<![CDATA[NECN - Business News - On the Lookout]]>Copyright 2019http://www.necn.com/news/businessen-usMon, 23 Sep 2019 16:53:33 -0400Mon, 23 Sep 2019 16:53:33 -0400NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[How the Trade War With China Could Impact Consumer Spending]]>560173212Thu, 12 Sep 2019 18:22:43 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/How_the_Trade_War_With_China_Could_Impact_Consumer_Spen.jpg

With billions of dollars now being imposed on imports and exports due to the U.S. trade war with China, holiday shopping could get expensive. NBC10 Boston's Leslie Gaydos visited a Boston area toy shop to see how the new taxes could hurt consumers.]]>
<![CDATA[United and Southwest to Allow Passengers to Opt-Out of Boeing 737 MAX Flights]]>560069972Thu, 12 Sep 2019 12:57:03 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/United_and_Southwest_to_Allow_Passengers_to_Opt-Out_of.jpg

After two separate crashes involving the Boeing 737 MAX, two airlines are offering passengers the option of flying on another plane if the so choose.]]>
<![CDATA[Figuring Out the Right Time to Refinance]]>559294012Tue, 03 Sep 2019 18:40:07 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Figuring_Out_the_Right_Time_to_Refinance.jpg

Your home could be the key to putting more cash in your pocket.]]>
<![CDATA[Reservation Regrets: Groton Woman Makes Costly Mistake]]>558390371Mon, 09 Sep 2019 10:45:51 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/223*120/reservation+regrets.PNG

Think twice before you book it — it's the expensive lesson a Massachusetts woman learned when making a hotel reservation on her phone. She called our Consumer Investigative Reporter Leslie Gaydos for help with her costly mistake.

With a tap on her phone, Anne Castner of Groton was stuck with an expensive non-refundable hotel reservation she didn't want.

"I did realize that it was a no-refund policy, but when I clicked the booking tab, I thought I would have one more time to confirm it and finalize it, and see the total pricing, and I did not have that opportunity," said Castner.

Castner says she mistakenly booked two nights in May at the Liberty Hotel in Boston. She wanted to be close to her husband, who was having surgery nearby. She thought she was on the hotel's website, and that the total cost would be about $500.

"It said the price was $520, and I thought that was for the two nights I had entered, but instead, it was $520 per night," said Castner. "When I saw the total amount at the end, it came up to $1,400 and some change, because they added over $400 in taxes. Within a few minutes, I went up to my computer so I could see a bigger screen, and called the number listed on the website."

Castner determined she had reserved the room through the hotel booking website getaroom.com, not the hotel's actual site. She says she spent hours on the phone trying to cancel the reservation and get a refund.

"They said, 'You have to talk to the hotel,' so I called the hotel," explained Castner. "They said, 'No, getaroom.com has to handle that,' so it was back and forth, back and forth, and getting nowhere."

Castner reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help with the situation. We contacted getaroom.com and the Liberty Hotel. Both of them said they resolved the issue, and refunded Castner $1,450.38.

"Ms. Castner booked a non-refundable reservation (and agreed to this restriction at the time of booking)," Getaroom said. "When she requested to cancel the reservation anyway, we offered to contact the hotel on her behalf to see if we could persuade them to waive their non-refundable restriction. We eventually succeeded ... We apologize for any inconvenience to Ms. Castner."

The Liberty Hotel said it "does partner with getaroom.com's affiliate priceline.com, which is how the guest was able to book through the site. The reservations and booking process is handled directly by getaroom.com and any changes and/or cancellations to a reservation made on the site are at the site's discretion. We reached out to getaroom.com on Ms. Castner's behalf ... We do recommend reserving directly with the hotel's direct website, www.libertyhotel.com."

That's exactly what Castner plans to do in the future.

"From now on, I will go directly to the hotel website, and I will not go through any third party companies or I will call the hotel directly," said Castner.

There's another reason to log onto the hotel's website: If you're a member of their loyalty program, you may be able to get added bonuses or additional incentives when booking directly with a hotel. Always be sure you read and understand the terms and conditions before booking any reservation.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[What are the Most and Least Stolen Vehicles?]]>558038132Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:21:56 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/What_are_the_Most_and_Least_Stolen_Vehicles.jpg

The Highway Loss Data Institute is out with its list of the most stolen vehicles. Is yours on it?]]>
<![CDATA[Wedding Reception Theft: How to Safeguard Your Gifts]]>555346292Mon, 19 Aug 2019 23:46:24 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Wedding_Reception_Theft_How_to_Safeguard_Your_Gifts.jpg

It's supposed to be a memory that lasts forever, but one local couple is trying to forget at least part of their wedding day.]]>
<![CDATA[Mass. Sales Tax Holiday This Weekend]]>547567832Fri, 16 Aug 2019 17:39:07 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Mass._Sales_Tax_Holiday_This_Weekend.jpg

If you have back-to-school shopping to do, Saturday and Sunday are a great time to buy items without paying sales tax in the Bay State.]]>
<![CDATA[Viewer Unable to Close Paypal Account Flagged for Suspicious Activity]]>514321781Fri, 02 Aug 2019 17:49:14 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Paypal-generic-1154091538.jpg

When a viewer from Duxbury tried to close her PayPal account, she says she was stunned that the company asked for her personal information to shut it down. Concerned about her privacy, she reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help.

Diane Lilly has been a PayPal account holder for two years.

“I never used it,” Lilly said. “It just remained open.”

Lilly said she was surprised when she received an email from PayPal in June, alerting her to fraudulent activity on her account. She thought the email itself might be bogus.

“I was suspicious of it, and then I called them,” Lilly said. “There had been a log on, and where I hadn't had any activity in two years, to them it was suspicious, so they put a limitation on the account.”

Lilly said PayPal froze her account, and when she wanted to close the account entirely, she couldn't. She said PayPal told her, in order to close her account, she had to verify her I.D. by sending a copy of her driver's license or passport information—something she refused to do.

“I said that's the craziest thing I ever heard,” Lilly said. “I said to PayPal, if I didn't need those documents to open the account, why do I need them to close the account?”

PayPal confirmed with us that that is indeed their policy, telling NBC10 Boston: "In line with federal regulatory requirements, before we can perform certain functions like closing an account, we’ll ask customers to confirm personal information such as proof of identification."

“We went round and round on that point,” Lilly said.

She said she hit a stalemate with PayPal, so she turned to NBC10 Boston Responds for help. We shared Diane's privacy concerns with PayPal and a customer service representative contacted her.

“She said this time we are making an exception,” Lilly said. “I don't think that PayPal would have resolved the situation for me if NBC10 Boston hadn't gotten involved and called them.”

PayPal has some tips on how to identify whether an email you receive is really coming from them. The company says to be on the lookout for emails that greet you generically, like “Dear Customer” or “Dear PayPal member.” PayPal says it will always greet you by your first and last name and that you should look for outdated logos and grammatical errors — that's a sign that the email is fake.

Keep in mind PayPal's address will always read: service@paypal.com. If you suspect that someone is trying to scam you, contact PayPal customer service immediately.

Photo Credit: Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Caught on Camera: Amazon Packages Stolen by Delivery Man]]>513468411Thu, 01 Aug 2019 09:35:33 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Amazon+Box+073119.JPG

Amazon delivery is fast and easy, but what happens if someone walks off with your order? A local viewer's security camera caught an alleged package thief on camera, and the viewer turned to Consumer Investigative Reporter Leslie Gaydos for help when he discovered who it was.

If you order from Amazon, you'll get a lot of deliveries to your doorstep, like an NBC10 Boston viewer, who wants his identity concealed.

"I probably purchase 300, 400, 500 items every year from Amazon," said the viewer. "Even when I had trouble, they are always great at that, and that's why this shocked me that they didn't have any protocol to respond to me about what happens when this happens."

In June, he got a notification on his Amazon app that a pair of expensive sneakers were delivered. Another notification came later, letting him know that other Amazon packages had also arrived. But when he got home, he says he didn't see the sneakers, so he checked his home security video.

"I went back to my camera, and there it is," said the viewer. "The driver shows up with the two packages I got delivered that day. He looks around, looks up, and takes it and leaves. Immediately...I called Amazon. I said one of your drivers took my package. Told them I had video of it. They said they would refund me and you can place another order. They said they were going to look into it, and follow up, and they never got in contact with me again."

He received a replacement pair of sneakers, but says it's unsettling how the person trusted to deliver his packages was the one who appears to have taken one. He says the incident is making him more security conscious and wary of people making deliveries at his home. He reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help getting answers.

"When you're dealing with a big company like Amazon, you expect certain service, and certain trust and that bothered me," said the viewer. "This person knows where I live. I reported this incident. How do I know he's not going to retaliate against me and show up on my doorstep one night?"

We sent Amazon the video, and asked for the results of their inquiry into the incident. They told us in a statement: "This does not reflect the high standards we have for delivery service partners. We take these matters seriously and have reached out to the customer to make this right. This individual is no longer delivering Amazon packages."

Amazon says its delivery service partners are thoroughly vetted through a comprehensive, multi-state criminal background check, and a motor vehicle record review. Our viewer says he depends on Amazon and will continue to use the service despite the incident, but says he can't imagine signing up for Amazon services, where packages are delivered inside your car or house.

"I'm not looking for anything for free here," said the viewer. "I'm just looking for safety, because I want to use this app, and service, but I also want to feel safe in my own home."

If you are uneasy about delivery drivers coming to your home, the Amazon locker service is an option. They are self-serve kiosks located at stores, copy centers and many whole foods markets, where you can pick up your package when it is convenient for you.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Helps Solve Your Consumer Problems]]>513267122Fri, 26 Jul 2019 19:21:23 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NBC10_Boston_Helps_Solve_Your_Consumer_Problems.jpg

NBC10 Boston Responds has recovered over $320,000 for viewers, including a New Hampshire couple who couldn't get a refund for their faulty windows.]]>
<![CDATA[Get the Best Deals on Amazon Prime Day]]>512655582Fri, 12 Jul 2019 18:11:48 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Get_the_Best_Deals_on_Amazon_Prime_Day.jpg

Amazon Prime Day kicks off Monday, July 15. Before you start putting things in your cart, there are some tips you should know about the annual summer shopping bonanza!]]>
<![CDATA[Window Woes: Nahant Man Spends Years Trying to Fix Newly Installed Windows]]>512073451Mon, 01 Jul 2019 23:33:50 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/D%27Amico-home.jpg

He had a picture perfect view spoiled by a pesky leak, so he reached out to our NBC10 Boston Responds team for help. Consumer Investigative Reporter Leslie Gaydos worked with him for over a year until he finally got the fix he was hoping for.

Bob D'Amico has a beautiful view of Lynne harbor from his Nahant living room, but for a long time, he couldn't enjoy it.

"You can't live in peace when you know your windows are leaking," D'Amico said.

It all started in 2015, when D'Amico says he contacted Renewal by Andersen about a window replacement for his home, including eight windows and a sliding door. He paid more than $23,000 and says at first he was happy with the work.

"We figured we were all set to go, until we had rain," D'Amico said. "Then we saw the leaks coming through the door and that side window."

D'Amico captured the leaks on camera.

"The water was coming from both of the crank out windows from the top, and they would just drip down," D'Amico said.

Every time heavy rain was in the forecast, D'Amico and his wife put towels down to catch the water, and if they were traveling, they had neighbors come in to change them out.

"If it rained all day you can imagine the leak coming in, and that's why we put three or four towels rolled up, because we didn't want to ruin the woodwork," D'Amico said. "When you're my age you don't want to go through this. You just want to come home and relax and we couldn't with that leak."

D'Amico says he called Renewal by Andersen to fix the problem and that they sent crews to his home on three occasions. He says they fixed the door, but the picture window continued to leak, and he continued calling the company.

"It was the worst experience that I have ever had in my life in regard to a purchase — bar none," D'Amico said. "When I would call, I would get the answering service. I would leave a message to have someone please call me. For six to eight months I never got a return phone call."

Renewal by Andersen disputes that, telling NBC10 Boston: "Our records indicate we were in consistent communications with the customer throughout this process."

In March of last year, D'Amico reached out to Responds for help.

"I saw you, and I said I have to call them up, because I just did not know what to do," D'Amico said. "I was just so frustrated. I thought I could fix this on my own, but I couldn't."

After we contacted Renewal by Anderson, they scheduled another inspection and eventually replaced D'Amico's window.

In a statement they tell us:

At Renewal by Andersen, we stand behind our products and installation process, with one of the most robust warranties in the industry. In the rare event that a customer encounters a challenge, we work with our homeowners until they are delighted with their new windows. We're proud of our A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau in Boston and we will be here should Mr. D'Amico need our service in the future.

D'Amico is happy with the installation and beyond grateful that the problem was resolved.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart," D'Amico said. "Believe me at my age, and the hell that I went through, you'll never find anyone that appreciates and is so thankful and grateful for your help than me."

Photo Credit: NBC Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Responds: Saugus Man Billed by E-ZPass for Trips He Never Took]]>511762711Wed, 26 Jun 2019 11:52:09 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/216*120/ez.PNG

When Rick DeMeo's elderly mother-in-law stopped driving last year, he turned in her E-ZPass transponder, which was part of his account.

"I took it to the mall and went to the E-ZPass location at the Square One Mall and turned it in to them," said DeMeo.

Months after returning the transponder, he realized he was incurring an unusual amount of E-ZPass charges on his credit card.

"I knew I wasn’t going through tolls, so I went online and looked it up, and saw over $700 in charges through tolls in New Jersey," said DeMeo.

He says he hadn't traveled to New Jersey, but dozens of charges were posted to his account over a three-week period in late January and early February. Someone was using the transponder as much as 11 times a day, racking up hundreds of dollars in charges on the New Jersey Turnpike, according to the information listed on his account.

"I went down to the location in Saugus, at the Square One Mall, told them about it, and they shut it down at that point," said DeMeo. "The woman who was there was helpful. She tried to do something for me, but she wasn't able to, because she couldn't access the New Jersey system, so she told me I had to call customer service."

DeMeo started making calls, trying to get a refund of that $700, but he reached a dead end.

"I called the E-ZPass customer service, and they told me that because it was in New Jersey, I had to call New Jersey E-ZPass, so I did," he explained. "I called New Jersey E-ZPass. They told me that because the transponder was issued in Massachusetts, I had to go through Mass., so I called them back. They sent me back to New Jersey. New Jersey sent me back to Massachusetts. That's when I called you."

NBC10 Boston reached out to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and asked them to take a look at DeMeo's complaint. MassDOT customer service personnel worked on the case for six weeks, and eventually contacted him, letting him know that they were refunding him all but $52. DeMeo says he was told those charges would have to be refunded through the New York/New Jersey Port Authority. He says he was never given an explanation of what happened with his transponder.

"I'm at least glad I got the big chunk of it back," he said. "I think if it wasn't for you and NBC Boston, we never would have gotten our money back."

Due to state law, MassDOT says it can't provide information about DeMeo's account, but the agency says if a customer informs them that their transponder should be deactivated due to theft or other reasons, it will immediately be deactivated. MassDOT says that other states operate their own E-ZPass systems, and make their own determinations about whether or not a customer is responsible for charges incurred when a transponder is allegedly stolen.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Responds: Woman Loses Entire Life Savings In Wire Fraud Scam]]>511088341Tue, 11 Jun 2019 10:11:51 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/cash_generic_money.jpg

Bank wire transfers are fast and final, making them an appealing target for scammers. A Harvard University faculty member learned that the hard way.

Christine Lu recently fell victim to a scam and lost her entire life savings.

“I was paralyzed for a while,” said Lu. “I was totally shocked. I felt very hopeless. I cried every day for almost six weeks or more.”

With her mother by her side, Lu has been trying to come to grips with losing her nest egg.

“It was a total of six wire transfers over four days, and a total amount over $200,000,” said Lu.

She doesn’t typically answer calls from unknown numbers, but in February, a persistent caller got her to pick up. The number was spoofed to look like it was coming from the Massachusetts State Police. The caller claimed her identity was stolen and that he had a warrant number and case number.

“I was under the impression that if I don’t cooperate my welfare would be in danger,” said Lu.

She says they told her that the only way of keeping her money safe was to wire it to them, while they issued her a new social security number. She did, and her money disappeared. Lu says she’s mad at herself and at her bank.

Police handling her case would not let her disclose the bank name.

“The wire transfers, six of them over four days is abnormal, and they all went to new recipients,” said Lu. “Any kind of minimum red flag system would have been able to pick up something like this as suspicious.”

Bank tellers did ask Lu why she was transferring the money. She says she told them “family support,” as she was instructed to do by the scammer.

Jon Skarin with the Massachusetts Banker’s Association says somebody at the bank could have possibly flagged this as suspicious. He says bank employees are trained to recognize suspicious financial transactions, and they do frequently stop them, but it can be a tricky situation.

“If the customer didn’t give the bank accurate information as to why they were doing this, it is ultimately the customer’s money and their decision as to whether or not they want to initiate a particular transaction, and the banks have to be careful that they aren’t doing something that could negatively impact the consumer if the transaction is legitimate,” said Skarin.

There are state and federal consumer protections in place for debit and electronic transactions, but none for wire transfers. Because Lu initiated the wire transfers, she says she was not able to even file a claim with her bank’s fraud department.

“It’s beyond the point of disappointment,” said Lu. “It’s disheartening what the current banking regulation is in terms of consumer protection and in terms of their current procedures for protecting consumers.”

Police are hopeful that they will recover a small portion of Lu’s money, but in most cases, wire transfers cannot be reversed. You should never send money to an unknown party. If you are contacted by unknown individuals who threaten your safety, the safety of your family members, or your financial accounts, find the number for your local police and call them directly.

<![CDATA[Responds: Watch Where You Walk in Boston]]>510949852Fri, 07 Jun 2019 11:21:25 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Watch_Where_You_Walk_in_Boston.jpg

Boston's known as one of the best walking cities in the country, but one woman said a recent walk through the city left her needing medical attention.]]>
<![CDATA[Responds: Medical Spa Gives Customers Refund Runaround]]>510221711Wed, 22 May 2019 06:11:58 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/215*120/La+Dermique.PNG

They were searching for the fountain of youth, but instead, two Massachusetts women found themselves in search of a refund from a medical spa.

