during the holidays.

        "They pull on your heart strings and after the fact, you can’t go back," she said.

        Feed the Children said they’re willing to offer Perez food from their food bank to help her through this tough time.

        We reached out to her bank and they explained to us that fake check scams are on the rise, especially during the holiday season.

        Here are my solutions to avoid the scam: 

        Don't deposit a check from a complete stranger.  If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you're responsible for repaying the bank.

        Watch out for impostors. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, or an employer.

        Don't give out personal information. Keep in mind if your resume is online, your information is exposed to anyone.

        Google a company or product name with words like "review," "complaint" or "scam." If nothing comes up, give the company a call and ask questions.

        Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

        If you need Samantha Chatman's help, go here.



        Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
        <![CDATA[How to Avoid Hidden Hotel Fees]]>Wed, 12 Dec 2018 18:48:45 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/hidden+hotel+fees.jpg

        Liz Gabay looks relaxed now, but you should have seen her the day she checked out of the hotel, after visiting her daughter at college.

        The hotel bill included an unexpected, daily charge for the in-room safe.

        “It’s totally sneaky. If it costs extra for them to put a safe in your room, build that in. Let me know up front. I won’t feel so taken advantage of,” she said.

        Consumer Reports’ readers shared hundreds of similar stories, complaining about the practice of hidden fees while traveling.

        Not only for the in-room safe, but also towel-fees, resort fees, beach chair fees. Some hotels even charge recycling fees!

        “Hotels know that consumers are shopping for hotel rooms by price. So they try to keep their advertised prices low, but then still make up the revenue on the back end, with fees,” Consumer Reports' Margot Gilman said.

        So what’s the best way to avoid sticker shock from unexpected hotel charges?

        Consumer Reports advises reaching out to the hotel directly. Particularly if you plan to book through a third party. Ask about specific, additional charges – for anything other than the room and taxes.

        Plan on checking in early? Or checking out late? It may cost you extra.

        Parking fees can be another budget buster. Even in outdoor or unsecured lots.

        “If you join a hotel loyalty program, something a lot of hotels have, you may find that some of the fees are waived,” Gilman said.

        And, don’t be afraid to speak up. Like many of Consumer Reports’ readers, when Liz Gabay complained she never even opened the safe, they took the charge off the bill, immediately.

        One, tiny silver lining to these hidden fees, is that occupancy taxes on hotel bills are based on the price of the room, not the total bill, which could mean small savings for you.



        Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
        <![CDATA[Green Monday Means Holiday Deals]]>Mon, 10 Dec 2018 18:35:32 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Record_Number_of_People_Expected_to_Shop_on_Cyber_Monday.jpg

        First it was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday, but Dec. 10 is Green Monday. It's a day retailers use to entice shoppers to put in their orders so that they be shipped in time for Christmas. NBC 5 Responds' Samantha Chatman takes a look at some of the deals offered today.]]>
        <![CDATA[Local Artist Creates Portrait for Military Couple After NBC 5 Report]]>Mon, 10 Dec 2018 18:09:17 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/n5r+flag+for+veteran.jpg

        On the first floor of her Frisco, home Barbra Mason of Dragonfly Studio Creations spends much of her time creating.

        A master water colorist and signature pastel artist, Mason's art has won numerous awards across the country and abroad.

        But her most recent piece is very personal.

        "The entire painting is covered with my fingertips," she said. "So, it's me all over the painting."

        Last month, Mason watched as Cassandra Clark, the fiancé of a Marine, shared her frustration with an online flag company that never delivered.

        "I call and then the line all of a sudden doesn't work. The phone is disconnected," she said.

        NBC 5 Responds helped Cassandra get a full refund from the flag company, but Mason also responded, anxious to give back to this couple.

        "Cassandra just wanted a simple piece of artwork. Well, I'm a professional artist," Mason said. "Wouldn't it be great to go above and beyond what they had expected."

        Immediately after our story aired, Mason got to work, spending countless hours on a piece this couple would cherish forever.

        "I first started off by looking at the couple, the colors in the background. I tried to read into the images that I had before me. With him being a Marine, no brainer. I knew they were going to be the Marine colors," she explained.

        The couple had no idea what they were about to see...

        A portrait of the two of them, which looks nearly identical to a photo they took about a year ago.

        "I'm blown away! She didn't have to do this," the Marine said.

        Mason said her motivation was simple.

        "I just wanted to show her the outcome can be better and more than what you expect," she said.

        "Texas connects us. As Texans, we reach within ourselves and give what we have."

        And that wasn't the only piece of art the couple received.

        Brandon Eberhart with 416 Custom Designs traveled all the way from Gainseville, Texas to meet the couple and give them a rustic flag, similar to what they had initially ordered.

        Eberhart said he saw the story and knew he had to do something to make this Marine and his future wife smile.



        Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
        <![CDATA[The Hottest Toys to Keep Kids Active]]>Wed, 12 Dec 2018 10:52:07 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Active-Kids-Toys-2018.jpg

        Every year, NBC 5 teams up with toy expert Laurie Schacht to find out which toys are likely to fly off the shelves during the holiday season. This time we're looking at toys to keep kids active.

        Morfboard Skate/Scoot Combination (Jakks Pacific)

        • Morfboard is a new, exciting, and innovative brand. This high-performance deck and component system transforms in seconds and creates an entirely new play experience.
        • The Morfboard ecosystem encompasses super simple Lock & Release
          Technology (LRT): simply drop Xtensions into the board and turn them 90-degrees. The flex trigger locks in so kids are ready to skate, ride, balance, or bounce. Morfboard is year-round fun—anywhere, anytime.
        • Skate Xtensions feature 53mm Urethane wheels, durable cast aluminum trucks, and Performance ABEC 5 skate bearing.
        • Scoot Xtensions feature lean to steer wishbone front truck and rear wheel with inset lever brake.
        • Variable height T-Bar with rubber anti-slip grips.
        • Available in a variety of color options to customize the board.
        • Age: 8+
        • MSRP: $99.99
        • Available: Target, Walmart

          Street Rollers (Yvolution)

          • Neon Street Rollers mark a new beginning for roller skating.
          • You are no longer confined to traditional roller skates. You can personalize your own look so your Neon Street Rollers can match each unique personality/mood with their easily transferable clip-on nature.
          • Simply adjust, strap in, and go! Featuring innovative wheel technology, the LEDs within the wheel light up as the wheels turn,
            emitting a neon glow. No batteries are required to see this amazing effect! Just skate, glide, and watch the light follow you along the way.
          • Neon Street Rollers are easy to master and are versatile over all hard surfaces, so kids can have fun with them in no time.
          • Adjustable to all shoe sizes.
          • Suggested maximum of 132 lbs.
          • Age: 6+
          • MSRP: $19.99
          • Available: yvolution.com, Walmart, Amazon

          Nighthawk (Rollplay)

          • Rollplay Nighthawk Ride-On: Master the thrill of the ride with the 12 Volt Nighthawk Ride-On from Rollplay!
          • Reaching forward speeds of up to 6 mph, this innovative ride-on is sure to be a hit with little thrill-seekers.
          • Accelerator and brake pedals allow the rider to control the speed of the Nighthawk with ease.
          • Kids will love learning how to maneuver around obstacles with the unique steering technique — lean left and right to do quick turns.
          • Side handlebars allow your child to remain secure while protecting his or her hands.
          • With an included rear safety flag, you can easily keep an eye on riders as they have a blast racing.
          • Simply plug in the included charger to the 12V battery to re-power the ride-on.
          • Recommended for children weighing up to 110 lbs.
          • Available in white/black or black/red color combinations
          • Age: 6+
          • MSRP: $149.99
          • Available: Amazon, Walmart

          LASER X FUSION (NSI International)

          • The best part of Laser X is how advanced the products are, yet how simple they are to use! The only thing you really need to learn is how to reload your blaster. With this blaster, for example, you just press and hold the trigger and shake it.
          • Fusion is a modular system that lets you customize your gear to fit your game.
          • The Fusion Set comes with two fusion blasters and accessories that can be used by one person OR shared by two players.
          • It comes with a front vest receiver and a micro receiver that can be worn as an armband or back vest. Separate them for 2 players, or one player can wear both. While the micro receiver is smaller, both receivers are equally as effective. You do not have to hit the receiver precisely to score a hit. The area right around the receiver registers the hit, too.
          • When both vests are worn together, the micro receiver activates a "Blast Blocker" that offers three seconds of “invincibility,” where you can’t get hit. You can use this feature every 10 seconds. To activate, just press your front receiver.
          • Fusion comes with everything you need for short- and long-range play: LONG RANGE ADAPTER – extends the blasting range to more than 500 feet. That’s more than the length of 3 football fields! SPOTTING SCOPE – helps you see opponents far away. Use with the Long-Range Adapter--You can’t see a player at 500 feet without it! WIDE-RANGE ADAPTER – blast several players at once with a wider beam at close range. (At 30-feet away from your opponents, the blast is 20-feet wide!)
          • Long-Range AND Wide-Range Adapters feature 20-blast rapid fire.
          • AGE: 6+
          • MSRP: $79.99 for complete set
          • ALL ACCESSORIES SOLD SEPARATELY: Fusion single blaster set with micro receiver $29.99, Fusion front vest and back receiver $19.99, Fusion spotting scope $12.99, Fusion wide-range adapter $12.99, Fusion long-range adapter $12.99
          • Available: Target, Meijer, Walmart.com and www.GetLaserX.com

          Antsy Pants Gym Balance Beam (Beach House)

          • Walk, jump, and flip on the Antsy Pants Gym Balance Beam!
          • Featuring hook-and-loop ends to easily attach to other balance beams and gym mats, this beam encourages hours of active play.
          • Age: 4+
          • Available: Target

          Rockin’ Rider Celeste 2-in-1 Unicorn (Tek Nek Toys)

          • Easily converts from a rocker to a roller.
          • Squeeze ears to hear “I’m a Magical Unicorn” song, talking phrases, and realistic sound effects.
          • Soft, huggable plush.
          • Embroidered eyes.
          • Parent volume control.
          • Age: 12 months +
          • MSRP: $59.99
          • Available: Walmart & Walmart.com

          iPogo Junior (Flybar)

          • The first interactive pogo stick that tracks jumps and motivates kids as they bounce!
          • A high-tech jump counter screen keeps track of every jump, while iPogo audibly tells kids to “keep going!” giving them more encouragement the
            higher their jump count goes.
          • Kids can play alone or with friends to see who can jump the most -- make it to 999 jumps to become a Flybar legend!
          • Ergonomic rubber hand grips and wide, non-slip footpads ensure a steady and safe bounce session.
          • Comes in pink or blue and features a flashy light panel that follows the motion of kids’ jumps.
          • Requires 3xAAA batteries (not included), Supports 40-80 lbs., Outdoor Use Only
          • Ages: 5+
          • MSRP: $89.99
          • Available: Amazon.com


          This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
          <![CDATA[Travelers Say Greyhound Lost Luggage, Couldn't Recover Bags]]>Wed, 05 Dec 2018 18:37:29 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Dallas+Greyhound+Station+120518.jpg

          Jacqueline Williams doesn't play when it comes to her belongings.

          "You give me my bag back and I'll leave you alone," she said.

          In July, she traveled on a Greyhound bus from Dallas to Chicago for her family reunion.

          Midway through the trip, she said they had to change buses in Memphis.

          "I said, 'Did you all get all of the luggage off the bus from Dallas?' He said, 'Yes ma'am,'" she explained.

          But when she got to Chicago, she said her bag wasn't on the bus.

          Everything she needed for her family reunion was missing inside that bag, including her medicine.   

          "I'm a diabetic. I need my medicine. That's not funny," she said.

          Williams said she called Greyhound's corporate office to track down her bag.

          "I gave them my name and my ticket number. They said, 'Yes ma'am. We found the bag. It's in Memphis,'" she said.

          Williams said they assured her that the bag would be in Dallas by the time she got back from her family reunion.

          But when she made it back to the Dallas station, she said it wasn't there.

          Williams said she was told it was somewhere inside their Dallas warehouse, but they still couldn't find it.

          "Then you all need to come out of those glass doors, go to the warehouse and see what those people are doing. Go to the warehouse and see what they are doing. You paying 'em," she said.

          Williams said she went to Greyhound for a third time after she learned they'd found her bag.

          But when she saw the luggage, she said she realized it wasn't hers.

          "I said, 'Okay! I had enough of talking to you all! My next step is the news,'" she said.

          And she called NBC 5 Responds for help.

          After several weeks of working with Greyhound, the company sent NBC 5 Responds an email that said they were able to locate the bag at the warehouse.

          But shortly after, another update: The bag they found didn't belong to Williams.

          NBC 5 Responds asked Greyhound to reimburse Williams for the missing bag, and the company agreed.

          About a week later, she received a check for $250.

          She said she planned to put that $250 in her bank account and will save it until the next family reunion.

          Warren Smith said his bag went missing during his Greyhound trip as well.

          He said Greyhound found the bag, and then didn't find the bag.

          "It was a mess," Smith said.

          NBC 5 Responds got involved and Greyhound sent him a check as well for $250.

          In both cases, Greyhound said they needed the customers claim stubs. But both consumers said they had sent everything to Greyhound.

          Neither consumer had baggage insurance so Greyhound said that was the most they could pay out.

          Click here if you need help from NBC 5 Responds.



          Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
          <![CDATA[Local Hospital Charges $13,000 Worth of Bills to Wrong Patient]]>Tue, 04 Dec 2018 21:41:36 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mistaken+identity.jpg

          One bill after another, Tonya White was in for a rude awakening that she never saw coming.

          She received a $10,000 hospital bill, followed by an $800 ambulance bill, followed by $1600 medical services bill, all connected to Medical City Dallas.

          White said she figured the bills must have been sent to the wrong address, until she took a closer look.

          "I could not believe that they had all of my information," she said. "And I’m, thinking did someone use my identity?"

          White said she called Medical City Dallas to let them know this was a huge mistake.

          "The lady went and got her manager, and she said 'Ok this is you.' And I said 'No it’s not.' And she said, 'yeah it is,'" White explained. 

          "The more I tried to convince them, the more I sounded crazy," said White.

          White said a billing manager told her that on July 9, she was seen at Medical City Green Oaks, their psychiatric hospital. 

          "I guess that’s why I wasn’t believable. They were just blowing me off," she said.

          White said she has never set foot in this facility. But somehow, the hospital had all of her information and was demanding payment.

          "I literally cried. I lost a lot of sleep because I was tossing and turning at night because I was thinking what could I do," she wondered.

          As a result of not paying the bills, White said she was eventually sent to collections.

          "So now, not only is my name is in jeopardy, my credit, everything," she said.  "That was the final straw."

          White called NBC 5 Responds in a panic, so our team got to work.

          We sent Medical City Dallas all of her bills, including the police report and identity theft report she filed.

          We even sent them a copy of her ID, hoping they could compare her picture to whoever was treated at their hospital.

          "Then, I received a call from the hospital," said White.

          She said Medical City Dallas apologized for what she had to go through, and said the mistake was due to a patient portal mix-up.

          "It wasn’t until you all reached out to them that they tried to resolve the issue," she said. "And I’m so happy!"

          What started as a medical billing nightmare is now a problem solved.

          "I am Tonya White. I am in good health, and I pay my bills," she said.

          Her bills, and no one else's.

          We still wanted to know how medical city got her information in the first place.

          Medical City would not answer that question due to HIPPA laws, but did confirm that they were eventually made aware of a possible billing error and the problem has been resolved.

          White said Medical City promised to inform the collections agency about the mistake so the unpaid bills shouldn't affect her credit.

          She said she's getting identity theft protection as a precaution, and is happy those bills are no longer in her name.

          If you need help from NBC 5 Responds, click here: https://www.nbcdfw.com/consumer-form/



          Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
          <![CDATA[Feds Expand Beef Recall as Salmonella Outbreak Broadens to 246 Cases in 26 States]]>Tue, 04 Dec 2018 10:14:48 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Ground-beef-recall-Nov-18.jpg

          Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
          <![CDATA[The Hottest Toys for Tweens & Teens]]>Fri, 30 Nov 2018 18:36:46 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Tweens-and-Teens-Gifts.jpg

          Every year, NBC 5 teams up with toy expert Laurie Schacht to find out which toys are likely to fly off the shelves during the holiday season. This time we're looking at toys for tweens and teens.

          Fast and Furious 8 Elite Off Road Radio Control Car - Dom' s Ice Charger (Jada Toys)

          • Use the included pistol grip controller to experience Radio Control like never before by taking this Elite Off Road vehicle to speeds over 10 miles per hour on land or dirt!
          • Working LED head, tail, and undercarriage lights.
          • Rechargeable 12.8 Volt Lithium Ion battery for quick charging and superior performance on and off road.
          • 25 minutes of adrenaline pumping action per charge.
          • Hobby grade differential gear for superior tuning.
          • Age: 8+
          • MSRP: $59.99
          • Available: Amazon, Walmart

          Fizzy Gloop (Horizon Group)

          • Turn fizzing reactions into SLIMYGLOOP! Create an over the top explosion of foam and bubbles, then scoop up and work the foam to make it into SLIMYGLOOP!
          • Explore a simple, safe and fun chemical reaction then twist, stretch, and play with SLIMYGLOOP brand slime.
          • Available in a variety of fun and exciting themes including: Unicorn, Confetti, Holographic & more!
          • Age: 6+
          • MSRP: $5.00
          • Available: 5 Below, Walmart, Target, Michael’s, Barnes & Noble, Walmart

          KiiPix (TOMY)

          • KiiPix is an affordable instant film printer that lets you take your favorite smartphone photos and turn them into hard-copy keepsakes!
          • KiiPix requires no special app or battery. Simply place the smartphone on the instant film printer and print your favorite photos right from your phone.
          • KiiPix lets you create vintage-inspired printed photos to share special moments with family and friends or to frame and display - transporting your treasured images from the digital world into the physical.
          • Available in three colors: pink, blue or black.
          • Film sold separately.
          • Age: 13+
          • MSRP: $39.99 
          • Available: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Paper Source, Scheels, TOMY.com

          Shock Box

          • Introducing Shock Box, an all-new electronic reaction game from Zing that challenges focus, reaction, and speed. The objective: once the light turns from red to green, be the quickest to hit your controller button – or else you’ll be shocked!
          • To start, each player takes hold of a controller. Push the start button on the base to activate suspenseful Shock Box music and a red blinking light. When the red light turns green, press the button your controller as quickly as possible.
          • If you’re not the first to hit the button, you’ll know it! Players will feel a thrilling shock, zapping them right out of the game! If you’re quick enough to hit the button before the other players, you’re safe - for this round at least.
          • If you’re looking to feel a bit more “electrified,” turn each round up a notch. Shock Box has variable shock control with two different levels of intensity and four game modes, making each round a more shocking surprise.
          • Record your favorite moments of shock and share it on social media using #ShockBoxChallenge.
          • Age: 14+
          • MSRP: $29.99
          • Available: Amazon, zing.store

          Lego Creator Pirate Roller Coaster

          • Hold tight and prepare to scream as you set out on a Lego Creator three-in-one Pirate Roller Coaster adventure.
          • Set features a functional roller coaster with pirate-themed props, including a sunken galleon, skull archway, palm tree, and an octopus.
          • The working carriages are shark-themed and the ride's main drop has a water splash feature and a cannon that fires water elements.
          • Other features include a ticket booth and a balloon stand.
          • This set can be rebuilt for further Lego fairground adventures aboard The Skull Ride or The Ship Ride.
          • Comes with four minifigures ready for the fun of the fairground, plus a skeleton figure.
          • Age: 9+
          • MSRP: $89.99
          • Available: Target, shop.lego.com, Amazon

          Toilet Paper Blaster Skid Shot 30 (Jakks Pacific)

          • Uses real toilet paper.
          • Blasts up to 30 feet!
          • Easy to use: load the toilet paper; add water, lock & load. Fire!
          • Includes a single blaster.
          • Age: 8+
          • MSRP: $19.99
          • Available: Amazon, Walmart, Target


          This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
          <![CDATA[Shipping Solutions to Prevent Porch Pirates]]>Thu, 29 Nov 2018 07:58:10 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/porch-pirates-protection.jpg

          The Christmas shopping season is prime time for porch pirates to purloin your packages.

          There are several solutions available for someone who wants to protect their deliveries.

          Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, offers services including lockers and in-home delivery.

          Amazon Lockers are “secure, self-service kiosks” located in several North Texas cities where you can have your deliveries sent so you can access them when you want.

          Amazon Key goes one step further – it allows the authorized delivery drivers access into your home or into your car in an effort to prevent package theft.

          If security is your concern, it might not get much more secure than a police station. And multiple local police departments, including Glenn Heights, Hutchins and Lancaster, make themselves available as a shipping destination. And the Wylie Police Department is set to announce a similar program for residents on Thursday.

          Fetch is a package management service that is available to a growing number of apartment complexes in the Dallas area. Instead of having deliveries accepted by the apartment management office and then held until you can pick them up, residents in buildings that contract with Fetch can arrange with the service to have their items delivered directly to their door.

          “I love the staff that works at my complex, but I also want my box,” said John Ertekin, of Fetch, about the service. “Everything is moving towards frictionless, right? I think that online ordering removes friction for us. The idea is this almost feels like it just naturally belongs already. This was an idea that just came about, but at the end of the day it feels like it should’ve already always been here.”



          Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
          <![CDATA[Haltom City Agrees to Test Water Meters After Uproar]]>Wed, 28 Nov 2018 18:16:06 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Haltom+City+Water+Meter+112818.jpg

          Dozens of residents in Haltom City have expressed anger with city leaders and their new smart water meters.

          "We might as well just move out of Haltom City because we're not going to be able to afford to live in Haltom City," Mary Hunter said.

          Homeowners are trying to figure out why their water bills are so high.

          "There's one day that I looked up that it shows 25 gallons of water every single hour," Melanie Montgomery said. "How is that possible?"

          Montgomery said it all started when the city installed smart water meters, and got rid of the old ones.

          According to one of her bills, she used 3 1/2 times more water this year compared to last year. But she's not buying it.

          "The last four years, we've used the same amount of water every year," she said.

          Back in August, assistant city manager Rex Phelps told us residents had been undercharged on their water usage for decades.

          He said the old meters were simply inaccurate.

          "You had a good situation for a long time because you simply weren't paying all your water usage. And now, you are," Phelps said. "We do empathize with them, but we do know that the new meters are accurate."

          Today, Haltom City told NBC 5 officials are taking a closer look at the smart meters that many of its residents deem inaccurate.

          The city has hired a third-party utility firm to audit and test its water meters and it's billing platform.

          Forty smart meters will be shipped to a nationally certified lab in New Jersey for testing.

          If results from those tests are not satisfactory, the city said it will test an additional 373 meters.

          "I think the city has responded because it has been on NBC 5," Montgomery said.

          She's glad that her meter is one of the 40 that is on its way for testing.

          Now, Montgomery said she hoped the results would shed light on what she believes is a major problem for residents in Haltom City.

          "They're called smart meters, but they're not that smart," she said.

          The city said meters selected for testing will be replaced with a brand new meter.

          City officials will continue to meet with residents one-on-one to help them understand the water bills and regain their trust.

          If you need help from NBC 5 Responds, click here.



          Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
          <![CDATA[Cyber Monday Deals Worth Checking Out]]>Mon, 26 Nov 2018 18:00:31 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cyber-monday-target-website.jpg

          Cyber Monday is arguably the biggest online shopping day of the year. If you were stuck at work and aren't sure where to start, NBC 5's Samantha Chatman has spent the day tracking the best deals.

          Samsung - 65" Class - LED - NU6070 Series - 2160p - Smart - 4K UHD TV with HDR
          If you’re in the market for a new TV, this 65-inch Samsung 4K UHD TV is on sale for $599. That’s $200 off the original price. You can find this deal on BestBuy.com.

          RCA 55" Class 4K Ultra HD (2160P) LED TV (RTU5540)
          This 55-inch RCA 4K TV is coming in at $259. You’re going to save $440 on this deal. Just visit Walmart.com.

          Instant Pot Smart WiFi 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker, Silver
          The ever-so-popular 6-quart Instant Pot is on Amazon.com for $89 -- that’s $60 off.

          Philips Analog 2.75 qt Airfryer - HD9220/29
          On Target.com you’ll save $100 on this air fryer. It’s coming in at $99.

          Swagtron Metro Hoverboard with LED Wheels
          Target has a hoverboard with LED wheels for $150 -- that’s 35 percent off the regular price.

          Ring Video Doorbell 2
          On Amazon.com, you can save $40 on this Ring video doorbell. It’s coming in at $139.

          Sam's Cyber Monday Solution:

          There are a lot more deals you can find online, but be careful before you click purchase. For tips on how to make sure the sale you see is a real deal, click here.



          Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
          <![CDATA[Cyber Monday to Set New Records]]>Mon, 26 Nov 2018 08:11:54 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cyber-monday-shopping.png

          Cyber Monday 2018 is expected to once again surpass Black Friday sales and set the record for the largest online sales day in history.

