Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber gives TED talk on power of storytelling

Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation works to change the mindset of Americans about how easy it is to fight back and win.

The way to do this is with stories that show how others have achieved victory against corporate thugs and scammers.

Watch this funny TED talk video and learn how Dave Lieber, The Watchdog columnist for The Dallas Morning News, tells stories that move people to action and change.

See how Dave Lieber’s “Magic V-Shaped Storytelling Formula” helps others in this testimonial.

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

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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

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.\

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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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Did you get slammed for unwanted $29.95 a month credit monitoring? You can get a refund.

Call me naive, but I imagined a company that tricks people into paying $29.95 a month for a credit-monitoring service they didn’t know they ordered would be headquartered in a faraway land.

A company that lured people with the promise of free credit scores in big print but hid the actual cost in tiny print must be offshore, right?

A company that informs surprised customers it can cancel anytime but isn’t available to take cancellations? Hidden somewhere on an island nation?

Nah. Try the 8100 block of Walnut Hill Lane in Dallas.

one tech b

As readers of The Dallas Morning News Dave Lieber Watchdog column first learned, One Technologies Inc. is headquartered on the sixth floor of a corporate tower.

I first learned about the company weeks ago after my wife, Karen, tried to get her free credit report from the government-sponsored site and accidentally ended up on one of the dozens of websites run by the Dallas company.

She typed in her personal information, then pulled back when asked for credit card information.

No payment is required on government-sponsored annualcreditreport.com. But One Technologies has gamed the Internet so its dozens of websites confuse people.

The company, which uses many names including ScoreSense and MyCreditHealth, is easily found through its use of common search terms linked to its many websites. The sites’ names carry common keywords such as “free credit report” and “check credit scores.” The company also purchased click-on ads to attract users.

This month, the façade of respectability disappeared for One Technologies. The Federal Trade Commission, working with the states of Ohio, Illinois and Texas, successfully brought legal action to stop the company’s sales practices.

The FTC, in legal filings, reports 210,000 complaints against the company from banks, credit card companies, law enforcement agencies and the Better Business Bureau.

One Technologies “participated in deceptive acts,” according to a final court order agreed to by company officials and made public this month.

One Technologies must pay $22 million into a restitution fund for victims.

The company can no longer hide its online terms of purchase in obscure web boxes that users must open to see. Terms must be clear and conspicuous. Frustrated customers must be allowed to cancel immediately through an available call center.

Last week, I visited the company in its office tower and expected to find it shuttered. That’s what Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office promised in a news release.

Abbott’s headline bragged, “State of Texas Shuts Down Bogus Online ‘Free’ Credit Scores Scheme.”

Imagine my confusion when I walked into the company’s sixth floor suite and found people working.

Turns out Abbott’s office oversold. After the company complained, the headline was changed: “State of Texas Stops Online Scheme that Claimed to Offer ‘Free’ Credit Score Schemes but Charged Monthly Fees.”

That’s not the only mistake I see in this enforcement action against a company that capitalizes on customers’ mistakes. In its only public statement about its comedown, One Technologies attempts to turn a national disgrace into a crowning achievement.

The company headlines its public statement: “ScoreSense/One Technologies Sets New Benchmark for Industry Transparency and Disclosure.”

In its opening sentence, the company claims that it “set a new standard for the industry’s clearest and simplest subscription disclosures.”

The company brags that it has helped “to establish industry best practices for enrolling customers” in online businesses.

Denying what it agreed to in the court order, the statement refers to government claims against it as “alleged” and states that “the terms of One Technologies’ offers have always been disclosed to the consumer.”

Fred Loeber, an executive, is quoted: “We call on our competitors to adopt this new benchmark.”

Shameless audacity.

“No fines or penalties were imposed,” the statement continues. “One Technologies will establish a fund for providing refunds to certain past customers.”

How nice. An established fund. Sounds like a scholarship. There’s no mention of $22 million in the company statement.

This company accused by the feds and three states of deception shows in its own words that it hasn’t learned the lesson. Shameless audacity.