After they reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help, consumer investigator Leslie Gaydos uncovered a slew of complaints against the business.

Barbara Wilkinson, of Connecticut, wanted to look younger, so she made an appointment for a procedure called Face-Tite at LaDermique Medical Spa in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts.

"It was $2,245.50," said Wilkinson. "They wanted to be paid in full, and upfront, and the procedure was supposed to be done on the 16th of February, but it never happened. Got a call at 7 at night from the manager, and she said the surgical nurse was in the ER and we could not do the procedure the next day. The next time we were supposed to do the procedure, the doctor was down in Florida for some kind of a seminar and he missed his connecting flight, so now we couldn't do the procedure then. And then the third time, it snowed."

Lynne O'Connor, of Feeding Hills, booked a different procedure at LaDermique, but said she had the same problem. O'Connor said she paid $463 last May for Botox injections that she never received.

"I had booked my initial appointment, they canceled on me," explained O'Connor. "I had a second appointment. I showed up. The business shut down early that day. I had a repeat of that on a Saturday where I showed up, the lights were out, the building was closed. I had called repeatedly asking to talk to the manager and I always got, 'She'll call you back.' She never phoned me back."

Both women ended up filing disputes with their credit card companies to get their money back. O'Connor said her credit card company told her she had lost her dispute because LaDermique claimed she had received the services she paid for. She then filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of Central New England, but that didn't go anywhere. The BBB told NBC10 Boston that LaDermique stopped responding to their emails.

"I thought, 'It's over... it's never going to happen,'" said O'Connor. "It was a harsh lesson for me, but I felt there was no hope."

The BBB gives LaDermique a D-rating and has posted an alert on its website stating that the business has a pattern of complaints.

"I think $2,000 is a lot of money no matter how much money you have, especially paying for something you don't get," said Wilkinson.

NBC10 Boston Responds obtained 16 complaints against LaDermique filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General's office in recent years -- eight from consumers who said they never got services they paid for, four from consumers who claimed they were double-charged by the business and four from people who said they had an unsatisfactory experience and didn’t get refunds.

NBC10 Boston Responds reached out to LaDermiquee about Wilkinson and O'Connor's complaints. The medical spa said it would not challenge Wilkinson's credit card dispute and she was finally refunded her money. They sent O'Connor a check for the full amount she paid.

LaDermique's medical director is Dr. Stanley Swierzewski, a urologist at Holyoke Medical Center. He did not respond to our requests for an interview made through the spa manager or the director of marketing at Holyoke Medical Center. Holyoke Medical Center issued a no comment to our inquiries.

LaDermique sent NBC10 Boston Responds a statement stating:

"At LaDermique, our mission is to make our patients feel their best and walk out of our doors feeling rejuvenated and confident. We are aware that due to previous management, this was not always the case. Appropriate action has been taken and we are working with local authorities as well as our patients to make sure they are repaid for their time and services. We are truly sorry for all that our patients have faced. What is happening is not the culture at LaDermique and we are committed to and working tirelessly to fix the situation so that we can once regain our patients."

Agawam police confirm that they are taking part in an ongoing investigation involving LaDermique Medical Spa, but would not provide us with any details.

O'Connor is happy to have gotten her money back.

"I was elated and I was very grateful, because I honestly didn't think it was going to happen," said O'Connor.

<![CDATA[Beware of Call-Back Phone Scams]]>510038392Thu, 16 May 2019 18:40:42 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Beware_of_Call-Back_Phone_Scams.jpg

If you fall for this phone scam, you could lose a lot of money.]]>
<![CDATA[Delivery Disaster: Grubhub, Amazon Drivers Leave Damage in Their Tracks]]>509905461Tue, 14 May 2019 23:52:21 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/responds12.jpg

Two local families say recent Grubhub and Amazon deliveries cost them more than money. Both say they had their lawns trashed by delivery drivers representing the two popular services.

Heather Przystas of Worcester says a lost Grubhub driver who got stuck on her lawn last October.

“The whole front of the yard has tire tracks,” said Przystas. “Had to have been six to eight inches deep in our yard.”

She sent a police report and pictures of the damage to her insurance agent, who planned on filing a claim against the driver. But it turned out that the woman behind the wheel was not carrying insurance at the time, so the insurance agent contacted the company.

“Grubhub came back to him and said, 'All of our drivers are contractors, and they carry their own insurance. We are not responsible for this. We’re really sorry that it happened with one of our drivers, but this isn’t something we’re going to fix,'" Przystas said. "We were absolutely between a rock and a hard place, and there was nowhere to go, and that’s when I reached out to you guys.”

NBC10 Boston Responds contacted Grubhub and asked the company to look into the situation. After they confirmed the details, Przystas received a $1500 check to repair the damage to her lawn.

Grubhub told NBC10 Boston in a statement: “We require all delivery partners to maintain insurance, and we thoroughly investigate all allegations of drivers not maintaining insurance."

"We terminate our contracts with any delivery partners who are proven to not have insurance, and as such, we terminated the contract of the driver who was involved in this incident.”

Meanwhile, over in Grafton, a viewer who did not want his name used reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds after an Amazon driver was caught on tape running over his lawn in February after making a delivery at his neighbor’s house.

The incident was recorded on the resident's garage-mounted camera. The viewer says he contacted us after several failed attempts to get the matter resolved.

We contacted Amazon, and they cut him a check for $200 to replace the grass.

Amazon wrote in a statement: “We have addressed this with the delivery service partner and have resolved the issue with the customer.”

Both viewers are now looking forward to enjoying their green grass this spring.

“Thank you guys for helping us out,” said Przystas “It’s a yard, but we worked a long time for this house, and we’re kind of proud of it.”

Video can be very helpful when filing claims in these types of cases. If your property is damaged and you don’t have surveillance cameras, ask a neighbor if their camera might have caught any of the action. If not, document the damage by taking your own photos and videos immediately.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[How Reliable Are Food Expiration Dates?]]>509769402Fri, 10 May 2019 17:44:01 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/How_Reliable_Are_Food_Expiration_Dates.jpg

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates Americans throw out or waste 133 billion pounds of food a year because they are confused about expiration dates. It turns out, those labels that say "best buy date" and "use by date" are mere suggestions.]]>
<![CDATA[Lured by Love: Online Interest Turns Out to Be Scam]]>509330871Mon, 06 May 2019 16:32:00 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Sandra+Eckenreiter+online+dating+scam.JPG

Online dating is a lot like rolling the dice: You make a connection and take your chances. But instead of finding love, one Massachusetts woman found herself in the middle of a scam, with thousands of dollars on the line.

Sandra Eckenreiter, of Fairhaven, a widow, thought she found a love interest on Match.com.

“He’s a nice looking man,” said Eckenreiter, holding a picture of a man she was told was "Sgt. Kennedy."

The nice looking man, whose picture Eckenreiter was instantly drawn to, wrote he was an Army Sgt. from New Hampshire, on deployment in Afghanistan. After their initial contact on the dating website, they started to only text.

“He can’t physically call me, because he’s on some secret mission, and that should have been a flag there, but he’s on a secret mission and so we have to text,” explained Eckenreiter.

She says things moved quickly. The sergeant texting that he couldn’t wait to put a ring on her finger.

“I kind of put my brakes on — and I was pretty honest with him — I said you’re falling in love with a profile,” said Eckenreiter.

After months of texting, Kennedy told her he was coming to Providence to meet her.

“He had apparently with this mission, gotten a lot of money, gold bars, and he needed to bring it back, and then all of a sudden he gets stopped in Ghana,” explained Eckenreiter. “They’re not going to let him transport any of this stuff. He has all these fees he has to pay, and now he’s asking me to pay the fees, and I said I’m not helping you pay for anything.”

Eckenreiter was skeptical, but went ahead and wired him $4,000.

“It wasn’t until I slept on it that night and thought this is ridiculous,” said Eckenreiter.

She describes what happened next as divine intervention.

“It was Ash Wednesday and Ghana had an Independence Day. It was their holiday. All the banks were closed, so they could not retrieve money from the bank,” said Eckenreiter.

She was able to cancel the Western Union transaction. Coincidentally, she saw an ad for the website, socialcatfish.com and signed up. The website uses photos to verify identities.

When Eckenreiter plugged in the pictures that Kennedy sent her, photos of WNBC sports anchor Harry Cicma started popping up. Cicma’s online images were stolen and photoshopped, and passed off as the would-be Sergeant Kennedy.

NBC10 Boston Responds has no way of knowing who the scammer is or if they ever served in the military. Match confirmed to us the scammer in this case opened an account, and was blocked by them a day later and that they have a dedicated team and sophisticated technology that patrols for fraud.

Eckenreiter says she was shocked.

“Oh my God, this guy is right in New York, and he has no idea that he is being scammed as well,” said Eckenreiter.

Cicma’s photos also popped up on a Russian dating site. He said this isn’t the first time this has happened to him.

“I definitely feel helpless, because this is in Russia, this is in England, this is in America, this is happening all over,” said Cicma. “God knows how many people are doing this with my picture. I don’t even know how we can track all of these down. We just have to find a way to stop this and clean it up for everyone."

Marie-Helen Maras, an Associate Professor at John J. College of Criminal Justice, says catfishing schemes — where people lure romancers online — are common and it's likely Sandra was not the only victim.

“You have to do your research in this day and age, especially because you don’t know who is sitting behind a terminal,” said Maras. “You don’t know who you’re actually engaging with. All you have is an image and some personal information, and quite frankly, there’s no validation about the information that is placed online.”

Eckenreiter decided to confront her scammers.

“They said it was a hoax on the end of Western Union,” said Eckenreiter. “Sometimes you gotta use the gut and the head, and leave the heart out of the equation.”

Experts say when online dating, it's always a good idea to see the person in real-time, even via video messaging. Google them and conduct a reverse image search, like Eckenreiter did. And if you suspect something, report them to the Federal Trade Commission, the online dating platform, and the FBI’s Internet Crimes and Complaints Center.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[How Social Media Has Changed the Prom Game (and the Cost)]]>509068481Thu, 25 Apr 2019 23:49:00 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Insta+Prom+thumbnail.jpg

It’s prom season, but if you think you know what goes into prom planning in 2019, think again. The game has changed, thanks to social media. What used to be a sweet high school tradition has become an online competition, fueled by Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

Elizabeth Anderson of Lakeville, Massachusetts, got her prom gown early.

“I think I went in January to get my dress,” said Anderson.

She said she wanted to be one of the first to post her gown on her school’s junior prom Facebook page.

“You just take a picture of it, and you put it on the website so no one gets the same one,” explained Anderson. “There’s a lot of drama if girls say they don’t really like that dress. It’s like you want to get the best dress, which is really stressful with Facebook and Instagram and all that.”

At the Ultimate Prom Store in Dedham, store manager Diana Patterson says social media has changed how they sell dresses.

“In the store, they’ll post what they have on, and they’re checking to see how many likes they got in that moment, and if they didn’t get enough likes, they move on to the next dress,” said Patterson.

When it comes to transportation this year, forget the limo, the party bus is now what’s popular with promgoers. The Buzz Bus, for example, holds 24 passengers. It has flashing lights, premium Spotify, and a glowing stripper pole.

This year's prom is all about getting noticed, but that big night can also come with a big price tag. It’s estimated each student could spend between $175 to $2,000 on prom.

“The cost is outrageous, but outrageous in a good way,” said Ashley Binda with Promgirl.com “It really depends on the location you're in and how much you want to spend.”

A recent Yahoo Lifestyle Survey shows teens in the Northeast spend more on prom than those in the rest of the country. Parents of girls usually bear the brunt of prom expenses, but there are ways to cut costs.

If you splurge on your shoes, cut back on the dress. Instead of spending $300-800 on a gown, consider renting one, or buying second hand.

“We have previous season dresses that we sell. It's an opportunity for them to purchase as low as $50,” said Diana Patterson.

Hair, makeup, nails and accessories can add up as well — $500 in some cases. But you don't have to head to the salon to look picture perfect.

“That's all stuff you can do at home,” explained Binda. “Maybe your mom will help you, or your sister or a friend. There are definitely ways around it.”

And here’s a bargain: forget the limo or the classic car. Getting 24 friends to split the cost of a Buzz Bus to and from prom will only set you back about $30. You’ll make a statement and have those perfect pics for your social media accounts, with some money to spare.

<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Solving Your Consumer Problems]]>508667032Tue, 16 Apr 2019 19:02:15 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NBC10_Boston_Solving_Your_Consumer_Problems.jpg

NBC10 Boston Responds has returned $274,766.02 to viewers.]]>
<![CDATA[IRS Scammers Ramp Up Calls]]>508664642Tue, 16 Apr 2019 18:32:08 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/IRS_Scammers_Ramp_Up_Calls.jpg

Scammers are ramping up the volume of fake calls specifically targeting Massachusetts residents.]]>
<![CDATA[Homeowners Beware: This Door-to-Door Scam Cost $3,650]]>508118741Fri, 05 Apr 2019 10:53:54 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/211*120/Responds+44.PNG

The weather is warming up and you may be anxious to get some work done around the house. But whether it’s tree trimming, roof repairs, painting, or paving, beware of anyone knocking on your door with a deal.

“We were in the front garden, and this man walked up to us and said he had some asphalt that he needed to get rid of, and said he would give us a good price,” said Miriam Kelleher of Tewksbury.

She says the man, who identified himself as Arthur Stanley from Art’s Paving, offered her a new driveway on the spot for a thousand dollars in cash. Miriam went for it and paid the money. But she says Arthur then told her that he didn’t have enough asphalt to finish the job, and she says he asked her for more money.

“We said well it doesn’t look very well, so we’ll have to finish the middle,” explained Kelleher. “So we agreed to let him come back and finish the middle of the driveway. He said he’d work for another $2,000. He kept saying I’ll work with you.”

Miriam paid another $2,300 in cash, but says that wasn’t the end of it.

“He’s telling me he needed $350 more, and said he had to go back and finish it, so it will look nice,” said Kelleher. “I told him I had no more money. He said a charge will do, so I went and got a charge card and gave it to him.”

When all was said and done, Kelleher says she paid a total of $3650 for a driveway she says is not finished and falling apart. She says Arthur hung up on her when she called to ask about him fixing the crumbling asphalt.

NBC10 Boston Responds reached out to Art’s Paving by phone and email, but we never heard back. Kelleher says she filed a police report and a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The agency says Arts Paving is not BBB accredited. They have also posted an alert, noting that the company has failed to respond after three attempts to contact them.

“At the BBB, we’ve received a few complaints regarding this business,” said Paula Fleming with the Better Business Bureau. “They go by three different business names. They do have an F rating with us -- very concerning, because they aren’t getting back to us, or the consumers to rectify the situation.”

The BBB warns homeowners to be wary of anyone approaching them, offering a deal to do home improvement work of any kind.

“All of these types of scams have the same goal, which is to get funds from the homeowner and leave with either shoddy work or no work at all,” said Fleming.

The BBB says you shouldn’t respond to unsolicited offers of service. If you feel pressured, ask the person to leave their information and return next week, that will give you time to verify their credentials and the validity of the visit. And be wary of anyone asking you for cash, offering a deal that seems too good to be true, or demanding payment upfront.

“I would encourage people before you pay any money, write a check, give a credit card, make sure you do your due diligence,” said Fleming. “Check out a business at bbb.org to find out if they are reliable, credible, what the customer reviews are saying, and in fact properly licensed and insured.”

“Most people won’t say anything, because they don’t want to look foolish, well, here I am,” said Kelleher. “Don’t hire anyone who comes to your door. In my generation, a person’s word was their bond. That was the contract. Don’t believe it today.”

Kelleher was able to recover $350 of her money, because that was the portion of the payment that she made with her credit card. She disputed the charge and was reimbursed. In most cases, using a credit card offers you some protection.

<![CDATA[Avoiding an IRS Audit]]>508019612Tue, 02 Apr 2019 18:08:25 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Avoiding_an_IRS_Audit.jpg

It's less than two weeks away from Tax Day. And if you're a last minute filer, speeding to get your taxes done may make you vulenerable to mistakes and an unexpected audit. NBC10 Boston's Leslie Gaydos has more on what could trigger a call from the IRS.]]>
<![CDATA[Navigating the Cheapest Flights Through Array of Travel Websites]]>507787531Thu, 28 Mar 2019 17:57:35 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Plane+over+Logan+Airport.JPG

When searching for a cheap flight navigating travel websites can be a difficult task. If you don't have the patience to visit site after site looking for the best deal, there are online tools that will do the work for you, potentially saving you time and money.

If you're tired of comparing prices on several of the popular travel booking sites, there is another option. There is a new breed of travel sites that do all the work for you.

"To really get the best rates, you have to be flexible, not just in terms of when you are going to travel, and even where you are going, but when you are going to buy your ticket," said Kevin Brasler with Boston Consumers' Checkbook.

The independent, nonprofit consumer organization found that budget-conscious flyers are finding luck with the site Scott's Cheap Flights.

"What they do is they send out emails to their subscribers, who subscribe for free, and they'll tell you we think this is probably the best price you are going to get on a certain itinerary," explained Brasler.

The website will also tell you how long the deal will last, and they'll send you a link that shows how they found the deal.

"It's a really transparent process. They have people looking for good deals. When they spot a good deal, and you know they are good deals, because they are doing this tracking constantly, they send an email out and let you know about it," explained Brasler.

Other search engines to keep on your favorites list include Momondo, Exitfares, and Travelpirate. They also track flight prices for you.

If you're a flexible flyer, you can check out Google Flights. It lets you enter dates and leave the "where to" box blank. It then offers destination suggestions for those dates.

KAYAK is similar. It has a feature on the bottom of its landing page that lets you search for cheap flights by location.

The smartphone app Hopper offers flight tracking and price comparison features, essentially taking the guesswork out of the travel guessing game.

And remember to always read the fine print before booking anything. Consumers' Checkbook warns that the cheapest deals are for the basic economy, which isn't always a bargain when you add on fees for luggage and carry-ons.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA['Zombie Finger' Prevents Woman From Using Touch Screen Laptop]]>507470601Thu, 21 Mar 2019 18:59:18 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Sandy+Nolan+Cronin.JPG

The world is at your fingertips when you're online, but when a viewer's finger was preventing her from logging on to the Internet, she reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help with an unusual consumer problem.