          People are expected to spend $7.8 billion in online commerce Monday – up 17 percent from the $6.59 billion spent on Cyber Monday 2017, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures 80 percent of online transactions from 100 major U.S. retailers.

          Increasingly, much of that online shopping happens while people are on the clock at work.

          Nearly two out of three professionals (64 percent) said they plan to shop online from work this holiday season, according to a survey by staffing firm Robert Half Technology. More than one in three workers (36 percent) plan to shop online multiple times a week during the holiday season.



          Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
          <![CDATA[Ways to Shop Smarter on Black Friday]]>Fri, 23 Nov 2018 19:49:26 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/black+friday+shopping2.jpg

          Shoppers hit the Galleria Dallas on Black Friday looking for the best deals. NBC 5 Responds Samantha Chatman has some ways to make sure you are responsible and save money while shopping for your favorite items.

          Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
          <![CDATA[The Hottest Toys for Every Budget]]>Fri, 30 Nov 2018 07:51:56 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/toys-all-budget.jpg

          Every year, NBC 5 teams up with toy expert Laurie Schacht to find out which toys are likely to fly off the shelves during the holiday season. This time we're looking at toys for every budget.

          Starshine the Bright Lights Unicorn (VTech)

          • Go on an enchanted adventure with Starshine the Bright Lights Unicorn.
          • Place the seven charms on any of the three magic hearts to see her horn light up and hear colors, objects, and phrases in English or Spanish.
          • Use the charms to answer quiz questions or add sound effects to create your own special song.
          • Squeeze the unicorn’s tail to see her beautiful wings flap and hear whimsical phrases and sound effects that encourage imaginative play.
          • Starshine's majestic hooves feature wheels so you can push her as you head off on your next adventure!
          • Age: 1.5 - 5 years
          • MSRP: $24.99
          • Available: All major retailers

          Reindeer (Folkmanis)

          • Renown for pulling Santa’s sleigh, the Folkmanis Reindeer puppet is magical in any season.
          • Outfitted for rugged tundra in northern regions, this cold climate creature will soon warm your heart.
          • With a movable mouth, this puppet is a perfect partner to share and tell Christmas stories.
          • Wonderful as a gift or perfect as a decorative feature during the holidays.
          • Ages 3+
          • MSRP $31.99
          • Available: www.folkmanis.com and through-out Canada at Scholar’s Choice stores

          Nighthawk (Rollplay)

          • Rollplay Nighthawk Ride-On: Master the thrill of the ride with the 12 Volt Nighthawk Ride-On from Rollplay!
          • Reaching forward speeds of up to 6 mph, this innovative ride-on is sure to be a hit with little thrill-seekers.
          • Accelerator and brake pedals allow the rider to control the speed of the Nighthawk with ease.
          • Kids will love learning how to maneuver around obstacles with the unique steering technique — lean left and right to do quick turns.
          • Side handlebars allow your child to remain secure while protecting his or her hands.
          • With an included rear safety flag, you can easily keep an eye on riders as they have a blast racing.
          • Simply plug in the included charger to the 12V battery to re-power the ride-on.
          • Recommended for children weighing up to 110 lbs.
          • Available in white/black or black/red color combinations
          • Age: 6+
          • MSRP: $149.99
          • Available: Amazon, Walmart

          Don’t Rock the Boat (PlayMonster)

          • In Don’t Rock the Boat, you better Balance Yer Mateys, or Overboard Ye Go! Players take turns setting pirate pieces on the teetering pirate ship, trying not to upset the balance. The player who makes the boat tip and pieces fall off is a landlubber!
          • The fun is in the characters and 16 playing pieces (pirate penguins, octopus, treasure and more!), and the excitement is in the suspense!
          • No batteries required.
          • Age: 5+
          • MSRP: $24.99
          • Available: Amazon

          Glitzy Spa (We Cool Toys)

          • Who doesn’t want to stick their hands and feet in Glitzy Slime!
          • Includes over One Pound of Super Stretchy Purple Glitzy slime.
          • Has a vibrating motor to roll your feet and hands into.
          • Squish and Drip, Poke and Pop, kids love the feeling of Compound Kings slime and the Glitzy Spa.
          • Age: 4+
          • MSRP: $29.99
          • Available: Target

          Cry Babies (IMC Toys)

          • Dolls really cry when you remove her pacifier.
          • She will shout and cry until you replace her paci or rock her to calm her down.
          • Each doll comes with an attached pacifier and a removable animal print onesie.
          • Just add water for real tears.
          • Age: 3+
          • MSRP: $29.99
          • Available: Amazon, Target

          DIY Do Dats (ALEX)

          • How did YOU Do Dat? ALEX DIY Do Dats will have your friends asking, how did you DO Dat?
          • Make an adorable and unique dangling character to hang with! Mix and match beaded parts with other Do Dats characters.
          • She hangs from anywhere with a lobster clasp and has special beads that allow her to hold hands with her friends. She also comes with a mystery bead as a creative surprise.
          • Includes 25 beads and accessories, 2-piece body frame, lobster clasp and instructions.
          • Available in six different characters, each with an original personality and look; Sprinkles, Burgadette, Punky, Gloria, Celeste and Unie.
          • Age: 6+
          • MSRP: $9.99

          Squeezamals (Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co.)

          • Squeezamals are super soft and ultra squishy, slow-rise, foam plush. Combining on-trend squish toys and soft, high quality, detailed plush, there is nothing else like this on the market. Once a Squeezamals is in your hand you will not want to put it down.
          • There are over 36 cute characters to collect.. ranging from narwhals and unicorns to penguins and puppies.
          • Each is sweetly scented.
          • Squeezamals come in three sizes: Backpack clip at 2.25 inches, Core Squeezamals at 3.5 inches and Large Squeezamals at 8 inches.
          • Age: 3+
          • MSRP: Backpack clip $3.99 / Core Squeezamals $6.99 / Large
            Squeezamals $14.99
          • Available: Target, Walmart, specialty retailers

          Silly Squeaks (Blip Toys)

          • Silly Squeaks are musical pets, each with five interactive songs and 16 surprise silly sounds!
          • Press their backs to play music or press their faces to hear them speak!
          • With eight to collect in series one, entertainment and silliness is endless. Each has its own musical genre and unique personality.
          • Play along with a pre-programmed songs (Play Mode A), or play your own song using the full musical scale (each Silly has its own note - Play Mode B)
          • Addicting, soft, tactile feel.
          • Age: 3+
          • MSRP: $9.99
          • Available: Target, Walmart, Amazon

          Nickelodeon Light up Slime Kit (Cra-Z-Art)

          • This Slime kit makes slime that uses light to shine and sparkle!
          • Comes complete with everything you need to make slime and a LED light to make it glow!
          • Age: 6+
          • MSRP: $9.99
          • Available: Walmart, specialty stores

          Lick-A-Bubble (Imperial Toys)

          • Create flavored bubbles that taste like your favorite drink, with Lick-A-Bubble. Invented by a pediatric allergist, Lick-A-Bubble is safety tested and made in the USA.
          • Simply add your beverage of choice, blow bubbles, and instantly have delicious, lickable bubbles that are fun for everyone.
          • Contains two bottles with bubble wands.
          • Add any drink to create flavored bubbles that taste like your favorite beverage. Simply add, blow & taste!
          • Age: 5+
          • MSRP: $7.99 for 2-pack
          • Available: Amazon, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Kohl’s, Casey’s
            General Store, Stater Bros., Supervalu, Academy

          Zookiez Slappy (Toy Target)

          • Zookiez are the collectible plush toy that have flexible hands and feet… easily hang them onto anything and bring them along with you knowing that they will stay in one place.
          • Zookiez toys are perfect as bracelets, for clipping onto your bed at night, or even to bring in the car with you! They can just hold onto nearly any surface and keep clinging on for a very long time. Until you move them from their position, they are quite happy to hang out and enjoy time with you!
          • Zookiez not only keep in one place but they are extremely soft.
          • Age: 3+
          • MSRP: $9.99
          • Available: Walmart, specialty

          Fish Feud (Buffalo Games)

          • It’s feeding time! Launch squishy fish through the mouth of the Big Fish- to the player on the other side in this two player game. You both race to clear your side of all fish to win.
          • Don’t take turns, both players launch squishy fish at the same time.
          • Any fish that arrive on your side must be sent back before you can win. So, keep launching as fast as you can.
          • Age: 4+
          • MSRP: $14.99
          • Available: All major retailers (Amazon, Target, Walmart)

          Fryin Flyin Donuts (Maya Toys)

          • Fryin Flyin Donuts is the new preschool game that is fun for the whole family! Every kid has an affinity for donuts and will love playing the swirling, twirling, frantically fun donut game!
          • Simply throw your donuts into the fryer and be the first player to fly all your donuts into the baker’s box to win the game!
          • Two-player game
          • Age: 4+
          • MSRP: $19.99
          • Available: Amazon

          Bubbleezz (ORB)

          • Bubbleezz live in a squeezy world of wonder and fun called Bubbleverse. Each Bubbleezz contain charms and secret messages.
          • Each Bubbleezz has hundreds of Bubbleezz Beadz inside that move around as you squeeze and transform them.
          • Each Bubbleezz has a special power charm buried within the Bubbleezz Beadz. These charms represent the unique power that help the Bubbleezz during their adventures in the Bubbleverse.
          • There are currently 24 Bubbleezz to collect, ranging in size from Super to Jumbo.
          • Age: 8+
          • MSRP: $14.99
          • Available: Walmart

          Polly Pocket World (Mattel)

          • Each compact Pocket World opens to reveal a fun theme with unexpected surprises, micro dolls, and accessories and is small enough to take anywhere for great Polly Pocket adventures.
          • Choose from Cake-tastrophe with micro Polly and Shani dolls plus scooter and microphone, Flamingo Floatie with micro Polly and Lila dolls plus flamingo and swan floaties, and Snowmazing Surprise with micro Polly and Shani dolls plus snowboard and sled.
          • Age: 4+
          • MSRP: $14.99
          • Available: Fall 2018, all major retailers

          Crackers In My Bed (Winning Moves)

          • Find ‘em, Match em’, Feed Him Quick! Kids spin the spinner and search through the bear’s bed to find the top-half cracker pieces that match the bottom-half cracker pieces they have. When a correct match is made, kids “feed the bear.” First player to feed all their crackers to the bear wins!
          • Contains: Sturdy Platform Game board with Stand-Up Bear “Headboard”, 32 Color-Coded Cardboard Cracker Card Tops, 16 Cardboard Cracker Card Bottoms, Oversized Spinner and Illustrated Instructions.
          • Age: 4+
          • MSRP: $12.95
          • Available: Now

          Rainbow Unicorn Foal (Schleich)

          • This unicorn figurine is decorated with rhinestones.
          • Stands at 6.3 inches.
          • Part of the bayala franchise.
          • Age: 5-12
          • MSRP: $8.99
          • Available: Amazon, Tractor Supply Company

          Wild Life Starter Set (Schleich)

          • Includes four animals from the African savannah: a zebra, an African elephant calf, a chimpanzee, and a roaring lion.
          • Ages 3-8
          • Ages 3-8
          • Available: Amazon, Walmart

          Velociraptor Dinosaur Figurine (Schleich)

        • Miniature model of this extinct creature, who once lived in Asia.
        • Part of the Schleich Dinosaurs line.
        • Ages: 3+
        • MSRP: $11.99
        • Available: Amazon, Walmart
        • Stroll & Discover Activity Walker (VTech)

          • From floor play to first steps, the Stroll & Discover Activity Walker grows with your little one.
          • The easy-to-remove activity panel is great for floor play and is packed with features, and the legs fold for easy storage.
          • Five light-up piano keys introduce colors and numbers, while spinning gears and a removable cell phone help develop fine motor skills.
          • Meet six friendly animals by inserting the three shape sorter pieces, pressing the puppy button, sliding the mouse or batting the bird to hear their unique voices and sounds.
          • Attach the panel to the adjustable two-speed walker as little ones grow, and watch them go!
          • Age: 9 months - 3 years
          • MSRP: $39.99
          • Available: All major retailers

          Design & Drill My First Workbench (Educational Insights)

          • Little builders get busy with a workbench and tool set designed just for them!
          • Hammer nails and drill bolts directly into the bench to create colorful patterns for hours of unplugged play.
          • Develops fine motor skills, practices patterning (a key early learning skill) encourages creativity, supports STEM: introduces tools, promotes interest in engineering.
          • Includes workbench with storage drawer, 120 colorful bolts and nails, and guide with 10 patterns.
          • Motorized mini-drill and kid friendly hammer.
          • Requires 3 AAA batteries (not included).
          • Age: 3-6
          • MSRP: $49.99
          • Available: Amazon

          Calico Critters Designer Studio (Epoch)

          • Stella Hopscotch Rabbit makes her home in the stylish Designer Studio featuring a luxurious sofa, tiny table, and tea set.
          • This play set comes complete with a specially-outfitted Stella character.
          • Just like all the individual play sets, the Designer Studio can be connected to the other Town structures.
          • Age: 6+
          • MSRP: $39.95
          • Available: Amazon

          Beaker Creatures (Learning Resources)

          • Beaker Creatures is a new line of science-themed collectibles from Learning Resources that combines the thrill of collecting with hands-on science experiments that build skills and spark curiosity.
          • Includes 35 collectible characters from five different families for children to discover, classify, and explore.
          • Beaker Creatures is founded in real science, from the fizzing Reactor Pods that reveal the creatures to the classification cards that help children identify their creatures.
          • Beaker Creatures sets also double as working lab sets, complete with included science experiments that
            encourage hands-on learning.
          • Each Beaker Creature also comes with facts and quizzes about real- world creatures and phenomena that sparks curiosity in the world around us.
          • Age: 5+
          • MSRP: $24.99 for the complete Science Lab which includes two dissolvable collectible eggs / $4.99 for individual eggs
          • Available: Amazon

          Magformers PAW Patrol 36Pc Pull-Up Pup Set (Magformers)

          • Build your favorite Magformers creations with the added fun of Paw Patrol character cards with this 36-piece set.
          • Using 30 magnetic pieces and the six insert cards, kids can create the Magformers Ball, a tower, a sandglass, and more!
          • The Paw Patrol Pull-Up Pup Set comes with four play mats for step-by-step building.
          • When playtime is over, use the magnetic power to simply stack and store.
          • Age: 3+
          • MSRP: $49.99
          • Available: Amazon, Walmart, specialty

          PLAYMOBIL Advent Calendar “Horse Farm” (Playmobil)

          • The Advent Calendar contains twenty-four surprise items for each day leading up to Christmas. Once all the pieces are revealed, you can enjoy pampering the horses.
          • Includes backdrop, three figures, one horse, two foals, two ponies, cats, wheelbarrow, fencing, tree, hay, hedgehogs, bucket, and tons of other accessories.
          • Age: 4-10 Years
          • MSRP: $24.99
          • Available: Amazon, Playmobil.us


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          <![CDATA[Woman Receives Fire Extinguisher After 8-Month Wait]]>Wed, 21 Nov 2018 15:30:15 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-fire-extinguisher-recall.jpg

          Last year, we told you about a massive recall on nearly 40 million fire extinguishers. An Arlington woman thought she followed all the steps needed to get a replacement fire extinguisher, but it never came.

          Barbara Barkley is still getting used to living by herself. But after her dad said his final goodbye, it’s now on her to remain vigilant.

          Last year, she learned about a massive recall on Kidde fire extinguishers.

          "I couldn’t believe it, because given the fact that this extinguisher was so old I didn’t expect it to be on the list. But, it was," she said.

          Certain models can become clogged and fail to activate during a fire hazard. Barkley said she wasn’t taking any chances, so she filled out Kidde’s recall form to get a replacement.

          "The information said that it would take about 10-15 business days to receive the new one," she explained.

          After 15 days passed, Barkley said she contacted Kidde to make sure there weren’t any problems.

          "They hadn’t received them yet from the manufacturer," Barkley said.

          So she waited another month, but the fire extinguisher didn’t arrive. By March, her patience was running thin. She said Kidde told her that they were still waiting for replacement units.

          Meanwhile, she was left with a recalled extinguisher.

          "That, to me, is unacceptable, especially when they said 10-15 business days," Barkley said. "But I then thought, 'Wait a minute. Let me call NBC 5 first.'"

          Kidde told NBC 5 they’re working hard to replace all affected fire extinguishers as quickly as possible.

          As for the delay in Barkley's case, Kidde said her form was missing the date code, which prevented them from processing it.

          But Barkley said she had a 1997 model, which didn’t have a date code, and per Kidde’s instructions, ”for units produced before 2007, a date code is not printed on the fire extinguisher.”

          We asked Kidde about this and didn’t get a response to that question.

          But a few weeks after we reached out, and more eight months after Barkley first reached out to us, she received two fire extinguishers from Kidde.

          Barkley said she reached out to NBC 5 not just to get her fire extinguisher, but to make sure other consumers get theirs replaced, too.

          Kidde responded to NBC 5 Thursday morning saying, “Shortly after Ms. Barkley submitted her claim the online submission form was updated so that a date code was not required for fire extinguishers purchased before 2007. As a result, the current website language is accurate. The safety of our customers is our priority, and we are working diligently to ensure the replacement process is as clear as possible.”

          To check to see if your extinguisher has been recalled, click here.



          Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
          <![CDATA[Reports of 'Exploding Pyrex' Ahead of Thanksgiving]]>Tue, 20 Nov 2018 00:07:17 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Exploding+Cookware+111918.jpg

          Jessica Bolte has a number of Pyrex dishes that were passed down by her grandmother.

          She wanted to add to her Pyrex collection, so she bought a rectangular bakeware dish just last month.

          Bolte said she prepped her spaghetti squash in the new dish and placed it into her pre-heated oven.

          "And within two minutes I heard an explosion," she said. "Like a pop!"

          Bolte said her new Pyrex dish shattered into pieces. 

          An isolated incident, she thought, until she went online.

          "I started going through and there's hundreds of people's posts," she said. 

          Bolte spotted posts and pictures from consumers across the country who said their Pyrex glassware exploded out of nowhere.

          One person said, "Our family's 9x13 Pyrex casserole dish exploded loudly while in the oven cooking chicken at 425. Glass shards went everywhere."

          Vickie McCalmon wrote, "I've used Pyrex my entire life! Never has this happened! Especially to a brand new piece! What is going on Pyrex!" 

          McCalmon lives in Denton County, so NBC 5 Responds met up with her to learn more about her Pyrex experience.

          "I placed it in the oven and about 15 minutes in it was just, 'Kaboom,'" she said. "It was like a bomb had gone off in the oven! I opened up the oven and there was shattered glass everywhere."

          McCalmon and Bolte are among hundreds of people who have voiced concerns about their Pyrex products.

          The federal government has received 475 reports of shattering or exploding Pyrex cookware dating back to 2011.

          Some consumers have even reported injuries from the exploded glass.

          Pyrex, however, called cases like these unusual.

          The company told NBC 5 it "produces glassware of the highest quality that is safe to use in conventional, convection and microwave ovens."

          Pyrex said while "any glass bakeware has a risk of breakage, Pyrex glassware has an exceptional safety record."

          The company also said less than one-tenth of one percent of the millions of its products sold each year experience thermal breakage, and said there has never been any recall of Pyrex glassware.

          "Based on their response, I don't think they're looking at fixing it," Bolte said.

          She's been without a working oven for nearly a month.

          Meanwhile, McCalmon is now questioning the line of glassware she's been baking with for decades.

          "Where's everybody at during the holidays? The kitchen. And what are you baking with? Pyrex," she said. "It's scary and they should be held accountable for that."

          Bolte said Pyrex offered her $200 to fix her oven and a $50 Pyrex voucher.

          She said she hadn't accepted yet because it may take more than $200 to fix the oven.

          Bolte said Pyrex also sent her a new dish, but she won't be using it. 

          McCalmon said Pyrex offered her a $20 voucher, which she declined.

          The Consumer Product Safety Commission wouldn't comment on the hundreds of reports of exploding Pyrex bakeware.

          The Commission simply referred us to its complaint website.

          That website didn't point to any type of solution.

          Pyrex offers tips on how to use its products properly here.



          Photo Credit: Vickie McCalmon]]>
          <![CDATA[The Hottest Toys: Getting Gross]]>Thu, 29 Nov 2018 21:22:15 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Getting-Gross-Toys.jpg

          Every year, NBC 5 teams up with toy expert Laurie Schacht to find out which toys are likely to fly off the shelves during the holiday season. This time we're getting gross.

          Stink Bomz (TOMY)

          • No one knows what a fart looks like, but now they will… if they dare open one of these bombs!
          • Stink Bomz are a line of fun, collectable characters full of surprises. Each character makes three unique sounds and has their own distinct smell!
          • Collect all eight characters, and keep an eye out for the two special rare versions to chase and the full roll-out of 60 more characters!
          • Age: 6+
          • MSRP: $9.99
          • Available: October at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Game Stop, Specialty Stores, TOMY.com

          Poopeez Capsules (Basic Fun!)

          • These new blind capsules are creating a stink all over Kerplopolis faster than a fart disappears in the wind. Series 1 is home to 36 hilarious characters including Pooji, T.P. Lil’ Squirt, Skid Mark, Dumpling and the Toot Fairy.
          • Each Capsule is a Toilet Paper Roll and you "unroll" to find one hidden Poopeez character, then "unroll" again to find your second hidden Poopeez character along with a collector guide.
          • Collect all 36! (Each capsule contains two hidden characters).
          • Age: 4+
          • MSRP: $3.99
          • Available: Amazon, Target, Walmart

          Poopeez Toilet Launcher Playset (Basic Fun!)

          • If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, LAUNCH it! Plop your Poopeez in the toilet, flush them, and wait for them to launch! The Toilet Launcher Set comes with two exclusive characters. Just flush and launch, no TP required.
          • Includes: Toilet Launcher
          • Age: 4+
          • MSRP: $6.99
          • Available: Amazon, Target, Walmart

          Poopeez Porta Potty Multipack (Basic Fun!)

          • There’s nothing better than an unused porta potty! These tiny turds are making a big splash as the Porta Potty Multi Pack comes with six characters, including two exclusive characters not available anywhere else.
          • Age: 4+
          • MSRP: $9.99
          • Available: Amazon, Target, Walmart

          Snot It (KD Games)

          • Snot It is the gross game of boogey fun! To start, each player puts on a pair of snot glasses with icky sticky snot dripping from them
          • When it’s your turn, spin the spinner to find out which color boogers you need to try to pick up from the booger bowl
          • Wind up the booger bowl and let it spin – then try to pick up the right boogers using only your sticky snot! You only get to keep your boogers if you pick up exactly what you spun
          • Beware the purple boogers! If someone accidentally picks one up, everyone has to yell “SNOT IT!” as quick as they can. The first player to yell keeps the purple booger, while the last player must return one of their boogers to the bowl
          • The first player to collect 10 boogers wins!
          • Ages 6+
          • MSRP $19.99
          • Available on Amazon

          Pimple Pete (Spin Master)

          • Pimple Pete is a silly and exciting family game for 2-4 players.
          • Play one on one and take turns "popping" pimples.
          • The player who bursts the Mega-Zit is eliminated and the other player is the winner.
          • Add more players for a pimple-popping competition.
          • Earn points for each pimple you "pop" without exploding the Mega-Zit. The player with the most points is the Pimple Pete champion!
          • Combining a little "yuck" factor with a lot of fun factor, Pimple Pete is the pressure-packed, pimple popping game perfect for some gross-out fun on family game night.
          • Includes: 1 Pimple Pete Head, 1 spinner base, 18 pimples, 1 mega-zit plunger, instruction sheet.
          • Ages: 5+
          • MSRP: $19.99
          • Available: Amazon, Walmart, Target

          ZITS (NSI INTERNATIONAL)

          • ZITS are simply the grossest, coolest toys around! Peel off a Zit, stick it on your skin, squeeze ‘em and feel the pop!
          • Use one or use a ton!
          • Then gross out your friends with the oozing goo inside!
          • Roll it, stretch it or stick it! So much fun, you won’t wanna stop until the last one’s popped!
          • Ages 4+
          • MSRPs: Zits Small Breakout: $1.99 / Zits Medium Breakout: $4.99 / Zits Large Breakout: $7.99
          • Available: www.IGotZits.com, Walmart


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            <![CDATA[CEOs of Hyundai, Kia Skip Hearing on Burning Cars]]>Wed, 14 Nov 2018 18:21:08 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Kia+Fire.jpg

            Sporadic, non-collision fires have caught the attention of drivers, our viewers and most recently, U.S. Senators.

            The CEOs of Kia and Hyundai were expected to testify before Congress on Wednesday and explain why burning car incidents are happening across the country.

            But according to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, the hearing was called off because the CEOs chose not to attend.

            Both Kia and Hyundai are owned by the Hyundai Motor Group.

