The tool you carry can protect you

Many of us carry a device in our pockets and purses every day that can protect us, but when trouble comes, we forget to use it.

It’s your cellphone, especially those smartphones that can take photos and record sound and video.

I bring this up because Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Martin recently complained at a fraud conference I attended that she has trouble prosecuting some cases because it’s difficult to accurately identify the bad guy.

Sometimes when victims claim that a con artist got them to sign a fraudulent contract, she can’t show that the con artist was even in the room.

So before you sign any expensive contracts, why not ask the other party if you can take a photo to commemorate the occasion? If the person balks, that’s a warning sign.

The Watchdog’s phone is set so one button turns on a video camera and another button leads to a voice recorder.

The other day on a highway, when a rock-hauling truck dumped a load of pebbles on the Watchdog Nation mobile’s windshield, I dictated the truck’s license plate and state registration number into my phone. At the next stoplight, I took a photo.

If I find a windshield crack, I’m ready.

Twenty years ago, when I was in an auto accident, the other driver later told his insurance company that he wasn’t even there. After that, I stored a disposable camera in the glove compartment. That’s no longer necessary.

You have to remember to use this wonderful tool when needed most. Often, though, in the heat of the moment, people forget to pull out their backup. This is your Watchdog Nation reminder.

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Dave Lieber, The Watchdog columnist for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is the founder of Watchdog Nation. The new 2010 edition of his book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong, is out. Revised and expanded, the book won two national book awards in 2009 for social change. Twitter @DaveLieber

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