Sandy Nolan Cronin, of Middleborough, Massachusetts, launched her interior design and repurposing business last year and needed a laptop so she ordered one online from Amazon.

"It was a Chromebook with a touch screen, and I wanted it for my new biz, so I could take it with me on site, into people's homes, and snap pictures of before and snap pictures of after," explained Nolan Cronin.

She paid close to $300 for the Acer Chromebook but didn't get around to setting it up for a month. When she did, she discovered an unusual problem.

"I started having issues right away with my hand, and I thought if I push it harder, if I tap the touch screen a little more," said Nolan Cronin.

But the Chromebook's touchpad wouldn't work for her — just her!

"Everyone that touched it, it worked, but when I touched it, it didn't work," explained Nolan Cronin.

She tried to return the computer to Amazon, but was just outside of the 30-day return window, so she called Acer.

"They blamed it on hand cream, soap that I was using, whether or not my fingernails were too long," said Nolan Cronin. "They did replace the touchpad and sent it back to me, and the exact same thing happened again, so, I asked again can I have my money back, and they would not give me my money back."

Nolan Cronin then contacted NBC10 Boston Responds to see if we could help.

"I thought I have nothing to lose, I'm going to give this one last shot, and see what happens, and you contacted me right away," said Nolan Cronin.

NBC10 Boston reached out to Acer with her complaint, and they allowed her to return the Chromebook for a full refund of $289.99. Acer released a statement saying:

"We believed the best option was for her to use an external mouse, which we offered, however she preferred a refund. Although there was nothing wrong with the touchpad or system, we gave her a refund for the system… and she thanked us for making the situation right."

Nolan Cronin bought herself another device that works for her. She has also done some research, and believes she has a condition referred to as "zombie finger."

"There is some electrical impulse that needs to happen between the touch pad and me that doesn't happen," said Sandy. "I don't know about anyone else's world, but in my world it's a thing."

Consumer Reports published an article on zombie finger a few years ago. It says that capacitive touch screens can also impact people who have thick callouses on their fingers, like guitar players and carpenters.

<![CDATA[Residents Battle University Over Science Center]]>507206561Tue, 19 Mar 2019 11:07:50 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Nahant+Northeastern+University+proposed+science+center.JPG

On virtually every street in Nahant, Massachusetts, you'll find messages of pride and passion.

"I think the tiniest towns in Massachusetts are the most passionate towns in Massachusetts," said Susanne Macarelli, who called 'Talk to Ten' late last month.

Macarelli was born in the tiny North Shore town, and is one of the hundreds of residents trying to stop plans for a new Northeastern University science center on East Point, located at the very tip of the community.

For many, East Point is treasured.

Dr. Marie Pasinski, who lives nearby, described it as "the most scenic vista in all of Nahant."

Thomas Costin Jr., of Nahant, went a step further, telling NBC10 Boston that the area is 'sacred.'

Decades ago, East Point was a military installation. Eventually, ownership was transferred in part to Northeastern University.

Inside the war-time bunkers it opened a Marine Science Center, focused on marine research and teaching. Sitting next to the Marine Science Center is Lodge Park, which is owned by the Town of Nahant.

Northeastern's facility in town drew little opposition for years. But that changed in February 2018, when the University suddenly unveiled plans for a new 60,000-square-foot science center.

Geoffrey Trussell, the director of the Marine Science Center, admits "we really got off on the wrong foot, so that's on us."

He hopes the new center, which will roughly double the capabilities of the current facility, can focus on things like climate change, sea level rise, and fisheries exploitation.

"We see this institute as addressing some really fundamental problems that are a threat to the nation's security," Trussell adds.

In the wake of last year's outcry, Northeastern changed its original plans, and in December presented three new possible layout options.

In each case, the new building would sit on top of the existing bunker, a key concern amongst opponents.

Many of those opponents say by building the facility on top of the bunker, it will increase light pollution, and will wipe out plants and nearby animal habitats.

"You can't not see the irony in this," says Jeff Musman, a resident nearby who says a center designed to study the environment shouldn't harm it.

In response, developers say that's the only spot where they can build while adhering to local wetlands rules, while also offering the required parking as dictated by the town.

"The last thing we would want to do is embark on a project that's going to be bad for the environment," Trussell notes.

Trussell goes a step further, saying that many of the plants on the property now are invasive, or non-native to the area. He says they grew up after the military cleared the land many years ago.

"Why didn't they manage them before?" Linda Pivacek asked in response, while talking to NBC10 Boston. “It's hard for me to think that they'll do it now."

Pivacek is an avid birder, and goes on to explain her concern about the impact of this new building on various species that frequent East Point.

"The birds are migrating down the coast, and they land here. It's a great spot for them," she says.

In response, Trussell says, "We see this as a great opportunity to actually restore the native species composition out here and as a result enhance the ecological functioning."

He adds that after hearing concerns from birders, and other residents, both about the threat to animals and light pollution, the design of the building is now likely to involve less glass.

Another major area of concern involves traffic. Residents say the construction of this new facility, and the fact that more staff and students will work out of the building, may tie up local roads, or threaten the town's fragile infrastructure.

The first traffic study conducted by the University determined that right now, 2 percent of the total traffic that enters Nahant goes to the Marine Science Center. Northeastern says it will conduct more studies going forward at various times of the year.

Numerous residents also said Northeastern has ignored some of their suggestions, or refused to answer questions.

Vi Patek said she reached out to the University on several occasions.

"It was absolute silence. No reply to my letter, which I sent by email and by paper," Patek said.

She adds that her comments raised at three different public meetings were also not addressed.

Trussell says the University is listening, and points to changes in the plans as evidence that action is being taken based on feedback.

He does add, however, that "there are some questions that folks ask in terms of our financial model or business model that we’re just not going to get into."

Water discharges from the Marine Science Center have been the focus of much questioning, particularly by Nahant's fishing community.

Some have suggested that water being sent from the Center, back into the ocean, has warmed the temperature of the nearby sea.

Northeastern disputes that, saying in part:

"In collaboration with the Department of Environmental Protection, since mid-March we have been monitoring seawater intake and discharge temperatures in Bathing Beach Cove. The data reveal that neither our current system nor our proposed future system will lead to elevated water temperatures in the cove. Furthermore, our proposed subsurface design will discharge farther out, beyond Bathing Beach."

When reached by NBC10 Boston, the Department of Environmental Protection said that statement is 'not accurate.'

A spokesperson said, "The Marine Science Center conducted this monitoring and has submitted information to the EPA and MassDEP for further evaluation. At this time, EPA and MassDEP have not made a determination on the potential impacts of the discharge."

Thinking big picture, residents freely admit that this is a battle that may take some time.

"You're talking a David and Goliath kind of story," Musman says, referencing Northeastern’s deep financial pockets, compared to the small budget of Nahant.

In spite of that, he expects "that people will continue to try to fight this." Musman adds that few residents are against the scientific mission of the Marine Science Center, but rather the way in which this particular project is playing out.

For his part, Trussell is hoping for further compromise.

"I'm hoping that we can find some harmony here, so that we can do the good science and education that's going to be a benefit to not only Nahant but to other coastal communities, and the town can look at this institute as something they're proud of," Trussell said.

<![CDATA[How to Check for Odometer Fraud]]>507105751Wed, 13 Mar 2019 19:30:42 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/225*120/ODOMETER+FRAUD.PNG

In the market for a used car? If so, triple check the odometer. New research shows odometer fraud is on the rise, and it's something used car shoppers need to be on the lookout for.

Kristin Young's recent car purchase is leaving her with buyer's remorse.

"We go ahead and sign papers, exchange the money, and I drove the car home and the whole way home, I keep thinking, 'I don't know what I just did,'" said Young.

Feeling uneasy, the Texas resident ran a Carfax report and learned the vehicle she just bought had its odometer rolled back about 60,000 miles, leaving her with a potentially dangerous car and one worth thousands less.

"Five thousand dollars invested,” she said. “It's probably worth about $1,500.”

Young says she was the victim of odometer fraud. It's an old scam with a modern twist.

"You no longer have to roll back an analog odometer to fraudulently reduce the miles on the car," said Chris Basso of Carfax. "Now, it's simply a matter of plugging the device into the car's computer and changing the mileage like that."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates more than 450,000 vehicles are sold each year with false odometer readings, costing buyers more than $1 billion annually.

"It's really all about making money," said John Paul, a car doctor for AAA. "Higher mileage cars sell for less than average. Lower mileage cars sell for more than average, so if you can somehow make a car with high mileage make it look like it has less mileage on it, it's worth more on the retail market."

Experts say the majority of these cars are sold through online sites. To protect yourself, it's best to ask a dealer for the vehicle's service records before making a purchase.

"You never know, sometimes they are just in the glove compartment," said Paul. "Look for when the oil was changed last, when the car got a vehicle inspection — things like that. And see if the mileage lines up with what is on the odometer."

The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation urges buyers to have an independent mechanic inspect the vehicle. It'll cost you between $100-$200, but it will buy you peace of mind and could save you thousands of dollars down the road.

It's illegal to tamper with an odometer. To check your car for odometer fraud, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Woman's Identity Used for Fraudulent Eversource Account]]>506996881Tue, 19 Mar 2019 11:08:25 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Generic+Keyboard+Generic+Laptop+Generic+Dark+Room.JPG

When you hear warnings about identity theft, utility fraud doesn't usually come to mind. So imagine the surprise one of our NBC10 Boston viewers had when she couldn’t get a loan because someone had opened an Eversource energy account in her name.

“It was creepy, like someone came into my home, got into my files, and walked away with my social security number,” said Karen Roman, of Falmouth, Massachusetts, who recently discovered she was the victim of identity theft and utility fraud. “I was informed by my bank in early January.”

Roman had applied for a home equity loan through her bank, but when they pulled her credit report, they found an outstanding Eversource bill for $3,400. An account had been opened with Roman’s social security number, tied to a residence in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood.

“The fraud account was opened in 2012, closed in 2017, and pasted onto my credit in the fall of 2018, so the account was open five years without me even knowing it,” explained Roman.

She filed a police report and says she submitted paperwork to Eversource in January to clear up the situation. Roman called NBC10 Boston during a “Talk to Ten” event last month to share her story.

Eversource told NBC10 Boston they don’t experience many issues related to identity theft, but when they do, they immediately take action. They said they received Roman’s paperwork last week, and determined she is not responsible for the unpaid bill and alerted the credit bureaus.

Eversource spokesperson Reid Lamberty told NBC10 Boston, “Although we are happy that the processes we have in place quickly resolved this issue for Ms. Roman, we certainly do empathize with the fact that her identity was stolen and used to fraudulently open up an account. The manner in which people sign up for services with us is consistent with many consumer-related industries and is in accordance with the rules set forth by the Department of Public Utilities.”

“I think because I asked for your help, it’s being speeded up, and they are going to take care of it as quickly as they can. However, I still felt that we should talk about this, because it can happen to anybody,” said Roman.

Identity theft expert and Bentley College professor Steve Weisman says one reason this type of fraud happens is that criminals don’t need much information to open an account.

“Name, address, social security number — that’s about it,” said Weisman. “Very easy to do and very easy to get away with for months.”

And if you’re a victim like Roman, you might not find out about it for year.

“Utilities in general don’t report your regular payment,” said Weisman. “It’s not something that will help your score. They don’t report balances until it goes to collections. Up until then, it won’t turn up on your credit report.”

So how do you protect yourself? Put a freeze on your credit. It should stop someone from being able to open an account in your name. And check your credit reports frequently.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[DNA Kits Yield Different Results From Two Companies]]>506986961Tue, 12 Mar 2019 23:37:50 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Paul+Genest.jpg

Millions of people have done it and you may be one of them – sent off a saliva sample to figure out your DNA ancestry. But one Massachusetts man is questioning how accurate these tests really are after getting different results from two genetics companies.

Paul Genest, of Swampscott, knows a lot about his family history, and he considers himself to be predominately of French descent.

“From chit chat within the family, and given the fact that everyone spoke French, we were pretty certain we were French,” said Genest.

But he got a surprise when the results came in after he ordered DNA kits from Ancestry and 23andMe.

“If you look at the difference between the two, there are discrepancies in every major group, and it turns out I’m not as French as I thought I was,” said Genest.

Both test results found that Genest is more than 60 percent Irish and British, but the rest of the results varied.

“There were things that matched and things that didn’t match,” said Genest. “The biggest thing was that Ancestry left out 11 percent and between 23andMe and Ancestry there was well over 20 percent disagreement in their information. So which one of them do you believe?”

NBC10 Boston Responds turned to Dr. Lindsay Farrer, the Chief of Biomedical Genetics at Boston University School of Medicine to get some answers.

“Some of it is accurate. Some of it is less accurate,” said Farrer.

He said the DNA tests are very good at determining your close relatives who have also submitted samples, but when it comes to where you come from, Farrer says the results are dependent on the reference sample that the company is using to determine genetic make-up.

“There are some populations that are unique genetically, so if they tell you have Icelandic heritage or Finnish heritage, that’s probably accurate,” said Farrer. “Once you start getting into populations that are currently defined geographically by national boundaries, such as in many places in Europe, that info can vary in its accuracy.”

Farrer adds, even if the two companies were using the same reference sample, there may still be discrepancies.

“The algorithms they apply to correlate the signatures derived from one population may be different from the way another company does it. One isn’t necessarily wrong or less reliable than the other, but just shows the limits of the precision in some of the estimates,” said Farrer.

NBC10 Boston Responds reached out to 23andMe and Ancestry about Genest’s tests.

23andMe told NBC10 Boston, “Each testing company uses a different algorithm and different reference populations to identify where in the world your DNA is from. 23andMe is extremely confident in our results, and are consistently ranked the most accurate DNA testing service by industry trade groups.”

Ancestry told NBC10 Boston Responds: “In September 2018, we introduced our newly developed Ancestry DNA algorithm that leverages improvements in science and a larger reference panel that gives customers more precise results.”

So you may want to think about your DNA test results as different components of your background, rather than fixating on the exact percentages. As for Genest, if someone asks him where his ancestors come from he’s going to say France!

If you did a DNA test in the past and recently received a revised report, it’s because the companies regularly update their algorithms and reference population data in order to achieve more precise results.

<![CDATA[Responds: Stove Troubles Kick Major Retailer Into Gear]]>506716311Mon, 11 Mar 2019 10:00:46 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Enza+Giacalone.JPG

When you buy a major kitchen appliance, adding an extended warranty is often an option. A Massachusetts woman did just that and then discovered she couldn’t get the repair she thought she deserved.

Enza Giacalone, of Walpole, cooks up a storm for her husband Joe, their kids, and grandchildren.

"When my family comes for dinner, I try to make pasta forno, the pasta is in the oven,” said Giacalone. "I try to make layers of the pasta with filling inside, the lasagna, and the chicken cutlet. I got to make everybody happy."

Giacalone uses her electric cooking range a lot. When she bought it in 2015 from Sears, she purchased the five-year protection plan warranty.

Last year, when she realized the burner indicator light that goes on when the stove is in use was no longer working, she called Sears to get it fixed.

"The guy came and inspected the stove," said Giacalone.

She said he told her they needed to order a part, and that someone would contact her to schedule the repair.

"I was waiting for them to call me to send the guy — the first week, the second week, a month,” explained Giacalone.

But nothing happened. Giacalone says she called Sears at least six times over a period of six months trying to get the range fixed. She says Sears told her again and again that the parts department would contact her directly when they had what they needed in stock.

"I wait and wait and nobody call me," said Giacalone. "I called back again and he says, 'no we going to do it now. In two, three days you're going to hear from us. If not, you call.' I says, 'no, this is the last time I call you, because the next time it's not gonna be me calling you anymore.'"

Frustrated, Giacalone reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help. We contacted Sears and asked them to take a look at the couple's complaint. Giacalone said immediately after NBC10 Boston Responds contacted the company, Sears reached out to her to offer her and her husband a replacement range.

In a statement, Sears said: "At Sears, the satisfaction of our members is our top priority. Prior to hearing from NBC10, we were already in the process of authorizing a replacement for Mr. Giacalone. He has since selected his replacement and is satisfied."

Giacalone's new electric range was recently delivered and she says it's already getting a lot of use.

"I don't know what you guys did," said Giacalone. "(I'm) happy now."

<![CDATA[Wire Transfer Scam Cost Would-Be Homeowner $300,000]]>506401421Wed, 27 Feb 2019 00:43:27 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Real+Estate+Scam+Ted+Williams.JPG

Across Massachusetts, would-be homeowners are falling prey to a scam that could cost them their entire down payment.

Ted Williams was on the verge of buying his first home in Andover when it happened to him.

"It's still devastating to think about," said Williams.

He lost $300,000 in a wire transfer scam. It was money that he had saved for years to buy a condo.

"When I went to the closing, I was informed that the money wasn’t there," said Williams. "I said, 'what do you mean the money isn't there?' I was just in total shock. I hadn't renewed my lease that was expiring. That was savings, everything I had chipped in to buy this place, just gone," recalled Williams.

It all happened because of a single email. Williams had been expecting an email with instructions for wiring his closing funds and he received the authentic message.

But moments later, he received a fraudulent email. It looked like it was from the same closing attorney but it wasn't. It said to disregard the first email and provided revised wire instructions. Unknowingly, Williams sent the money right into the hands of criminals who had been monitoring the email chain and sent the second bogus email.

"You're buying a home, it should be a great experience," said Williams. "I'm not trying to well up about it, but losing everything?"

The Boston FBI office says this is happening in the area every day and anyone who is engaging in any large wire transfer is at risk.

The agency says $53,000,000 was stolen last year in these real estate scams in Massachusetts area alone. They say these criminals are sophisticated, gaining access to email accounts and waiting for an opportune time to misdirect the wire transfer into an account that they control.

"These are very well crafted emails. Some of them look identical," said FBI Special Agent Mike Livingood. "Some take the signature block and incorporate them into the email. Some fraudsters study the language being used. So that they can emulate the language being used by the individuals involved in the transaction."

Livingood says buyers should always operate under the mindset that fraudsters are reading your emails, and verify information by phone before sending any money.