            Over the last several months, NBC 5 Responds has reported on incidents that drivers believe should never happen: Their cars bursting into flames without warning.

            "I could have burned alive in that car. I'm lucky I didn't die," Amy McDade of Denton said.

            She was optimistic about today's scheduled hearing and hoped to finally get the answers about her Kia she'd sought for months. 

            But drivers like her will have to wait even longer.

            Hyundai told NBC 5 it appreciated the concerns of the Senate Commerce Committee and had engaged in frequent and transparent dialogue with its staff.

            Kia said it will continue to work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Congress in a full and transparent manner.

            Kia also said it was using in house and third-party fire investigation companies to evaluate the results of the fires, and will take any necessary action in a timely manner.

            Both Kia and Hyundai are now requesting "a more comprehensive review of non-collision fires among all automakers," citing research that the fires are not only limited to their cars.

            But the Center for Auto Safety is displeased with the CEOs of Kia and Hyundai for "refusing" to show up and testify before U.S. Senators.

            "There has already been one death and a few injuries associated with these vehicle fires," the Center for Auto Safety said. "How many people need to be horrifically burned before someone takes action?"

            More than one million Kias and Transportation have already been recalled for an engine defect.

            But critics believe that recall should be expanded to include more cars, with an emphasis on a fire hazard.

            Read the U.S. Department of Tranpsortation and NHTSA's report to Congress on vehicle safety.

            Full statement from Hyundai:
            Nothing is more important than the safety and security of Hyundai customers. Hyundai takes this matter very seriously, and fully appreciates the concerns of the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee including those of the Chairman and Ranking Member. We have engaged in frequent, open and transparent dialogue with Committee staff on a bipartisan basis, and unequivocally share the Committee's goal of assuring the safety of our vehicles. Hyundai welcomes a more comprehensive review of non-collision fires among all automakers as recent research published by the Highway Loss Data Institute demonstrates that these incidences are not limited to Hyundai vehicles.

            In close coordination with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Hyundai has recalled more than one million vehicles to address a manufacturing issue that could lead to engine failure and in certain circumstances an engine fire. In the rare case of an engine fire, Hyundai takes immediate action to determine and address the cause, and take care of the customer involved.

            To date, these recalls have completion rates of 86 and 72 percent respectively, versus an industry average of 69 percent for recalled engines. Hyundai is working diligently to contact customers who have not had the recall completed, including through traditional mailings, digital correspondence, owner website alerts and in-vehicle notification.

            Hyundai has launched and is promoting an online resource for the engine recalls, www.HyundaiEngineInfo.com, to educate affected customers about the issue, how to have the recall campaign completed on their vehicle or have their vehicle inspected, and symptoms to watch and listen for in their vehicle. We also have enhanced our customer service response for affected vehicles by adding staff and resources so that we can more quickly address customer questions and concerns.

            Full statement from Kia:
            The safety of our customers is Kia's top priority. Kia has and will continue to work with both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the primary government automotive regulator, as well as Congress. We take seriously and share the concerns of Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson regarding the safety of all passenger vehicles. We have openly shared information and data with NHTSA and the Committee and will continue to answer their questions in a full and transparent manner. To gain a full understanding of this industry-wide matter we have respectfully requested the Committee consider a more comprehensive review of non-collision fires among all automakers. Non-collision fires are not limited to Kia vehicles as research from the Highway Loss Data Institute, an independent, nonprofit research organization shows.

            To quickly and effectively address non-collision fire incidents, KMA is using in-house and third-party fire investigation companies and has engaged an independent senior fire expert to evaluate the results of such fire event investigations and is consulting with a recent former head of NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation to evaluate the organization’s response to these incidents. We are cooperating with both NHTSA and the Committee to analyze all relevant information associated with any fire or other safety related matters and will take any necessary corrective action in a timely manner.

            KMA encourages customers to remedy any open recalls as quickly as possible, including certain 20112014 model year Sorento and Optima vehicles identified in June of 2017 (NHTSA Recall Number 17V224) by taking their vehicle to the nearest Kia dealership. Additional information about open recalls may be found by visiting https://www.kia.com/us/en/content/owners/safety-recall or through www.safercar.gov. If a recall is unable to be remedied immediately, KMA will provide alternate transportation at no cost to the customer until their vehicle is repaired or another satisfactory resolution is determined.

            Owners are encouraged to contact Kia Consumer Affairs at 800-333-4542 with any questions or concerns related to this matter.

            ]]>
            <![CDATA[Veterans, Relatives Angry With Online Flag Company]]>Mon, 12 Nov 2018 18:27:13 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Rustic+Flag+Company.jpg

            Veterans across the country aren't too happy with an online company that claims to support men and women in service. Dozens of consumers said they never received their orders and want their money back.

            In less than a year, Cassandra Clark will exchange vows with the love of her life – Mark.

            "He's a really good guy. He's really dedicated, loves what he does and loves his Marines," she said.

            Her fiance recently assumed a new position with the Marine Corps, now serving as a staff sergeant.

            To celebrate his promotion, and his birthday, Clark started browsing The Rustic Flag Company's website, which has sold more than 65,000 flags and employs veterans and their families.

            "You're supporting a good cause. You're getting this amazing flag and it was handmade by veterans. I thought why not," said Clark.

            She found the perfect flag on the company's site.

            Clark said they were running a Memorial Day special of 60 percent off, so she ended up paying $139.

            According to the Rustic Flag Company's website, the artwork could take 12 to 16 weeks to arrive.

            So, Clark was expecting the piece by mid-August.

            She said the company had been sending regular updates on her order. But as they got closer to the delivery date, she said communication stopped.

            "So, I call and then the line all of a sudden doesn't work. The phone is disconnected," Clark explained.

            She went online to find another number for the company, and that's when she came across other people looking for their orders, too.

            The Rustic Flag Company has received an F rating with the BBB with 296 complaints in the last three years.

            The company has since changed its Facebook name to "RFC Tactical Sports."

            "I remembered Samantha and their whole team and I thought, 'If they are not going to respond to me then maybe they'll respond to a news channel,'" Clark said.

            And the company didrespond.

            The Rustic Flag Company told NBC 5 Responds after expanding, adding machinery, building a larger facility and working overtime for the last two years, they have run out of capital.

            As a result, they are unable to produce pieces of artwork at this time:

            "My wife and I have put everything we have into this company and are now completely broke ourselves. We still have a small group of individuals producing flags daily, but we can only work so fast on a limited budget."

            The company has since added this disclaimer to its website's homepage: "We are currently not accepting any new orders until we have fulfilled all outstanding orders. We will reopen upon completion."

            But Clark has waited nearly seven months for the flag she ordered, so she just wants her money back.

            After NBC 5 Responds got involved, Clark received a full refund of $139.

            She said she's disappointed in the company, but thankful she called NBC 5 Responds to get her back.

            "I'm very lucky to have a team like you guys," said Clark.

            She's now looking for a special Christmas gift for her fiance.

            Clark said she is hoping to find another company that not only supports veterans, but also actually fulfills orders in a timely manner.

            Need Help? Click here and fill out the NBC 5 Responds Consumer Form.



            Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
            <![CDATA[The Hottest Toys: Pet-A-Palooza]]>Thu, 29 Nov 2018 21:22:44 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pet-a-palooza.jpg

            Every year, NBC 5 teams up with toy expert Laurie Schacht to find out which toys are likely to fly off the shelves during the holiday season.

            If your kids has been begging for a pet this year, some of the hottest toys this year may help you hold them off, at least for a little while.

            Rescue Runts (KD Kids)


            • Rescue Runts need a home to call their own! The super soft plush puppies show up on your doorstep with matted fur, dirty paws, boo boos and fleas
            • Care for your Rescue Runt using the included grooming kit!
            • Use the tweezers to pluck out “fleas”
            • Wipe their tears away and clean their dirty paws with the towel
            • Brush their messy fur with the brush
            • Remove their bandages, perk up their ears and make them smile to complete the transformation from ragged runt into perfect pet!
            • Write their name on the collar and adoption certificate to make the adoption official
            • Rescue Runts’ messy fur, downturned ears, dirty paws, and bandages can be restored for repeat animal rescue play
            • Ages 3+
            • MSRP $19.99
            • Available at Walmart

            FurReal Ricky (Hasbro)


            • Kids can help this clever pup to do fun tricks, from flipping his bone, to shaking “paws,” and even shuffling eagerly for more!
            • Feed him treats to reward him for his tricks, or pet his back for a job well done, but be careful…he might need a bathroom break!
            • This adorable pup responds to sound and touch with over 100 sound and motion combinations and features sensors on his cheeks, nose, mouth, paw, and back making interactions with this talented pup awesome!
            • Includes a bone accessory, 18 doggie treats, and a treat pouch.
            • Age: 4+
            • MSRP: $129.99
            • Available: major retailers, HasbroToyShop.com

            Grumblies (Skyrocket)


            • Erupting from the Earth’s core, watery caves and fiery pits come Grumblies – be careful, don’t make them meltdown!
            • If you push them too far by poking, shaking and flipping them on their heads they’ll go into a rumbling seismic meltdown and only you can calm them down!
            • Each Grumblie has over 40 sounds and reactions.
            • The line comes with 4 unique themes with different designs, sounds and vibrations,
            • Including Tremor, Scorch, Bolt and Hydro.
            • Age: 3+
            • MSRP $19.99

            Paw Patrol 6V Plush Ride-On (Dynacraft)


            • The Paw Patrol Plush Ride-On Collection (Chase, Marshall, or Skye) will NOT be available for purchase in store at Walmart until Dec. 1 and then the collection will be available at Walmart.com soon after.
            • Made of soft plush material and makes sound effects.
            • Pup house included.
            • Reaches a 2.5 MPH max speed and has a 6 volt battery and charger included.
            • Age: 3+
            • MSRP: $149
            • Available: Walmart, Dynacraftwheels.com

            Fingerlings Hugs (WowWee)

            • Meet Fingerlings Hugs—they’re softies when it comes to affection! Their long arms are perfect for big hugs and these cuddle monkeys never want to let you go!
            • Swing them, tickle them, rock them, and turn them upside down for different reactions.
            • Give them a quick kiss or a long smooch and they'll kiss you back the same way!
            • Record something and hear them repeat it back in funny ways.
            • Available in Bella (Pink) and Boris (Blue)
            • Ages: 2+
            • MSRP: $29.99 each
            • Available: Amazon, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Kohl’s

            Feisty Pets 4-Inch Feature Figure Assortment (Jazwares)


            • Collectible range of 4-inch Feisty Pets with working articulation.
            • They go from cute to scary with a push of the head and come with their own names and personalities.
            • They’re cute and sweet, but they’re feisty!
            • 4-inch collectible animal figure
            • Unique, interactive design
            • Press the top of the head to change expression from cute to fur-ociously funny
            • Eyes rotate & arms swivel up together when head is pushed down
            • Age: 6+
            • MSRP: $8.99
            • Available: Amazon, Game Stop


            This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
            <![CDATA[Drivers Reimbursed After Discovering Water in Fuel]]>Wed, 07 Nov 2018 19:05:43 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Water+in+Gas.jpg

            Last month, we told you about several people who filled up at local RaceTrac gas station.

            Not long after, they said their cars broke down and when they took their cars to the shop, they found water in their fuel.

            "I drove about three miles and the car started backfiring, stuttering, doing all kinds of crazy things," said Robert Reith.  "It barely ran."

            Abigayle Sharkey said something similar happened to her car.

            "I paid for about $15 for gas at the RaceTrac in Granbury.  My damages ended up costing $833.67," she said.

            Reith said he returned to the RaceTrac to find out what was wrong with the fuel.

            "The manager on duty, I asked for her, she took down all our information and said she’d call me back. She never did," he said.

            After seeing more drivers sounding off on Facebook, I reached out to RaceTrac to find out what went wrong.

            In a statement, RaceTrac told me that they were made aware of an issue with the premium fuel at the location in question on Sept. 24.

            RaceTrac said as soon as they learned of the issue, access to the fuel pumps was discontinued and RaceTrac teams began working to have the fuel drained and replaced.

            RaceTrac would not confirm if water was found in their fuel tanks or if the issue was related to the heavy rain and flash flooding that occurred during the time water was found in people’s gas tanks.

            The company said, “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused our guests and plan to make this right.”

            About a month later, both Reith and Sharkey were fully reimbursed for their car repairs and the gas: that’s $521 for Reith and $849 for Sharkey.

            After our first story aired, we heard from other consumers who had complaints about bad gas from other gas stations. 

            CLICK HERE to learn how to protect yourself from contaminated gas.



            Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
            <![CDATA[DeSoto Man Fights To Get Deceased Mother's Money Back]]>Tue, 06 Nov 2018 14:37:29 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/DS_Mom+Assisted+Living+-+Meridian+BROLL_2018-11-02-15-07-21.jpg

            Mama's boys sometimes get a bad wrap, but Gregory Walker says he'll always be his mama's boy.

            "I miss her every day. But I know she's still alive in my heart," he said.

            His mother, who died in 2017, struggled with diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.

            Before her passing, Walker was looking forward to moving his mother into the Meridian at Kessler Park in Dallas.

            "It's a beautiful assisted living facility and I'm sure she would have been happy there," Walker said.

            But about two weeks before her move-in day, his mom took a turn for the worse.

            "I found out from the doctors that she was never going to leave the hospital alive," he explained.

            Walker said he informed the facility that his mom would not be able to move in.

            He said the executive director assured him it wouldn't be a problem because the first month's rent was free.

            But when Walker came back to close out his mother's account, there was a problem.

            He said he was told the old executive director had it wrong and that first month's rent was not free, so he owed $2,900.

            Walker said he tried to argue his mother's case, but the manager wouldn't budge.

            "It made me feel terrible," he said.  "My mother passed. She never took residence. They were just after the dollar."

            Walker paid the $2,900, but he said he knew it wasn't right, so he reached out to NBC 5 Responds to get his mother's money back.

            The executive director at the Meridian told me that she could not violate HIPPA laws, but assured me that Walker had been reimbursed.

            But Walker said he didn't received a dime.

            "It's despicable. Absolutely despicable," he said.

            So, I reached back out to the Meridian and asked for proof of reimbursement. 

            Later that day, Walker said he heard from a corporate manager who told him they were looking into his case and were conducting an audit.

            "And that audit was done because of you," he told NBC 5.

            Walker said he was told they made a mistake and that they did owe him money.

            That same week, he received a refund check for $2,451.

            "Yes! Justice," he said.

            Walker said there was a non-refundable medical assessment fee of $500, but he isn't sweating that money.

            He's just glad to have $2,451 back.

            Walker said this was the last of his mother's affairs and he believes he can finally breath and live life again.

            If you need help from NBC 5 Responds, click here.



            Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
            <![CDATA[The Hottest Toys of 2018 List Is Out]]>Fri, 16 Nov 2018 15:52:08 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/hot-toys-tumb-110118.jpg

            Every year, I team up with toy expert Laurie Schacht to find out which toys are likely to fly off the shelves during the holiday season.  Today, we're starting out with what experts are calling the HOTTEST toys of the year.

            Hairdorables (just play)

            • Hot new surprise dolls that combine fun, fashion and lots and lots of gorgeous colorful hair!
            • Noah and her girl squad have “Big Hair Don’t Care” attitudes and love to share their passions with the world via the Hairdorables channel on YouTube.
            • Each doll is based on one of the 12 iconic girls from the Hairdorables videos, and these BFFs live up to the “Hairdorables” name with a variety of unique luxe hairstyles in vibrant colors!
            • Just pull, peel, and reveal 11 surprise accessories and fashions that unwrap the unique personality, style, and talent of the Hairdorables girl hidden inside!
            • There are 36 Hairdorables dolls to collect in Series 1, including 2 rare and 1 ultra-rare, for mix-and-match outfits and endless styling possibilities.
            • Ages: 3+
            • MSRP $12.99
            • Available: Amazon, Target, Walmart

            VEX Battling Boxing Robots (HEXBUG)


            • The kit comes with one Mock Rocker Bot, a Boxing Bot with more than 380 snap-together pieces.
            • Once kids build and assemble their own robots, these smart-tech self-stabilizing boxers are ready for a match.
            • The robots feature a smart-tech self-stabilizing feature that uses a gyroscope and an accelerometer.
            • After building them, kids can drive and control the bots using the free VEX Pilot mobile app. The app can be used to control the robot’s every action, from deciding when to left punch, right punch, or double jab.
            • Ages: 8+
            • MSRP: $89.99 (single) and $149.99 (two-pack)
            • Available: Target, Amazon, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and HEXBUG.com

            Air Hogs Supernova (Spin Master)


            • Step into the future with the Air Hogs Supernova. Kids can control Supernova with the power of their hands!
            • Kids can master more than 30 moves and nine Super Tricks, perfecting maneuvers that range from simple to complex.
            • Equipped with an intelligent on-board system, this drone has five motion sensitive sensors and an interactive LED light core that responds and reacts to your movements.
            • With a few waves of your hands, different combinations of gestures will let users perform amazing tricks.
            • Ages: 8+
            • MSRP: $39.99
            • Available: Amazon, Target, and Walmart
            LEGO Hogwarts Hall


            • Build and recreate a magical fantasy realm from the Harry Potter movies with this detailed 4-level LEGO
            • Hogwarts Great Hall Harry Potter building kit, featuring a fireplace, benches, tables and reversible house banners, plus the Grand Staircase tower with a spiral staircase, potions room, treasure room, sorting hat, Mirror of Erised and lots of magical artifact accessory elements.
            • This fantasy role-playing castle toy includes 10 minifigures and buildable Basilisk and Fawkes creatures, plus Hedwig and Scabbers figures.
            • Ages: 9+
            • MSRP: $120
            • Available: Target Walmart Amazon
            Crayola Crayon Melter

            • This new art tool enables kids and DIYers to melt crayons and use wax to create in different ways.
            • In less than a minute, kids can create designs with liquefied crayons on a variety of unique surfaces like wood, glass, and canvas. The possibilities are countless, all using classic crayola crayons.
            • The sleek, compact design is safe, easy to use and has a low-heat tip for worry-free creativity.
            • Age: 8+
            • MSRP: $24.99
            • Available: Amazon, Target, Walmart, Crayola.com
            3Doodler Create+ 3D Printing Pen (3Doodler)

            • The best back to school item for anyone (like I) who spent way too much time doodling in their school textbooks and notebooks
            • Create anything in 3D, from boxes and frames, to cell phone cases, robots, famous structures, jewelry and much, much more. If you can think it in 3D, you can Doodle it in 3D.
            • For those looking for simpler, WOW projects, try doodling your name, a 3D box and a loop-de-loop. As you can attest, all three look pretty spectacular on-camera.
            • The 3Doodler Create+ includes more than 600 feet of plastic of Doodling fun right out of the box thanks to multiple packs of PLA and ABS plastic in each box.
            • As you know, we also have a bevy of kits that can be purchased along with the Create+ including purses and clutches, to engines, robotics, famous landmarks, vases, candle holders and much, much more.
            • Age: 12+
            • MSRP: $79.99
            • Available: Amazon, 3Doodler.com and a bevy of national retailers including Michael's and soon to be Target and Walmart.com
            BLACK FRIDAY/CYBER MONDAY 
            Mustang (Rollplay)

            • Cruise the yard and the sidewalk in superior style on the Rollplay 6V Mustang!
            • This battery- powered ride-on that has the look and feel of the original Mustang's classic aesthetic.
            • Gas pedal-activated power makes this truly unique ride-on go up to 2.5 mph at forward and reverse speeds controlled by a gearshift in a center console.
            • Features realistic engine noises and horn, and working LED headlights
            • Includes integrated MP3 player aux cord and radio with speakers
            • Opening door allows children to get in and out of the vehicle easily
            • Clear windshield and folding mirrors and rubber traction strips on tires for sturdy cruising
            • 6-Volt battery and charger included with the car.
            • 30-minute assembly required
            • Backed by a limited 1-year warranty (vehicle) and limited-6 month warranty (battery)
            • Suggested maximum weight of 77 lbs
            • Age: 3+
            • MSRP: $199.99
            • Available: Target
            DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free by PLAYMOBIL: Lucky’s Happy Home

            • Come for a visit at Lucky’s Happy Home on the frontier. Arriving in Miradero from the big city, Lucky isn’t sure she will ever fit in, but this home is her safe haven.
            • Walk into the kitchen with all the furnishings, where Aunt Cora is cooking dinner on the stove and the table is set for a delicious meal.
            • Outside, Lucky visits Spirit before she heads off to school, reminding him of their upcoming adventures.
            • Upstairs, you’ll find spacious rooms for the whole family. Lucky keeps a poster of her mom in her room so she’ll always remember her.
            • Set includes large house, Lucky, Aunt Cora, Spirit, pots and pans, dishes, utensils, table and chairs, fencing, friendly goose, and lots of other accessories.
            • Age: 4+
            • MSRP: $99.99
            • Available: Playmobil.us
            Kids First Coding & Robotics (Thames & Kosmos)

            • Meet Sammy. This cute little peanut butter and jelly sandwich is actually a robot that teaches coding principles and skills to children in grades K-2.
            • You don’t need a tablet, smartphone, or computer to program this robot; programs are created by simply laying down a sequence of physical code cards. As the robot drives over the code cards, an OID optical scanner on the bottom of the robot reads the code cards one by one and loads the program. Next, place the robot on a grid made of map cards, and the robot runs the program.
            • This robot kit also teaches physical engineering and problem solving skills through a series of building and coding lessons. A full-color illustrated manual guides users through the coding lessons and the assembly of different models.
            • Age: 4+
            • MSRP: $129.95
            • Available: Amazon
            Lil Nature Babies (HEXBUG)

            • Cute animals react to touch! Press on its belly, head or back and hear your animal’s playful personality come to life.
            • 20+ animal sounds, and each character has its own unique calls!
            • Collectible creatures include: Lin the Panda Bear, Zane the Black Rhino, Sami the Snow Leopard, Sura the Polar Bear and Waya the Grey Wolf.
            • Each character includes a keychain so you can carry your Lil’ Nature Baby around with you on your backpack, wallet, or clothes!
            • Habitats include a Bamboo Grove and Mountain Falls for Lin, the Savannah Plains with Zane, Icy Cavern for Sura, Frosty Peak for Sami and a Forest Den for Waya.
            • All the cute characters are endangered species, potentially awareness for their status through parental and children discussion.
            • All the interactive playsets can be connected or used as standalone units.
            • Large playsets even light up, perfect for a nightlight.
            • Both small and large playsets include one Lil’ Nature Babies single.
            • Age: 3+
            • MSRP: $9.99 (singles) $19.99 (small playset) $24.99 (large playset)
            • Available: August 2018 at Target, Amazon, HEXBUG.com
            R/C Hobby Elite Off-Road Attak (Maisto Tech)

            • Hobby styling and performance in a monstrous package!
            • Full-color printed, vacuformed truck body.
            • Wide, aggressive stance, and beefy, off-road tires, the Off-Road Attak is ready for anything.
            • Approximately 14.5-inches long and 14-inches wide!
            • Ready to run – batteries are included.
            • 2.4 GHz for top performance..
            • Up to 4 players can drive at one time and place (with their own vehicles).
            • 115 foot (35 meter) control range.
            • Pro-style controller with proportionate speed control.
            • Rapid electronic battery charger included.
            • Steering alignment adjustment.
            • Age: 3+
            • MSRP: $60
            • Available:
            Beasts of Balance + Expansion Packs (Sensible Object)

            • Beasts of Balance is an award-winning augmented reality stacking game of dexterity, strategy and creation. Thought of as Jenga for the 21st century, Beasts of Balance challenges players work together to stack a tower of "beasts" while scanning each piece through the play base into the connected app as they build.
            • Within the app, magical worlds of creatures are created, and the players must keep the world in balance as they reach new high scores. But they must be careful: if the tower is knocked down, then it's game over!
            • New for 2018 are the first expansions to Beasts of Balance, including a competitive gameplay mode called Battles and new beast play-pieces such as a flamingo, angler fish, chameleon, and Legendary Beasts.
            • In Battles, players use augmented reality Battle cards to scan and fight against their opponents to become ruler of the digital world.
            • Age: 7+
            • MSRP: $99
            • Available: Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble


              This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
              <![CDATA[Another Driver Says Her Kia Went Up in Flames]]>Wed, 31 Oct 2018 18:07:51 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Kia-Fire.jpg

              Another driver has come forward about her Kia going up in flames. The woman says her Kia engine exploded, leaving her with no car and no help from the carmaker.  

              It happened in May to Melissa Markoutsis.

              She said the engine of her 2012 Kia Soul exploded. Her car began spewing thick black smoke, leaving her trapped in between a barrier wall and two big rigs.

              "It was terrifying. I thought I was going to die," she said.

              She survived, but said her car was dead on arrival at the Kia dealership, where the culprit was quickly identified: A hole in the engine.

              "They came out and told me I have catastrophic engine failure. Essentially, there is a hole in your engine right now," Markoutsis explained.

