In a symbolic campaign, our guy runs for – whaa? – president!

Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber is taking a stand on behalf of his readers’ number one pet peeve.

His stand is a symbolic run for the U.S. presidency, which he announced Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 in his Watchdog column in The Dallas Morning News. See it here.

The pet peeve? His readers — citizens of Watchdog Nation, he calls them — are quite surprised when they have phone numbers, email addresses, sometimes even bank account numbers for scammers who try to hurt them. Yet the authorities don’t seem to care.

Dave proposes creating a “junior FBI squad” that would work both here and overseas to take out the thousands of illegal operations that call, mail and email Americans every day with duplicitous schemes.

How can you help? Enjoy the debut campaign video here. And share the link – https://youtu.be/8iKqghi1nzg – with you friends. Let’s have fun.

Read our original story about leaks on Twitter before the official campaign announcement here.

Dave-Lieber-watchdog-for-president-campaign-materials

 

Read Dave Lieber’s Watchdog for President announcement speech here.

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Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

Deja vu: Texas DPS vows to try again to take full fingerprints of innocent Texans

KRLD-AM news radio’s Mitch Carr interviews Dallas Morning News Watchdog columnist Dave Lieber on the surprise news that Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw vows once again to try in 2017 to get all Texas drivers to give full fingerprints for a driver’s license.

Read Tom Benning’s full story www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/h…gerprinting.ece

Here’s the audio interview:


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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites: DaveLieber.org

How to fight terrible companies

On TV: Fighting back the Watchdog Nation way

Thanks to Kristi Nelson and NBC5 for letting me share Watchdog Nation’s ways to fight back every Monday around 11:20 am.

Become a citizen of Watchdog Nation:

Dave-Lieber-Watchdog-Nation

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites: DaveLieber.org

Watchdog Nation exposes ‘the surveillance state of Texas’

The surveillance state of Texas.

That’s what Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber calls the current state of affairs in the Lone Star State.

Watchdog Nation is one of the leading voices in favor of privacy rights for Texans. We exposed the Texas Department of Public Safety’s unauthorized collection of full fingerprints of every driver in the state of Texas. We led the fight to stop the practice. And thanks to House Bill 1888, the practice is ending.

We also revealed for the first time the sweetheart, no-bid contract that Gov. Rick Perry’s government (through DPS) secured with a firm staffed by retired FBI agents to set up a system, operated by retired CIA agents, that was supposed to prevent terrorism. TrapWire is a “surveillance detection system” designed to find terrorists in pre-planning stages.

And we showed how DPS claimed 44 arrests were made because of the expensive TrapWire program, but actually there are none. Unfortunately for DPS, this claim was made in a warning email to state lawmakers on the eve of a Watchdog report. DPS warned legislators that The Watchdog’s report on TrapWire could be inaccurate. Turns out it was DPS who made the error.

Now, collected in one place, see the actual stories from Dallas Morning News Watchdog columnist Dave Lieber and Marina Trahan Martinez in which they show piece by piece the surveillance state of Texas.

Catch up here. Read all of our reports, which won top prizes in 2015 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Houston Press Club and National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

The latest:

Watchdog: Turns out DPS’ claimed arrests didn’t happen

The inaccurate report about its TrapWire super-surveillance fits a pattern of stonewalling and deception at the state law enforcement agency.

Rick-Perry-surveillance-state-of-Texas

Former Gov. Rick Perry (left) and the man he appointed, “Colonel” Steve McCraw, DPS Director

Watchdog: Did your Texas legislator make the hall of fame?

The Watchdog asked for your help to push state lawmakers into voting up or down on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s collection of full fingerprints from all Texas drivers. Find out which legislators stopped this invasion of privacy of innocent people in the 2015 Legislature.

Watchdog Extra: Texas lawmakers end full fingerprinting of driver’s license applicants

Some Texas lawmakers were angry when the Texas Department of Public Safety started taking full fingerprints from applicants for driver’s licenses and state ID cards.

tx dps logo

Watchdog: Does Texas DPS share your driver’s license pic with the FBI?

Internal Texas DPS emails show agreement with feds to send driver’s license pics to the FBI. DPS says don’t believe it.