Staff writer Marina Trahan Martinez contributed to this report.

Follow Dave Lieber on Twitter at @DaveLieber.

Check out The Watchdog on NBC5 at 11:20 a.m. Mondays talking about matters important to you.

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In the Know

Get free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com. Type the address correctly.

Here’s a list of websites used by One Technologies:

freescoreonline.com

freescore360.com

checkmycreditnow.com

freeonlinescore.com

creditreports.com

freecreditcheck.com

freescoreusa.com

mycredithealtlh.com

ScoreSense.com

spendonlife.com

2012TransUnionExperianandEquifaxScores.com

3-BureauCreditScores.com

3-BureauMonitoring.com

3-FreeCredit-Scores.com

3-in-1 creditscore.com

Amazing-CreditScores.com

CreditCheck2013.com

CreditReview2013.com

Credit-Review-Team.com

CreditScore-Check.com

Credit-Scores.net

CreditSummary.com

FastAccessToYourCreditScore.com

FastReview.us

FraudMonitoringOffer.com

FreeScoreCheck360.com

MyFree3B.com

MyFree3Bcheck.com

Online-CreditScores.com.

ProfessionalCreditScores.com

ScoreCheck.net

Scores-2012.com

Scores2013.com

ScoresDirect.net

Think-Credit-Scores.com

TimeForACreditCheckUp.com

TrackerTripleScores.com

ViewYourCreditScoreFast.com

Your-Credit-Check.com.

YourCreditScoreIsWaitingForYou.com

YourFree3B.com

YourFree3Bcheck.com

YourFree3Bscore.com

YourFreeScore360.com

Your-Score-Check.com

YourScoreCheck.com

SOURCE: Texas attorney general’s office

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

VIDEO: Watchdog Dave Lieber shares his best secret

Here’s Watchdog Dave Lieber’s gift to you.

His secret weapon to survive.

The best way he knows how to keep you, your family and your business out of trouble.

It’s so simple.

Watch The Dallas Morning News Watchdog columnist share it now on NBC5 with news anchor Kristi Nelson.

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Watch Dave talking about matters important to you Mondays around 11:20 a.m. on NBCDFW.
Dave-Lieber-Watchdog-Nation-NBC5-Dallas-Morning-News

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

The Watchdog: Future Dallas judge Staci Williams accused of failing client so she could campaign

An unusual sight occurred in a Dallas courtroom. A woman stood before a judge and fired her lawyer. Right there, on the spot.

She accused the lawyer of abandoning her case, leaving her high and dry without a defense. She said the lawyer had ignored her requests for information, failed to show up at a hearing and didn’t file legal papers when she should have.

That alone was unusual, but what makes it more so is that the lawyer she fired is not going to be a lawyer much longer. She has a new and better job.

The lawyer, Staci Williams, is set to become the next state district judge for the 101st Judicial District in Dallas County. Supported by Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, she defeated incumbent Judge Marty Lowy in the March 4, 2014 Democratic primary. No Republican is slated to run against her in November 2014.

billboard

Williams’ client, now former client, is Barbara Carr, a longtime DART bus driver. Carr told the court that she wanted to relieve Williams of her duties because Williams was so busy campaigning she didn’t have time to represent her. Williams, hearing that, announced that she wanted to withdraw from the case.

In the courthouse corridor afterward, I asked Williams what happened.

“You know, I’m trying to figure it out right now,” Williams answered. “I have no comment at the time until I figure it out.”

I asked, “Did you abandon your client?”

“No, no,” Williams replied. “I don’t have a copy of her letter, so in order for me to be fair to you to give you an adequate response, I don’t know what the accusations are.”

She was referring to a letter that Carr wrote The Watchdog seeking help.

Later in the week, I called the future judge for more comment, but she didn’t return The Watchdog’s call.

Williams will learn her former client’s gripes soon enough. Carr filed a complaint last week against Williams with the State Bar of Texas. Williams has no previous public disciplinary record with the state bar.