              The fix: A $6,500 new engine

              "I don't want a new engine from Kia. I don't want a Kia car," she said.

              We've also heard from two North Texas woman who said they're lucky to be alive.

              They both said they were driving their Kias when another driver started flagging them down.

              Next thing they knew, they said their Kias were engulfed in flames.

              It's a brand name previously making headlines for similar problems, prompting a recall of more than one million Kias and Hyundais, which are owned by the Hyundai Motor Group, for a different engine defect last June.

              But Markoutsis' car is not part of that recall.

              "This is not a coincidence," she said. "You're saying there's a problem. You've recalled all these other cars. Well, there's other ones out on the market. I am terrified someone is going to die."

              Consumer group Center for Auto Safety agrees, renewing its push for an expanded recall of 2.9 million  Kias and Hyundai's due to a fire hazard.

              This comes after more than 220 drivers told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Center that it happened to them -- Non-collision fires erupting in Kias and Hyundais.

              It's the kind of incidents that we've been reporting on for months, cars traveling at high speeds, on fire. Other drivers frantically warning the people inside.

              One dad said he barely made it out of his burning Hyundai, along with his kids in the back seat.

              In response to those reports, Kia said: "...No cause of recent fires has been determined to be the result of a defect..."

              Hyundai said it "actively monitors and evaluates potential safety concerns with all its vehicles."

              But Markoutsis said the clock is ticking.

              "I keep asking myself, 'how many people does this need to happen to before justice is served?'" she said.

              She has a lot of questions as she waits, and pays for a car that sits, going on five months now, in a dealership parking lot.

              The carmaker offered to pay $3,000, about half of Markoutsis' repairs. But she declined.

              When our sister station in Chicago reached out to Kia, Markoutsis said Kia called her that same day to tell her they may no longer cover the expense of her rental car.

              We asked Kia if that decision was connected to this report. We did not get a reply to that question.

              The CEOs of both Kia and Hyundai have been asked to address reports of non-collision fires to Congress. That hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Texts Promising Bill Discounts Are Not From AT&T]]>Tue, 30 Oct 2018 17:07:53 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ATT+Text+Message+103018.jpg

              We have a consumer alert for AT&T and DIRECTV customers.

              You might have received a text message from an unfamiliar number that promised to cut your cable bill in half.

              In the message, customers are asked to call an 800 or 855 number and use the promo code "eBay."

              I received not one, but two of these text messages. I was suspicious, so I called AT&T to find out what the deal was.

              AT&T said these messages are not from them.

              When I called the 855 number listed on the text message, a so-called agent said he was with AT&T and DIRECTV, and wanted to help me process my eBay promotion.

              We've heard about scam calls, but these text messages take it to another level.

              On its website, AT&T warned about these types of text messages and said, "Do not call the number. It is just another part of the scam."

              AT&T said to always stick to the number on your bill. Do not call the number posted in a text message.

              If you get one of these texts, delete it and keep it moving.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Why an NBC 5 Viewer Dropped Off $1,200 in Cash for Local Mom]]>Mon, 29 Oct 2018 17:21:53 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Quinceanera+Folo+102918.jpg

              Last week, we told you about a mother who paid $1800 for her daughter’s 15th birthday party.

              But several months later, she learned the venue for the party had closed and the owner never refunded her the money.

              Alicia Mora thought her $1,800 was long gone.

              She put down a deposit at a venue in Fort Worth expecting to give her daughter the perfect Quinceañera.

              But not long after, she learned Delisias Bazaar had closed.

              "He (the CEO) just pretty much said he was filing for bankruptcy and that he was sorry and his lawyer would contact me in about a week," she said.

              The owners never sent Mora a refund, so she called NBC 5 Responds to get her money back.

              After NBC 5 Responds got involved, the former CEO of the business sent Mora $600, and said he paid her out of moral obligation.

              Since the first story aired, I haven't heard back from the former CEO about the rest of Mora's money.

              After all, she's still owed $1,200.

              But we did hear from a viewer, who saw Mora's story and felt that he had to do something to help her.

              He sent us a letter:

              "I watched your program yesterday about the young girl's parents that were scammed out of $1,800 in preparation for their daughter's special birthday. The story hit a soft spot in my heart because it's absolutely awful people who work very hard to take care of their family and want to do special things for their families are taken advantage of by people who are heartless. That little girl deserves her special 15th birthday and I want to help her parents make sure that happens. I understand that they have recovered $600 for the month for the venue, so I'm going to go ahead and provide the additional $1,200 dollars."

              The viewer asked to remain anonymous, but said he hoped his $1,200 donation would help put a smile on Mora and her daughter's faces.

              That's now $1,800 that Mora no longer has to worry about, and the quinceañera for her daughter is back on.

              "It's a blessing," Mora said. "May God bless this man. All I can say is just thank you. Thank you for everything."

              If you thought that was incredible, we've also heard from local venues and vendors in North Texas who wanted to make sure the family was taken care of.

              If you need help from NBC 5 Responds, click here.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Designer Knockoffs Spotted On Amazon]]>Fri, 26 Oct 2018 17:24:50 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/amazon+fakes.jpg

              You know her as NBC 5's morning traffic anchor.

              But off camera, Samantha Davies is a fashion-forward mom who's always looking for ways to save.

              "I was on Instagram. I follow a lot of bloggers. Everybody is wearing the Gucci belt. Everyone has the Hermes belt. I was just wondering if it was going to be a little bit cheaper if I went on Amazon," she said.

              Davies was thinking she'd maybe save $50 bucks on Amazon for a Louis Vuitton belt.

              "But what I found was, they were significantly cheaper," she explained.

              One Louis Vuitton belt retails for $490. But on amazon the "Louis Vuitton Fashion Classic White Belt..." is going for $25.

              We also found a Gucci headband on the designer's website for $395.

              On Amazon, a similar headband with a logo that looks like Gucci's is on the site for just under $35.

              Davies said her suspicions about many of these products were confirmed when she started reading the descriptions.

              When we searched Hermes belts, we found one that looks similar to the real Hermes belt design.

              One customer asks: Where is this product manufactured?

              The seller responds: "Made in China."

              But according to Hermes, none of it's products are made in China.

              "I lived in New York City and I remember being in college and everyone would go to Canal Street and shop for the best fake bags," Davies said. So, it was really surprising to see it on Amazon where I can do it, it's perfectly safe and they're going to ship the fake product right to my doorstep.

              Fashion expert Cynthia Riley said she was shocked to see fake designer products listed on Amazon.

              "I was floored by the amount that was on there and how blatant it is," she said.

              Riley said she even found designer look alikes listed for hundreds of dollars.

              She said it's a tactic that sellers are using to make you think what you're buying is real, hoping you don't read the reviews or pay close attention to the description.

              Riley said she believes Amazon is having a hard time keeping up with the sheer amount of knockoffs listed on its site.

              "And there's hundreds popping up," she said.

              So what do the luxury brands like Louis Vuitton think about this?

              Louis Vuitton said it has zero tolerance for counterfeiting: "It's the violation of the talent, the skills of the craftsmen and the creativity of the artists to whom Louis Vuitton owes its success."

              Representatives at Gucci, Hermes and Louis Vuitton confirmed that Amazon is not an authorized retailer for their brands.

              So, as for that high end belt Davies was hoping for, she said she'll have to wait a little longer to buy the real thing.

              "I'm kind of mad that these are on Amazon because it kind of cheapens the product," she said.

              Amazon said it strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products and invests heavily to ensure its policy against the sale of such products is followed. Amazon said its global team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to and take action on reported violations and notices of potential infringement.

              Some of the knockoff items that we discovered have since been removed by Amazon, but there are still a number of look alikes and knockoffs that are still on the site.

              Some of the designers we spoke with reiterated that they cannot guarantee the authenticity of their products on unauthorized sites like Amazon.

              To learn more about how to spot a fake designer product, click here.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Insurance Agrees to Pay for Care After NBC 5 Responds Call]]>Thu, 25 Oct 2018 19:07:09 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Newest+Insurance+Feeding.jpg

              On June 2, 2017 Allison Scott gave birth to her second child, Shepherd.

              "Healthy baby. Big baby.  I didn't have any issues in the beginning," she said.

              But as Shepherd got older, feeding time became increasingly challenging.

              At six months, she and her husband realized something wasn't right with their baby boy.

              "Anytime I fed him, about two hours later he would start vomiting and turn limp and very cold," Scott explained.

              After several emergency visits, Shepherd was diagnosed with Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome or "FPIES."

              It's a rare disorder that affects the gastrointestinal tract.

              Shepherd's symptoms eventually developed into to an oral aversion, causing him to fear food and reject eating.

              Doctors said if progress wasn't made, he could be looking at a feeding tube.

              "It's hard. You don't want anything to be wrong with your child, so I just said I have to get him help. I have to help him figure this out," his mom said.

              Shepherd was referred to an inpatient feeding program at Our Children's House in Dallas.

              Mary Fink, who oversees the program, met with the Scotts to learn more about their son's condition.

              "He had severe diarrhea, severe vomiting, so he was losing weight," Fink said.

              Shepherd was then seen by five doctors at Our Children's House, who each recommended him for the program.

              At Our Children's House, Shepherd would work with a number of professionals including a speech therapist to help with his oral motor skills and mouth muscles; a dietitian to examine Shepherd's allergies; an occupational therapist to look at the support Shepherd's body provides while he's eating; a psychologist to address his fear of food.

              Their goal: Helping Shepherd break his old eating habits.

              "We look forward to the challenge and with our team's expertise he should make some progress," Fink said.

              Scott was anxious to get her son into the program, but earlier this month she received a letter from Cigna denying coverage they determined to be "not medically necessary."

              "What do you mean it's not medically necessary? We have all these doctors saying it is and all of these people fighting for him to get in this program and insurance is the only thing standing in the way," she said.

              Scott refused to give up on this program, so she called NBC 5 Responds hoping that I could help her son.

              I reached out to Cigna to find out why Shepherd's coverage had been denied. Cigna didn't immediately get back to me, but Scott said she got a call from Cigna a few hours after I reached out.

              "I was just ecstatic. I just started crying," she said.

              She learned that Cigna had overturned its decision and her son's treatment would be covered.

              "I'm thrilled that he's going to get the help that he needs," said Scott.

              For the next 21 days, the Scotts will call Our Children's House their home.

              "I'm so grateful," Scott said. 

              Shepherd still has a long way to go in his dietary journey, but his parents are determined to support him every step of the way. 

              "He gives me the motivation to get him what he needs," Scott explained.  "He's the best little guy."

              Cigna told me in this case, its role was to review the medical service request to ensure that it was consistent with evidence-based medical guidelines.

              Cigna said its medical directors spoke with the family's doctor to get more information, and this allowed them to certify the medical need for treatment.

              So, in this case, problem solved.

              Shepherd has been in the program for two week now.  His parents tell me that he's already making progress.

              Scott was told this program could have cost her family $100,000 out of pocket, which would have been a great hardship. She's so happy that she decided to call NBC 5 Responds.

              If you need my help, click here.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[NBC 5 Helps Local Grandmother With Oven Repair Refund]]>Mon, 22 Oct 2018 17:16:07 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/oven+repair.jpg

              Esther Ratcliffe has a really big family.

              One of the ways she likes to show her love is through cooking.

              But lately, much of her baking has been done next door because her oven hasn't worked for six months.

              "It's annoying for me and I'm sure it's annoying for them," she said.

              When she searched online, Ratcliffe found an appliance repair company called A.A.R.C.

              She paid nearly $400 to have her oven fixed.

              "He (the technician) put the part in, seemed to be working. A couple of days later, it wasn't working," she explained.

              Ratcliffe said the technician told her they'd have to come back with a new part, but they never did.

              Esther said she'd left countless voicemails and even contacted the sub-contractor, but he said he couldn't reach the company either.

              "I've been waiting all this time and I've got no response," she said.

              So, she called NBC 5 Responds. 

              A.A.R.C. has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau and 11 unanswered complaints.

              When we visited the address listed on the website, we found an IT business. 

              We called the number on the door and an employee confirmed that they were not affiliated with any appliance company.

              So, I called A.A.R.C. and asked for the company's address. An employee told us he couldn't give it to us, but confirmed he was with A.A.R.C.

              When we told him we were with NBC 5, the man on the phone said the company was actually no longer A.A.R.C.

              He said the owner bought A.A.R.C. and has been cleaning up their mess ever since.

              The man on the phone said he was familiar with Ratcliffe's case and would make sure she got her money back.

              But it's been a month, and Ratcliffe said she hasn't heard from the new company about a refund.

              With Thanksgiving right around the corner, she was getting nervous.

              "That means turkey next door, bringing it back and forth and I don't particularly want to do that," she said.

              Her manufacturer's warranty expired some time ago, but we called Whirlpool just to see if there was anything they could do to help fix her oven.

              Whirlpool said they regretted that Ratcliffe had a hard time resolving an issue with her appliance, but they'd look into her case and contact her directly.

              That same week, Whirlpool offered Ratcliffe $460 as a gesture of goodwill for her troubles.

              Ratcliffe said she'd be using that money to buy a new oven, and felt thankful that Whirlpool was willing to assist her during this frustrating time.

              She admits that she made a few mistakes along the way, so some solutions from NBC 5 Responds:

              • When you're dealing with an unfamiliar business, Google the company's name.
              • Check reviews online.
              • Check with the Better Business Bureau.
              • Always sign a contract.
              • Ask if you can pay with a credit card, just in case something goes wrong. 



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Trader Joe's Recalling Salads, More Over Contamination Fears]]>Sun, 21 Oct 2018 22:48:00 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/trader-joes-salad-recall.jpg

              Trader Joe's announced Sunday it was adding one type of burrito it sells in stores to a recall already affecting three types of salads. The grocer says the four products may have been contaminated with listeria or salmonella.

              A news release on the Trader Joe's website said the recall affects Trader Joe's Carnitas with Salsa Verde Burrito, Trader Jose's Mexicali Inspired Salad, Trader Joe's BBQ Flavored Chicken Salad and Trader Joe's Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken Breast. The salads affected have "Best By" dates between Oct. 15 through Oct. 20, while all the burritos were recalled.

              The release said a supplier warned a corn ingredient used in the salads "may have the potential to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes and/or salmonella."

              Trader Joe's said no contamination has been confirmed and no illnesses have been reported. The grocery chain added that potentially affected products were removed from shelves and destroyed.

              Anyone whose purchased affected salads can return them to any Trader Joe's for a full refund.

              ONLINE: Trader Joe's salad recall



              Photo Credit: Trader Joe's]]>
              <![CDATA[Hostess Stuck With Bad Payroll Checks When Restaurant Closes]]>Fri, 19 Oct 2018 17:19:01 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/4p-dream-cafe-signage.jpg

              Dream Cafe was once a staple in the town of Addison.

              "It would be so busy, to the point people would literally wait like 45 minutes to an hour," said Erica Beaty. 

              Beaty worked at Dream Cafe as a hostess for nearly a year.

              On Aug. 18, Beaty said she showed up to work her normal shift but instead of seeing hungry customers waiting to be seated, she saw a sign posted on the door:

              "… Sadly we have closed our doors for the last time."

              Beaty said she was never informed that the restaurant was closing. She said she called her manager and assistant manager, but they didn't answer.

              Beaty said she rushed to the bank to deposit her paycheck, but later learned the check bounced.

              "I was upset, and then my bank charged me a fee for the check bouncing," she explained.

              Beaty said this isn't the first time this has happened. She said one of her Dream Cafe paychecks bounced before, but her manager took care of it right away

              But Beaty was worried this time because she had another check that was supposed to come later that month and she worried it may bounce as well.

              She said she she visited Dream Cafe in Dallas and was told the owner would take care of it.

              "That's just when it all started. I just kept calling and calling and kept getting the runaround," she said. "I needed the money."

              When she couldn't get her money, she called NBC 5 Responds to step in.

              A manager at Dream Cafe in Dallas said he had no control over payroll, but would let the owner know about the situation.

              "That same day, I got a text from the manager, 'Oh hey, I want to make sure you get paid. I want to make sure this gets straightened out,'" said Beaty.

              And a of couple weeks later, Beaty got a check for $352.

              But there was another problem.

              "I go up to the bank Saturday morning.  She (the teller) said 'I'm sorry, I can't cash this check," Beaty explained.

              She said she texted the manager again, and he told her to try cashing it the following week because they should have funds then.

              So that's what she did.

              Thankfully, Beaty finally got the money she worked hard for. 

              "Yes! You guys really helped me," she said.

              The owner of Dream Cafe, Mary, said it was an abrupt closing at the Addison location. 

              She said their landlord brought in another restaurant that also served brunch, and it killed their business.

              Mary said it took them a while to get their funds in order, and Erica just so happened to be one person who was affected by that.

              She apologized for the delay. 

              If you need NBC 5 Responds' help, let us know about your problem here



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Kia, Hyundai CEOs Asked to Appear Before Congress]]>Thu, 18 Oct 2018 14:11:06 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/web_pic_kia_fire_1200x675_1334293059521.jpg

              Car makers Kia and Hyundai, owned by the Hyundai Motor Group, are being asked to address reports of non collision-related fires.

              We've heard from two North Texas women whose stories were very similar. They were driving their Kias when someone on the road started flagging them down. Before they knew it, they said their cars were covered in flames.

              We've since learned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into certain models and models of Kias and Hyundais that total 1.6 million vehicles.

              "Can you imagine if you put your car in the garage and it burst into flames?  It would engulf the whole house and if the family is sleeping might kill the whole family," said Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D).

              Nelson said it's time to get down to the bottom of what's causing these fires.

              The Senate Commerce Science & Transportation Committee plans to hold a hearing with the CEOs of Kia and Hyundai on Nov. 14.

              In a statement to NBC 5 Wednesday, Hyundai said they are reviewing the request to appear before the Senate committee and that they are looking into the reports of fires.

              "Nothing is more important than the safety and security of Hyundai customers. Hyundai actively monitors and evaluates potential safety concerns, including non-collision fires, with all of its vehicles and acts swiftly to recall any vehicles with safety-related defects," a Hyundai spokesman said.

              Kia, however, has said “a vehicle fire may be due to any number of complex factors.”

              In a statement provided to NBC 5 Thursday, Kia said:

              Kia Motors America (KMA) shares the goal of the Senate Commerce Committee to assure the safety of the vehicles we sell to our customers and which are driven on American roads. Kia will continue to voluntarily cooperate with the Committee – and the federal agency with primary jurisdiction over vehicle safety: NHTSA – and is in the process of responding to its recent inquiries regarding vehicle fires.

              KMA is also working cooperatively to provide NHTSA with data regarding the safety performance of all Kia vehicles, including concerns about vehicle fires, and is committed to providing this relevant information in a timely manner and to use this information to develop a data driven analysis of Kia vehicle safety.

              ]]>
              <![CDATA[Houston Company Recalls Salad With Chicken Products]]>Sun, 21 Oct 2018 22:01:36 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/trader-joes-salad-recall.jpg

              A Houston company has recalled nearly 1,800 pounds (817 kilograms) of ready-to-eat salad with chicken products because a corn ingredient may be contaminated with salmonella and listeria.

              The U.S. Department of Agriculture says GHSW recalled salads produced Oct. 1 through last Thursday, with "best by" or "best if sold" dates of Sunday or Monday.

              There are no reports of anyone getting sick.

              Salads with a "P-44056" USDA mark were shipped to Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The items include some products sold under the Whole Foods and Trader Joe's labels.

              Salmonella can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. Listeriosis can cause diarrhea, fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.

              ------

              Items include:
              -- 10 ounce (283.49 gram) packages of "365 BY WHOLE FOODS MARKET BBQ STYLE CHOPPED SALAD WITH CHICKEN"
              -- 8 ounce (226.79 gram) packages of "365 BY WHOLE FOODS MARKET CHICKEN FAJITA SALAD"
              -- 13 ounce (368.54 gram) packages of "TRADER JOE'S BBQ SEASONED WHITE CHICKEN SALAD"
              -- 10.7 ounce (303.33 gram) packages of "TRADER JOE'S FIELD FRESH CHOPPED SALAD WITH GRILLED WHITE CHICKEN"
              -- 10.7 ounce (303.33 gram) packages of "TRADER JOSE'S MEXICALI INSPIRED SALAD WITH CHILI SEASONED CHICKEN"

              Copyright Associated Press / NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth



              Photo Credit: Trader Joe's]]>
              <![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds to Help Mother With Quinceañera Venue Refund]]>Wed, 17 Oct 2018 20:32:18 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Delisias+Bazaar+Fort+Worth+101718.jpg

              If there's anyone who deserved a birthday party, Alicia Mora said it's her daughter, Ilivet.

              She gets good grades, helps around the house and just so happens to be turning 15 soon.

              And what better way to celebrate than a quinceañera?

              "I had one, and I would like my daughter to have the same feeling that I had when I had my first quinceañera," Mora said.

              It's a Hispanic tradition that celebrates a girl becoming a young lady.

              Mora and her husband were driving to work when they noticed Delisias Bazaar, a venue in Fort Worth.

              They took a tour and were impressed by the space and the price.

              So, they signed a contract and paid an $1,800 deposit up front.

              "Everything seemed legit," Mora said.

              But on Sept. 9, she said a friend sent her a screenshot from the venue's Facebook page: "Delicias Bazaar is now closed and out of service."

              Mora said she went to the business and confronted the man she paid, David Kim.

              "He just pretty much said he was filing for bankruptcy and that he was sorry and his lawyer would contact me in about a week," she said.

              But since then, Mora said she hadn't heard from the lawyer or Kim, and believed her $1,800 was long gone.

              "It's horrible, I mean, my husband worked long hours to see it all go away," she said. "It's just hard to turn around and tell your daughter we're out of a venue."

              Mora said she had no one left to turn to, so she called NBC 5 Responds to help her get her money back.

              NBC 5 Responds reached out to Kim, and he said he was the CEO of the business.

              He said the owners had problems with the landlord and had to close up shop. They plan on filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

              He said he's no longer affiliated with the business, but wanted to help Mora because she's very nice, and a good person.

              About a week later, Kim sent NBC 5 Responds an envelope to give to Mora: two checks totaling $600.

              Kim said Mora can expect two more checks soon.

              "These are happy tears," she said. "I thought all the money was gone. Thank you so much."

              That money is a third of what she paid.

              Kim said he's paying this money out of his own pocket out of moral obligation.

              Mora told us she would use the money to secure another venue for her daughter's Quinceañera.

              Click here to contact NBC 5 Responds.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Drivers Say GM Refuses to Replace Defective Airbags]]>Tue, 16 Oct 2018 18:26:31 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GM+Takata+airbag+101618.jpg

              Frank Llewellyn's 2007 GMC Yukon used to be his pride and joy.

              It's 11 years old, but Llewellyn said he got exactly what he paid for and more.

              "I planned on keeping it for 10 more years," he said.

              But two years ago, Llewellyn said his airbag light came on.

              After further research, he learned that his passenger airbag was a part of the Takata recall.

              Auto experts said the defective Takata airbags can explode in a crash, sending shrapnel at the driver or even the passenger.

              According to the federal government, the airbags have claimed the lives of 15 people, injuring nearly 300 in the U.S.

              "I would hate to get killed by the airbag in a fender bender," Llewellyn said.

              But no fix is available for customers like him, because General Motors is petitioning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to exempt many of their vehicles from this recall, claiming the airbags in certain trucks and SUVs do not pose "an unreasonable risk to safety."

              Jane Pulliam of Fort Worth said she's going through the same thing with her 2011 Chevy Silverado.

              She got a safety recall notice from GM in 2016 that said, "This is based upon Takata's decision that front passenger airbag inflators it supplied to GM are defective."

              When she went to her local dealership for a fix, she said she was turned down.

              "They said, 'Well, there's really no problem. There's only been 11 incidents.' And I said, 'Only 11, huh?'" Pulliam said.

              GM told NBC 5 the inflators in these trucks, which have not ruptured in the field or in ballistic testing, will continue to operate safely for decades, even in the highest temperature and humidity regions.

              GM said the inflators are GM-specific, and were engineered for GM trucks and SUVs to make them safer.

              According to GM, it's not aware of any injuries or deaths from inflator ruptures in this family of trucks and SUVs.

              David Friedman, with the advocacy group Consumers Union, said he's disappointed in the way GM has handled this recall.

              "Takata has been clear on this. These airbags are defective," Friedman said.  "Even if their data indicates a lower risk, there should be no risk. Instead of doing right by their customers and just getting those vehicles fixed, their solution has been to petition NHTSA for delay, after delay, after delay."

              Friedman said he believed this has gone on long enough and called on the government to take action.

              "So far, GM has filed three different petitions with NHTSA to back off and let them not replace them. That's three times NHTSA needs to just say no! Fix those vehicles. Put the safety of your customers first," Friedman explained.

              Llewellyn is hoping for a fix soon, as he continues to drive his 2007 GMC Yukon.