"People can be out $25,000, $50,000, $100,000 and beyond," said state Sen. Barry Finegold, who is also a partner at a real estate law firm. "This is as serious as anything we've ever dealt with in our industry."

Finegold says his firm has taken some preemptive steps, including using a good software that protects their communications.

Andover realtor Lillian Montalto, who represented Williams, says the scam has changed the way she does business.

"We are so careful now, we double and triple check everything," she says.

Williams was fortunate. His family gave him the money to buy the condo after the hack. Now he's warning other potential home buyers.

"Read everything carefully and double check before you send any money," he said.

The FBI has been successful in recovering money in some of these scams. If you discover a fraudulent transfer, time is of the essence.

Contact your bank first and request a recall of the funds. Next, contact your local FBI office and report it. You should also file a complaint with www.IC3.GOV, the FBI's online reporting tool.

<![CDATA[RMV Look-Alike Website Took Nantucket Man for a Ride]]>506165931Thu, 21 Feb 2019 18:56:08 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/209*120/RMV1.PNG

If you're trying to renew your driver's license or car registration online, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has a warning: be on the lookout for mimic websites. These are websites that may look like the real deal, but they don't provide any official RMV services.

Recently, Steven Mojer of Nantucket walked us through the steps he took when trying to renew his vehicle registration online. His Google search led him to a link for what he thought was the official state site for the RMV. He didn't realize it was actually an ad and clicked through.

"It all looked pretty official to me," said Mojer. "There was four pages and I filled them all out, put my credit card number in, and didn't give it another thought."

Mojer thought he had paid for a $60 RMV registration, but a couple days later, he says his bank called, alerting him to a charge from a Texas company on his credit card.

"I thought they were wrong," said Mojer.

Upon inspection, Steven found a $4.99 charge from a company called MyCar-Reg for an online registration instructional manual.

"I called them up and said, 'I don't want your services. I don't need your services,'" explained Mojer. "And they said it's a good thing I called because they were about to charge me another $19.99."

Mojer had entered his credit card information on what the RMV calls a mimic website, a site typically reached by customers using online search engines. You may sometimes see the word "ad" on the site link.

State officials say consumers should be extra vigilant and avoid any sites that charge fees to receive basic information or forms, as well as websites offering to conduct business online for you. Another red flag: sites that reference the DMV in Massachusetts, since the state registry is called the RMV. And be certain that you're on the official website before entering in any personal information.

"If it got me, it probably has gotten a lot of other people," said Mojer.

NBC10 Boston reached out to MyCar-Reg by phone and at three different email addresses, but did not hear back, and the site no longer pops up during a Google search.

Google told NBC10 Boston they won't comment on specific ads but said in a statement, "We have strict policies that govern the kinds of ads we allow on our platform, and ads that intend to mislead or deceive users are a violation of those policies. When we find ads that violate our policies, we remove them."

"I'm happy I got my money back, but that really wasn't the point. It was just making something right that I felt was wrong," said Mojer.

If you've given your money to a mimic site, the state says you should contact them and demand your money back. Also, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and contact the Massachusetts Attorney General's office.

<![CDATA['I'm Heartbroken About It:' Dog Owner Claims Food Killed Pet]]>505734721Thu, 14 Feb 2019 18:43:21 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/219*120/Dead+dog.PNG

Some devastated pet owners across the country are sounding off on social media, claiming a recalled dog food may have killed their pets.

"I'm heartbroken about it. I still have her bowl out and her bed and I walk in from work and look at her ashes and I just cannot believe that she is gone," said Jennifer Jubinville, of Cranston, Rhode Island.

Jubinville is still mourning the loss of her dog, Staley, who she says was suffering from liver failure and was put down in December.

"I know in my heart that my dog definitely died of the food. There is nothing else it could have been," claimed Jubinville.

She says she fed Staley Hill’s prescription formula daily dog food for the past two years. She is one of the hundreds of pet owners who have taken to social media, outraged that some of Hill's Pet Nutrition products were possibly dangerous to their dogs.

The company issued a voluntary recall of some canned dog food, saying the products could contain potentially toxic levels of vitamin D, which they say can lead to serious health issues in dogs if consumed at very high levels.

For its part, Hill's is waging a massive direct outreach campaign, responding to every post on social media and telling NBC10 Boston: "As pet parents ourselves, we understand the gravity of health issues with our pets... we have extended our call center hours and tripled the number of people on our phones, so we can take time with every pet parent."

Hill's says it learned of the potential for elevated vitamin D levels in its dog food, after receiving a consumer complaint. Its investigation later confirmed the problem stemmed from a supplier error. To prevent this from happening again, Hill's says it will require its supplier to conduct additional quality testing on every batch. In addition, they say they're strengthening their own testing protocol for incoming ingredients.

While it's unknown how many dogs were sickened by the tainted food, Hill's tells NBC10 Boston: "It's too early to make conclusions on the cases."

Jubinville says she waited over an hour on the phone before she was able to speak to a Hill's representative about Staley's death. She has provided the company with the dog's medical information and says they are investigating her claim.

"They can never replace Staley, but all the unnecessary expenses that I didn’t need to pay, which is about $7,000, I would like to be reimbursed for that," said Jubinville.

Hill's website says dogs suffering from elevated levels of vitamin D may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss. If your dog has consumed any of the recalled products and is exhibiting any of those signs you should contact your veterinarian.

A complete list of all recalled items can be found on the Hill's Pet Nutrition website.

<![CDATA[Stop Social Media Snooping ]]>505686851Wed, 13 Feb 2019 19:07:02 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/208*120/Social+Media+Snooping+211.PNG

Your privacy is for sale and it’s being compromised. What you think is secret online, may not be. Near-daily data breaches and security leaks make it even more difficult to keep your personal information secure. But there are things you are doing, or not doing, online that puts your digital information at even more risk.

So the NBC10 Boston Investigators and Responds have teamed up to show you how to "Take Back Your Privacy" – steps you can take right now to lock down your social media.

“If you don’t have your guard up to some extent at all times, you’re probably going to allow something to slip through the cracks at some point,” said E.J. Whaley, who works for Great Horn, a local email security company.

Whaley says cyber-criminals can use your tweets, posts, pictures, and friend lists against you to access accounts, create fraudulent identities and compromise careers.

“All it takes is a very small amount of info on LinkedIn or the other social media profiles or a combination of them and you can do quite a bit of damage,” said Whaley.

For example, if criminals see a post about your weekend away in Phoenix, they may assume you used an ATM while you were there. Then they could craft an email that looks like it is coming from an Arizona bank, describing a security issue and asking you to click on a link to see if your information was compromised. If you fall for it, you unknowingly download malware on your computer. It’s software specifically designed to gain unauthorized access to your computer, putting your account information at risk.

“It comes back to being aware, thinking about not just what you are posting, but what you are clicking on, and who you are communicating with,” said Whaley.

So what can you do right now to make it harder for identity thieves and hackers to get your personal information? Whaley walked us through four social media platforms to show us how to lock down our accounts.

He says to begin by revisiting your privacy settings, making Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts private

In your Facebook settings tab, make it so your profile won’t pop up on a web search, filter who can find you by searching an email address or phone number, and enable the feature that allows you to review posts before they hit your timeline. Clean out your friends list and keep it private and do some serious vetting before you accept any new friend requests. You should also keep your bio information on all accounts to a bare minimum, even on LinkedIn. You may want to connect with potential employers, but don’t reveal more than you need to.

“There is a big difference between being able to say I have worked in this capacity doing these types of things, and I have worked in this capacity doing these types of things on a very specific software,” said Whaley.

Some other smart moves: enable two-factor authentication on your accounts -- a security feature that requires an additional step to sign in to your accounts, and use a password manager, which generates and remembers strong and unique passwords for your accounts. You can make it harder for criminals to connect the dots of your personal information.

“If people are just a little bit more aware about what they are doing, and a little bit more aware about what info is out there about them, they can reduce the amount of risk that they themselves have,” said Whaley.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Couch Proves Not to Be 'Goof Proof' at Discount Store]]>505425831Thu, 07 Feb 2019 10:33:52 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Bobs+discount+furniture+couch+Responds.jpg

George Papadopoulos just wants to sit back and relax on his couch but says years of problems with the piece of furniture have been anything but.

"Five years and three couches. Maybe six to seven or five parts exchanged, and probably another ten to seven visits to fix a couch that had a problem, like the filling or something failed," explained Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos says he bought leather sectionals at Bob's Discount Furniture and when problems with the recliner and fill persisted with the first couch, he says he couldn't get a refund.

The company did credit him the cost of the couch and replaced it. Papadopoulos says he paid the price difference between the old and new one and the sales tax. He also bought the company’s "Goof Proof" insurance plan for a second time.

Papadopoulos says the leather then started to peel off the second couch, and that Bob's once again replaced it. His receipt shows he paid the taxes and bought the "Goof Proof" insurance coverage yet again.

"The last couch lasted 11 months and started peeling again, and that's when I ran into a wall," said George. "No one was getting back to me. No one was helping me, and they were pretty much not looking to replace my item anymore."

Papadopoulos took pictures of what he says was peeling leather and says he felt that the couch should be covered under either the manufacturer's warranty or the insurance plan. He says his request for a refund was denied.

"I felt like I was in a bad marriage, and I couldn't get divorced," said Papadopoulos. "It was unbelievable. I was like, 'I just want my money back, and I'm good'. They're like, 'nope.'"

Papadopoulos said Bob's told him to call the company that handles the insurance claims under the "Goof Proof" plan directly, but he says they didn't have a record of him ever buying the insurance for the third couch, and directed him back to Bob's.

"It was just back and forth," said Papadopoulos. "I sent pictures three times, dealing with different people, and nobody was on the same page, and for two months they gave me the runaround. I just want to be happy. Dealing with the couch every day was like a full-time job."

Papadopoulos contacted NBC10 Boston Responds for help and we reached out to Bob's Discount Furniture to see if a resolution could be reached. Bob's picked up the couch and refunded George the $1,789 he originally paid for it. He bought a new couch at another furniture store.

In a statement, Bob's Discount Furniture said: "Customer satisfaction is very important to us at Bob's Discount Furniture. We are happy that we were able to work with Mr. Papadopoulos and make sure his request was resolved."

"I owe it all to your guys," said Papadopoulos. "This would not have gotten resolved if you did not get involved. I'm very grateful for that."

If you have a consumer complaint like Papadopoulos, we would like to help. We are the only local station committed to answering all of your calls and emails. Reach out to our NBC10 Boston Responds unit here or call 1-888-521-NEWS.

<![CDATA[High Scores, Higher Charges: Teen Racks Up $13K Xbox Bill]]>505148191Fri, 01 Feb 2019 16:12:52 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/highscore.jpg

Having teenage video gamers can lead to big fights about screen time limits, but in the Schoepke house, it cost the family more than just their time.

"Thirteen months of multi-hundred dollar charges. Everybody was just floored," said Bolton, Massachusetts, resident Liz Schoepke.

Schoepke and her husband said they are out $13,000 after their son made a series of in-game Xbox purchases. They think it happened when he repeatedly pressed a button on his controller in an effort to get into games faster. It's something they claim was unintentional.

"We thought we had enabled the block of in-game purchases," explained Schoepke. "I guess it didn't work or maybe it was in one game and not in the next game that was added in the queue. There's probably a lot of things that we could have done or should have done differently, but just the fact it happened is really scary."

When the Schoepkes set up their Xbox One system, they entered a credit card number and an email address that they don't regularly use. They say they missed dozens of Microsoft receipt emails detailing the purchases from June 2016 through November 2017.

"Three hundred dollars in charges in one day. That's crazy," said Schoepke. "We had agreements with the boys that whenever there was something to buy that we would be happy to consider it if they would talk to us, and tell us what it was, and we did that fairly regularly. We thought it was under control."

The Schoepkes also admitted they weren't checking their monthly credit card statements, which were set up with automatic direct pay. They eventually discovered what was happening.

"We asked the kids if they were doing this, and they said no," explained Schoepke. "They had no idea and so we went to Discover first and said, 'we think there has been fraud.' They removed the charges, and then did their investigation, and determined in fact it was our account with my son's gamer tag that was incurring the charges."

The Schoepkes say the credit card fraud investigation took months, and afterward, they tried to fight the charges with Microsoft. They say Microsoft customer service told them they would have to go through the online system to get the charges reimbursed.

"The system has a number of questions before you enter the information. The third question asks whether the charge was made within 14 days. I said no and you can't even enter your plea," said Schoepke.

NBC10 Boston Responds reached out to Microsoft, and asked them to take a look at the Schoepke’s complaint. A Microsoft spokesperson told us:

"Xbox offers purchase limit tools for child accounts to avoid surprise spending in the Microsoft store. These features are highly customizable, and parents can choose to approve each purchase before it's made, to receive alerts after each purchase or to set up an allowance to limit the number of purchases children can make on their own."

The company did not reverse any of the charges. Schoepke says it is a $13,000 lesson.

"That's a tough pill to swallow. I want to be mad at my child, but he had no idea what he was doing," said Schoepke.

The Xbox.com support page provides information on how to prevent unauthorized purchases by children. They recommend creating a passkey that is required for signing in and they recommend using Xbox gift cards for purchases, rather than attaching a credit card to kids' accounts.

<![CDATA[New iPhone Feature Can Help You Track and Limit Your Screen Time]]>504733402Wed, 23 Jan 2019 00:49:46 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/210*120/screen+time.PNG

Do you have any idea how much you use your smart phone each day? If you have an Apple device, it's not a guessing game anymore. The IOS 12 update contains a new feature called "Screen Time" that will tell you exactly how much time you're spending swiping and scrolling — but you better brace yourself for the reveal.

"It is eye-opening," said Katie Greer.

Greer is a teen tech expert who is often talking to kids about limiting their screen time. Now, it appears she needs to follow her own advice.

"I was disgusted when I enabled mine on my phone to see how much time I was spending and where I was spending my time," said Greer. "I cannot explain three hours, 31 minutes on social media a day."

The screen time feature provides detailed daily and weekly activity reports, showing you the total time spent in each app, usage across categories of apps, and how often you pick up your iPhone or iPad each day. Apple says it can help customers take control of the time they spend interacting with their devices.

"I go to bed every night thinking there is not enough time in my day to accomplish everything I need to accomplish," said Greer. "If I could just get those four hours and 19 minutes back, what I could have done in those four hours and 19 minutes would have totally transformed my day."

Think of all the laundry, household chores or work you could have accomplished in that time.

Brian Jadro is a behavioral psychologist at William James College. He was also surprised to see what his phone had tracked.

"I had not thought I spent so much time on social media. I got rid of social media for that specific reason," said Jadro. "It's also amazing that I could pick up a phone 144 times in a day and not realize it."

Jadro thinks this is a great tool for people who are trying to cut back on social media or overall screen time.

"In order to make change, we need to be aware of if there is a problem or not," said Jadro. "So the amount of time we are spending on the phone is not known to the average person until there is some data to support it, and if you want to change your behavior, Screen Time allows you to set specific time limits for app use. I have put locks on certain apps, and social media, specifically, just to be aware of how much time I'm spending on it. It's been really helpful for me."

"It will give you a weekly report," said Greer. "Mine said, 'Your screen time is down 19 percent,' and I'm not going to lie, when you get that, you say, 'Yes, I did it! I wasn't sucked into this machine anymore.'"

Screen Time lets parents set limits on their kids' devices. You can also show them exactly how much time they have spent on their phones and they will have a hard time disputing the data staring you and them in the face.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Duped in Gift Card Scam: 'I Feel Used']]>504504121Fri, 18 Jan 2019 10:57:41 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/216*120/gift+card+scam.PNG

Janice Heath is kicking herself after she was duped into giving away $5,500.

“I feel used and angry that I didn’t trust my gut,” said Heath. “I should have just put him on hold and called the police and not been afraid.”

The retired nurse received a voicemail saying charges were being filed against her. She returned the call and was told she was talking to a Federal Drug Enforcement agent in Texas.

“He said seven bank accounts had been open under my social security number and a house had been rented under my name and social security number, and they had raided the house and found drugs and a lot of money laundering was going through the bank accounts,” explained Heath.

She took notes during the call, writing down a case ID number, the agent’s name and badge number, and his instructions to tell no one. She says he told her the government was going to seize her bank accounts, but he could help her protect her funds.

“I said this doesn’t sound right to me, I haven’t done anything wrong and I don’t understand this,” said Heath. “They have answers to everything. They come across as very sweet caring people.”

The man stayed on the line for hours, instructing Heath to empty her bank account.

“He said how much money did you get and I told him less amounts and he said why are you lying to me, we can see what you’re doing, and if you’re lying to me there will be consequences,” said Heath. “It was very emotional, very scary. I’m afraid I’m going to be arrested by the end of the day. I’m afraid the government is going to take all my money.”

Heath was instructed to buy thousands of dollars worth of Google Play and Target gift cards.

“I got in the card and I read him off the numbers and he basically emptied those cards the second I gave him the numbers,” said Heath.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, scams involving gift cards are on the rise. The FTC reports consumers lost 40-million dollars in gift card and reload card schemes in 2017 and lost more than 53-million dollars last year. Experts say these criminals now exactly how to scare people into giving up their money.

“They have a knowledge of psychology that Freud would have envied,” said scam expert Steve Weisman. “They probably could have gotten Freud to go out and get some gift cards. They make you think there is an emergency and that you have to act right now or there will be tremendous consequences if you don’t and we really can’t be too hard on people because it’s very, very easy to fall prey.”

Heath learned the hard way. Police tell her there isn’t much they can do, but she is thankful she realized what was happening before the man on the phone asked about her retirement account.

“If your gut is telling you it’s not right, even if they have a comeback, put them on hold and call the police or call your daughter or call your best friend and sound it off to them,” she warned.

Anytime you’re asked to protect your money, pay a bill or a fine or a ransom with a gift card, it is always a scam. No real government agency will ever ask to be paid with gift cards. Many stores have posted warnings about this and some even limit the amount of gift cards you can buy in one transaction.

Remember gift cards are impossible to trace and once your money is gone, it’s gone.