Watchdog: Rather than answer hard questions, DPS fights the press

The Texas Department of Public Safety alerts state lawmakers to what it expects to be critical news reports hours before the news even comes out.

Watchdog: How Rick Perry set up a surveillance state of Texas

The former governor and Texas DPS worked with former FBI and CIA agents to set up a secretive statewide surveillance detection system.

Watchdog: Is DPS ‘surveillance detection’ just plain spying?

The agency works with companies that employ ex-CIA agents to conduct “surveillance detection,” not spying, officials say.

Watchdog extra: DPS stops collecting full sets of fingerprints from driver’s license applicants

The reason? “Concerns and questions” raised by “a number of legislators,” DPS said in a surprise announcement.

Watchdog: You and me. Let’s push legal fixes in 2015

The Watchdog suggests several new laws to protect Texans in the 2015 Legislature. With your help, we can succeed.

Watchdog: Texas DPS, here are the facts on fingerprinting

The Watchdog answers DPS Director Steve McCraw’s op-ed by challenging him on the back facts.

Watchdog: DPS whistleblower insists officials aren’t being candid

A whistleblower pokes holes in DPS’ arguments.

Watchdog: Lawmakers say they didn’t gives DPS OK to fingerprint

Texas state lawmakers are angry. They say they never approved DPS’ program to capture fingerprints of every Texas driver in the next decade.

Watchdog: Whistleblower blasts DPS for taking fingerprints

A whistleblower who worked for the DPS Fingerprint Bureau steps forward.

Watchdog: Driver’s license centers snatch your fingerprints

The first report that DPS quietly began taking full fingerprints of all driver’s license applicants. No public announcement was ever made until The Watchdog’s revelation.

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites: DaveLieber.org

Guide to Saving on Your Electricity Bill

Note from the author: The story below served us well for many years, but in September 2017 this Guide to Electricity was completely updated. Please visit the updated version here.

 

More than anything, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation wants to save you money. The easiest way to save in Texas, I believe, is to shop smart for electricity.

In the first years after deregulation, I was a confused shopper because power always came from a monopoly. Suddenly, dozens of new electricity companies started competing.

Not understanding the system, I overpaid – but I quickly grew tired of that. I decided to educate myself. Eventually, I figured out a system. My Watchdog Nation Guide to Electricity Savings is built on the idea that companies should be judged two ways – by lowest rate and by company reputation. When the stars align, the right company is obvious. (Note: This doesn’t apply to customers in mandatory electricity co-ops or municipal-owned utilities.)

I’ve shared this with readers of my column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and then again in my current column as The Watchdog of The Dallas Morning News. I’ve also shared paper copies of this strategy with at least 100,000 Texans, audiences I’ve spoken to in recent years.

Shopping for electricity is still a role of dice, but my ideas eliminate a lot of risk. Now that most electricity companies have figured out a variety of surprising and often unfair ways to collect extra fees from you, this reputational shopping, as I call it, is more important than ever.

Thousands of Texans have used this Watchdog Nation report by Dave Lieber as the basis for a switch in electric companies – saving thousands of dollars for consumers.

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

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Here’s The Dallas Morning News Watchdog’s gift to you – The 2015 Guide to Picking the Best Electricity Provider

1. TXU no longer rules. Get over the idea that TXU Energy, most likely your original provider, is the only company that can offer solid, uninterrupted service. And don’t believe the fallacy that TXU customers get serviced first when power goes out. Oncor Electric Delivery is responsible for maintaining the transmission system. Everybody, TXU and its many competitors, uses Oncor to handle repairs in our region.

2. Switching is good. Act under the assumption that you should switch companies every year. The market is constantly changing.

3. You can find better deals and save hundreds of dollars a year with this one decision. Electricity is measured by kWh, or kilowatts-hour. If you pay 8 cents a kWh instead of 12 cents, your monthly electric bill could drop $100 or more.

4. Know your current contract terms. Before you shop, know what you already have. (Surprisingly, most people don’t.) What’s your kWh rate? Check your electric bill. It may be higher than what’s available elsewhere. (In Texas, last week it ranged from 4.9 cents to as high as 13.5 cents.) Also call your provider and ask for the date when your contract expires. Find out whether your rate is fixed or variable. Start planning a possible switch a month before a contract expires.