              "I have to stare at this light on my dash every day and think about that airbag. Do I have one of the ones that's going to implode?" he asked.

              NHTSA told NBC 5 it is actively engaged in monitoring carmaker's efforts to remove all recalled Takata inflators from vehicles.

              NHTSA said GM's petition remains under consideration, but wouldn't answer how many times they would allow GM to petition their ruling.

              So, it's still unclear when, if ever GM's customers will get airbag replacements.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[AT&T Customers Demand Credits After Area-Wide Outage]]>Tue, 16 Oct 2018 17:48:49 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/att-dallas-hq.jpg

              It's been 24 hours since AT&T announced service outages for U-verse customers across North Texas. The outage affected not only residential customers, but businesses who couldn't process credit card payments.

              But the big question of the day: what is AT&T going to do to make it up to its customers?

              Many people affected by the outage took to social media with the hashtag #ATToutage.

              AT&T responded to one customers on Twitter saying, "DM us your account number so we can take a look at our options for credit."

              So, here's our advice: If you're looking for a credit on your bill, request one from AT&T.  You can contact AT&T's customer service line at 800-288-2020 or click here.

              We've also been hearing from people who believe their service is still down. AT&T said they're equipment should be working, and if it's not, try restarting it.

              If you're still having problems, contact AT&T.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[How to Protect Yourself After Getting Contaminated Gasoline]]>Fri, 12 Oct 2018 17:18:30 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/bad+gas.jpg

              Viewers reached out to NBC 5 Responds when their cars stalled after getting gas at an Arlington gas station.

              Pumps were shut down and there was no gas being sold at the Chevron station on West Arkansas Lane in Arlington.

              Viewers sent us photos after they filled up with gas and couldn't even make it out of the parking lot before their cars started jerking, puttering, and  stalled right on the lot.

              NBC 5 Responds went to the gas station and found crews there inspecting and digging into the tanks at the station.

              The manager wouldn't speak on camera but told us they had upgraded their pumps the day before the incident in order to start selling diesel fuel.   

              They didn't know if something went wrong with the upgrade or if rain had gotten into the system.

              One customer told us they needed assurance it would be made right and the clerk at the store wouldn't give them the name of the owner or manager, but told them to come back later.

              They received costly bills to flush their engines and didn't know who was accountable.

              Here's what you should know.

              Print the receipt --- I'm all about saving the environment, but keeping a printed record of what you bought helps in case you get a few blocks away and your car starts malfunctioning.

              Have the car examined by a reputable mechanic and ask them to save a sample of the bad gas for proof and testing. Make sure they're noting the bad gas on your invoice.

              Contact the Texas Department of Agriculture, they oversee gas stations and will investigate all complaints.

              Send documentation of your issue to both the gas station owner and to the oil company that made the gas.

              We did that in this case.

              Chevron's corporate office told us the station is independently owned  and water may have filtered into its fuel containment system after recent heavy rainfall.

              Station managers locally told us they were in contact with the five customers who reported issues to them and their repair bills would all be paid.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Lyft: Who's Behind the Wheel?]]>Fri, 12 Oct 2018 07:17:16 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lyft-stolen-account.jpg

              There's an underground market that allows people to drive for Lyft, even though the company hasn't vetted them.]]>
              <![CDATA[Choice of Power Companies Confusing For Some Texans]]>Thu, 11 Oct 2018 19:28:45 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Power+to+Choose.jpg

              There’s so much that makes Texas special. We know energy and brag about our low cost of power but is it as good as we think?

              Scott Hundley buys power for a living for major corporations and he says figuring it out at home is even more complicated.

              “We would find ourselves spending an hour trying to figure this out and we know how to do it,” said Hundley.

              The free market of power on the state’s 'Power to Choose' list, has dozens of plans rates and options.

              “So many people get frustrated, throw up their arms and stay with the provider they have now or just pick one and make a bad choice,” said Hundley.

              Surveys show 85 percent of us never change our plan and that means we could be paying 30 percent more than those who bother to crunch the numbers.

              “It’s a horrible system and it doesn’t seem like anyone in the state is trying to fix it,” said Dallas Morning News Columnist Dave Lieber.

              He says the Power to Choose website is confusing and the only ones who win are the power companies or those who can do complex mathematical equations.

              There are even full industries out there where people will charge you to crunch the numbers and help you find a plan.

              There’s also Greg Craig, CEO of Griddy. It’s a new power company that says pay them $9 a month and they’ll sell you the power at exactly what it costs them.

              They say fixed pricing is overrated.

              “You do avoid the peak, that’s true, but you’re missing out on the 36 times the price is shoved down toward a penny,” said Craig.

              Griddy has its own charts and graphs to back up their claim that fixed pricing ultimately costs you more.

              The Public Utility Commission tells us they’ve made changes to help give consumers an easier way to choose. They recently limited the number of plans a company can provide to just five in a attempt to make things simpler.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Update: More Customers Say They Were Ripped Off By Roofer]]>Thu, 11 Oct 2018 05:59:22 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/5a+p-n5r+lone+peak+roof_KXASITMW_2018-09-24-05-21-23.jpg

              A Corinth couple says they hired a roofer and paid him thousands of dollars, but he never showed up to start the job.

              Neal and Melissa Scott strive to keep their home in tip-top shape. But when it came to their roof, they put off examining it for quite some time. 

              Their insurance company told them a new roof would help lower their premiums, so they were totally on board.

              Neal Scott found an old business card from a man who stopped by their house after a storm and he gave him a call.

              "Anytime that I texted him, he was quick to reply back," he said. "If I called him, he would answer. Everything was looking great."

              Scott said Chase Hansen, the owner of Lone Peak Roofing, even walked them through the insurance process. The couple received a check from their insurance.

              They said Hansen told them he'd need $3,500 up front to get materials.

              "(He said) the materials would show up here the day before, the workers the next day and then they would do the job," Scott explained.

              But on the day they were supposed to start, the owner told them there was a problem.

              "He said that he didn’t have the money to pay the workers and they weren’t going to do the work until he paid them," Scott said.

              They said the owner told them that he was waiting on a check from another job and would use that money for their job.

              "The following week, I hadn’t heard from him. So, I texted him like, what’s the deal?" he said.

              The couple said this lasted for months. They said the roofer even offered them a restaurant gift card to hold them over.

              When they couldn’t get results, the couple called NBC 5 Responds to step in.

              We called the owner three times, and each time, someone hung up the phone.

              But not long after our calls, the owner of Lone Peak Roofing left an envelope at the couple’s home -- inside was $1,000.

              The couple is happy to have some money back, but want to see the remaining $2,500 as soon as possible.

              "This feels to me like textbook consumer fraud. You took our money without the intention of doing the job," Scott said. "[The owner] said, I’m going to prove you wrong. Well, I dare you to prove me wrong."

              Hansen posted a complaint response on the Better Business Bureau's website.

              Hansen said his salesman stole more than $15,000 in checks and he had about $4,500 in materials stolen from a job site.

              He said this has devastated his company, but he has hired new employees and will be paying the couple the rest of their money back next week.

              Update

              The couple was hopeful, until they said they got a text response from Hansen about their $2500:

              “You will not be receiving it, we’re going out of business go tell Samantha.”

              When Scott said he’d talk to his lawyer, Hansen said, “It’ll cost you more to pay your lawyer than to recover $1,500.” 

              Since our first story aired, we’ve heard from three other customers who say they were ripped off by Lone Peak Roofing as well.

              One person wrote, “I'm writing this for my 93-year old father-in-law. Unfortunately, the day before your story aired my father-in-law gave Chase Hansen with lone peak roofers a check for $10,000.” 

              Bottom line, Scott and his wife are angry, and they’re warning other consumers to stay far, far away from this roofer.

              Here are Samantha Chatman's solutions:

              -Be careful before handing over a lot of money up front.

              -Check business reviews online

              -Ask for references

              -If you believe you’ve been ripped off, file a police report.  In some cases, if the authorities can identify a pattern, they may bring criminal charges.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
              <![CDATA[Cybersecurity Conference Underway in Plano]]>Wed, 10 Oct 2018 19:10:26 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cyber+Security+Plano+101018.jpg

              The SecureWorld conference offers a chance for companies to share information and strategies on how to combat cybersecurity threats and issues.

              The conference is underway in Plano and spokespeople said it's there to combat a growing problem of criminals working together to share resources to breach various computer platforms and steal information.

              It's all designed to make the hackers have to work harder to come up with ideas on how to steal information. 

              "It's not just one person in a basement on their computer," spokesperson Bruce Sussman said. "They're forming criminal hangs to learn from one another and hack everything we have."

              Sussman said companies who compete on various levels are actually working together to come up with better ways to safeguard information.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Woman With Breast Cancer Calls NBC 5 for Insurance Help]]>Wed, 10 Oct 2018 07:14:14 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-cancer-medication.jpg

              Becky Frank, a grandmother of five, used to be full of energy. Fast forward to June, when she learned she had stage 3 breast cancer.

              Her daughter, Cherlyn Edwards, was devastated but also determined to get her mom some help. She found an oncologist who specializes in triple negative breast cancer, which is harder to treat.

              The doctor recommended adding a drug known as carboplatin to her chemotherapy treatment to help remove the cancer.

              "It's an aggressive cancer, and I mean, we absolutely have to have this," Edwards said.

              But on the day of treatment, Frank said her nurse came to her with some sobering news: Her insurance denied the carboplatin treatment, and she was sent home.

              The following week, Frank and her daughter called the doctor's office again. They said a nurse informed them that nothing had changed. The treatment was still denied.

              "I was really angry. It's just crazy to me that her doctor says she needs a certain treatment to help her and the insurance is denying it," said Edwards.

              Her daughter was not letting up on this, so she called NBC 5 Responds for help.

              We reached out to Frank's insurance company and they reached out to Frank and her daughter that same day.

              About a week after we reached out, Frank received a letter in the mail, informing her that her treatment had been approved.

              Frank's insurance told NBC 5 that the coverage had been approved before we got involved. Frank and her daughter said that's far from the truth.

              But either way, we see this as a problem solved.

              Frank received her carboplatin treatment and we're hoping for her speedy recovery.



              Photo Credit: Family Photo]]>
              <![CDATA[How to Investigate Your Home Inspector]]>Wed, 10 Oct 2018 12:00:40 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Generic+pool1.jpg

              Your home is typically the biggest purchase you make in a lifetime and most of us want to be sure we're buying a house that's in good shape.

              Home inspectors help in that process, but their report card on your home doesn't come with any guarantees. 

              Brett Cooper recently relocated from Houston and bought a home in Plano. Before closing he hired an home inspector to make sure everything was in good working order.

              "We went over the report, talked about the pool, and having never owned a pool we inquired, 'Does everything look OK? Is it going to function?' and they said yes," Cooper recalled.

              During one of his first dips in the pool, Brett noticed a problem at the skimmer.

              "The side plaster is completely missing and on the top it wasn't completely missing, but cracked. I was like, "That's odd." This should have been noticed when you did the pool inspection," he said.

              Cooper's dad has experience with pools. He also pointed out issues with the foundation the pool equipment was on and said water didn't appear to be circulating very well. This time, he called out a pool expert and was given thousands of dollars worth of repairs the company said were needed.

              Cooper thought the inspector should pay for not catching the problem, but legally no home inspector is under any obligation to be accountable for a problem.

              Jim Adams is the president of the Texas Real Estate Commission.

              Adams said Texas' standards of practice for inspectors are some of the most strict in the country. But he said there are 3,500 new inspectors in Texas right now and vetting to make sure you get a good one is important.

              "We're not perfect. We miss things on occasion," Adams said. "How does an inspector deal with it when he does miss something?"

              Cooper had to pay for his repairs out of pocket. We reached out to the inspector, who stood by his report, but agreed to file a claim with his insurance company to see if they find fault.

              Cooper waits with a little uncertainty in his mind about the whole inspection process.

              The Home Inspectors Association recommends not just taking your realtor's word, but researching your inspector by verifying their license, looking at their education and any disciplinary reports or complaints against them.

              You can find all three on the Texas Real Estate Council's website.

              If your loan officer doesn't require an inspection, you can also call out people like HVAC companies, roofers and pool builders individually to look at all the items.

              It's more complicated, but you're hopefully getting someone who is a bit more of a specialist to let you know if there's a problem lurking in your home.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Switching TV or Internet Providers? Make Sure You Know Exactly What You're Getting]]>Mon, 08 Oct 2018 18:11:28 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/coaxial+cable.jpg

              Whether it’s internet, cable, or cellphones companies are offering lot of incentives to convince you to switch to them.

              There’s been several complaints into NBC 5 Responds recently about being promised a DVR as part of a new deal on TV service. But at installation they were told the company was all out and didn’t know when they’d get more.

              One woman says her internet service was set up, but she waited three months for TV service even though she was paying for it each month.

              She was promised a $250 gift card for signing up, but says the one she was actually sent just $50.

              How do you avoid this? When making deals like this ask for them in writing.

              Tell the agent you’re happy to sign up for new service or switch but you want all the promises and all the details of your bills sent to you in an email before you agree.

              If the agent says that can’t be done --- ask for a supervisor who can help --- or visit a local customer service center and ask for the information spelled out before you sign on the dotted line.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Help May Be on the Way to End Scam Robocalls]]>Mon, 08 Oct 2018 07:48:53 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/spam-irs-robocall.PNG

              As unwanted calls continue to proliferate, many mobile phone users have simply stopped answering the phone. But new technology is on the horizon that could sharply cut the number of scam and spam calls we all receive daily.

              Fraudulent calls — frequently originating overseas — have spiked sharply since 2017. In a study published this month, tech analyst First Orion projected by next year, nearly half of all calls to mobile phones will be scam calls. Of those, First Orion researchers say more than 90 percent will use caller ID "spoofing" — displaying a fake call-back number — to trick potential targets.

              Robocall Warning in the Bay Area

              NBC Bay Area wanted to know, why is the problem of spam calls getting worse? How do fraudulent callers spoof caller ID? Why don't phone companies simply shut them down? And, what is the government doing to stop scammers? The answers we found are complicated, but there's also hope of a solution on the horizon.

              An explosion of unwanted calls

              Most of the calls from scammers and fraudsters are made with auto-dialers, and are known as "robocalls." Irvine-based tech firm YouMail estimates 4.2 billion robocalls were placed nationwide last month, amounting to about 13 calls per phone user.

              Ethan Garr, Vice President of anti-spam calling firm TelTech, tells NBC Bay Area the numbers are staggering.

              "Over 3,000 calls are being made every second to Americans," Garr said.

              TelTech makes an app called RoboKiller. The company was awarded a $25,000 prize from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for its spam call-fighting technology.

              Garr tells NBC Bay Area the surge in caller ID spoofing by spam callers has conditioned most of us to simply stop answering our phones.

              "I would guess 40 percent of the calls you get, you can trust the caller ID," he said.

              We asked Garr how scammers spoof caller ID. He said it's pretty easy. TelTech also makes SpoofCard, an app that lets any mobile phone user choose any number to show up on a call recipient's caller ID. Garr says it's pretty simple, because caller ID is a decades-old technology.

              "It was an add-on into the phone system," Garr said. "It wasn't something that was invented so people could manipulate it or change it. It was a way for people to see who was calling, but it got co-opted over time."

              Unfortunately, scammers were among those doing the co-opting of caller ID.

              The robocall problem - it's complicated

              For years, YouMail has tracked the rapid rise in computer-dialed phone calls. It offers apps to help phone users block them. CEO Alex Quilici says the reluctance of most people to stop answering unknown calls has only made scammers more determined.

              "They're clever, and they want to get through, so they're picking random numbers to call," Quilici said. "People are not answering the calls any more, if they can help it. They just assume, 'This is a number I've never seen before; I'm not going to pick up the phone.' So the bad guys try to call more and more numbers, to try to get through. It's a little bit of a death spiral for the phone network."

              So, why can't the U.S. government simply ban all robocalls?

              Eric Troutman, an attorney with Womble Bond Dickinson, tells us it's not that simple.

              "We need to have a better definition of what a 'robocall' is," Troutman said. "When I think about what a robocall is, I think a scam, pre-recorded call; generally, random-fired, and probably by some bad actor overseas someplace. You might think that a reminder call to go pick up your pills at the pharmacy is a robocall."

              Troutman represents clients such as banks that auto-dial fraud alerts, and pharmacies that use robocalls to inform patients of prescription refills. He welcomes tougher federal laws for scammers, but not a robocall ban.

              "What is it that we're actually trying to prevent?" Troutman said. "Is it that we're trying to prevent American businesses from contacting their customers with account-specific information that their customer needs? I don't think so."

              Troutman, who also writes for and edits telecom law website TCPAland.com, is a critic of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA. He says the 1991 law — written long before widespread mobile phone and internet use — is badly in need of replacement.

              "Congress needs to focus on scammers," Troutman said. "When we've got a lot of noise out there, trying to shift the focus from bad actors to legitimate American businesses, you're going to get a lot of push-back when it comes time to draft that statute."

              Technological impediments and solutions

              The other major challenge to blocking scam calls is the aging, sprawling national telephone system. Alex Quilici with YouMail told us that makes any effort to stop spam callers a daunting task.

              "There are 3,000 [phone] carriers in the U.S.," Quilici said. "There are multiple billions of phone calls every day. To roll out something like that is a pretty massive undertaking."

              The good news is the major players in telecommunications are trying. Right now, a consortium of technology engineers, phone service providers, and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission are developing a sweeping update to caller ID. Known by the acronyms STIR and SHAKEN, the caller ID authentication standards will make it much more difficult for spam calls to get through.

              Here's how it might work: calls from someone using a verified phone line, approved by a certification authority, could show up on your phone screen with something like a green checkmark. That way, you'll know the caller ID can be trusted.

              Conversely, calls that come in through scammers' preferred routes, such as unverified overseas phone services, will be flagged. You might see a red "X" or a "caller not verified" message with their caller ID. Or, your mobile carrier might be able to block all such calls before they get to your phone.

              The new caller ID authentication standards could be rolling out to our phones as early as next year. While the measures should reduce the number of unwanted calls we get, it won't stop them altogether. Ethan Garr with TelTech says we can count on scammers' persistence and greed.

              "They hate us," Garr said. "They don't care about us. They don't think of us as humans. They want to get to us. They want to steal from us."



              Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
              <![CDATA[Virtual Reality Goggles Gaining Popularity For More Than Just Gamers]]>Fri, 05 Oct 2018 17:17:31 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/virtual+reality+goggles.jpg

              Lets face it, many of us daydream about slipping away somewhere serene to get away from it all. While we can’t hop a flight to the beach whenever we want, virtual reality is making it easier to jump into another world

              You may think gaming is the best use for virtual reality goggles, but Aaron Baker with Samsung says there’s so many more uses.

              “There are a lot of use cases outside of gaming and things people think of with VR,” said Baker.

              Samsung makes Gear VR. They are goggles that you simply snap your Samsung cellphone in and with a few pushes of a button you’re in a whole new world.

              I found a nice lake in the mountains to meditate.

              There’s another program that lets you face your fears. There’s a bedroom with scary clowns or monsters trying to get you.

              You’re immersed inside a room with your big fears. You’re hearing things and it feels like it’s coming from behind you.

              It’s easy to forget you’re not really inside the virtual world.

              There’s several different styles and brands of virtual reality goggles, working with different types of phones. Prices range anywhere from $20 to $200.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[How Scammers Trick Potential Renters]]>Thu, 04 Oct 2018 06:14:00 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/phantom-rental-responds.jpg

              Rent prices increased nationwide this past year and so did the number of scammers trying to leverage the hopes of potential renters.

              While most listings are legitimate, rental scams are real and on the rise. Just ask Kevin Stein, who turned to Craigslist for help finding a place to live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

              “I found a beautiful apartment, beautiful pictures really good rent in a really good part of town," he said. 

              And cheap!

              So Stein responded to the ad by email. The alleged owner then asked him to send first month’s rent plus a security deposit — $2,000 in all — promising to mail the keys in return.

              "He gave me a story; he was caring for his elderly father in Chicago. So, he had the keys with him," Stein explained.

              A landlord out of state asking for money before meeting or signing a lease, plus a warning on Craigslist: signs that made Stein suspicious.

              That's when he reached out to the NBC Responds team in Philadelphia. They looked up the street address, found one the owners of the building, and showed him the ad.

              “Oh my goodness. There’s nothing like that in this building. There’s nothing like that in this building,” he said.

              That's because the picture is actually of a building in Chicago. A quick Google image search shows the condo isn’t in Philadelphia at all.

              It happens more than most consumers realize. A recent survey from real estate website "apartment list" shows many, like Stein, have encountered a suspicious listing in their hunt for housing.

              "It's pretty sad to know people are preying on people who are just trying to move to a new city," he said.

              His housing hunt is back on. Stein reported the ad to Craigslist and it has since been removed.

              We reached out to Craigslist, but so far haven't heard back. Stein lost time, but no money. Sadly, many other potential renters we've heard from did bite and did send money orders.

              The standard policy for reputable landlords? Meet with a tenant, show the property and do a background check before any money changes hands.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Service Techs Suggest Repairs Couple Felt Weren't Necessary]]>Tue, 02 Oct 2018 18:36:08 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Home+Warranty+Water+Heater.jpg

              A pipe breaks in a Garland family’s home and they go through several different plumbers, all with a different story of what’s wrong with their house.

              All the repairs were costly, but the family just wasn’t buying it.

              Mark and Laura Grenier had a leak in a pipe right behind their hot water heater.

              Their home warranty company sent out a plumber who easily made the repair.

              Days later, a repair man came to close up the wall the pipe was in and discovered a whole new leak.

              They called the home warranty company back and this time a new plumber was sent out, but this plumber claimed it was impossible to get to that pipe without removing the hot water heater.

              In order to put it back they would have to pay for costly repairs to get the water heater up to code.

              "According to the master plumber who saw it, I said 'what do you see on our hot water that’s against code?' He said nothing," said Mark Grenier.

              The home warranty company sent out yet another company, this one said the water heater didn’t need to be moved but said the water pressure coming into their home was way too high and would need a costly regulator to bring it down to acceptable levels.

              "I said that’s just fantastic, but I’m telling you right now I have a hard time believing anything your folks are saying to me," said Laura Grenier.

              Out of fear their second leak was about to blow the pipe the couple paid out of pocket to have their own plumber come out.

              He could access the pipe with no issue, saw no code violations on the hot water heater, and says the pressure coming into the house was not off the charts.

              He repaired the whole thing in a matter of hours for just over $200.

              It’s money they felt they shouldn’t have to pay with coverage from a home warranty.

              NBC 5 reached out to the company and they told us "in order to provide our customers with affordable home warranties, our coverage is limited to the terms of our contract."

              We explained the matter should have been covered under the warranty and pointed it out to them.

              Less than a half hour later Laura and Mark got a phone call refunding the $200 they had spent out of pocket.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[DART Brochure Typo Causes Confusion Over Fare Discount]]>Tue, 02 Oct 2018 07:07:43 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dart-pass-100218.jpg

              Some people choose to ride the bus. Jason Jones doesn't really have a choice.

              "Ya know, money's tight, especially when you're low income," he said.

              Last month, Jones, of South Dallas, was looking over Dallas Area Rapid Transit's fare brochure when he noticed a section that may have been the break he needed.

              According to the brochure, participants in the Lone Star Card or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) programs qualify for reduced fare on monthly passes.

              Jones has a Lone Star Card, which helps him pay for food. So, instead of paying $96 for a monthly pass, Jones would only have to pay $48.

              "I mean, that's a big savings," said Jones.

              He went to the Akard station in Dallas to get his reduced pass. Jones said he even showed the attendant the brochure to confirm the price.

              "Their response was, 'I'm sorry, but that's a misprint,'" he explained.

              He was told that the brochure should have read "Participants in the Lone Star Card and TANF programs qualify, not "or."

              But Jones noticed another problem: the reduced fare line said, "Lone Star/TANF."

              "That (slash) spoke directly to the fact that this is a program that benefits either or," said Jones.

              Jones said he called DART's customer service line and they confirmed the brochure should have said and, not or. He said he asked if they could honor what was printed, but he was told no.

              "At this point, I felt like the little guy. I figured i could reach out to you guys," Jones explained.

              We reached out to DART about the brochure and a spokesperson quickly responded:

              "We were unaware of the mistake in our brochure until it was brought to our attention. We will fix that…While there may be some brochures still in circulation, we are continuing to remove them and will replace them with the updated information."

              "Thirty minutes from the time you responded to me, I get a phone call with DART," he said.

              That same day, DART agreed to sell Jones a pass at the discounted price, which means a cheaper ride for all of October.

              "I'm very grateful for you guys. You guys really came through for me," Jones said. 

              DART said customers are more than welcome to bring the brochure to the station and they will honor what is printed for one month as a gesture of goodwill.

              We also informed DART that its website only includes the Lone Star program for the monthly discount and leaves out the TANF program.

              DART said they'll get it fixed.