<![CDATA[NBC Responds: What to Do If You're in a Fender Bender]]>504405772Tue, 15 Jan 2019 22:34:10 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000021373776.JPG

NBC10 Boston Responds gives these tips on what to do if you're in a fender bender.]]>
<![CDATA[Instagram Model Says Logan Customs Agents Crossed the Line]]>504174271Fri, 11 Jan 2019 08:11:53 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/216*120/Cassie+Cardelle.PNG

Your cellphone has your photos, contacts, and some of your most personal information, but next time you go through airport customs, you may have to turn it over.

The Office of Inspector General says U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are searching electronic devices more often and agents aren't always following proper protocols. NBC10 Boston spoke with a Boston native who feels her search at Logan Airport crossed the line.

Cassie Cardelle is an Instagram model and travel blogger who says she's staying grounded for the foreseeable future.

"I want to be able to travel again, but I'm kind of scared," said Cardelle.

In September, Cardelle flew from Spain to Boston, and as required, was screened by U.S. Customs and Border Protection or CBP. Cardelle scanned her passport, declared the olives she bought as a gift and handed over her bags for inspection.

"He was searching my bags," explained Cardelle. "Then he was like, 'what do you do for work? What do you do in LA? What are you doing in Boston?''

"They really interrogated me," Cardelle added. "Then he picked up a bikini thing and he was like, you wear this? You wore this there?"

Cardelle said the male agent wasn't interested in her olives but asked her to turn over her cellphone and password.

"I said that's fine and asked if I could go with him," explained Cardelle. "He said, 'no you are going to have to wait here. I have all my passwords saved in my notes. I have personal photos, and then after the fact I was like, do they just want to see my photos?"

Cardelle says she keeps her modeling photos on her phone and had some pictures intended only for her boyfriend on the device.

"I was nervous and I was uncomfortable," said Cardelle. "I was angry."

Cardelle is one of the tens of thousands of travelers who have had their phones searched by customs agents in recent years. The agency's own statistics show a 60 percent increase in searches in 2017 over the previous year. According to CBP, all travelers arriving in the United States are subject to inspection, which can include computers, disks, drives, tapes, and mobile phones. The agency says their agents have the right to ask you for your phone's password and they can make a copy of its content.

"They can question me all they want, but to be treated like that was not OK with me," said Cardelle.

Stephanie Malin with CBP told NBC10 Boston she can't discuss how Cardelle's inspection was carried out but says any traveler whose device is searched would be provided with an informational sheet.

Cardelle denies receiving it.

A new audit from the Office of Inspector General finds that some customs searches conducted between 2016 and 2017 did not always follow proper protocol and the data collected from passengers was not always properly secured.

"The trend is increasing and that's why it's all the more important now that the courts issue declarations, saying that this kind of policy needs to stop," said Jessie Rossman with the ACLU of Massachusetts.

Both the ACLU of Massachusetts and Electronic Frontier Foundation have filed a federal lawsuit, seeking to prevent agents from flipping through your phone, and other electronic devices without getting a warrant first.

"What our lawsuit right now in the Federal District of Massachusetts is saying is that that policy violates the 1st Amendment and the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and should be stopped," said Rossman.

Cardelle says customs agents held her phone for 45 minutes. She's considering filing a formal complaint but says the damage has already been done.

"I'm kind of scared that my photos and information are floating around somewhere," said Cardelle.

Before traveling out of the country, legal experts advise you to clear your phone of personal information, use encryption services or simply leave your phone at home altogether.

In many countries, you can buy a cheap phone to use during your visit. If asked, you can decline to hand over your phone, but border agents can detain you or take the phone away. You can request an attorney at the scene if you feel you need legal help.

<![CDATA[Financial Advice for Furloughed Federal Workers]]>504076321Wed, 09 Jan 2019 00:37:16 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000021200624.JPG

The government shutdown is forcing some federal workers struggling to pay their rent and provide for their families to make difficult financial decisions.

Skerdi Avrami oversees maintenance and custodial crews at the JFK Library, which has been closed since the government shutdown began on December 22. He is using up all of his accrued vacation time to continue receiving a paycheck, but he’s running out of days.

“I had to pay for the heat to fill up the tank, because it’s going to get cold,” said Avrami. “The bills coming from the holiday season, there is nothing left. It’s a scary situation.”

Avrami has some money in an emergency fund, and a financial adviser says he should use it.

“This is why you set up the emergency fund,” said financial advisor Chris Keith.

Keith says if you don’t have savings, ask a family member for a loan before tapping into your retirement accounts.

“You may be tempted by that, but there are so many penalties,” said Keith. “We just think that the consequences of tapping into that are pretty negative.”

Keith also recommends cutting back on all unnecessary spending and prioritizing your monthly expenses.

“You don’t want to miss the rent,” said Keith. “You don’t want to miss the mortgage, but if you can roll back your monthly utility bills for a month or two, you can catch up later on credit cards, so you don’t harm your credit score.”

Keith also says don’t panic, and remember, if you don’t ask for help, you can't receive it.

“You should reach out to your bank or credit card company, and tell them you’re a federal employee who has been furloughed,” said Keith. “Ask if they have a plan in place for people like you. You may be surprised at what you find out, and you are not going to know until you ask.”

NBC10 Boston reached out to a dozen local financial institutions, and they told us they will take requests for help from furloughed workers on a case by case basis. They said they will be as understanding as possible.

Lawmakers have reintroduced legislation that would guarantee retroactive pay for federal employees impacted by the shutdown.

<![CDATA[Gas Crisis Fallout: Unprecedented Move Could Put Public at Risk]]>503259191Fri, 21 Dec 2018 00:46:07 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/propane+1220.JPG

“Things kind of stopped,” developer Jason Kahan said as he walked through his East Boston condominium building. It’s all but done. Brand new flooring, appliances and countertops. But it’s missing one crucial piece: heat.

“When the gas stopped, the bank stopped financing. The sub-contractor stopped getting paid. And people stopped showing up to the job,” he said.

National Grid’s intense labor dispute, along with Massachusetts' ban on non-emergency work, has created chaos for builders, struggling to complete projects without gas line connections.

And their solution is making first responders very nervous.

Kahan said that tenants could have moved into the 19-unit complex in August, but the local natural gas crisis has prevented him from hooking up to the gas line, leaving his multi-million dollar project in the cold, and in jeopardy of becoming a total loss.

“All the plaster in the building would crack,” Kahan said. “All the plumbing that’s been installed, including plumbing and sprinkler would freeze. And we’d just have kind of a major catastrophe.”

The only thing between him and that catastrophe?

A diesel heater, generating just enough heat to keep his building from falling to ruin.

But not enough heat to get the sprinkler system and fire alarm running, both of which are required by state law.

“The fact that you can’t turn the life safety system on, it’s a huge deal,” Kahan said. “It’s going to get bad quickly.”

It’s a huge deal for Kahan, because should a fire be sparked, he would have a “total loss” on his hands. Plus, the units can’t be sold until heat is hooked up

Kahan is just one of the hundreds of developers who are caught in the crossfire of an ongoing crisis within the local natural gas industry.

When National Grid locked out workers in June, work on gas lines slowed to a snail’s pace. Coupled with the state’s ban on all but emergency work following the Merrimack Valley explosions and a high-pressure scare in Woburn, it has been impossible for developers to get new gas line connections to their projects.

While the state lifted the ban on Wednesday, the labor dispute is still ongoing and developers are left to wonder if there will be any workers to connect gas lines. Not to mention the backlog of projects needing hook-ups, which one expert says could take up to two years to finish.

“People are desperate,” Kahan said.

Contractors aren’t the only ones holding their breath.

“We’d certainly be concerned with an explosion,” Boston Fire Marshal Jack Dempsey said.

He said Boston Fire is on high alert, after the natural gas crisis forced them to allow homeowners and developers to temporarily install propane tanks to keep their properties warm. It’s one of their only options for heat while they wait for the lockout to end.

“I don’t think it’s something that we really want, but I think it’s necessary at this point,” Dempsey said. “We want to make sure they get the buildings done properly and there’s money involved. A lot of money.”

Allowing propane tanks is an unprecedented move for Boston Fire. They didn’t issue a single permit last year. But in the last six weeks, they’ve already approved just over 40.

Most of these tanks are going to densely populated neighborhoods, where the risk of a fire spreading is already considerable. Add in the chance of a propane-fueled explosion, and the city’s fire marshal says a disaster could strike hard.

“If we get a good fire here, you could lose the block,” he said.

The Propane Gas Association of New England says that propane is “incredibly safe” and is often used in emergency scenarios as a “reliable source of fuel.”

According to a four-year study by the National Fire Prevention Association, propane was responsible for nearly as many fires—13,340—on average per year during that time as natural gas—13,730.

And although not distinguished in the data, some of those fires were likely were caused by propane tanks in barbeques.

As for casualties, propane fires were found to be more deadly, resulting in 47 deaths, versus 35 for natural gas, and 349 injuries versus 254.

“It goes back to the chemistry of gases,” Boston Assistant Fire Marshal Dennis Keeley said. “Natural gas is only 50 percent the weight of air, so when it comes out of your stove- whoosh. It goes right up like a helium balloon.”

But propane is heavier than air, causing it to linger and form pools near the ground. That creates an issue when it lingers long enough to find an ignition source, which are often found in basements.

“Where are our furnaces,” Keeley said. “Where are hot water heaters? Where are our automobiles? Everything is down low.”

On top of that, Boston’s first responders are concerned about all the extra manpower and overwhelming evacuations it would take to respond to a leak—or worse yet, a fire.

“We’re draining assets from other parts of the city to deal with this,” Keeley said. “I’d prefer that they weren’t here.”

And although Jason Kahan wishes there was an alternative, he is planning on installing a propane tank at his East Boston condo project. He says that he is willing to take the risk of propane in order to get his sprinkler system up and running, but thinks there should be better options for the hundreds of developers waiting out in the cold.

“There should be some kind of means for the life safety while everything’s getting figured out,” he said.

In the meantime, developers are counting on these propane tanks to protect their property. But the permits are temporary. They’re only for six months, and mandate that tanks must be above-ground outside. Large properties are required to have 24/7 security.

And since no one knows how long the lockout will last, the permits may have to be renewed.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Wegmans Recalls 4 Cauliflower Products]]>503172651Thu, 20 Dec 2018 09:57:59 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/cauliflower+1200.jpg

Wegmans has announced recalls for several products containing cauliflower because they may be contaminated with E. coli.

The supermarket chain announced Wednesday that it was recalling 1-pound bags and 8-ounce bags of Wegmans Cauliflower Rice, 1-pound bags of Wegmans Stir Fry Blend with cauliflower and Wegmans Veggie Rice Blend with cauliflower, which is sold by the pound.

The impacted products were sold in the produce department between Dec. 7 and Dec. 18. They were available in 98 Wegmans locations in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

Cleveland-based Produce Packaging, Inc. supplied the products to Wegmans and initiated the recall.

While no illnesses have been reported, Wegmans notes that E. coli causes a diarrheal illness and can cause blood in stools. The bacteria carries a risk of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a form of kidney failure that can be fatal. It is most likely to occur in young children and elderly people, the chain said.

Customers are asked to return impacted products to Wegmans for full refunds. Anyone with questions is asked to call 1-855-934-3663.

Photo Credit: FILE-Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chimney Sweep Scams Abound Due to Lack of State Regulations]]>502821392Mon, 07 Jan 2019 15:47:51 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Fireplace+1214.JPG

When Lucille Collings bought her house, the fireplace was a big draw.

“I love a fireplace, it’s so nice,” she said.

But in January, Collings got a phone call from a chimney company offering a free inspection.

“The woman called me three times and three times I said I am not interested,” Collings said. “Then she called me a fourth time, okay.”

When the technician showed up, he had bad news.

She says he told her the pipes were too close and that she needed a new fireplace liner and to watch out for carbon monoxide.

“Scaring the heck out of me,” Collings said.

She agreed to $4,600 in repairs and when the work was finished, Collings lit a fire and says smoke poured into her home.

“It’s a nightmare, just a nightmare,” she said.

Collings filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office, but industry experts say they’ve seen this scenario many times before.

Out of state companies calling homeowners with chimney cleaning deals, only to get their foot in the door to sell unneeded services. Work that is often done improperly, putting people at risk.

There is no state regulation of chimney sweeps, so we reached out to The Chimney Safety Institute of America.

They recommended that Lucille contact a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep.

Jon White of Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep in Swampscott is CSIA certified, and he took a look at her chimney.

“They used an undersized liner,” White said. "The heating system liner was altered and the vent pipe wasn’t installed properly and permits weren’t pulled.”

If you are hiring a chimney sweep, make sure the company is insured, ask what industry licenses or credentials they hold and verify them, ask for current references, avoid deals that sound too good to be true, and always get everything in writing.

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep did the repair work on Lucille’s fireplace free of charge, just in time for the holidays.

“Heard her story, wanted to help,” White said. “So I contacted our chimney supplier, National Chimney Supply, and they agreed graciously to give us the parts. I then called a local plumber and he decided he wanted to pull the gas permit and do that end of it. We gave her a safe chimney.”

A truly warm gesture.

“It’s so nice and warm and cozy. I just can’t believe it, I appreciate everything,” Lucille said.

You should always be wary of unsolicited phone calls from companies offering deals or who say they are in the neighborhood doing work. And be safe. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you have your chimney inspected yearly.

<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds Recoups Anniversary Airfare ]]>501666691Mon, 03 Dec 2018 01:13:38 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Responds+1130.JPG

John and Barbara Valutkevich booked a cruise around Italy last summer to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

“We bought roundtrip tickets on Alitalia Boston to Rome,” said John Valutkevich.“We bought premium economy because, being the size that I am, I need a little bit of legroom.”

But when they arrived at the airport, there was a problem.

“The young lady behind the counter said I’m very sorry, we’ve had to substitute an aircraft because of maintenance issues and this new aircraft has no accommodations for premium economy,” said John, “And, by the way, business class is sold out, so we can offer you economy class tickets.”

According to John, the agent told him he would be reimbursed for a portion of the cost of the flights, and gave him an email address to contact the airline. He says he immediately sent a refund request and headed off to enjoy Italy.

But, he says he didn’t get a response, and after the trip, he spent months trying to get his money back.

“It was extremely frustrating,” said John, ”there was no direct phone number provided. There was no way to call anyone other than ending up with a dead end with voicemail. I kept emailing, and no response whatsoever.”

That’s when he contacted NBC 10 Boston Responds for help.

“If you calculated the price of what we had paid for the tickets there was about a fifteen hundred dollar difference in what we paid for versus what we actually had gotten,” said John, “They had taken our money and hadn’t provided what we had paid for.”

We contacted Alitalia to see if we could get the situation resolved, and the airline reached out to the couple to let them know the refund was being processed.

“Here we are months later,” said John, “nobody from Alitalia bothered to contact me, however when NBC 10 and Leslie Gaydos became involved, all of a sudden, 24 hours, here comes a response saying oh yes, we know who you are. I was very pleasantly surprised.”

Alitalia declined to comment for this story. John received a check for $1456.00.

“Very happy, very happy indeed,” said John. “It was a successful conclusion.”

If you have a consumer issue that has left you frustrated, maybe we can help. We are the only local station committed to solving your consumer complaints. Reach out to us on our website, or call 1-888-521-NEWS. We promise, we will respond to every call and inquiry.

<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Resolves Concert Ticket Confusion]]>500725881Mon, 19 Nov 2018 08:03:41 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Responds+concert+1116.jpg

Mary Moran and her daughter, Makalya, look forward to attending the Kiss 108 Jingle Ball Concert at TD Garden every year.

“It’s a blast we love it… it’s a special pre-Christmas for the two of us and her friend and mother. We make a big night out of it go out to eat, it’s a nice fun night” says Moran.

This year, Moran wanted good seats to the December show, so she was online the day tickets went on sale. She found seats for $115 a piece and bought four of them.

“It was loge eleven, row one. I was so excited, the first row, I’ve never had it before. It was great, she (Makayla) was excited,” said Moran.

But, two days later, Moran got an email from Mytickettracker.com saying that unfortunately, her order could not be fulfilled as originally intended.

“I called and they said there was a glitch in the system and those tickets aren’t available," Moran said. "Oh my God, I was all upset, she (Makayla) was upset.”

Moran says they offered her seats in another location. But they were pricey, about $180 each and they were located farther from the stage.

Knowing the show would sell out, Moran bought them.

“They were expensive, everyone is on a budget,” she said. “I didn’t want to upset my daughter and her friend. Whatever the glitch was it was their fault and that’s why I wrote to you guys, hoping that something would come of it.”

NBC10 Boston Responds reached out to Mytickettracker.com on Moran's behalf and heard back from Ticket Network, the company that partners with them and provides the selling platform for Mytickettracker.com.

They reviewed the purchase and got in touch with Moran to offer her seats in a great location for the $115 price she originally paid.

“The seats are amazing, they offered me close to the stage, two sections closer and it’s only the fourth row up,” Moran said.

Ticket Network tells us, “We provide a 100% money-back guarantee so that ticket buyers can shop with confidence. We strive to deliver hassle-free ticket purchasing experiences, and when we fall short we make every effort to provide exceptional customer service. Ms. Moran was reported to be very pleased with the outcome, which is what we aim for with every ticket sale.”

And she was very pleased, indeed.

“I think it’s going to be awesome,” says Moran, “my daughter is happy, I’m happy, we’re looking forward to it. Thank you!”

NBC10 Boston Responds is the only local station committed to answering every one of your calls and emails. So, what are you waiting for? If you have a consumer complaint, reach out to us on our website or give us a call at 1-888-521-NEWS. We will get back to you!

<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds: New House Nightmare]]>499976121Thu, 08 Nov 2018 01:00:12 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/mold+1171pg.jpg

Christie and Mike D’Andrea are rebuilding their lives after they lost their home.

“It's like having a house fire, you lose everything, its tragic,” said homeowner Christie D’Andrea.“You say your house is full of mold and you’ve lost everything people kind of look at you and go, what?”

The couple closed on a newly constructed $481,000 home on Birch Street in Pembroke in Dec. 2014.

They moved in on New Year’s Day and Mike proposed in the front yard. But their new beginning took a disastrous turn weeks later when they discovered mold in the attic and water in the basement.

“I just wish we had never bought it, it turned into such a nightmare,” said D’Andrea.“I wish we had never found the listing. I wish we never embarked on this.”