5. Decide whether you want to play it safe or be a gambler. Do you want to lock in a fixed rate that you can afford for a longer period of time? Or are you willing to take a low price now and understand that a variable or indexed rate could spike depending on market conditions?

6. Conduct a thorough search. Go to this Web site: www.powertochoose.org. (If you don’t have an Internet connection, visit your public library and ask a librarian for help. Or ask a friend or relative to help you.) Enter your zip code and start searching. When you find an offer you like, make sure to go to the company’s own website. Sometimes the company’s price might be cheaper than what’s shown on powertochoose.org.

7. Pick your poison. Deeper in the website you see a search box along the left side. Under “Plan Type” a recommended pick is fixed, but you can also choose a variable or an indexed market rate. (The Watchdog likes fixed since market conditions can grow volatile.) Under “Price,” type in a range from 4 cents to 12 cents. That’s a good spread. Pick a contract length. Fill out the other boxes. Then hit “Refresh Results” on the bottom. Keep trying different combinations to see what the prices are that day. They change often.

8. Study the results. For the selection cited above, several dozen companies recently offered rates in that range. Remember that the lowest rates could come from a company with a poor reputation, but more on that later. Contract lengths varied from one to 36 months. Each service plan comes with links to “Terms of Service,” “Facts Sheet,” “Signup” and “Special Terms.” When you click on these, you learn the nitty-gritty details. Many companies have minimums about the amount of power you must use, or you pay more. Carefully look for language about other fees.

9. Check out your favorite. After you find a company with a rate and contract length you like, learn more about them. One way is to do an Internet search of the company. Place the company’s name in various searches besides these search terms: scam, rip-off and complaints. If the company has a troubled history, find out before you sign up. If only a few results come up from disgruntled customers, don’t worry. But if there are several dozen, continue with a quick search of the company’s Better Business Bureau record. And then, most important, return to powertochoose.org and below the name of the company, you’ll see “Complaint Scorecard” and “Complaint History.” Click on those links and learn more about the company.

10. Read the contract. Otherwise, you’ll get blindsided when hidden fees and charges emerge later. Look for termination fees. Contracts must be printed in letters big enough to read.

Final switch tips. When you make your final selection, don’t call your current electricity provider to cancel. Sign up with the new company only. Try to sign up at least 5 to 7 days before your plan expires so the overlap between the two billing cycles is negligible. Some people switch too late and pay higher prices during the transition. If you have a smart meter, the state rule is you must be switched within 48 hours. But 5-7 days is safer.

Remember, there’s no loss of power when you switch. It happens, and you don’t even know it.

Until the bill comes.

Click on "Complaint History" and "Complaint Scorecard" for important information.

Click on “Complaint History” and “Complaint Scorecard” for important information.

# # #

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites:

Personal: YankeeCowboy.com

Hipster site: DaveLieber.org

New book site: BadDadBook.com

 

AUDIO: How to handle a Do-Not-Call List violator – Kill ’em with stupidity!

Do you get annoyed when violators of the Do Not Call list interrupt you? Even worse, when the illegal caller comes from an extended car warranty company?

Extended car warranties are total rip-offs. Why? The companies often go out of business before you can get your money’s worth. Even worse, car repair shops tell you that whatever problem you have isn’t covered. Sorry, bud.

So how do you handle these illegal callers? Everybody has their own solution. Some hang up. Others scream profanities (Don’t call me you $*$#@!). Still others reply with jibberish.

Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber shows on comical way to handle illegal phone telemarketers.

Here’s how Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber handled one illegal caller. Dave Lieber doesn’t have a problem with people trying to earn an honest living. But keep this in mind: the number this crooked company called is on both the national and Texas Do Not Call lists. It’s against the law! But rather than berate them for their criminal business, Dave kills them with abject stupidity. It’s a match made in heaven.

Enjoy this audio. Hope it makes you laugh and inspires you to do your best to make the lives of these illegal callers a holy heck.