              ONLINE: More information on DART fares



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[New Medicare Cards Are in the Mail and Crooks Are on the Job]]>Mon, 01 Oct 2018 17:07:16 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/medicare-card.JPG

              New Medicare cards are in the mail to seniors across Texas. The cards are being replaced to remove social security numbers and protect the identity of seniors. But there are already crooks out there using the new cards as a way to pull a fast one on seniors.

              The big difference is that your social security number has been removed and replaced with this new series of numbers and letters that’s how doctors will identify you.

              Congress ordered this change to help provide some identity protection for seniors.

              Now crooks are trying one more thing to get their hands on your information.

              Calls are coming in where a stranger tells you that new medicare cards are on the way, but you'll need to give personal information like your social security number to activate it.

              “Medicare will not do that. They will not contact you by phone. They will not contact you via email. They have all the information," said Maureen McIntyre, an advocate for senior citizens.

              Medicare recipients don’t have to do anything to get these new cards. They’re being mailed automatically by the Social Security Administration and they tell NBC 5 Responds those cards are starting to be mailed in Texas right now.

              Once you get your card, shred or tear up the old one. It’s your best protection to make sure it doesn’t wind up in the wrong hands.

              CLICK HERE for more information to help you prepare for the change on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website.

              ]]>
              <![CDATA[Scheme Takes Aim at Kroger, Target, Walmart Shoppers]]>Mon, 01 Oct 2018 08:16:35 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/430a+v-mystery+shopper_KXASIWBK_2018-10-01-05-50-46.jpg

              It’s a scheme that’s claiming victims across the country.

              We’ve heard from a teacher, a retiree and a stay at home mom looking for a side job.

              They thought they were signing up for mystery shopping jobs, but ended up losing hundreds of dollars.

              Here’s how people are getting tricked according to the Federal Trade Commission:

              You get a check in the mail with a job offer as a secret shopper.  You deposit the check and see the funds in your account a few days later, and the bank even tells you the check has cleared.

              Now you’re off to the store you’ve been asked to shop at and report back on.

              Your first assignment: buy gift cards.

              You’re instructed to send pictures of the cards or to give the numbers on the cards.

              Fast forward days or weeks to the unhappy ending. The bank finds out the check you deposited is a fake, which means you’re on the hook for all that money.

              This is exactly what happened to a teacher in Plano. But a consumer in Euless didn’t see that story and wasn’t familiar with the scheme.

              So when he got an email about a secret shopper assignment at Kroger, he was pretty excited.

              A few days later, he got a letter in the mail asking him to evaluate not just Kroger, but also Walmart and Target as a bonus.

              The packet also included a check for $1,900.

              He was to deposit the check, buy $1,550 worth of gift cards and keep the rest of the money as his payment.

              Next, he was to evaluate each store he visited, rate the customer service and send pictures of the back of each gift card.

              Something just didn’t feel right, so he called us to find out if this assignment was legitimate or a set up.

              You may be sitting at home thinking, how could anyone come close to falling for this.

              It's happening enough for the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau to issue warnings to the public about it.

              So, if you ever get an email or letter like this, report it or throw it away.

              Kroger told us they have their own internal shopping program and would never solicit any shopping partner in this fashion.

              Target said this is not a legitimate program.

              We haven’t heard back from Walmart.

              For legitimate mystery shopping jobs, click here:



              Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
              <![CDATA[2/3 of Child Car Seats Used Improperly: TxDOT]]>Fri, 28 Sep 2018 07:12:57 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/6a+tz4+v-txdot+car+seat_KXASIVM6_2018-09-28-05-41-28.jpg

              As part of its September "Save Me with a Seat" campaign, the Texas Department of Transportation is encouraging parents to sign up for a free child safety seat check-up at any of its 25 district offices located throughout the state.

              The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that 2 out of 3 safety seats are not used correctly.

              According to NHTSA, child safety seats in passenger cars reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. 

              TxDOT’s free safety seat inspections are available weekdays throughout the year and take about 20 to 30 minutes. 

              Online:



              Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
              <![CDATA[Gas Station Customers Angry About 'Water in Fuel']]>Wed, 26 Sep 2018 10:19:57 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/5a+tz4-s-responds+tease_KXASIURL_2018-09-26-05-48-21.jpg

              We've heard from several drivers who filled up at a local RaceTrac gas station. Not long after, they said their cars broke down on the side of the road.

              Robert Reith said he was running low on gas and wanted to fill up for the week.

              On Sunday, he said he stopped by the RaceTrac on 1550 S. Morgan Street in Granbury, off State Highway 144, and got premium gas for his Porsche.

              "I drove about three miles and the car started backfiring, stuttering, doing all kinds of crazy things," he said. "It barely ran."

              Reith said he managed to drive to a nearby auto parts shop, where he met four other drivers who were complaining about their cars.

              "I just yelled out, 'Did everyone get gas at RaceTrac?' and they all said yes," Reith explained.

              He said they returned to the RaceTrac as a group to find out what was wrong with the fuel.

              "The manager on duty, I asked for her, she took down all our information and said she'd call me back. She never did," Reith said.

              We found other consumers who said they stopped by that same RaceTrac on Sunday that were voicing their concerns on Facebook.

              One woman told us, "Our tank was on empty and hubby got four gallons of gas last night, late, before coming home. Got in the car this morning and he couldn't keep it running."

              Another driver wrote, "Water in gas at RaceTrac on 144. We purchased premium fuel on pump 9 this morning....Car running like crap."

              Reith said he took his Porsche in to a mechanic and was told the problem was definitely water in his fuel tank.

              He said he was sent home with a sample as they worked on the car.

              Reith said he wonders if recent storms had anything to do with it.

              In a statement, RaceTrac told NBC 5 Responds that they were made aware of an issue with the premium fuel at the location in question on Monday, and as soon as they learned of the issue, access to the fuel pumps was discontinued and RaceTrac teams began working to have the fuel drained and replaced.

              RaceTrac would not confirm if water was found in their fuel tanks or if the issue was related to the heavy rain and flash flooding.

              The company said, "We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused our guests and plan to make this right."

              Reith said he plans on sending his sample to RaceTrac and hopes the company will addresses its customer's repairs quickly.

              "They wouldn't tow my car. They wouldn't pay for me. I had to do it all by myself," he said.

              The Texas Department of Agriculture oversees gas stations.

              The TDA said that gas station owners have a responsibility to ensure fuel quality at all times and anyone with a fuel complaint is encouraged to report it.

              RaceTrac also encourages customers with concerns to contact them from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1-888-636-5589.

              Reith said he is in touch with RaceTrac's corporate office. We'll keep you posted on their findings.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
              <![CDATA[Cell Carrier Switch Didn't Go Smoothly; NBC 5 Responds]]>Tue, 25 Sep 2018 16:56:05 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/cell+phone9.jpg

              Competition is growing with the amount of people looking to provide you service for your smartphone.

              Companies are offering lot of incentives to convince you to switch to them but what happens when they don’t live up to their promises?

              John reached out to us after walking into a cellphone store and being convinced to switch to a new provider.

              He was told his bill would go down – and they would pay all the fees his old company would charge to make the change.

              But he never got that payment. He talked to people in the store and customer service for weeks.

              He’s not the only one, we’ve had three other people contact NBC 5 Responds in the past two weeks with the exact same problem.

              All the companies we talked to claimed it was a miscommunication, error, or oversight and it shouldn’t have happened.

              When NBC5 Responds got involved the problem was solved and the bills were paid as promised.

              If switching cell carriers, go into the new store with copies of your current bill.

              Call your current company and ask for what your final payment will be, and bring that amount to the new company.

              Tell them up front what they will have to pay and ask for a specific date when it will be paid and who to contact at corporate if not.

              Each time contacts in the store mysteriously disappeared.

              You can also contact NBC 5 Responds. 



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Problem Solved: Woman Gets Money Back After Company Goes MIA]]>Tue, 25 Sep 2018 08:38:17 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-warranty.jpg

              If you drive to work in North Texas you know how rough the roads can be on your car. That's why Stephanie Mata purchased an extended warranty for her 2008 Mercedes Benz.

              Her manufacturer's warranty had already expired. So, her mechanic recommended that she purchased an extended warranty.

              "That way if anything happens it was covered. And so that's what I did," said Mata.

              She Googled "extended warranty for cars" and came across American Standard Auto Protection, also known as "ASAP."

              She liked what she saw and decided to give them a call.

              "One of the representatives, he was very, very informative, very friendly and very assured me that it was a very reputable company," she said.

              Mata said she confirmed the warranty package she wanted and paid $1,700 over the phone.

              "So, for the first year, nothing happened," she explained.

              But earlier this year, she noticed a leak underneath her car.

              "I decided better take it in because I don't know what's going on and it's an expensive car," she said.

              When Mata took the car in, she said her mechanic called ASAP to verify her extended warranty coverage. But when he called, no one answered.

              "He called twice day for two weeks, for two weeks he called twice a day. Then he finally called me and said 'look I'm not getting a response, you need to try it yourself,'" she explained. "So then I tried."

              Mata said when she called the company, she was told her message would be forwarded.

              "I was calling 10 times a day for almost a week," she said. 

              Mata started looking online and saw dozens of negative reviews from consumers in need of repairs, but ASAP was nowhere to be found.

              Mata sent ASAP emails begging and pleading, hoping someone would call her back.

              "To this day, American Standard Auto Protection has not called me," said Mata.

              Her car is now sitting in the garage, and her $1,700 extended warranty now appears to be useless.

              "Why don't you answer my phone," she asked. "I did my part. I gave you cash. I trusted in you. Where are you?"

              To find that answer, we started in Delaware, where the company is licensed.

              We've learned ASAP also goes by "Ultra Auto Protection" and "Motor Vehicle Service Contract Administrators, Inc."

              According to the Delaware Department of State, "This entity is currently delinquent in its tax obligation and required annual report submission for 2017. Records indicate that the business also was voided for a short period in 2016 for delinquent taxes/reports."

              We tried called ASAP to get its side of the story, but got this message instead: "The company is no longer able to take on new clients. ASAP cannot manage or maintain the obligations to their current customers."

              "I'm mad," said Mata. "Us consumers got ripped off by them."

              According to that recording, ASAP customers will receive a letter in the mail with steps on how to file a claim with the company.

              We didn't want Mata's story to end this way.

              So we contacted her bank, Bank of America, to see if there was anything they could do. The bank said it would take them some time to investigate.

              Three months after we first heard from Mata, she said she got a call from the Bank of America informing her that the $1,700 she paid for the extended warranty was going back into her account.

              Problem Solved.

              Banks typically don't reimburse customers for purchases gone wrong…so we are very happy that bank of america was able to help stephanie out.

              Banks typically don't reimburse customers for purchases gone wrong, so we are very happy that Bank of America was able to help Mata out.

              When dealing with a business you're not familiar with, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions

              • Check reviews online.

              • Only pay with a credit card.

              • If you're considering purchasing an extended warranty, click here for tips.

              ]]>
              <![CDATA[Car Rental Companies Charge Customers for Disputed Damages]]>Mon, 24 Sep 2018 17:18:40 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Rental+Car+092418.jpg

              Like many of us, Erica Lee would jump through a lot of hoops for her grandmother.

              Her grandmother lives in the southeastern corner of Colorado.

              The fastest way there is to fly to Amarillo, then rent a car and drive about two and a half hours north.

              She made the trip recently from her grandma's 80th birthday party.

              "It's such a small airport there's usually one person working the counters there and they don't come out to view the car with me," Lee said. 

              A few weeks after her trip to her grandmother's home, she received a letter in the mail from the rental car company she used -- Enterprise.

              It said the car Erica rented was damaged when she returned it.

              A manager later called and revealed nearly $1,300 in hail damage they said Erica had to pay.

              "He said there had been some hail reports in Amarillo during your rental period and I told him well that's great because I wasn't in Amarillo," Lee said.

              National hail reports found online showed hail in Amarillo during her rental as well as the night after Erica returned the car.

              But no hail reports on the farm three hours north, where Erica was with her grandma opening birthday gifts.

              "It seemed like no matter what evidence I gave them they weren't listening," Lee said.

              Lee's story is much like Chuck Hampton's. We spoke to him last year.

              He flew to Colorado, rented a car, hit the slopes and returned the car to a small airport in Montrose, where no one checked the car when he turned it in.

              "When I got home to Dallas, there was a voicemail on my phone from the manager of the Montrose Airport Alamo Rent-a-Car saying, 'You returned this car with a cracked windshield, and we're going to have to charge you for that," Hampton recalled.

              Hampton had snapped pictures of his car, on a hunch, and they show the windshield was fine.

              Hampton rented from Alamo, Lee from Enterprise. Both car rental agencies have the same parent company.

              A spokeswoman for both companies told us, "Customers are financially responsible for any damage or theft that occurs during a rental transaction regardless of fault or negligence." She also pointed out with 70 million rentals a year, there would be disagreements.

              But you couldn't disagree with Hampton who had proof his windshield was intact when he returned it.

              They called that a "miscommunication" and credited back his $500.

              As for Lee, after NBC 5 Responds reached out, they agreed not to hold her accountable for the bill as a gesture of goodwill.

              "The biggest thing off my mind is not having to worry about this going to claims or getting something dinged on my credit score," Lee said. "For any rental or any kind of thing where you're signing a contract, it's good to be aware."

              Lee said she's following Hampton's lead now and will take not just pictures, but video every time she returns a rental car. She said she will do it whether there's a agent looking over it or not.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Law Could Give More Protection Over Credit Report Security]]>Fri, 21 Sep 2018 17:09:11 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Final_Day_to_Register_for_Free_Equifax_ID_Protection.jpg

              Last year's Equifax data breach led to many fears over American's credit reports being up for grabs.

              The one fix made available to help protect you was a credit freeze.

              "A credit freeze is like a super lock on your credit that prevents any of the bad guys from getting in," said Tedd Rossman of creditcards.com

              But a leading research company says most of us aren't freezing our credit reports. Data shows only 5 percent of Americans actually bothered to do it. 

              "It's mostly faded from the headlines and while they're important changes, they're not the wholesale change we thought would take place," said Rossman.

              A new law hopes to help encourage others to use the freeze by eliminating all fees associated freezing your account.

              You still have to contact all three credit bureaus though to order a freeze.

              ]]>
              <![CDATA[Problem Solved: NBC 5 Helps Couple Get Hot Tub Refund]]>Fri, 21 Sep 2018 05:58:24 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/consumer-responds-hot-tu+b.jpg

              Kathy Meringdol had neck and back surgery not too long ago and was hoping a hot tub would help alleviate the pain. But instead, she said she ended up with "a piece of crap."

              Meringdol said the tub was missing a plug, three jets and an outside panel, so they haven’t been able to use it.

              "It’s a reminder every time I look at it," she said.

              The Truongs said they can relate.

              They’ve dealt with leaks, a broken control panel and most recently, problems with the filter housing in their hot tub. The mosquitoes may be enjoying it, but the Truongs are not.

              Both couples blamed David, the owner of Advanced Services. They said he was unresponsive and full of excuses.

              When they couldn’t get their money back, they called NBC 5 Responds to step in.

              When we first heard from David, he said he was responding to both couples. He said the Truongs had tampered with their hot tub and the Meringdols were just going through buyer’s remorse. But David said he’d take care of it, offering the Truongs a full fix and the Meringdols a full refund.

              When our first story aired, the Meringdols didn’t see that money; they thought it was a lost cause.

              But later that day, the owner arrived at their doorstep with an envelope.

              Enclosed: $1,700.

              "I’m thankful to NBC because y’all did an amazing job and he’s picking up the hot tub today," said Kathy Meringdol.

              If you thought that was good news, the owner said he will give the Truongs their money back, too, in about 10 business days.

              The owner said he can’t predict when a hot tub is going to break down, and the delays were due to the rain. He said this whole thing has been blown out of proportion and he never had a problem giving them their money back.

              But either way, we see this as a problem solved.

              ]]>
              <![CDATA[Snoring Gadget Costs More to Return Than Buy]]>Thu, 20 Sep 2018 05:54:55 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/4P+PKG+SNORING+GADGET+-+00024607_33657277.jpg

              Kim Allyn said she's tried virtually everything to stop snoring: pills, nasal strips, throat sprays — nothing worked.

              So, when she saw an online ad for a new anti-snoring mouthpiece made by SnoreQuiet, promising guaranteed results and an "over 90% success rate," Allyn didn't think twice, paying $45 for two.

              Within the first five minutes of trying it, she said it was a major fail.

              "All I do is whistle and drool. How am I supposed to sleep like this? I'll drown," she said.

              So, Allyn went back to SnoreQuiet's website, where she bought the product, and clicked on its refund policy. That's where it was all spelled out: "All returns are subject to a $25 environmental waste disposal fee per device."

              And consumers must pay international shipping charges "to our return center located in Germany."

              Fifty dollars for waste disposal for two devices, plus shipping to Germany on a package that arrived from Florida. It’s a return policy Allyn said did not add up:

              "So, what cost me $45 to get, It's going to end up costing me $65 to get rid of, to return, so there is no refund coming back," Allyn explained.

              Allyn is not the only one complaining. NBC 5 Responds found consumers lashing out online about SnoreQuiet's return policy:

              "...Much to my dismay, they are going to charge me a $25 environmental fee for disposing of the device," Allyn said. "This is simply an excuse to not give a refund."

              The Better Business Bureau agrees but has not taken any action against the company. "This is not typical. This is something way off the top," the BBB in Chicago said.

              It’s a questionable business model, the BBB said, that banks on consumers not reading the refund policy until it's too late.

              For now, the Allyn said rather than returning, she's going to re-purpose the devices themselves.

              In its return policy, the makers of SnoreQuiet claim customers can't just return the product because illnesses such as measles, tuberculosis or malaria could be transmitted in the box. An infectious disease specialist told our partners at NBC Chicago that they found the policy ridiculous.

              The maker of SnoreQuiet has not responded to our requests for comment.



              Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
              <![CDATA[Woman Charged for Tolls on a Car She Doesn't Own]]>Wed, 19 Sep 2018 07:14:08 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/6a+tz3+sv-ntta+toll+hel_KXASIRUD_2018-09-19-06-07-40.jpg

              No one likes paying for tolls in Texas, but a woman in Weatherford said she was very angry after getting billed for a car she doesn’t even own anymore.

              Brenda Balaski inherited a car from one of her close friends, but it was one she really didn’t need.

              So in May, she decided to sell it to an online buyer.

              "It was sold on May 31. It was no longer in my possession," she said.

              Balaski thought it was a done deal. That’s until she started getting pink bills in the mail from the North Texas Tollway Authority. 

              "The NTTA kept sending me bills and they were taking money from my bank account," Balaski said.

              She eventually learned that the owner, who she sold the car to, never registered the vehicle in his name.

              Balaski said she filled out a vehicle transfer form with the Texas DMV, which is how you notify the DMV that you have sold your vehicle to remove liability.

              She then sent a DMV document over to NTTA.

              "But even after I sent them that, they hit my bank account like three or four more times," she explained.

              Balaski said she talked to an NTTA  representative, who acknowledged the problem and told her they’d credit her account.

              But it didn’t take long for her to get another bill from NTTA on a car that’s no longer hers.

              "I’m like, no. It’s unacceptable! That ain’t happening," she said. “Do I need to get a lawyer or what?”

              Forget a lawyer. 

              Balaski realized she had a team on her side that specializes in solving problems.  She called NBC 5 Responds

              "Two minutes later and you call me, and I was like, 'Oh god! You really do work quick,'" she said.

              We got in touch with NTTA and the company quickly responded.

              NTTA says, “We should have noted that the customer sold the vehicle... She is right and we are issuing a credit to her account. We apologize for the inconvenience and will use this as a training situation so we can better serve our customers in the future.”

              That $147 is going back into Balaski's account.

              "You guys like getting things done. You go for the little person," she said.  "When it doesn’t seem like there’s any way, it’s like you fight for us."

              Even though her case is closed, there are some things we can learn from her especially if you’re selling a car.

              If you plan on selling your car, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

              -Go to the DMV with the buyer. That way you can make sure the title is transferred from your name to the new owner.

              -You’ll also want to fill out a bill of sale and a release of liability form.

              -For more information, click here.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
              <![CDATA[Make Sure 'Collection Companies' Aren't Making Up Your Debt]]>Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:24:20 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/cell+phones+generic.JPG

              The calls can keep coming and get aggressive when collection agencies are working to get people who are behind on their bills to pay up.

              Tiffany Schunn panicked when her mom and dad told her a man called saying Tiffany was about to get sued over a bill she hadn't paid. She immediately called the number back.

              The caller told her that she had taken out a payday loan of $300 back in 2010 and never paid it back. 

              Tiffany said she only took out one payday loan in her life and that was when she was in college and it was repaid immediately.

              She got calls at her house and work telling her this was a recent payday loan, but Tiffany swore it wasn't hers.

              "I said, 'I want to see documentation that I signed requesting a loan.' They said, "We can't give you that,"' said Schunn.

              The Consumer Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that information be provided. It also forbids collection agencies from calling you at work, but only if you tell them to stop. That's something Tiffany said she did.

              We tried to get to the bottom of the calls but that was complicated.

              The first call claimed the collection agency was Fi-ber Financial of Georgia but we found no company under that name is registered in that state.

              Tiffany also got another email and it gave this physical address for the company on the email, but it's really just a mailbox at a UPS store.

              Yet another email came from Chaplain Financial, a real business, but state records show it shut down earlier this year long before Tiffany started getting these calls.

              She's not the only one.

              The Better Business Bureau of Metro Atlanta has given Chaplain Financial a failing grade saying they've been investigating the company after getting 13 similar complaints about payday loan bills with no documentation to prove they exist. The BBB said no one with the organization ever calls or writes them back.

              NBC 5 Responds called too. We repeatedly got voicemails for the company, but when we finally got someone to pick up the phone they hung up as soon as we told them who we were. They never answered our calls again. 

              "They did such a good job at convincing me that this was my debt," said Schunn.

              Schunn said they were high-pressure and clearly had her credit report, knowing previous addresses and bank accounts she had. But they followed no rules to give her information about the debt and threatened her with lawsuits and arrest, something she knew wasn't right.

              "I feel like I know what I've done and what I haven't done, but what if my Grandma had received this phone call or what if my mom or dad received it on them," said Schunn.

              Schunn believes whoever called her received her personal information from her credit report. Cyber security attacks have a lot of our personal information out there. Even if you lock your credit report, that just protects you from getting new accounts opened in your name. It doesn’t stop people from taking the already leaked information and using it against you.

              The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office as well as the Georgia Attorney General say they’re beginning to look into the company.

              If you get a call from a debt collector, the BBB said there are several things you should know:

              • Ask for an official “validation notice.” You are entitled to know the amount of the debt and where it is from.
              • Ask for a name, address and company name from the caller, then confirm the collection agency is real.
              • If a company uses multiple names, that’s a red flag, and you should do more research.
              • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if the caller uses threats.
              • Under the Consumer Fair Debt Collection Act, collection agencies cannot call you at work once you tell them to stop.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Consumers Warn of 'Dishonest' Hot Tub Company]]>Tue, 18 Sep 2018 08:00:55 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-hot-tub-troubles.jpg

              Two North Texas couples were excited to take a dip into their newly purchased hot tubs, but it didn’t take them long to realize their tubs had major problems.

              Lon and Heather Truong recently built a back patio and thought a hot tub would be the perfect addition. They looked up hot tub companies online and came across Advanced Services.

              They met the owner, David, at his warehouse and selected a refurbished hot tub for just under $2,800. They said he told them it was as good as new.

              The receipt says all are sales final, but there’s also a 90 day warranty, so they felt good about their purchase. But on delivery day, they said the company was a no show.

              "We were going back and forth through text saying, 'we're waiting on a part, we're waiting on a part,'" said Heather.

              The tub eventually came, but when they filled it up, they said it started leaking. They called the owner to get a tech out to fix it.

              "It was like pulling teeth," said Lon. "Calling him or texting him and he would come up with excuses on why they can't come out."

              They said a tech eventually came out to fix the leak twice, but each time the leak came back. That wasn’t the only problem. The control panel stopped working, too. The couple said the owner refused to offer a refund and stopped returning their calls.

              The Truongs are not alone.

              Kathy Meringdol had neck and back surgery not too long ago and was hoping the hot tub would alleviate the pain. But like the Truongs, she said she got a lemon. She and her husband said the tub was missing a plug, three jets and an outside panel, so they haven’t been able to use it.

              The owner told them he’d give them their money back, but he never showed.

              Advanced Services, in Lancaster, has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau and several complaints on Google Reviews. After seeing this online, both couples called NBC 5 Responds, hoping that we could help.

              David told us he did stay in contact with both couples, and any delayed responses were because he was out of town and dealing with a death in the family.

              He said the Meringdols are just going through buyer’s remorse, but said he would give them there money back as a courtesy.