The D’Andrea’s moved out of the house earlier this year.

They were having health issues they blamed on toxic mold exposure. Mike said he had lost sixty pounds and Christie complained of numbness in her hands and arms. They say their doctor advised them to move out and take nothing with them.

“It’s like a mausoleum, our clothes are still hanging in the closet,” said Christie. “Our memorabilia is still under the beds, wedding pictures are still on the walls.”

The D’Andrea’s say they discovered that the Pembroke Conservation Committee had issued an Order of Conditions on the property when the town sold the land. The house, which sits next to wetlands, was to be built above the seasonal high water table. But they say it wasn’t.

“Water flows into the basement every time we have melting snow or a couple of days after it rains,” said Christie. “Water seeps up from the water table because there is nowhere for it to go. The house sits in it.”

“It creates a chronic state of humidity,” said Mike.

Town Administrator Ed Thorne blames the builder, Tracy White of Hemlock Homes LLC.

“The whole thing boiled down to the fact that the developer didn’t follow the plan that was part of the sale of the property,” said Thorne. “I don’t believe that the building department knew that the foundation was lower than what was originally designed by our septic engineer.”

When asked if the town missed anything, Thorne said, "no."

The D’Andrea’s house was condemned by the town in March due to chronic dampness. They worried about Mike’s mother, who lived next door, in a house that was built by at the same time by the same developer.

“About a week after I had moved in there was a big rainstorm,” said Eileen Goguen. “I just had a gut feeling and went downstairs to take a look and there was a lot of water coming in the basement from the front of the house. There was black mold all over upholstered furniture, on the cardboard boxes, on the stairwell leading down to the basement.”

Goguen also moved out and says she has lingering health issues.

In 2015, the builder’s insurance company denied a claim for mold and the three filed a lawsuit, claiming a construction defect.

Tracy White’s attorney declined to issue a comment for this story given the ongoing litigation, but in a response to the lawsuit, denied allegations of any wrongdoing.

“It’s like I’m living a nightmare and I’m drowning and I can’t get out,” said Goguen. “I can’t go anywhere, I’m stuck with this sick house."

The D’Andrea’s home is listed for sale “as is” for investors and contractors, but they have contemplated foreclosure.

“We can’t live there and we can’t afford to maintain the home,” said Mike. "Our legal bills, our medical bills, life in general and maintaining the home that we can’t live in and isn’t of value. It’s just crazy.”

All of them are trying to stay financially afloat while the case moves through the court system.

“You wake up and you have hope,” says Christie. “You wake up and you push forward and you keep fighting.”

“I’m not going to let him get away with this,” says Goguen. “At least I’ll have my day in court. Win, lose or draw, I want that. I want him to be held accountable for what he’s done to me and Christie and my son.”

The D’Andrea’s waived a home inspection when they bought their house because it was a brand new property. That’s something that experts warn against. Buying a home is a big investment and you want to know as much as you can about a house before you buy it.

<![CDATA[Parents Looking to Cope With Kids' Fortnite Obsession]]>495305011Mon, 08 Oct 2018 00:28:24 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/212*120/FORTNITE+105.PNG

Love it or hate it, Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the world right now. It's a craze that has kids enthralled and parents enraged. 

If you’re the parent of a gamer, chances are you hear nightly commotion. There is a Fortnite fight playing out in homes across the country.

“It’s become almost an addiction,” said mom Jacqui Villa. “The kids run in from school and drop their bags and they want to play Fortnite. Mayhem breaks loose and they are yelling. You have to go in and unplug. He knows our standards of what we expect from him in his school work and that always comes first.”

Released last year, Fortnite Battle Royale, where up to 100 players battle to be the last one standing, is a blockbuster. According to Business Insider, it’s among the most popular games in the world. August was its biggest month yet, with nearly 80 million people, including plenty of kids, playing.

“I see parents everyday who question if there is a button they can press or something that will make this all go away or make it easier,” said teen tech expert Katie Greer. “Whether it’s Fortnite, whether it’s social media, Instagram, Snapchat, Minecraft, whatever comes out tomorrow, it’s important that from the gate, parents establish in their household what is appropriate times, how long, times of the day that certain times are off limit, or even whole days or certain places in your household where these devices are not allowed. Shut off, put away, out of sight, out of mind.”

Greer says parents don’t need to play Fortnite or understand the psychology about why their kids love it, but they should have some general knowledge.

“I want you to know on a google level if they can talk to people they don’t know,” said Greer. “You should know if there is a way to shut it off; how to make your kids private; learn if there’s a way that credit card information can be shared or used; and learn about safety precautions that can help kids, so they can continue to use this, but they can do it in a safer and smarter way.”

Some parents are embracing the trend, and hiring Fortnite coaches for their kids.

“The prices per hour for a coach range from the low end of $10 dollars an hour up to hundreds of dollars an hour, depending on the coaches skill and notoriety,” said Jim Drewry, the CEO of Gamer Sensei, an e-sports coaching firm based in Boston. “Increasingly we’re seeing parents who either want to take lessons with their kids or want lessons for their kids and that’s a really new phenomenon.”

In addition to learning teamwork and other skills, this could be a lucrative career path one day. For the first time ever, a professional gamer is on the cover of ESPN: The Magazine, and more than 30 colleges, including three in New England, now offer gaming scholarships. Some have varsity e-sports teams.

“We work with a number of colleges to help coach their students, and you’re going to see more and more collegiate opportunities,” said Drewry. “Those can potentially lead to a pro career, the same way a collegiate football career could lead to a pro football career. By the way, you’re not going to get concussions playing Fortnite at college.”

<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds: Staying Plugged in]]>494994271Tue, 02 Oct 2018 23:48:06 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/Responds+IMG_2768.JPG

Ted Carter is legally blind and he relies on his Bluetooth wireless headset.

"It's a godsend," said Carter. "It will give me weather. It will give me time of day. I can make phone calls and receive phone calls. That's important, because some days, my vision is better than others, but I know that looking at that screen is not a good thing for me."

He bought an LG headset last year for $150 and it worked great — at first.

"About four months in, I started having a problem with the right side," said Carter. "The volume was lower on the left side and I found out there was nothing I could do about it. There was no adjustments."

The product had a one-year warranty, so he returned the headset to LG Electronics and they sent him a replacement set. But he says the same thing happened again. He eventually lost audio on the right side.

"I call LG customer service and I tell them what my problem is and I tried to explain to the young lady — I didn't give these to a kid. I didn't go swimming in them. They weren't abused, but they weren't working," said Carter.

Carter says LG customer service told him that they had fulfilled the warranty by sending him a replacement for his original set, so he talked to a supervisor, telling him he thought there was a flaw with this headset model.

"The guy takes my information and says, 'I'll get back to you in a couple of days.' So I'm optimistic," explained Carter. "I never heard from the guy again, so I called back."

He called LG customer service again, and eventually corporate headquarters, but he could not resolve the problem.

"I was frustrated and I was angry," said Carter. "I'm feeling that I didn't get what I paid for."

Ted turned to NBC10 Boston Responds for help.

"Responds is right," said Carter. "NBC got back to me that next day."

We asked LG to take a look at Carter's complaint, and they sent him a new pair of headsets — an updated model. LG did not respond to our request for a comment on the situation.

"The bottom line is that I knew that I could have, not on my own, had this issue resolved, if not for NBC," said Carter. "Strike one for the little guy."

Like Carter, if you're having a warranty issue with a product you bought, you can always voice complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General's office, or the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds: Getting Rid of a Pesky Pole]]>494673471Wed, 03 Oct 2018 15:36:20 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/Pole+IMG_7952.jpg

Fenway Park isn't the only place in Boston with a "pesky pole." Recently, a viewer reached out to the NBC10 Boston Responds team when she couldn't get an worrisome utility pole in her yard removed.

Leslie Gaydos stepped in to help get the problem fixed.

Cheryl Proffitt has had a pole in her Boston backyard since she bought her house 17 years ago, but it became a concern after a February storm.

"I noticed that the pole is shaking so much that I decided I would call Verizon and let them know that the pole is shaking," said Proffitt.

She also noticed wires hanging from it.

"You worry," said Proffitt. "If I have visitors, I don't let them go out back. I don't know what is going to happen, so I prefer to be on the safe side."

Proffitt says she called Verizon and they told her to call Eversource. Eversource directed her back to Verizon, because the pole had her Verizon cell service line connected to it.

"After I called, I notice one day when I came home from work that someone tied it with a white cord, they tied it to the tree," she explained. "It's still unstable. What if the tree branches break? That's double trouble."

She says she tried to get the problem taken care of with Verizon for months.

"They said they would call the field supervisor and the field supervisor would call me," she said. "No one called me."

"I've been calling back and forth, and every time I call, it's a different answer, so I decided I would look for help in other places," Proffitt added.

That's when she contacted NBC10 Boston Responds. We reached out to Verizon and helped to get both parties talking and negotiate a resolution. This month, the pole finally came down.

"We are committed to providing our customers with the best experience possible," Verizon said in a statement. "We offered several solutions to Ms. Proffitt, who ultimately decided to have the pole removed and not replaced."

Proffitt switched wireless carriers, and now she has a box with underground wiring in her yard. She says she's pleased to have the pole problem behind her.

If you have a utility pole on your property that is damaged in a storm, be careful. Never touch or move any downed lines.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[What to Do About Robocalls]]>493917471Fri, 21 Sep 2018 04:50:19 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Ridding_the_Robocalls.jpg

So far this year, more than 16 billion spam robocalls have pestered people across the country. So what's a person to do?

David Hunt has had it with the calls.

"I run a small business from my home," said Hunt. "It is imperative that I have phone access. I get robocalls beeping over actual customers."

He's complaining, and so are millions of other people sick of hearing telephone recordings. Incessant, unwanted, automated calls are the Federal Communications Commission's top consumer complaint and the top complaint to the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

"I get robocalls all the time," Healey said. "I get robocalls right to the office."

Healey says she is working with other attorneys general to stop criminal hackers.

"We want to protect consumers, but we need help from the federal government and the FCC, and we need help from the phone carriers and the technology platforms to change the technology to block some of this from happening," said Healey.

In July, an estimated 4 billion robocalls were made to U.S. phones. Not all robocalls are unwanted or illegal, but Healey says about one-third of them are fraudulent, and the criminals are getting savvier.

"Never give out private information, personal information, financial information to anyone," said Healey. "Some of these scam artists are so sophisticated they make it sound so real, and you just have to really have your guard up and assume that it's a scam."

How do you fight back?


  • If you don't recognize a number, let the call go to voicemail.
  • If you answer a robocall, don't respond in any way, just hang up.
  • Get on the state and federal do-not-call lists.
  • Ask your carrier about call-blocking services.
  • Install a call-blocking app on your mobile device.


Alex Quilici is the founder of Youmail, an app that foils robocallers and spam calls.

"We can look at the behavior of phone numbers, and get a very good, very quick idea if a number is behaving badly," said Quilici. "We are a downloadable app. It replaces your mobile voicemail. One of the things it does is it can greet the robocallers with 'This number is out of service,' which makes them go away."

But what about legitimate robocalls, like car recall notices?

Eric Troutman represents companies that use robocalls to relay information. He says the law pertaining to telephone communication needs to be updated.

"Congress needs to take another look at this issue please and pass a law that decides what is a robocall," said Troutman.

In June, Senator Ed Markey introduced the "Stopping Bad Robocalls" act in the Senate. The bill would direct the FCC to enact strong consumer protections for authorized calls and empower the FCC with strong enforcement tools.

Both the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission say they are working to stop illegal robocalls through tougher enforcement and increased penalties.

<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds: Making a Happy Camper]]>493642231Tue, 18 Sep 2018 23:41:31 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/camper+9182.jpg

Christine Melanson was dreaming of the great outdoors when she paid $27,000 for a 2018 Prowler camper at Camping World in Berkley this spring, but things went downhill fast.

“I think this is the worst experience I’ve ever had with a major purchase,” said Christine.

Christine says the furnace wasn’t working when she picked the camper up, and there were other problems. She says fuses were installed incorrectly, and cabinet doors wouldn’t stay closed.

“I couldn’t even believe the amount of things that my husband was pointing out, that needed to be fixed or changed. It was shocking,” said Christine. “I was like how can a company sell you a brand new camper, and then come back with a laundry list of items that already needed to be fixed before you even take it off the lot?”

She made plans to have repairs done and took the camper home.

“When we got home there was a water leak, and the holding tank had literally collapsed and flooded the underneath of the camper,” explained Christine.

The problems were fixed and Christine headed out with the RV.

“We load up the camper with kids and go camping for Mother’s Day weekend. As soon as we pull in, we set everything up and the furnace pops,” said Christine. “So we’re in a brand new camper without heat and it’s raining, and I see water dripping. I am like where is this water coming from, and I go inside and the entire back bunk is flooded and so is the kitchen. I’m literally in tears, and can’t believe this is happening. This was a major purchase that I am paying for monthly, that I can’t even use.”

Christine says there was water damage inside and she was worried about the potential for mold. She was also concerned her vacation plans would be impacted.

“We’ve had nothing but aggravation,” said Christine. “I think we’ve taken probably a half a dozen trips back and forth down there trying to get things resolved. I have made so many phone calls and sent so many emails, to not only the service technician, service manager, the general manager, and they will do nothing to help me.”

Christine reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help and we contacted Camping World, facilitating an appointment for repairs to be made in August, but Christine still wasn’t satisfied with the fix.

“The cabinet doors weren’t even fixed. We were told this was 100% complete and it wasn’,” said Christine. Camping World then offered Christine a replacement camper, another 2018 Prowler, finally ending the months-long ordeal.

Camping World tells us: “We take seriously all our customer complaints and move forward to resolve them as quickly as possible. Due to the circumstance with this trailer, we were required to order the replacement parts...to provide the permanent fix. We worked with the customer to enable them to use the trailer during the summer…after we had tried to fix the unit the customer was still unhappy…therefore we exchanged the trailer for another that they were satisfied with.”

“I am happy with this one,” said Christine. “We did have a very enjoyable weekend not too long ago in this camper. I can finally smile and say we have a camper that I love. I absolutely love you guys. You have been by my side the entire way, trying to help resolve this…and I don’t think I would have been able to without you.”

The Massachusetts Lemon Law protects consumers if they buy a vehicle that has serious defects. However, the law does not apply to RVs. The State’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation says affected people can still attempt to find a resolution under the Consumer Protection Act.

<![CDATA[NBC10 Responds: Dealing With Sam's Club Closure]]>492980101Tue, 11 Sep 2018 23:45:49 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/SAMS+091118.PNG

The Sam’s Warehouse Club in Worcester was the only one in the state, and when it closed suddenly in January, members like Shirley Ferrelli were stuck.

“I’ve been a member since the 90’s of Sam’s Club, and I’ve always enjoyed shopping there, and of course they closed, and there is no one near us,” Ferrelli said.

Ferelli's daughter, Ti, reached out to Sam’s and requested a refund for the $45 membership fee her mother had recently paid. She says they told her a check would arrive in four to six weeks.

“I waited 8 weeks,” Ti explained. “I called, but the gentleman told me whoever you spoke with extended the membership by another six months, which makes no sense, because the closest club was 82 miles away. He said they would put it in the system and get a check sent out right away, which would have been great, except they put the wrong state on the check. Instead of putting Milford, Mass. they put Milford, Connecticut.”

Ti says the same thing happened again. She discovered another check had been sent to Milford, Connecticut. She says she made numerous calls to try to resolve the issue.

“This went on months,” Ti said.

That’s when she reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help.

We got in contact with a Sam’s Club representative who corrected the address issues. It took two months, but Ferrelli eventually got her $45 refund.

A Sam’s Club spokesperson tells us: “We are very sorry this happened. We’re happy the Ferrelli’s received her refund and we apologize for the delay.”

“I am very happy and I am very grateful to you, because without you, I don’t believe we would have ever received the check,” Ferrelli said. “It might be nothing to them, but $45 to me is a lot. Thanks to you, I finally got my money, and I’m very grateful to you.”

If you were impacted by the local Sam’s Club closure, and still have an active membership, you can reach out to Sam’s customer service to inquire about a refund.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds: Hung Out to Dry]]>492146341Thu, 30 Aug 2018 23:48:17 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/211*120/Responds+dry+cleaner.PNG

Athena Galanopoulos spent months trying to get reimbursed for an expensive jacket that she says was damaged at the dry cleaner.

"It was a wool jacket and when they tried to clean some areas, it was very thinned out, almost to the point where the jacket in some spots was bald, and I couldn't wear it again," explained Athena.

She had heard about Rinse on social media. The company picks up your clothing, cleans it at their Boston facility, and then returns it within three days, delivered to your door. Athena emailed Rinse Customer Service about the situation and they agreed to refund her the cost of the jacket - $478.

"They said, 'OK, we'll send you a refund, a check for that amount," said Athena. "I never got the check. They sent me an invoice, but it never came. Two weeks later, I asked what's going on. They told me, 'You should have gotten the check by now,' and this happened two more times where they said they sent me a check and it never came."

Frustrated that the refund check never arrived, Athena reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help.

"I always watch NBC and I see stories all the time, and I figured, 'Hey, maybe they can help me out,' and I'm really happy that I did, because the next day, someone came with a check to my lobby," said Athena.

"At Rinse, we take the care of our customers' clothes very seriously," the company said in a statement to NBC10 Boston. "We stand behind our Rinse guarantee of providing reimbursement for the full value in the rare instances that an item is damaged while in our care.

Athena got her $478 back and she's in the market for a new winter coat.

"I was waiting to finally have the situation behind me and it took way too long. It shouldn't have taken more than two weeks and it took four months," said Athena. "I know that I can always count on you guys and get very quick results."

If you are taking expensive items to the dry cleaner, it's a good idea to take pictures of the garments before dropping them off, and be sure to inspect clothing immediately after cleaning to make sure your items were returned in good condition.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds to Termite Trouble]]>489191731Wed, 25 Jul 2018 23:47:26 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/223*120/Termite+072518.PNG

When the temperatures rise, so do the bugs. For one local man, his termite trouble had less to do with the insects and more to do with their removal.