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

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Visit Watchdog Nation HeadquartersDave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

Like Watchdog Nation on Facebook

Watch Watchdog Nation on YouTube

Twitter @DaveLieber

Are you tired of fighting the bank, the credit card company, the electric company and the phone company? They can be worse than scammers the way they treat customers. A popular book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong, shows you how to fight back — and win! The book is available at WatchdogNation.com as a hardcover, CD audio book, e-book and hey, what else do you need? The author is The Watchdog columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Visit our store. Now revised and expanded, the book won two national book awards for social change. Twitter @DaveLieber

AVAILABLE IN HARDCOVER, ON ITUNES (AUDIO), KINDLE AND IPAD

Watchdog Nation goes on TV to warn about crooked repairman

You know what would suck? You’re a crooked appliance repairman who advertises on Craigslist.

Then some guy goes on TV, shows your face and warns everyone about you.

That’s what happens here.

The story of Dallas Morning News Watchdog Dave Lieber and convicted thief Michael Stoneham.

Read the full story here in The Dallas Morning News Watchdog column.

Here’s the ad he has used:

michael craiglist ad

 

Michael W. Stoneham

Michael W. Stoneham

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites: DaveLieber.org

Call 360-861-4117 and talk to a fake IRS agent. I did!

IRS scammers are calling millions of Americans this week. Watchdog Nation has heard from many people.

So are you ready for a little Watchdog Nation mischief? Let’s sting the stinger.

Call this fake IRS scammer (as I just did) and pretend you will pay him money.

“IRS Officer Daniel Smith”

1-360-861-4117

Listen to my call with him here. Warning: Foul language alert (but not by me).  Note: This is the second call. He hung up on me the first time, so I called back.

This is a Soundcloud file:

Listen HERE.

Make sure you put your phone on Caller ID block so he doesn’t know your number.

I told him my name was Luke Walkersky.

Call him and say hi.  Tell him you are responding to a call. That’s all it takes. The longer you keep him on the phone, the less time he will have to hurt innocent elderly folks who fall for this crap.

Act scared. Make up your information.

He’ll say you owe the IRS $3,000.

String him along. Sting the stinger.

After you are done, post comments on this blog about how it went so we can all be entertained!

IRS phone scam

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites: DaveLieber.org

What’s the biggest lie in the 2015 Texas Legislature?

Do you believe insurance companies will actually walk away from a billion dollars in profits if insurance lobbyists fail to get wicked Senate Bill 1628 passed? Dallas Morning News Watchdog Dave Lieber calls them out on this ridiculous claim the industry is using to promote this bill.

Read a news story about this bill: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20150420-texas-home-insurers-see-another-strong-year-but-still-seek-limits-on-lawsuits.ece

Read my opinion column: http://www.dallasnews.com/investigations/watchdog/20150409-watchdog-texas-insurance-lobbyists-have-a-plan-you-wont-like.ece

mr moneybags

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites: DaveLieber.org

Five Bills Designed to Make Texas Consumer-Friendly

Make shopping for electricity fairer for Texans. Force roofers to get a state license. Stop charging extra for people who pay with debit and credit cards. Verify that fingerprinting all Texans for driver’s licenses is legal. Protect auto insurance customers who ask questions about their policies.

These are the five dream bills offered up by Dallas Morning News Watchdog Dave Lieber in his recent two-part series. Read Part One and Part Two.

By far, his Retail Electricity Reform Act of 2015 is his top-priority. “I get more complaints from Texans about their electricity contracts than any other subject,” Lieber says. “I have placed the top ones into my dream bill. I’m seeking one or more lawmakers willing to take on the big powerful interests and clean up all the loopholes. So far, no legislator has taken the big step. But I’m hoping for it.”

Lieber wants to ban minimum usage fees, regulate unregulated fees and make comparison shopping easier by forcing all companies to advertise the full price including the delivery charge.

electricity screen shot

Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber discusses his legislative proposal on NBC5. Watch here:

Read about the four minor bills here.

Read about the major electricity bill here.

Follow The Watchdog at www.dallasnews.com/watchdog and see the progress of this year’s campaign.

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites: DaveLieber.org

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

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