              As for the Truongs, he said they tampered with the control panel and shorted it out, but parts were on the way, and he’d be willing to fix it.

              After we got involved, he sent a tech to the Truong's house. But, the couple tells me they're now dealing with an issue with the filter housing.

              As for the Meringdol couple, they said they have yet to see the owner or the refund that he promised.

              We asked the owner about those bad reviews online. He told us he’s been in business for 18 years, and some people are jumping on the bandwagon and want to ride it out.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds After Woman Loses Money in Fake Check Scheme]]>Mon, 17 Sep 2018 17:12:45 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Fake+Check+Scheme+091718.jpg

              Pamela Duncan told reporters how she got a call saying she won the lotto.

              She was sent a check with instructions to deposit it and wire the money back to cover fees and taxes.

              It wasn't the lotto, she lost $5,000.

              "Of course I was just devastated, I thought, 'OK, what am I going to do?'" she said.

              Pamela is a senior, retired and lives in a home so small in Italy we had to sit outside to talk to her comfortably.

              She lives off her social security check. The bank told Pamela her account was $5,000 in the red and every dollar she got from the government would go to pay the bank back -- for months.

              "I have a car payment, insurance, and rent," is what she told her bank.

              She said the manager told her every penny would be taken until the money was paid back.

              She said she offered to pay in installments, but was told no. She borrowed money from a church and asked for extensions on her rent; still she was worried she might be out on the street.

              We walked out of the news conference where Pamela shared her story and immediately called her bank.

              We knew the bank would want to recoup the money lost, but asked it to reconsider Pamela's request to pay it back over time.

              After all, this is a senior in a small town who just wanted to do business at her local bank and have money to survive.

              We laid out her case and the bank agreed they could be more flexible in allowing Pamela to pay back $50 a month until the bill is paid off.

              "Well I certainly appreciate it, because I had no idea that anything like that would be happening, so it was such a relief," she said.

              Banks would go out of business if they gave money back every time someone is tricked out of their money.

              That's how much this is happening. The Better Business bureau announced this month it is working with banks to try to come up with a better way to spot this stuff before it gets out of control.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Get Used to Paying $50K for Pickup Trucks: Report]]>Fri, 14 Sep 2018 17:33:48 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pickup-truck.jpg

              New reports state that the average price of a pickup truck will soon cross $50,000 in the United States.]]>
              <![CDATA[Get a Yellow Envelope? Don't Throw It Away]]>Fri, 14 Sep 2018 08:26:26 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/RIP+Medical+Debt.jpg

              Craig Antico has seen it happen to many families: They say yes to medical treatment. Next, they're in a massive amount of debt.

              "You're one illness away, or accident away, from financial ruin in this country," said Antico.

              Antico worked in the debt collection industry. When hospitals are unable to get a family to pay their bill, they put those accounts in one big file. Antico and debt collectors like him would pay just pennies on the dollars for that file of bills.

              "I can buy debt for $10, $1,000 of debt for 10 bucks. I can buy a million dollars of debt for $10,000," explained Antico.

              He would them get you to pay the full or some slightly discounted amount, and he got to keep the difference.

              Antico decided it was time for a change: from a business to a charity. He would still buy debt at pennies on the dollar except instead of trying to collect on it he would forgive it, wipe it away.

              Antico works now to raise money allowing him to buy more debt.

              In February, NBC Owned Television Station donated enough money to abolish more than $2 million of debt for 902 people in North Texas.

              Bobbie Carter, a cancer survivor, was one of them.

              "I said, 'that's a yellow envelope!' I said, 'no, that's not it — oh glory to God!'"

              More letters like the one Bobbie received were mailed this week. They're being delivered Thursday and Friday, so watch out for them.

              Please understand, NBC 5 or RIP Medical Debt has no way of buying bills for one person.

              Hospitals choose which bills they want to sell, and they are sold in bulk in one large pack. There is no way to buy the debt of one particular patient.

              If you would like to help donate, you can do so HERE.

              ONLINE: How to donate



              Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
              <![CDATA[HOA Allows Man to Sell Home After Intense Roof Dispute]]>Thu, 13 Sep 2018 10:54:55 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dfw-hoa-roof-responds.jpg

              When we first sat down with Mike Luna, he was nearly in tears.

              After a hail storm, he picked out gray shingles for his Fort Worth home.

              But not long after, he got a notice in the mail.

              According to the HOA, he didn't get approval to repair his roof.

              The second problem was the color gray.

              "It's not green. It's not blue, it's not red," said Luna.

              Luna pointed out major contradictions in the HOA's bylaws.

              In one section, it says you need prior approval for home alterations.

              But in another section, it says for roof materials, like shingles, permission is "encouraged, but not required…"

              As for the color, the HOA allows weatherwood or an earth tone color, which Luna thought he had.

              "Grey is considered an earth tone color," he said.

              Luna took a job in Waco and has tried selling his home for months, but said he couldn't because the HOA wouldn't hand over the certificate of resale.

              So Luna called the NBC 5 Responds team to see if we could help.

              The Vice President of the Tehama Ridge grayspan style="color: #444444; font-family: Arimo, helvetica, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 17.008px;"> told me she thinks the roof is blue, not gray, but first and foremost, Luna didn't get even approval, and rules are rules.

              She said 99 percent of the roofs in the community are shades of brown or grey.

              After our story first story aired, hundreds of people signed a petition, demanding that the HOA approve his roof.

              And after a months long battle, Luna said the HOA finally agreed to let him sell his home.

              No liens no fines, just a problem solved.

              We reached out the HOA's Vice President for comment but we haven't heard back.

              Luna said he and his family have officially moved to Waco and they're happy this is all behind them.

              And he’s grateful to his former neighbors for starting that change.org petition.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[HVAC Repair Didn't Fix the Problem, NBC 5 Responds]]>Wed, 12 Sep 2018 17:42:41 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/HVAC+091218.jpg

              It was 112 degrees outside and not much cooler inside Will and Sarah Freaney's home earlier this summer when their air conditioner stopped working.

              "Will was outside and I went out and I said, "The AC, I think it's struggling." and he said, "Well it's probably just working to keep up." recalled Sarah Freaney.

              Hours later the air coming from the vents in the home was still warm.

              "So I went back out front and I said, "Uh, you're gonna have to come check this out."

              Newly married, Will was quickly learning his new wife is always right.

              "It was a very loud humming noise you could tell something was wrong," said Will.

              They called several companies - needing emergency help late on a Saturday night. King Air Conditioning & Heat stepped up and came right out.

              "He looked very professional, came in the back and he looked at it and goes, "We turned it on, it's gotta be the fan, we've been replacing those all week," said Will.

              They paid $980, happy to get some cooler air blowing in the home but a half hour later the cool air still hadn’t come.

              King Air sent a service tech back out that same night. He told them the unit needed more time to cool the house.

              But that never happened. Will and Sarah called again the next day.

              This time a supervisor came out and told them the new parts installed weren't needed. The whole unit, inside and out, needed to be replaced.

              "Well what about the money I already gave you for the parts, you know these are brand new parts that we thought was going to fix?" asked Will.

              He was told they would subtract the money he already paid from the price of a new unit.

              Even with the discount, Will and Sarah said they got a better price with a different company.

              They hired the new company, but still asked King Air for a refund for the parts they paid for and didn't need.

              King Air agreed to give the couple a $350 refund for the service call but nothing more.

              They called NBC 5 Responds and we got the problem solved.

              The general manager apologized to Will and Sarah saying the issue was not properly escalated within the company. He told us, "We always do what's right to take care of our clients no matter what."

              He approved a full refund, putting the cash back in the newlyweds hands.

              Remember if you get repairs done, especially on an older device, ask what happens if the repair doesn’t fix the problem and what credits or refunds you’re entitled to receive.

              If you don’t feel like you’re getting heard don’t be afraid to ask for a general manager or an owner to make sure you’re talking to the right person.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Man Says His Hyundai Caught Fire With Daughters Inside]]>Wed, 12 Sep 2018 07:10:09 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/5a+p-n5r+hyundai+car+fi_KXASIOYC_2018-09-12-04-35-091.jpg

              Jason Tellefsen said he was driving his daughters home from school when he saw smoke coming from his car.

              "I had the girls in the backseat and all of a sudden the whole car just shut off," he said.  

              Tellefsen said he pulled over on the side of the road. That’s when he realized his 2012 Hyundai Sonata was on fire.

              He pulled his girls out of the car as fast as he could.

              "My girls were hysterical," he said. "They were terrified. They had no clue what was going on. They just saw the car on fire."

              At first glance, he thought it was a freak accident

              But after coming across our stories on non-collision Kia fires, he had more questions and concerns.

              "That’s pretty much the exact same thing that happened to us," Tellefsen said.

              Consumer watchdog Center for Auto Safety found similar reports lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that suggest it is happening with other Hyundais and Kias.

              Both Hyundai and Kia, which are both owned by the Hyundai Motor Group, previously recalled more than 1 million cars for an engine defect. But there were no fire hazards or warnings mentioned in that previous recall.

              In June, NHTSA agreed to step up its current oversight of those recalls and review more than 400 complaints of Kia and Hyundai fires that occurred without collisions.

              The Center for Auto Safety said that's not far enough: alleging Kias and Hyundais outside of the recall are catching fire, too, many unrelated to the recalled engine defect.

              They are now calling for a separate investigation.

              “What they should be doing is opening a new investigation into why Kias and Hyundais are catching fire,” said Jason Levine with the Center for Auto Safety.

              The Center isn’t optimistic NHTSA will do anything. They point to a recent internal audit of NHTSA - that says it is failing to monitor recalls, saying it does not ensure that remedies are reported completely and in a timely manner.

              “NHTSA's failing at making sure recalls are happening as quickly as they need to, as effectively as they need to, and as often as they need to,” Levine said.

              The car makers say no recall is needed right now.

              In a statement to our sister station in Chicago, Kia said: “...No cause of recent fires has been determined to be the result of a defect...”

              Hyundai said that if it and NHTSA "...Find that additional remedies are warranted...we will take action.."

              As for Tellefsen's, Hyundai said his vehicle is at the dealership and will be inspected this week.

              Hyundai said it diligently monitors for vehicle fires and upon learning of an incident, it takes immediate action.

              It’s little comfort for drivers like Tellefse, who feel they barely escaped.

              But he feels fortunate that he and his girls made it out alive.

              NHTSA confirmed that it’s looking into certain makes and models of Kias and Hyundais that total 1.6 million vehicles.

              NHTSA said it prioritizes any complaint involving a vehicle fire, and the agency will not hesitate to use its oversight authorities to ensure vehicle safety.

              As for Tellefsen's car, he said his insurance is covering it as a total loss.

              We’ll let you know about Hyundai’s inspection results as soon as we get them.

              ]]>
              <![CDATA[Wedding Hotel Room Mix-Up]]>Tue, 11 Sep 2018 19:43:36 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/Wayne-NBC5R-091118.jpg

              A Mansfield family arrived to check in to their hotel before a wedding, only to find out there were no rooms left -- even though they had reservations. So they called NBC 5 Responds.

              Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
              <![CDATA[Frisco Woman Waits Months for Fridge Repair]]>Tue, 11 Sep 2018 07:09:09 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/consumer-responds-fridge.jpg

              A couple years ago, Mary Aday bought an LG refrigerator. But on June 8 of this year, she said it went out completely.

              She said Sears sent a technician out not once, not twice, but three times.

              After the third try, she said the technician told her the fridge was not repairable, and she needed to call the manufacturer, LG.

              Aday said she's called LG every week for the last three months.

              "Their customer service stinks," she said.

              When she finally reached a manager, she said LG blamed the delay on Sears, saying they didn't send LG a full service report.

              When she called Sears, she said they told her they did send a full report.

              Aday eventually had to buy another fridge that cost her $1,100.

              "I decide to call you, NBC 5 Responds. I've seen your investigative reporting on TV. I don't have anything to lose," she explained.

              We started with Sears, the company that sold her the fridge.

              Sears told us that LG is the manufacturer of the fridge, and LG could have sent out their own technicians. It's not up to the Sears home warranty to prove anything to LG.

              We then turned to LG, asking them why they haven't sent out a technician. LG said they'd get back to us.

              Aday got several phone calls from the company that same week.

              In a statement, LG confirmed that they have been working with Mary to resolve the situation. That same week, LG sent out a technician, and much to Aday's surprise, the fridge was finally fixed.

              "You got the ball rolling," she said. "They weren't listening to me, but they listened to you and that's when things started happening."

              Aday said that LG has offered to pay her $200 for the food she lost and $750 for the extra fridge she had to buy.

              In a statement, LG had this to say:

              "NBC 5 to the rescue! This is another good example of how KXAS-TV serves its viewers."



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Woman's Jeep Damaged After Driving Down Road Being Repaired]]>Mon, 10 Sep 2018 17:15:27 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Jeep+stuck+in+construction+zone+091018.jpg

              Yessica Rostro and her sister were headed home from school in their brand new Jeep. It's her first car -- she calls it her dream car.

              But things weren't so great as she came upon a set of large steel plates lying in the road, which was under construction.

              "As we approached the plates a truck came by and it went over them, it bent the plates it concaved, my car just struck the plate and got stuck there," Rostro said.

              When they got the car free, the news wasn't good.

              "The whole front bottom part was destroyed, it broke the axle, the place where the motor sits broke off, so all of that was on the floor, as it was towed away it scraped the pavement," Rostro said.

              The construction manager on site sent an adjuster from their insurance company to check out the vehicle. Yessica wanted to know if the company was going to pay for it.

              "I tried to contact them for several weeks, and I would just get her voicemail, I emailed her, I got automatic replies to call in another week and I would call and get the same thing. Call in another week," she said.

              Word finally came that the company wouldn't pay. A letter from the insurance company said a truck had moved the steel plate designed to protect cars from the hole.  

              The insurance company said Yessica came along shortly after the truck and the construction company didn't have a chance to put the plate back, so they weren't at fault and wouldn't pay.

              "It was completely unfair, I was driving a Jeep, designed to be driven off the road," Rostro said.

              Yessica had insurance, but only liability coverage, so it wouldn't pay for the damage to her car.  

              She now understands the importance of full coverage.  

              The producers in our Consumer Investigative Center still reached out and asked the insurance company to take a second look.

              "The following day, the claim representative called me and said we have good news, we reviewed the photos and videos you sent us, we are going to pay for your car," she said.

              The lesson here is pretty obvious. A lack of insurance on your car can cause big problems for you.

              As for that steel plate in the road getting moved, the Texas Department of Transportation tells NBC 5 there are no statewide regulations for those and who's responsible.  



              Photo Credit: Yessica Rostro]]>
              <![CDATA[Carmakers Urge Consumers to Replace Recalled Airbags]]>Mon, 10 Sep 2018 06:59:38 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/takata+airbags.jpg

              Honda and Toyota are practically begging consumers to find out if their airbags are under recall.

              Out of the 42 million Takata airbags under recall, nearly 16 million are still on the roads.

              Executives at Toyota said they’re not taking this lightly.

              The defective airbags have already claimed the lives of 15 people in the U.S., injuring nearly 300.

              "These inflators can over pressure when the airbag deploys, and the inflator assembly can actually rupture and shoot shrapnel into the cabin," said Tim Trisdale, Toyota’s VP of Product Quality.

              He said one of the biggest problems they’re facing is awareness.

              "Some people don’t realize that a recall repair is a free repair at the dealership," Trisdale said.

              It’s a problem that Honda is also facing with its customers. The automaker is now scanning license plates around the country to see if the vehicle has been recalled and repaired.

              Toyota is also taking extra measures.

              "We’ll even tow or come and pick up the vehicle if necessary to get you in and get the vehicle repaired," Trisdale explained.

              Here in North Texas, he said there are 22,000 vehicles that are of grave concern. They include certain Toyota, Lexus and Scion models in priority groups 1-3.

              "Based and the age of these inflators and the markets they’re in, that’s 22,000 that we need in Dallas right now," he said.

              Toyota told us it has plenty of parts for its customers.

              Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now pushing carmakers to make their Takata airbag repair plans public, saying in part, "It is imperative that manufacturers take every available step to reach each and every owner of a vehicle with deadly air bags, and take action to ensure that those dangerous air bags are replaced as soon as is safely possible."

              Trisdale and executives at Toyota say they will do everything they can to get defective Takata airbags off the roads.

              "We need you to come in," he said.

              If you’ve tried to get your airbag replaced, but the dealership is telling you they’re out of parts, you are not alone. There are some carmakers who are still waiting for their parts to come in. If that’s case, ask for a loaner car.

              When we reported on a parts shortage with Fords, the company agreed to provide a loaner car to customers still waiting on parts.

              If you’re not sure if your car is under recall,  check today.

              You can visit safercar.gov and enter your vin. There’s also and app called Airbag Recall.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Safety Technology Popping Up In More Vehicles]]>Fri, 07 Sep 2018 17:58:36 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Toyota+Steering+Wheel+090718.jpg

              Adam Lovelady specializes in technology at Toyota's North American Headquarters in Plano. He says the company has made a number of active safety systems standard on almost every car it builds. He showed us steering assistance.

              "If we started to drift out of our lane, you can see the alert, you hear it and this vehicle has steering assist, so it will actually also push on the steering wheel to get us back into the lane," Lovelady said.

              There's also dynamic cruise control.

              "If somebody cuts in front of you or you come up on slower traffic, the car is going to respond to maintain that same distance," Lovelady said.

              We saw it first hand the day we drove with him. Cruise control was set and while driving we came across an accident. The car slowed itself down and then came to a complete stop on I-635.

              Many cars have pedestrian protection as well.

              "It could pick up a bicyclist if needed, automatically apply the brakes to avoid the collision," Lovelady said.

              While the technology may be cool now, it's all improving and will eventually bring us closer to self-driving vehicles.

              "I've got little kids and I assume one day these technologies in the hands of teenager would be priceless to me as a father," he said.

              You can find similar versions of this technology from many automakers, and many newer-model cars have it. Your dealer can help you figure out how they work and there are several instructional videos on YouTube as well.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Viewer Steps in After Toddler's Birthday Party Was Ruined]]>Thu, 06 Sep 2018 17:19:46 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/toddler+birthday+ruined.jpg

              Within 24 hours of airing Vicki Ramirez's story, we had good news.

              Ramirez told us how her daughter loved Tinkerbell, so she hired a company to bring Tinkerbell to their home for the girl's birthday party but the company never came even though they were paid in full.

              A viewer saw the hurt, and financial hardship, it created for the family and gave Ramirez $200 -- enough to cover the cost of Tinkerbell and have a little extra money to buy a birthday gift for her daughter.

              The NBC 5 viewer asked to remain anonymous.

              You can read Ramirez's story and the company involved here.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Man Accused of Taking Money for Fake Veterans' Charity]]>Thu, 06 Sep 2018 09:44:02 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Robocall_Warning_in_the_Bay_Area.jpg

              A man in Utah is accused of soliciting donations to fake veterans' charities and promising bogus tax write offs.

              One woman who logged robocalls from the man helped the Federal Trade Commission in Chicago build one of its cases against bogus veterans' charities and against the man they believe is running them by using websites to help lure unsuspecting donors.

              According to the lawsuit, the accused man is Travis Deloy Peterson of Utah, who they say collected thousands of cars and boats from generous Americans and sold them at auction, pocketing the proceeds within the last four years.

              "He’s preying on people’s sympathies to get them to donate goods to help service members and veterans and then he’s using most of that money just for his own personal expenses," Todd Kossow with the FTC.

              Nancy McDaniel was on the receiving end of those calls for years, and skeptical from the get-go.

              Instead of donating, she started logging complaints a dozen times in the last four years.

              A spokesperson from the FTC in Chicago said her logs payed off.

              "Nancy is somebody who ignored the robocalls," Kossow said. "She didn’t pick up. But she did keep track of all the robocalls she got and she provided us with that information."

              The FTC said thousands of complaints have been lodged against the many "fake charities" run by Peterson.

              Peterson is accused of using the money meant for veterans to pay for personal vacations, dining, matchmaking services and even an all-terrain vehicle.

              His assets are now frozen and his operation shut down while the case continues.

              The FTC said that Peterson has taken in nearly $500,000 in donations over the last four years.

              We tried to reach out to him for comment but two phone numbers in his name are out of order.

              The FTC said he is not represented by an attorney in this case.

              ]]>
              <![CDATA[Woman Loses Thousands of Dollars in Fake Check Scheme]]>Wed, 05 Sep 2018 17:54:44 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Fake+Check+Scheme+090518.jpg

              The Better Business Bureau is warning North Texans to watch out for fake checks being sent in the mail.

              People across the area are losing money and it's happening more often. Several victims shared stories of how they were targeted.

              One man was contacted and asked to paint a house, another to make a promotional video and Pamela Dunca was told she won the lottery.

              "They said I won $5,000 and they wanted to send me a check in the mail," she told NBC 5 Responds.

              The check came, she deposited it and was told she had to wire money back for fees and taxes.

              That's a huge red flag.

              Thousands of fake checks have been reported to the BBB this year alone.

              It's enough to have the organization meeting with banks and the Federal Trade Commission. They're working together to come up with a way to help spot fake checks before people lose money.

              Pamela's entire social security check went to cover the fake check she deposited. Her next two social security checks will be eaten up, too, just paying the bank back.

              She had to turn to neighbors and friends just to get food to eat and pay her rent.

              The Better Business Bureaus said it's working with banks trying to develop technology to help spot these fake checks as soon as you deposit them.

              Even if it happens, the crooks will likely come up with another way to trick you.

              So, consider yourself warned, never deposit a check for any reason if someone asks you to send them part of the money back.

              NBC 5 Responds has reached out to Pamela's bank to see if it can work with her to pay the money back over time.

              We will keep you posted on our efforts.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Plano Woman Loses $2K in Police Impostor Scam]]>Wed, 05 Sep 2018 07:24:40 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/plano-police-scam.jpg

              Over the last few years, Courtney Duva has made a living helping women look and feel their very best. She rarely takes calls at work, but last month the Plano stylist received several calls from an unfamiliar number.

              She decided to answer. Duva said the caller informed her that he was with the federal government and he had a warrant for her arrest.

              If she hung up, they’d arrest her on the spot.

              Duva said she assured the man she didn’t do anything wrong. But then, another call came in, and the caller ID showed the Plano Police Department’s phone number.

              "They said, 'okay, so your social was stolen and your name was stolen,'" she said.

              Duva said the officer told her a woman in Austin had been using her identity to commit drug crimes. In order to clear her name and identity, she needed to drain her bank account.

              Duva was then ordered to transfer all of her money onto Google Play gift cards to keep her funds safe and secure.

              She put $2,000 on the cards and sent pictures of the cards as instructed. But when she called Plano PD’s number back, she said a real officer let her know this was a total scam.

              Plano Detective Jerry Minton said this scam is becoming a major problem for departments across the country. He said the crooks are spoofing caller IDs, making you think the number that appears on your phone is that of law enforcement.

              "What they’re doing is, they’re playing on people’s fears," he said.

              Detective Minton said in today’s climate, people are afraid of law enforcement, and in many cases, they're willing to do whatever it takes to avoid the police, even if that means paying first and asking questions later.

              "With the badgering techniques that are being used, they are catching people off guard," he explained.

              Duva said she still blames herself.

              "I felt embarrassed, humiliated," she said.

              But Detective Minton said she shouldn’t because there are a lot of other victims out there.

              "These people are professionals. This is their 9 to 5 job and this is what they’ve been trained to do by other people. Unfortunately, they're pretty good at it," Minton explained.

              Minton said he has issued a search warrant to Google so that he can try to track down those cards and where all of that money went.

              We reached out to Google for comment and haven’t heard back.

              Plano PD wants to remind consumers that they would never threaten or badger you over the phone for money, and they certainly wouldn’t ask you to send use gift cards to protect your money.

              So if you’re ever doubtful, hang up.

              Call the department’s number and ask to speak with a detective. They’ll be able to tell you if you’re being scammed.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Homeowners Waiting To Learn Who Will Pay For Flood Damage]]>Tue, 04 Sep 2018 18:32:25 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Richardson+Homes+Water+Damage.jpg

              Water service is finally returning to normal for many people in Richardson after a water main break there last week.

              The problems are just getting started for those homes damaged by the break.  

              Homeowners say they’re still trying to get someone to take responsibility for the incident and find out who will pay for the thousands of dollars in repair to their homes.

              It’s possible homeowners and flood insurance both may deny your claim in a situation like this.

              By law the water district has protections in place to keep them from paying your private damages.

              Melinda Hutchenrider’s home was Ground Zero for the water main break.

              Her floors, walls, furniture were soaked for hours as the water kept pouring in. She called her insurance company for help.

              "We get a call a day after saying we’re not even sending an agent, you’re not covered, this is not our issue," said Hutchenrider.

              Homeowner’s policies don’t cover flooding. You need flood insurance for that, but even flood insurance has very specific coverage.

              "Coverage is dependent on numerous factors related to the damage to the building, and how the flood occurred. We strongly urge policyholders to speak with their individual insurance company" said a spokesperson for FEMA.