Riccardo Spezzaferro bought a vacation house on Cape Cod four years ago, despite a pest problem.

"During the buying process, it was discovered that there was termites on the premises," said Spezzaferro.

He signed a contract with Mid-Cape Pest Control to tackle the termites. The company uses a hormonal treatment to get rid of them. The process entails placing underground canisters, around the property.

"The initial contract was $1,300, and they came in and did an initial inspection and then they put the canisters in," said Spezzaferro. "Then it was a yearly renewal of $295, but per the contract it could go up at any time with inflation."

The contract ran from April to October. Under the terms, the company was supposed to visit every 90 days, but for the first two years, Spezzaferro says they came every other month. He knew they treated his property, because they would leave a notice on his door.

Happy with the service, Spezzaferro renewed his contract this past fall. But when April rolled around, he says the service stopped.

"No one comes," said Spezzaferro. "No indication that they had been here. No notice. The weather at the time had been very rainy and cold and originally didn't think much of it. May came and went and nobody came, and then found myself into the first week of June and nobody had come."

He says he called the company and found out it was under new ownership. He says they told him they were short-staffed, that he should be patient, and they would get there eventually. But he says they never did.

"She told me at that time that they had been here, and I found that surprising, because I had been doing yardwork, and I left the place in a way that I would have known that somebody had come," said Spezzaferro. "I was told there would be no refunds and there would be no credits."

Spezzaferro then turned to NBC10 Boston Responds for help.

"You guys were great. You got right on it," said Spezzaferro.

A Mid-Cape manager said over the phone they haven't had any other customer complaints, but they did not issue a further statement for this story. Spezzaferro was refunded $325 for his pre-paid year of service.

"They were not willing to negotiate with me whatsoever, until you guys were involved," said Spezzaferro.

In Spezzaferro's case, he was able to visit his summer home on the Cape frequently in the offseason to check things out. That's how he says he knew the work was not being done. If you are in a similar situation, but can't physically visit your property often, it's a good idea to have your neighbors or someone keep an eye on things, and confirm that work is actually being done.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds Returns More Than $221K to Viewers]]>486874181Thu, 28 Jun 2018 17:52:53 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/cash_generic_money.jpg

The NBC10 Boston Responds team answers every call and email to get your money back.

Photo Credit: File]]>
<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Consumer Investigation: Hotel Site Secrets]]>485605261Thu, 14 Jun 2018 23:34:09 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Statler+Hilton+Dallas+hotel+1.jpg

Summer travel season is in full effect, and if you feel that you’ve spent way too much time searching for hotel bargains online, you probably have, so we're letting you in on a little secret when it comes to booking your next vacation stay.

“Almost all those sites are owned by one of two companies,” said Kevin Brasler with Boston Consumers’ Checkbook. “One is Expedia and the other is called Booking Holdings, which used to call itself Priceline. They have bought up and control 95% of the third-party booking sites.”

According to independent non-profit, Boston Consumers’ Checkbook, those two companies own just about every booking site you can think of and have essentially set the market when it comes to hotel room pricing.

“Now that they have 95% of this market share, they are insisting that hotels offer every room at the same price across all booking channels, including the hotels own websites,” said Brasler.

We reached out to Booking Holdings and Expedia about this, and only Expedia got back to us saying: “The foundation of our business and brands is matching travelers with the best hotel for their needs at the best price available for us to offer,” said Expedia.

Checkbook says its researchers looked up more than 3,500 hotel rates on 18 different booking sites plus company websites and found very little price variation. We tried it to find an online room deal at Hotel Viking in Newport this weekend. We found the same $429 rate at seven online sites and the hotel’s website.

So, where can you get a deal??

Consumers Checkbook says the best bargains are the Hotwire Hot Rate or Priceline Express Deal Mystery rates. Both offer deep savings, but the catch is you don’t know the name of the hotel until you’ve booked and paid.

“You can control how many star levels the place has, average user reviews, wifi, free parking, and whether pets are welcome. So you really do get control over a lot of key criteria to make sure you’re in a good spot,” said Brasler.

Travel Blogger, Jennifer Yellin of dealswelike.com says you can also save money by calling the hotel directly.

“They are trying to introduce member-only pricing. And they’ll give you many chains, like a 10% discount and they’ll give you benefits, as well for just booking with them, so they don’t have to pay these third-party companies,” said Yellin.

Be sure to join the hotels’ loyalty program. You might get a room upgrade or free parking, wifi or breakfast. And don’t forget to ask about exclusive offers, AAA, AARP, military or corporate company discount.

“They are really trying to get you to be a member and to book through them directly, and they’ll offer you these extra incentives and you can earn the points also,” said Yellin. “So an expensive stay will get you a lot of points to redeem for a future hotel.”

The American Hotel and Lodging Association has some tips for booking hotel rooms through a third-party website this summer:

Look out for misleading messages on websites like “book now” or “2 rooms left;” double check the websites URL to make sure you’re on a legitimate site; -make sure the site is secure before you make a payment, and know and understand the hotel’s cancellation/change policy.

Photo Credit: Statler Hilton Hotel]]>
<![CDATA[More Than $213K Recovered for Viewers]]>484998311Fri, 08 Jun 2018 18:45:05 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/cash_generic_money.jpg

NBC10 Boston Responds has saved its viewers $213,843.58.]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Investigation: Handicapping Tickets]]>484925391Thu, 07 Jun 2018 23:59:01 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/212*120/handicapping+tickets.PNG

When you're trying to get tickets for a hot concert, you usually go online, pick a good seat and buy your tickets. But if you are in a wheelchair, the process isn't always that easy.

Fleetwood Mac is coming to TD Garden in Boston next year, but getting tickets for the show was a struggle for Dawn Oates.

"Nothing was offered for me to purchase at that point," said Oates.

She got a pre-sale opportunity through her credit card, and she went online as soon as the sale opened. But she says she couldn't identify the wheelchair-accessible seats, and she needed one for her friend, Bob Burres.

"So here I am, trying to get two tickets for this concert that I think are going to go fast, and I can't even get to the point where I can see what seats I can purchase," said Oates. "I have to send an email, and now I have to sit on hold."

Oates, whose daughter uses a wheelchair, has been in this situation before, so she kept trying.

"I ended up calling back and talking to a supervisor, and the supervisor said, 'Well, looks like they are all sold out,'" explained Oates.

Frustrated but determined, Oates picked Burres up. They drove into Boston and they appeared in person at the TD Garden box office, where a supervisor eventually sold them wheelchair-accessible seats.

"She said, 'We usually don't do this, but I'm going to try to help you out," said Oates. "We knew we met someone who got it."

She had her tickets, but wondered what would have happened if she couldn't drive to the box office. Oates continued her email exchanges with Ticketmaster to see how long it would take. And it took three days.

"I think there were 12 emails in total before I could get a choice of tickets in different price points and different locations," said Oates.

This experience didn't surprise Burres.

"It almost seems like the juice isn't worth the squeeze," said Burres. "It's difficult enough just to get there, but then to show up, and either it be a bad seat or no seat, or if you have more than one person you want to go with – it's difficult."

It was situations like this that led the Department of Justice to change the Americans with Disabilities Act Regulations regarding ticketing in 2011. According to the law, ticketing agencies must ensure that individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity to purchase tickets for accessible seating at the same times and in the same way that other patrons do.

"We get a variety of calls about ticketing," said Jason Angel of the New England ADA Center, which educates the public about the law. "It's because people aren't aware of what their rights are, or venues or ticket agencies aren't aware of what their obligations are."

According to the ADA website, 13 years ago, Ticketmaster entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve complaints regarding ADA violations. One of the complaints listed was that people trying to buy tickets for accessible seats online had to do so through a series of emails with a sales agent, and that people were unable to purchase tickets for accessible seats in a pre-sale.

NBC10 Boston contacted Ticketmaster and TD Garden regarding Oates' experience. Ticketmaster tells us the matter was resolved successfully, but they would not address what may have gone wrong or discuss the matter with us further.

TD Garden also responded.

"Our mission is to ensure that TD Garden is accessible to everyone," the venue said in a statement. "We are sorry to hear that this particular experience with Ticketmaster caused so much frustration. We are pleased that ultimately the guest was able to purchase tickets both online and at the box office.

"We appreciate guests bringing these issues to our attention and will continue to work with Ticketmaster to improve processes for everyone."

"It's not just Ticketmaster, it's every ticketing agency and every venue," said Oates. "Think about the 20 percent of Americans who have disabilities. Think about the business case of not including them. You're not only losing the business of Bob and me, you're losing the business of all of our friends who are upset that we were treated a certain way."

If you have experienced this problem, the ADA encourages you to understand your rights, suggest that the ticketing agency or venue contact the ADA so they understand their obligations, and file a complaint with the Department of Justice or the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds: Cushy Outcome]]>483475691Thu, 24 May 2018 00:17:30 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/Responds+IMG_2469.JPG

Rich Diez just spent $7,000 furnishing his condo at Bob's Discount Furniture.

"The bedrooms, the dining room, and living room — all the furniture I needed, and got it set up for delivery," said Diez.

After delivery, he realized something about the couch didn't sit well with him.

"I noticed when I sat in the sofa, the right arm rest felt a little funny. It was like stuffing was missing from the right armrest. I would push down, and there was like a void, and when you push down not only was there a void, it would hit the wooden frame, and it would make a 'clack' sound," said Diez

Rich called Bob's and they sent out a technician.

"When the technician came out, he took a look at the sofa, and tested it and saw what I was saying but, it was his opinion, that was normal," said Diez. "After he had left, I called customer service again as requested, and they looked up my account, and said , 'I'm sorry that the technician reported there is nothing wrong, there is nothing further we can do,'" explained Diez. "I said, 'Do I just have to live with it? I mean, can I send it back?' They said there are no refunds."

Rich's receipt clearly states that once you accept your furniture, it cannot be returned, unless it has an unserviceable factory defect. He continued to push for a repair for three months, even contacting the Better Business Bureau, but he hit a dead end. That's when he reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help.

"I'm just so disappointed in how they handled it, and their lack of customer service," said Diez. "I didn't want my money back. I just wanted that little issue to be corrected."

We contacted Bob's Discount Furniture. The company offered to refund Rich's sofa for a store credit, less a 15-percent usage fee, or send another tech out to look at the couch. Rich chose the latter, and the second technician finally fixed the problem, adding more stuffing to the arm.

Bob's tells us: "Customer satisfaction is job #1 at Bob's Discount Furniture. We are happy that the issue has been resolved. Our management team is currently reviewing the conflicting service reports."

"I'm happy it's resolved, and now when I have guests over, they are not going to feel that void and look at me funny," said Diez.

Be sure to give any new furniture you buy a thorough inspection, before you the sign the acceptance paperwork when it's delivered. If there is a no-return policy, this may be your only chance to flag a problem.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Insuring Your Wedding Bliss]]>482999071Thu, 17 May 2018 23:31:11 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Insuring_Your_Wedding_Bliss.jpg

Can wedding insurance offer peace of mind before and after your trip to the altar?]]>
<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds: A Costly Free Deal]]>481393961Tue, 01 May 2018 23:41:37 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/responds4.jpg

A buy one, get one free smartphone deal turned into a big headache for one of our viewers. He had run out of options to get the problem resolved before turning to our NBC10 Boston Responds team for help.

Greg Sabatino bought his dad, who lives in New York, a new smartphone for his birthday last year.

"About a month later, he was struggling to set up his voicemail, so he called customer service at AT&T to get some help, and during that conversation, they let him know that they had been running a buy one, get one offer on Samsung Galaxy S8s, and offered to update my mother’s line," explained Sabatino.

So Sabatino's dad took advantage of the buy one, get one free offer, thinking he was getting a free phone for his wife. Sabatino's parents are on his mobile plan, and when he got his bill, he saw a $749 charge for the second phone.

"I naturally contacted customer support, and asked why there was a charge for the phone," said Sabatino.

They told him it usually takes two to three billing cycles before that kicks in, and he would be refunded for those payments. When he didn’t see a credit, he contacted customer service by chat and was reassured that it would appear on the next bill - but it didn’t.

"I called again, and this time the customer service agent did a little more digging, and said 'Your mother’s line was not a newly added line. It was an upgraded line, and didn’t qualify for the buy one, get one offer,'" Sabatino said.

He couldn’t get a refund, and says AT&T told his father he couldn’t return the phone either.

"If a rep offers you something from a company, you would expect that they understand what it is that they are offering," Sabatino said.

Angry, Sabatino closed his account and moved to another wireless carrier.

"I didn’t think it was right, and nobody likes to see their parents upset," he said.

His parents filed a complaint against AT&T with the New York Attorney General’s office. The office sent them a letter in January with a response from AT&T saying: "A new line activation is required for the BOGO promotion... a refund will not be provided for the cost of the devices."

So Sabatino contacted us. We got the matter escalated with AT&T, and a month later, they refunded his money. AT&T said, "We have apologized to the customer and credited them the cost of the device."

Sabatino says he’s glad he turned to NBC10 Boston Responds.

"I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised at the interaction I had with the team, and the way that they supported me without a doubt." he said. "It gives you some hope that the right thing can turn out in the end."

There are often a lot of specific requirements associated with these buy one, get one free deals, so be sure to read the fine print before you sign up.

<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds Returns $205K to Viewers]]>480861401Thu, 26 Apr 2018 10:15:49 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/thumbnail+%281%2911.png

The NBC10 Boston Responds team has been busy solving your consumer problems.]]>
<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds: Working Out a Refund]]>480690981Tue, 24 Apr 2018 23:34:17 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/NBC10+Boston+Responds+Working+Out+a+Refund.JPG

Ingrid Schneider has been working out at home these days. She used to frequent a neighborhood gym.

"It was just kind of cheap enough that it was something that I could keep going to occasionally, and if I didn’t go, it wasn’t a big deal, because it was $14.99 a month," Schneider said.

In December, she decided to cancel her Rockin’ Fitness gym membership, because she wasn’t using it as much.

"I tried to go cancel it, and it was completely shuttered, and closed down, and no signs or no nothing," Schneider said. "No lights on inside - completely dark, completely dead."

Schneider figured the automatic monthly billing of her membership fee would stop, since the gym had closed, but it didn’t, because $14.99 continued to be withdrawn from her account every month.

"I called them, and got this number has been disconnected," Schneider said. "I went on their Facebook page, and there was just some advice on juice cleanses, and odd dietary advice, and nothing about that fact that the gym was gone, completely gone."

So, Schneider got in touch with us.

"It’s not a lot of money, but it’s not even about the money," Schneider explained. "$14.99 adds up."

We did some online research, and determined that the billing was being handled by ABC Financial Services, a payment processing provider for the health and wellness industry. We told them about Schneider.

"All of a sudden, this other routing service gets in touch with me, and says we didn’t know that you wanted to quit the gym. We are going to refund your money," Schneider said. "Within 24 hours of emailing you guys, I have this routing service I’d never heard of refunding my money for four months of withdrawals."

ABC Financial Services tells NBC10 Boston: "t is our policy not to comment on these types of requests from the media. However, we feel this situation has been handled to the satisfaction of the former member."

Schneider was reimbursed $59.96.

"We’re about to have another baby, so I’m happy for every dollar and every cent," Schneider said. "You guys really came through for me. I’m psyched!"

Under federal law, you do have the right to stop a company from taking automatic payments from your bank account. For debits, contact the company in question, and ask them to stop taking automatic payments. Next, call your bank and tell them that you have revoked the company’s authorization. You can also give your bank a stop payment order, at least three business days before the payment is scheduled. Finally, monitor your accounts.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds: Flippin' Mad]]>480299823Fri, 20 Apr 2018 08:58:40 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/Dainoff.JPG

The real estate market is so hot people are forgoing home inspections to get their bid accepted, but that rush to buy can cause trouble.

Flipped homes are at an all-time high. These are properties that are bought, renovated and sold within a matter of months and while they can be money makers for sellers, there are potential pitfalls for buyers. One Massachusetts woman says she learned that the hard way.

Barbara Dainoff bought a flipped house last summer, and she says the rotten wood is the least of her problems.

“I liked the house, but little did I know what would transpire,” said Dainoff.

The Leominster property was marketed as a tastefully renovated and updated three bedroom ranch. Barbara says it looked lovely at first.

“What I’ve since discovered, particularly as time has gone on, is that everything is wrong,” said Dainoff. “I have doors that were incorrectly installed, incorrectly sized, thresholds that were too high, a trip hazard twice as high as code allows.”

She also had a flooded basement and called in a contractor.

“He had removed the molding around the bulkhead door, and what we found was that the door was literally sitting in a hole. It wasn’t installed,” explained Dainoff.

Dainoff says there are problems with the electrical system. The new roof was shingled incorrectly. The sump pump drain emptied next to the foundation.

Inside, she says the floorboards are separating. There were plumbing issues and cracks in the tile. She says the biggest problem was the new HVAC system, which wasn’t hooked up. One of the vents was an open hole into the basement.

“The furnace vented below the snow line, which means that if there was snow that covered it, then CO2 infiltrates the house and people could die,” said Dainoff.

A certificate of occupancy was issued by the city before the sale of the house. Building Commissioner, Peter Niall tells NBC10 Boston that he signed off on the items listed on the work permit pulled for the renovation – the new bath, kitchen cabinets and roof. But, he didn’t inspect the HVAC system at that time, because he says an internal clerical error was made on the work permit, and it failed to list the HVAC system. Niall says Dainoff refused the city’s help in getting the contractors back to correct the problems. Dainoff vehemently denies that.

Dainoff did have a home inspection before she purchased the property. Although a number of problems were found and addressed at that time, she says many of the issues weren’t apparent until after she moved in.

“I’m out about 24 thousand for the repairs and I think we are looking for another 25 going forward,” said Dainoff.

Real estate broker, Rich Rosa, who was not involved with the sale of this property, has seen a lot of flips.

“Home inspectors do their best and the good ones are really good and see a lot of things, but you can’t see everything,” said Rosa.

He advises his clients to ask a lot of specific questions if they are interested in a flip.

Dig deep, take your time, look at it, don’t waive the home inspection. That’s the best way to protect yourself,” said Rosa. “Make sure you go to city hall or town hall. Make sure permits were pulled, make sure permits were signed off on,” said Rosa.