The State Bar says the No. 1 complaint against lawyers is not returning phone calls, and also high on the list are lawyers who don’t pay attention to their cases.

In her complaint to the bar, Carr writes that Williams failed to keep her informed of her case, missed a hearing, didn’t file paperwork on time, accepted nearly $5,000 in fees but never provided a receipt and didn’t bring case files to the final hearing where Carr fired her.

She also writes that “Williams threatened me with $20,000 in legal fees if I exposed her misconduct of my case.” (That conversation supposedly took place after Williams shooed me away so she could talk to Carr privately in the courthouse hallway.)

Williams served as a judge once before, and her tenure was so rocky that she lost her job and filed a federal lawsuit. In 2006, the Dallas City Council appointed her to a municipal judge position. During the next four years she got into a series of scrapes with other judges and the court administrator, whom she accused of sexual harassment. The charge was never sustained.

She was also reprimanded for snooping around the desks of other judges on the court, according to court records obtained several years ago by Steve Thompson of The Dallas Morning News. At one point, she was reprimanded for entering a judge’s office and then a week later, she was accused of doing it again.

The City Council failed to reappoint her in 2010, and she sued the city, saying she was the victim of harassment and discrimination and her loss of the reappointment amounted to a retaliatory action. The federal lawsuit ended in 2013 when both parties agreed to a dismissal.

Carr hired Williams a year ago to represent her as a $250-an-hour lawyer. Williams represented Carr in a hearing last year in Carr’s lawsuit, which is against her employer, DART, and involves her need to get a medical certificate from a doctor.

At first, Williams stayed close to her client, according to records Carr provided me. Carr was pleased. In August, Carr wrote Williams in an email: “If it had not been for you, I’d be jobless. … Staci, you are a genuine person without a doubt, and I know you have my best interest.”

But around December, Carr said, she lost touch with her when Williams stopped answering her emails.

Yet while Carr couldn’t get hold of her lawyer, her lawyer still managed to contact her. Williams sent Carr several emails promoting her campaign. In one, she asked her to volunteer. In another, she asked her to attend a candidate forum to cheer her on.

In February, Carr, worried because she heard nothing about her case, called the court on her own and asked about her next hearing. Told the date, Carr showed up. Her lawyer didn’t.

Then before last week’s hearing, Carr filed her own legal papers asking for a postponement. She didn’t get it, which meant the hearing would go on with or without a lawyer. And because Williams had shown up and was familiar with the facts, a second lawyer whom Carr has asked to attend the hearing convinced Carr that Williams should handle her case at the hearing.

Carr reluctantly agreed to let Williams argue why her case should not be dismissed.

Williams complained in court that she was having difficulty communicating with Carr because Carr was rolling her eyes and refused to discuss the case with her. Williams went ahead and argued on Carr’s behalf.

Williams lost the argument. Carr’s case was dismissed.

Out in the hallway, Carr told me, “She wasn’t prepared.”

All of this could have been avoided, Carr said, if Williams, while busy as a candidate, had simply told her she was hard at work campaigning and didn’t have time for her anymore.

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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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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

 

Watchdog: (Video) “Free” is a Four-Letter Word

Watchdog Dave Lieber researches for Sunday’s column whether TXU’s “free” nights and weekends program is really a good deal.

Video edited by: Marina Trahan Martinez.

READ THE COLUMN ABOUT THIS HERE.

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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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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

Watchdog Tip of the Day: Complain about a rental car company

What happens when something goes wrong with a rental car agency? The Dallas Morning News Watchdog columnist Dave Lieber shows consumers how to “flood the zone.” In our Watchdog Video Tip of the Day, we try to solve problems in under a minute.

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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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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

Watchdog Tip of the Day: Getting government records

What do you do when you have a hard time getting government records. Here are some ideas on open records, public information, sunshine laws from The Dallas Morning News Watchdog desk administrator Marina Trahan Martinez. In our Watchdog Video Tip of the Day, we try to solve problems in under a minute.
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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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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