              Homeowners in Richardson say their agents have turned them down, and the water district hasn’t made them feel much better.

              "She told us this has never happened, we don’t know what we’re going to do, you have a claim number but I can’t guarantee you today that we’re going to pay for anything," said Hutchenrider after a call with the districts third party claims representative.

              NBC 5 Responds spoke to insurance industry experts, FEMA, even disaster cleanup crews who all say there is no clear way these or any homeowner could have protected themselves from this.

              It’s a liability that’s outside of their home and laws on the books often protect public utilities and cities from being held accountable. 

              Ultimately insurance companies, homeowners, and the water authority may have to hash this all out in court.

              In the meantime, it's left in the hands of the families to handle.

              "We don’t have that kind of money, we don’t have that kind of savings," said Hutchenrider.

              The North Texas Municipal Water District said they're working with the district's insurance carrier on the next steps.

              They released a statement saying in part:

              "At this time, the appropriate process is for the involved insurance companies for homeowners and the District to review the claims for available coverage. We understand this process is frustrating and time consuming, and we are working to provide further information to homeowners as soon as possible"



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Update: Man Gets Guitar Back After Counterfeit Gold Scheme]]>Tue, 04 Sep 2018 07:08:53 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/consumer-responds-guitar-scheme.jpg

              Cody Gleason thought he came across a solid deal. He wanted to trade his Gibson Les Paul guitar in exchange for gold bullion.

              A man came across his ad online and wanted to make the transaction happen. Gleason said the man assured him that the gold was real — he even used a magnet to prove it.

              The next day, he took it to a local gold and silver shop and learned the trade was a scheme and the gold was fake.

              "If I can do something to help other people not be susceptible to this kind of scam, that's what I'm going to do," he said.

              His case was eventually picked up by the Dallas County District Attorney's Office, and about a month later, Gabriel Carter was arrested on a felony theft charge.

              Court documents refer to Carter's actions as a scheme by exercising control over the guitar "…namely by deception."

              Even though charges had been filed, Gleason never thought he’d see his guitar again. But, he recently got a call from the DA's office, which said they had something of his that he’d want to see.

              And just like that, he got his guitar back.

              The Dallas County DA’s office explained that because the case is still pending, they cannot provide a comment at this time.

              We also reached out to Carter’s attorney, and we haven’t heard back.

              Gleason told us when he was picking up his guitar, another man was there to pick up his guitar, too.

              That man said he saw our first story, went to the police, and he’s happy to have his property back.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Tips on Getting the Most From Your Android Phone]]>Fri, 31 Aug 2018 17:19:59 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Android+Tips.jpg

              Research shows about 70 percent of Americans have a smart phone, but do you know all the things your smartphone can do? NBC 5 Consumer Responds went to an expert at AT&T to find out how to make your Android do more for you.

              First up, the floating camera button, it works on both the Samsung S9 and Note 8. You'll find it in camera settings, all the way down at the bottom, click "floating camera." When you turn it on you'll be able to move the camera button around to the best spot on the phone's screen for you.

              Additionally, you can use Bixby which is Samsung’s version of Siri to help adjust the photo. Simply click the button on the bottom left hand and say "Bixby auto adjust my photo and save it."

              Bixby also uses something called Shop on Sight. Point your camera at an object in real life and tap "Shopping" to see online deals for similar items.

              You can also use your camera to virtually try on makeup and skincare products.

              If you are big traveler or planning on traveling, Bixby and your camera can also translate a menu or signs on the go!

              Note 8 is known for the Dual Lens and Select Focus. Launch camera, swipe right for selfie mode,  swipe left and click "Selected Focus."

              Next, secure files allows you to hide files and photos that may be personal, so that you will need a passcode to access the file. You can make that file invisible to other users, only you will know where it is and how to access it.

              Just go to settings then click lock and security, select secure folder, to make it invisible simply tap "hide secure folder" and "ok" to confirm.

              Another feature you'll want to consider is Samsung Pay. Whether you forgot your wallet at home or simply have too many credit cards to manage, mobile payments can be a huge convenience. Just hold your phone up to a compatible payment terminal to complete a transaction! Samsung Pay works even on older terminals that don't typically support mobile payments.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Tips for Dealing With Damaged Deliveries]]>Fri, 31 Aug 2018 05:39:13 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/consumer-responds-couch.jpg

              You may have experienced buying an item and receiving it damaged. A consumer we spoke with says that when it happened to him, he thought it would be easy to get a replacement or a refund.

              John D'Arcy told NBC Philadelphia that the went to a furniture store and purchased a new couch. But when it was delivered, there was a problem.

              In the photos he took, it appears as though the center leg doesn't reach the floor. He said he called customer service but couldn't get through.

              So, he went back to the store requesting a replacement or a refund.

              "I talked to the sales associate there and I had some email correspondence with her, and she said she would get back to me," he said.

              D'Arcy said she never did, and five weeks went by before the store sent someone to retrieve the couch. But, still no word on his refund.

              D'Arcy said he started calling customer service time and time again. He said at one point, the company did tell him it sent him a gift card, but he never received it.

              The furniture store wouldn’t say what caused the delay, but it did say it would be handled.

              The National Association of Consumer Advocates has advice for consumers on how you can protect yourself should you have a similar problem. The association said you should:

              • Refuse delivery if your item arrives damaged or defective.
              • Make your purchase with a credit card.
              • If your item's damaged, dispute the charge right away. That way your credit card company can fight for you.

              D'Arcy did get his $970 dollar refund for the couch and the company sent him a complimentary $200 gift card.

              He said he’ll continue to place delivery orders, and he knows what to do moving forward.

              ]]>
              <![CDATA[Beware: Some Jersey Sites Can't Be Trusted]]>Mon, 03 Sep 2018 08:43:45 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ezekiel-ellioitt-jersey.jpg

              Bill Cureton loves the Dallas Cowboys. But his son Ben — he's a fanatic.

              "The Cowboys are a good local team," said Ben.

              He wanted a Sean Lee jersey for Christmas to add to his impressive collection. His dad searched online, but all the well known businesses were all sold out.

              He started browsing through unfamiliar sites and came across Fansgoods.com.

              "Well, when you log into the site, it looks like a normal NFL licensed shop," says Cureton.

              And there the Sean Lee jersey was; the right size at a great price. He placed the order, and got a confirmation email, but no tracking or shipping number.

              Two months later, no jersey.

              "I continue send them E-mails saying, 'where is it? what's going on here?' The same answer is, due to the volume of it being Christmas, customs is backed up," says Cureton, "I'm basically right now saying OK, this is a loss."

              Dave Westray is in the same situation. He came across Cowboynavyshop.com in November and ordered a Dak Prescott jersey for his wife.

              Christmas rolled around, and the jersey never came.

              "I emailed again in January and said I'm done, I've had it, I want my money back, cancel the order. And that's when they said I'm sorry, you are not allowed to cancel your order. It really hurts to think I got burned," says Westray.

              At first glance you'd think these companies are legit. One even shows the NFL logo, but with no customer service number on one page, a non-working number on the other, ridiculously cheap prices and dozens of complaints online, the warning signs were there.

              "I guess it's that old adage: buyer beware," says Westray.

              We reached out to both companies to find out what happened to these guys orders. We haven't heard back, but Cureton did.

              "Then, kind of all of a sudden, it arrived Saturday afternoon," he said.

              The jersey looks like the real deal, but the label says it was shipped out of Shanghai.

              According to a Cowboys spokesperson, "Any site shipping direct form a foreign country is unauthorized.”

              Ben says he's still going to wear his Sean Lee jersey for the Super Bowl. But Westray's wife is out of luck.

              "That was my lesson learned. If you want legitimate stuff, you gotta go to a legitimate place."

              These sites are everywhere.

              If you shop online for jerseys you need to find out where your item is being shipped from. If it’s out of the country, you probably shouldn’t buy it if you're looking for authentic apparel.

              Don’t be fooled by the NFL logo on a website.

              If you are physically looking at team merchandise, there are clues to tell if the product is authentic.

              Price, again, is a big consideration. Also, look at the stitching. It's often sloppy on fakes. Tags should not be cut or say "irregular." There can also be misspellings on the actual item.

              And the biggest clue — the hologram.

              All NFL merchandise carries it. When you move it back and forth and from side to side, you should see a different or changing picture. Fakes either don't have a sticker at all, or they will carry something shiny, but not a true hologram.

              The NFL recommends ordering directly from its website at NFL.com.

              ]]>
              <![CDATA[One Automaker is Going Door-To-Door to Replace Faulty Takata Airbags]]>Thu, 30 Aug 2018 17:53:44 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/takata+airbags.jpg

              Almost a decade after the first recall of deadly Takata airbags was issued, millions of cars remain on the road with defective units. One automaker is going to extreme lengths to try and make sure owners of its vehicles stay safe.

              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[NBC 5 Responds to Frontier Communications' Billing Error]]>Thu, 30 Aug 2018 05:51:44 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/186*120/TV+remote1.jpg

              Like many of us, James Veitenheimer loves to kick his feet up and watch TV during his down time.

              He also likes to record his shows, so he added a DVR to his Frontier Communications cable service.

              All was going well with the DVR Until he noticed a $200 charge on his bill for an unreturned DVR.

              Veitenheimer compared the serial number on his bill to the serial number on the DVR. It was the same. His DVR was still in use and shouldn't have been listed as unreturned. 

              He said he called Frontier Communications about this for five months, and each time, he said they acknowledged the problem, but they said they didn't have the authority to fix it.

              So, the consumer called a group that specializes in fixing problems: NBC 5 Responds.

              Frontier Communications told us their representative did not follow procedure and apologized for the lack of service he experienced.

              That same week, Veitenheimer got a call from the cable company, letting him know the problem was corrected and he'd see the $200 credit on his bill in a few days.

              Problem solved.

              ]]>
              <![CDATA[Party Foul: Characters Are No-Shows for Toddler's Birthday]]>Wed, 29 Aug 2018 17:41:50 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Dora+the+Explorer+cake+082918.jpg

              One of the coolest parts of being a parent is throwing your kid the perfect birthday party.

              Imagine throwing a party around your child's favorite cartoon character and that character doesn't show up.

              Two North Texas moms said it happened to them.

              Brittany Baxster's son, Maddox, is a big fan of Dora the Explorer -- and her pals Boots and Diego. 

              She wanted to make sure all three were at her son's third birthday party, so she hired a party planner to make it happen.

              But come party time, the characters didn't show. 

              "No text messages -- not only am I calling her, my family members are calling her, my friends are calling her, no answer," Baxster said.

              The same thing happened to Vicki Ramirez, who ordered Tinkerbell for her daughter's party.

              "She hadn't reached out to me all day. Finally about 6:30 p.m.-6:45 p.m. she reached out to me and said she was overbooked," Vicki said.

              Brittany paid $274 and Vicki paid $157 after they hired "Royalty Adventures," a business promoted on Facebook under the name "A Royalty Prince and Princess."

              The women said not only did the characters not show, but they ruined the parties, and didn't return the money.

              "She said it's going to take 30 days to get me a refund on the Cash App. I said, 'No ma'am, it's going to take 30 seconds.' It took 30 seconds for me to pay you in full so you need make it a priority to get the bank and pay me my money back ASAP," Baxster said.

              Baxster filed a claim with her credit card company and got her money back.

              NBC 5 Responds spoke to a woman who identified herself as the company's owner. 

              She apologized for missing the party, and said her employees had heat exhaustion from a previous party and were hospitalized. 

              She said since Baxster got a refund from her bank, she considered the case closed.

              As for Vicki, the owner said she didn't have any information on her party and what may have gone wrong that day.

              She also said she didn't immediately return the money because she didn't have it.  

              She said she spent the money on her business and didn't have the funds in her account to provide a refund.

              The call disconnected and the owner didn't respond to any further calls or messages.

              "She broke my son's heart," Baxster said.

              Baxster did have a contract, but it was not signed. It was really more like a receipt listing what she paid for, and it didn't spell out the consequences of what happened if the company didn't show.

              That's something you should look for when hiring such a company.

              NBC 5 Responds has tried repeatedly to reach out to the owner to help Vicki get her money back, but our calls were not returned. 



              Photo Credit: Brittany Baxster]]>
              <![CDATA[Denton Woman Says Kia Won't Reimburse Her After Car Fire]]>Wed, 29 Aug 2018 07:06:16 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/5a+p-n5r+kia+fires_KXASIJ47_2018-08-29-04-35-44.jpg

              A Denton woman says she was driving down Interstate 35 when in a matter of minutes, her Kia went up in flames.

              Amy McDade's story, she said, is far from isolated -- Kia owners from across the country are reporting that their cars spontaneously erupted in flames.

              The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms it's investigating certain makes and models of 618,000 Kia vehicles.

              But what's Kia doing to resolve the problem? The automaker recently had McDade's 2013 Optima Hybrid inspected, but she was shocked by Kia's verdict. After careful review, Kia said it was "unable to determine an exact cause of the fire."

              Based on the inspection, Kia said the car did not experience engine failure, and the cause may possibly be electrical in nature. But Kia said it will take no further action in this matter at this time.

              "I was just in total disbelief," she said.

              McDade said her insurance company initially denied her claim, saying it was a manufacturers defect. She said she appealed the decision and the insurance company ended up sending her a check for $9,000.

              She said she's still surprised at how Kia has handled her case, and she won't keep quiet. 

              "Even if you're not going to help me, I can help someone else not be in the position that I'm in," she said.

              We reached out to Kia for a response on its decision several times and we're still waiting on a response.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
              <![CDATA[What Does Your Warranty Really Promise?]]>Tue, 28 Aug 2018 17:20:11 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/N5R+Doorknobs+082818.jpg

              One of the things that makes consumers feel better when they buy a product is hearing that it has a warranty.

              But how often does the average consumer take the time to see what that warranty really says and what it promises?

              Michelle McManus bought some designer doorknobs online. She bought them in a large, bulk pack of 30 to use throughout her home.

              The doorknobs came with a five-year warranty against any defects.

              So, months later, when one stopped working, McManus called the company and they promised a refund for the one knob.

              It meant she'd only get back a little more than $4 -- the amount of just one of the doorknobs in the set.

              NBC 5 Responds reached out to the company and -- problem solved -- they agreed to break a set and give her a single replacement.

              When buying something with a warranty, ask how the supplier handles claims in writing, especially when buying things in a set.

              How much money will you get? Will the supplier issue replacements? And what's the process when you don't agree on the fix?

              It can seem like a lot to do when you just want to buy something, but that one email to customer service could save you a headache in the future.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Widow Waits 6 Months for Husband's Nursing Home Refund]]>Tue, 28 Aug 2018 07:12:18 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/responds-nursing-home-refund.jpg

              What started as a blind date turned into 50 years of marriage — Nina and John Opella were inseparable.

              But in 1984, Nina's dear husband started having some challenges.

              "He said when he would look, it would look like he was looking through a chain-linked fence," she recalled. "We took him to the doctor and they said it's just optical neuritis."

              But his health problems gradually got worse. He was eventually diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. A stroke followed a few years later.

              John stayed at the Senior Care at Denton nursing home for five years until he lost his battle with MS.

              In January of this year, Opella got a bill from the nursing home that showed they owed her money.

              "I was owed $1,017.06," she said.

              Opella said she was told they'd process her refund. But after two weeks, she didn't hear from anyone. Another month later, her patience was running thin.

              "Why aren't you getting back to me? If you're not going to get back to me, don't lie to me. I don't like to be lied to," she said. "I'm a determined old person. I don't give up. I was owed this. You told me I was owed this. Now, give it to me."

              But when she realized she wasn't getting very far, she decided to call NBC 5 Responds.

              We reached out to the nursing home. They said due to HIPAA privacy laws, they couldn't share any details or even confirm her husband was a patient of theirs.

              But not long after we called, Opella received a check for $1,017.06.

              She plans on using that money to take her husband to his native land near Prague.

              "I'm going to bury him there. Take him home," she said.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Frisco Man Says 'Out of Line' HOA Wants Shutters Changed]]>Mon, 27 Aug 2018 15:30:12 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/consumer-responds-frisco-shutters.PNG

              A man in Frisco called NBC 5 after his homeowner's association demanded that he stain his shutters. He says the HOA is out of line, and believes his shutters are just fine.

              Back in 2006, Joseph Lanucha made the decision to leave the Bay Area and move to the Lone Star State. He wanted to personalize his Frisco home and give it some Texas flavor. He thought weathered shutters would be a great addition.

              In 2007, he said he got verbal approval by the previous HOA to add weathered shutters to the front of his home.

              Fast forward to 2015; eight years later. Joseph said the HOA started raising concerns over the way his shutters looked.

              "I went and told them I had gotten approval for weathered shutters, and lo and behold nothing further," he said.

              Lanucha said he didn't hear anything else about his shutters for three years.

              But earlier this year, he got a notice in the mail: "On the last drive through of the neighborhood, the following was noticed at your residence: Please apply a fresh coat of stain to your shutters."

              "I didn't know where this was coming from," he said.

              Lanucha said they're not falling apart, rotting or hanging by a screw. As far as he's concerned, his weathered-style shutters are in great condition.

              "Even as we stand here in the street, you can't even see the shutters," he said.

              Joseph said he voiced his concerns at an HOA board meeting and was told they'd get back to him.

              A couple months later, he received another notice: "Please apply a fresh coat of stain on your shutters to match your home in accordance with article 4.1…"

              According to article 4.1, each owner is required to maintain their lot in a "clean, first class condition."

              "Define it! Don't leave it up to liberal interpretation," he said.

              Lanucha said article 4.1 doesn't even mention the word shutters, so he believes the HOA is out of line.

              "I work hard. I put a lot of money into this house," he said. "That is really unnerving that the HOA can exercise that much power and authority over a helpless homeowner."

              Lanucha reached out to the NBC 5 Responds team for help, and we reached out to the HOA, Waterstone.

              Their management company told us, "The HOA is not requesting the removal of the shutters. That is not the issue. The condition of the shutters have deteriorated over the years. We are only requesting that he maintain them."

              They also said that part of its obligation is to ensure that properties maintain "certain architectural standards, which may include subjective and discretionary determinations."

              They said "the wood shutters have now weathered more than the architectural standards of the community."

              Thus, HOA is standing by its decision, but have agreed to give Lanucha more time to paint or stain his shutters.

              "This is my house, not theirs. This is my money that I work hard for to invest in this house," Lanucha said. When you have dictatorial property management companies and people on boards telling you what you can and cannot do, that's not freedom. That's not America.

              We talked to a real estate attorney about Lanucha's case.

              He said article 4.1 in the HOA's bylaws wouldn't be legally enforceable because it's way too ambiguous.

              He said state law is silent on shutters, and believes the state needs to have a body that regulates these HOAs.

              We reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott's office about this, and we're still waiting to hear back.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Tricks Your iPhone Can Do You May Not Know About]]>Fri, 24 Aug 2018 17:58:43 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/iphone-teach-tips-tricks-cu.jpg

              Many of us have a hard time going anywhere without our smartphones. But your smartphone may have a few little secret gems inside that you may not know about.

              iPhone Features:

              • Live Photos -- Capture photos that come alive when you touch them. Then you can pick a different key photo, add a fun effect, edit your Live Photo, and share with your family and friends. All from your iPhone 6s and later.
                • Simply open your camera, click on the circle on the top right hand and that will activate live photo.
              • Record your screen -- If you need to show someone how to do something, you can now record your iPhone screen and then send them the video so they can follow along. It's helpful when someone asks you how to do something on the iPhone 8. You can record with audio or without depending on what you want to do.
                • Open Control Center -- Tap on the record icon -> Choose microphone on or off and then tap on start recording.
              • Record 4k 60FPS Videos -- This means you end up with a better video file for editing later or for showing fast motion like a race car or a kid sprinting past during soccer, football or track.
                • Go to settings, scroll down to “camera”; Look for “record video 1080 at 30 fps” and tap; then click 4k at 60 fps. Remember to go back to the original settings after recording your video.
                • The downside is that this will take up a lot of storage if you use it all the time, so keep that in mind when you turn it on.
              • Photo search -- helps finds pictures without scrolling through your entire library of pictures.
                • Click on your photos app.
                • Click on the magnifying icon next to the edit button in the top right of the screen.
                • Type what you are looking for (Christmas, dog, cat, food, train, cars) and all images that you search for should appear.
              • Calculator backspace -- helps correct errors when using calculator.
                • Open calculator and type a number with several digits.
                • Then swipe left or right across the numbers and the last digit will be erased.
              • Scientific Calculator mode:
                • Open the calculator.
                • Then turn the phone horizontally and the scientific calculator buttons should appear.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[NBC 5 Helps Rental Car Customer Get Deposit Back]]>Fri, 24 Aug 2018 06:18:57 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/executive-car-rental-return.jpg

              A McKinney woman says a rental car company is taking security deposits from drivers, but when it's time to pay people back, the company goes M.I.A.

              Separated by hundreds of miles, Karin Wymer said living away from her mom isn't easy. But when they do get together in Tampa, they're always on the move.

              In order to show her mother a good time, Wymer needed wheels to get around. So, she reserved a vehicle through Executive Car Rental and picked it up on May 22.

              She said the price for three days was very affordable. But as she signed the paperwork, she learned a $250 security deposit was required.

              "I thought, that's unusual," she said.

              But she ended up paying it. Wymer said she returned the car in excellent condition and was told she'd get her deposit back in three to five business days.

              But a couple weeks later, the deposit money still wasn't in her account. She said a customer service agent told her they'd take care of it. But the next day: nothing.

              Another week went by, so she called again.

              "That's when I was told, 'oh, this has happened to some other customers. You're not alone,'" said Wymer.

              She said the agent told her there was an issue with the bank.

              Wymer said she asked to speak with a manager and was told there was no manager available, but they assured her they were working on it and she'd have her deposit back soon.

              But after month two of waiting, she started doing some digging.

              "I had seen online where there were other folks with the same issue," she said.

              Several people on the Better Business Bureau's website have also demanded to get their deposits returned. The company, with upwards of 50 locations nationwide, also has some complaints on its Facebook page.

              After seeing a number of NBC 5 Responds stories on NBC 5 Today, Wymer decided to give us a call.

              After several attempts, we finally got a hold of a manager at Executive Car Rental.

              Someone from the management team told us that they have been having issues with their credit card processing and their banking system, which they are in the process of correcting.

              They said some of the comments online are not true, but for those that are, they're working on getting it all fixed so that everyone gets their refunds back.

              About a week after we contacted the company, Wymer said she got a welcomed surprise in her bank account: $250.

              The company called us to confirm she received the money and apologized for the inconvenience this may have caused.

              Security deposits can sometimes be hard to get back, so whether you're renting a car or a home, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

              • Always take before and after pictures.
              • Read your rental agreement thoroughly.
              • If you don't understand the security deposit rules, ask questions and document what you're told.



              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Renting Textbooks Save College Students Money]]>Thu, 23 Aug 2018 18:12:47 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/college+textbooks.jpg

              College textbooks can easily cost more than $100 a piece. 

              Lauren Ailles, a student at the University of Texas at Arlington says it adds up and puts students in a budget crunch. 

              "A book can average from $50 to $300," said Ailles.

              There are now more ways than ever to get those books for less.

              You can sell used textbooks on chegg.com. The website claims it can help you save up to ninety percent on textbooks by renting them.

              For example, a biology textbook sells for $85, but you can rent it for $26.99.

              Another platform for inexpensive textbooks is Bookbyte, their website includes a cheat sheet for buying books for as little as possible.

              Bookbytes' tips include buying a previous edition of a textbook, you can also sell used books through their site.

              Lauren says at UT Arlington many students are using these services, but finding another way to save even more.

              "I will coordinate with my classmates, get a textbook and split it so we don't have to pay as much and share it," said Ailles.

              Amazon is another option, they let you download textbook rentals to your Kindle device.

              You can also put technology to work for you. Price comparison apps like Shopsavvy and Honey can help you find the best deal and even get money back.

              If you're buying electronics like a new computer, refurbished or certified-used options can save you an significant amount of money, but know you also forfeit your right to a warranty in many of those cases. 

              ]]>
              <![CDATA[Couples Scramble After Wedding Venue Closes Several Locations]]>Wed, 24 Jul 2019 18:37:36 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Noahs+Events.jpg

              Brides are scrambling after all Noah's Event Venues filed for bankruptcy and closed abruptly. A Carrollton couple called NBC 5 Responds to get help getting their money back, but they're not the only heartbroken couple.

              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
              <![CDATA[Veteran Spends 4th of July in Heat, Blames Home Warranty]]>Thu, 04 Jul 2019 17:11:03 -0500https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Chuck+white+home+ac+warranty.jpg

              A local veteran said he's spending the Fourth of July in the heat because his home warranty company refuses to fix his air conditioning. NBC 5's Samantha Chatman shows us his struggle to stay cool on the holiday.

              Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>