He says if the finish work is done poorly, that’s a red flag.

“If they’re not doing the simple stuff, they are probably not doing a good job on the more important stuff,” said Rosa.

Dainoff has contacted the Attorney General’s office. She has filed a complaint with the City against the Building Department and the Building Commissioner. She is hoping to settle the matter with the seller and recoup her money before the situation ends up in court.

“It’s in the hands of the attorneys now,” said Dainoff. “I hope he does the right thing. And I still hope that the other families that are in his flips are safe and that their homes are better than this one.”

The State’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation offers these additional tips if you’re buying a flip:

Check the seller’s or contractor’s record. Have they flipped other homes? Ask for references and speak to those buyers. Also, ask for a detailed list of the changes made to the home, and check to see if the proper permits were obtained and closed.

<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston Responds to Hotel Hassle]]>478899383Thu, 05 Apr 2018 23:39:19 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/HotelHassle.JPG

A college graduation is a much anticipated event for any family. One of our viewers thought she was planning ahead, but ended up with a hotel reservation cancellation for graduation weekend.

She turned to our NBC10 Boston Responds team for help.

Maria’s daughter is graduating from the University of South Carolina in May.

"Every friend of mine, who has had a child graduate from college, has warned me to make sure you make your reservations way ahead of time because they book up in advance," said Maria.

A year ago, Maria went online to make a hotel reservation. She wanted to stay in downtown Columbia, in walking distance of the USC ceremony, and since she and her husband are both Hilton Gold members, she started there.

"I went onto the Hilton Honors site and saw this new property that said coming January 2018: Home2 Suites," said Maria. "So I booked it. I said perfect."

She booked a room for three nights for a total of $527. But in October, during USC Parents Weekend, they say that the hotel construction wasn’t complete.

"I called the hotel the next day. I spoke to the General Manager, Tammy, and said I’m a little concerned," explained Maria.

Maria was concerned, because when she visited Columbia she noticed that the hotel wasn’t ready. Hilton told her many parents had made reservations for graduation weekend, and assured her the hotel would be ready. Four months later, on February 27, Maria and her husband received an email, informing them that due to construction delays, the hotel would not be open for their May 11 reservation.

"I was beside myself," said Maria. "I was so flabbergasted because this is Hilton. I never expected that treatment."

The email offered no compensation, only a list of other Hilton properties that had rooms for graduation weekend. The only downtown option, that didn’t require renting a car, was the Hampton Inn, which Maria booked for almost triple the price: $1,400 for three nights.

"They say they helped us by giving us the list of other properties, but $700 more for another property is no help to me," said Maria. "Making me stay ten miles outside of the graduation downtown area is no help to me. So that’s when I called NBC10 Boston Responds."

We reached out to Hilton. A company spokesperson said that while they couldn’t match the original booking rate or offer a refund of the difference, they had offered numerous accommodations to remedy the situation. Maria disputes that but did agree to accept their offers in the end.

Hilton tells us: "In light of the delayed opening, our hotel team successfully worked with all guests whose reservations were affected. We went above and beyond to support the (couple), confirming room availability and comparable nightly rates at six local Hilton-branded properties. We also offered free downtown parking during the busy graduation weekend, a free night at the hotel when it opens, and two free nights at any Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel. We are pleased that (they) accepted these offers, and hope that we can welcome them to other Hilton properties in the future."

Maria says her loyalty to Hilton is done.

"I think that they did the right thing by offering us something, but I don’t think they compensated us for the rooms that we lost for college graduation," said Maria. "College graduation is a huge deal. This is a huge event for our daughter, and I did not need the extra stress and aggravation that I went through in the past few weeks to get ready for a very happy time in our life."

There are no laws protecting you if a hotel cancels your confirmed reservation, so be wary if you’re booking a property that is under construction. And always read the fine print of any reservation confirmation, so you know what to expect in the event of a cancellation.

<![CDATA[Is Your Chip Card Vulnerable to Hackers?]]>475199293Tue, 27 Feb 2018 00:36:35 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/chip_card_shimming.jpg

Your credit card with a chip in it, touted as being less vulnerable than magnetic strip cards, may not be as safe as you think. Some consumers' chip cards are getting hacked anyway, and they have little protection when it happens.

Amber Kellogg was shocked when she recently saw two back-to-back ATM withdrawals on her Chase bank statement, totaling $400. Amber says she didn't withdraw the money, so she assumed her card had been hacked.

"I called Chase. And they said, 'Oh, this must be fraud, we'll refund your money.' So I got the money back in my account," said Kellogg.

But Chase changed its mind. It pointed to the chip on the back of Amber's debit card, saying chip cards can't be hacked.

"They told me there's no way someone could have used my card at an ATM without my physical card," said Kellogg.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, says scammers have found a way to hack chip cards. It's called "shimming." Shimmers are devices hidden inside chip readers, and when you insert your debit card, they steal your data. WalletHub says Amber's chip was likely hacked.

"As a person that uses their debit card every day, it's scary. It's really unnerving," said Kellogg.

NBC Responds reached out to Chase and it returned the $400 to Amber's account. In a statement, Chase said victims of fraud should contact the bank immediately. Amber had little luck with that, but was happy for the help.

When it comes to fraud, you have greater protections with a credit card. You're only on the hook for $50 if someone steals or hacks your credit card and companies will often waive that. Debit cards are a very different story. Generally, if you don’t catch fraud within three days, you’re liable for $500. After 60 days, you have no protection.

<![CDATA[Western Union Offers Refunds for Scam Victims]]>474341963Fri, 16 Feb 2018 19:27:50 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Western_Union_Offers_Refunds_for_Scam_Victims.jpg

Western Union is providing refunds to people who were tricked into wiring money.]]>
<![CDATA[NBC Boston Responds: Sprint Overcharges]]>467237813Sun, 31 Dec 2017 21:05:37 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/186*120/SPRINT+122917.PNG

In November, we shared the story of our viewer, Marvin Johnson, who said he was being overcharged by Sprint after signing up for a promotion. We got involved and he got a refund and his monthly bill reduced.

"I called NBC Responds - and this is no lie - within 24, not even 36, hours, I got a call back from the executive offices of Sprint," said Johnson. "They gave me credit for the iPad and virtual reality gear and they gave me all my money back."

Another viewer, Mark McCarron, was watching, and felt he was in a similar situation.

"It reminded me of the issues I had been having with Sprint since last April," said McCarron. "I guess that was it, but I had a deal where I was going to get a free iPhone."

Mark signed up with Sprint during a promotion to get a free Iphone with the purchase of another. With an additional incentive, he added on three Samsung Galaxy phones and says he was told his monthly bill would be around $190, but instead, he was charged $250 a month.

"Four or five calls to them over the next couple of months," said McCarron. "It was difficult for me even talking to the store manager, even though I had all my paperwork."

Mark contacted NBC Boston Responds and we asked Sprint to look at his complaint. McCarron tells us he received a call from a Sprint customer service representative within three days, saying they were sorry about the overbilling and would credit him on the next bill.

"I now owe them negative $49, which is good," said McCarron.

Sprint tells NBC Boston they are happy to report this matter is now resolved to Mr. McCarron's satisfaction. They say they have processed the credit of $32.09 back to his first invoice, dated March 25, 2017, and scheduled the reoccurring credits to impact monthly, going forward through the end of the leases in August 2018.

"It's absolutely wonderful," said McCarron. "It really is. I can't thank you guys enough for helping me out. I'd probably still be fighting this today if it wasn't for you."

Photo Credit: NBC Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Saving Big on Back to School Tech Gadgets]]>437253053Fri, 28 Jul 2017 18:52:46 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Saving_Big_on_Back_to_School_Tech_Gadgets.jpg

It's back-to-school shopping season, and you might notice it's costing a little more this year. Tech gadgets can be a pricey part of the shopping list, but you can also use technology to help you get the lowest price.]]>
<![CDATA[Phone Charger Fire Warning]]>431682313Thu, 29 Jun 2017 23:59:23 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Phone_Charger_Fire_Warning.jpg

Officials in Connecticut believe the compatibility between phones and chargers led to two fires.]]>
<![CDATA[Eversource Warning Customers About Phone Scam]]>424492314Thu, 25 May 2017 22:04:05 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/199*120/Generic+Phone+Generic+Call.JPG

Massachusetts Eversource customers are receiving threats that their power will be shut off if they don't pay immediately; the utility is warning that this is a scam.

Photo Credit: File-NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Home Week: Sod or Seed?]]>422137123Fri, 12 May 2017 21:27:27 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Generic+Sod+Generic.JPG

Which planting method is your best option? It depends on your location.

Photo Credit: NBC Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Scammers Targeting Millennials With Robocalls]]>420779153Fri, 28 Apr 2017 20:06:38 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/199*120/Generic+Phone+Generic+Call.JPG

Robocalls are an age-old nuisance, but becoming an expensive problem.

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Could Your TV Be Watching You?]]>420371184Tue, 25 Apr 2017 21:07:15 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/186*120/shutterstock_2623372258.jpg

While you sit and watch your TV, did you know it could be watching you back?

Smart TVs have features called "automated content recognition." ACR allows your TV to identify what you're listening to, what you're watching and even what you're saying.

"The downside is that this is really valuable information, and so a lot of companies want to sell it to advertisers, marketers, people who want to use it for commercial purposes, and so a lot of consumers think there is a loss of privacy," said Jim Willcox, senior electronics editor at Consumer Reports.

All smart TV companies are required to allow you to opt into these data-collecting features. The problem is people are blindly approving these privacy agreements when they first turn on their new TVs.

"A lot of people don't read them because they tend to be very long," said Willcox. "You have the ability right there to opt out of it."

The good news is it's not a done deal. In just about all smart TVs, you can go into the menu settings and manually turn off the ACR features — usually there are three. Every TV is different and there are several steps to follow, but if you're concerned about who is watching you, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Budgeting for Baby]]>417717153Thu, 30 Mar 2017 22:24:04 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000005233169.JPG

Once the baby arrives, you'll be dealing with sleep deprivation and extra responsibility, so getting your finances in order is something you should do sooner rather than later.

Photo Credit: NBC Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Tax Fraud Warning]]>416386064Thu, 16 Mar 2017 20:57:11 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/IRS_GENERIC.jpg

There's good reason to be on guard this tax season — particularly if you get an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS or FBI.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Is Premium Worth It?]]>409939325Fri, 06 Jan 2017 22:27:38 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/gas23.jpgAmericans are losing money by fulling their tanks with the wrong types of gasoline.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best Days to Shop For The Holidays]]>405222546Wed, 07 Dec 2016 11:08:38 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/215*120/Consumer+Thumb1.JPGWhen to shop for the holidays, plus some credit card perks you might want to know about,]]><![CDATA[Check Those Smoke Detectors]]>404268366Wed, 28 Dec 2016 11:00:35 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Consumer+Thumb.JPGA simple check of your smoke detector could be life-saving.]]><![CDATA[Thanksgiving, Black Friday Shopping Sales Up]]>403568806Tue, 29 Nov 2016 11:50:07 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/compradores+black+friday.jpgA study shows that shopping during the November holidays went up significantly.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer News: New Uber Compliments]]>402446285Tue, 22 Nov 2016 13:16:53 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Uber-X-Generic1.jpgA new update to the Uber app allows riders to give compliments to their drivers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[3 Arthritis Medications Can Be Dangerous for the Heart]]>401276095Wed, 28 Dec 2016 11:00:52 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000002372259_1200x675_809299011966.jpgSome medication can provide pain relief, but can also be dangerous for the heart.]]><![CDATA[Beware of Third-Party Sellers on Amazon]]>400695351Wed, 28 Dec 2016 11:01:20 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000002330598.JPGCustomers should be aware of who they are buying from, even if they are on Amazon.]]><![CDATA[Survey: Millennials Don't Like Credit Card Chips]]>400411121Tue, 08 Nov 2016 13:14:00 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000002312463_1200x675_803802179638.jpgA new survey suggests that Millennials prefer the old mag-stripe way of using a credit card.]]><![CDATA[These Moms are Fed Up With 'Fake']]>399995221Wed, 28 Dec 2016 12:37:57 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000002289679.JPGThese moms are fighting against dangerous chemicals in their products.]]><![CDATA[How Much Should You Be Making at Your Job?]]>399829681Thu, 03 Nov 2016 10:17:07 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000002277891.JPGLeslie Laydos looks at Linkedin's new feature, Uber and mothers against "fake."]]><![CDATA[Will Election Fatigue Affect Black Friday Sales?]]>399469341Tue, 01 Nov 2016 09:48:06 -0400A new survey shows that election fatigue may cause shoppers to be more cautious with spending.]]><![CDATA[The Bottle Flipping Craze]]>398862731Thu, 27 Oct 2016 09:31:36 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000002219267.JPGThe bottle flipping craze is spreading with kids looking for new ways to up their game.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Warning of Counterfeit Items Sold on Amazon]]>397902831Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:05:38 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/generic+apple+cellphone.jpgPhony products bearing the Apple name could be fake and catch on fire.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: 41M Americans Have Had Identity Stolen]]>397752351Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:20:03 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/credit+cards+generic.jpgA new survey finds 41 millions Americans have been victims of identity theft.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[The Best of the Latest Car Technology]]>397086681Fri, 14 Oct 2016 10:45:03 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000002118972_1200x675_785983043529.jpgNew 2017 car models have some fantastic features to keep you safe and keep your wallet full.]]><![CDATA[Runaway Bridal Vendor Leaves Couples Scrambling]]>396290691Wed, 28 Dec 2016 12:38:25 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-10-07-09h43m12s138.pngA company has been under fire for business practices related to a Groupon advertisement.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Battle of the Bug: Getting Rid of Super Lice]]>395402841Fri, 30 Sep 2016 10:33:58 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/super+lice+1200.jpgMillions of kids ages 3 to 11 are infested with head lice every year, but super lice are becoming resistant to normal treatments.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Beware of Election-Related Fraudulent Calls]]>394944211Tue, 27 Sep 2016 12:09:30 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/phone+screen+generic.jpgScammers are using the election season to their advantage and are working to steal personal information.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Giving Yourself a Privacy Tune-Up]]>394564151Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:58:58 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/WomanComputerPic_1200x675_300608067571.jpgIt's important to check security and reset passwords on your devices from time to time to avoid having your information compromised.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Rodents Chewing Through Wires in Some Toyota Vehicles?]]>394109491Tue, 20 Sep 2016 10:14:51 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-09-20-10h13m52s46.pngA lawsuit says coating used to protect wires on some Toyota vehicles is attracting rodents.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Great Alternatives to the iPhone 7]]>393685921Fri, 16 Sep 2016 09:41:34 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-599933522.jpgThere are plenty of phones that are cheaper than an iPhone that are almost the same quality.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fake Subscription Renewal Scam]]>393537231Thu, 15 Sep 2016 10:35:45 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-09-15-10h34m39s188.pngIf you get a renewal notice in the mail, watch out, because it could be a scam.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Protecting Yourself From Photo Fakeouts]]>393244421Tue, 13 Sep 2016 10:41:15 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-09-13-10h38m08s85.pngWhen the product doesn't match the picture online, what are your options?

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Managing Food Allergies With an App]]>392885531Fri, 09 Sep 2016 12:02:13 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_090816_consumer_8a_1200x675_761316419658.jpgWith food allergies in the news recently thanks to the skyrocketing EpiPen prices, there are some inexpensive ways allergy sufferers can better manage potential emergencies.]]><![CDATA[Rebooking Fee Runaround]]>392875311Fri, 09 Sep 2016 09:45:53 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/boarding+pass+airport+generic.JPGA traveler's plans were put on hold because of a medical emergency, but instead of a smooth rescheduling process, she says she was penalized for it. Consumer reporter Leslie Gaydos has more.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[FAA's Samsung Smartphone Warning]]>392869821Fri, 09 Sep 2016 09:16:45 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Samsung-Galaxy-Note-7-AP_16211641294780.jpgAviation safety officials are warning airline passengers not to turn on or charge a new-model Samsung smartphone during flights following numerous reports of the devices catching fire. Leslie Gaydos also talks about Wells Fargo's $185 million fine and AirBnB's apology to accusations of racism.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[From Dorm to Apartment Living]]>392428801Tue, 06 Sep 2016 11:23:09 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/apartment-generic-rent.jpgThere are many changes when transitioning from a college dorm to an apartment.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Back-to-School Tech Warning]]>392140141Fri, 02 Sep 2016 15:31:13 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-09-02-10h24m55s159.pngMany schools provide devices to kids that could give them access to unsafe sites. Leslie Gaydos talks to online safety expert Katie Greer of KL Greer Consulting.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Finding Student Loan Debt Relief]]>392005641Thu, 01 Sep 2016 12:23:24 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/College+Generic1.jpgWhen it comes to student loans, it can be worthwhile, but not always easy to refinance them.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[68-Percent of Teens Admit to Using Apps While Driving]]>391730231Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:18:49 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/AP090908065643.jpgMore than half of teen drivers reported using a cell phone while driving.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Automotive App Connects Mechanics, Drivers]]>391400431Fri, 26 Aug 2016 09:43:18 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_082616_consumer_8am_1200x675_751724099829.jpgNew apps allow you to get full updates on your car work as mechanics do repairs. Check out Blitzify, Repair Pal and Car Minder for more information]]><![CDATA[Connecticut Sales Tax Holiday Ends Saturday]]>391279431Thu, 25 Aug 2016 10:31:29 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-08-25-10h00m59s108.pngConnecticut is hoping to draw in shoppers during the final days of its tax-free season.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[How to File an Insurance Claim]]>391027421Tue, 23 Aug 2016 11:58:10 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/Concord+Clean+up+Eli+2.jpgFiling insurance claims can sometimes be a frustrating and confusing process.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Is Massachusetts in Another Housing Bubble?]]>389986372Fri, 12 Aug 2016 10:33:44 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/house_home_+for_sale_owner_generic.jpg

Nicole Lindberg is frustrated. She's been looking for a house since February of last year. 

"I put an offer on one place that I really liked that was on the market for less than a week and someone outbid me," she said. 

The median home price in Massachusetts is now $372,000, a new record. 

With bidding wars and record prices, the headlines are strikingly similar to a decade ago, right before the housing market tanked. 

Is history repeating itself? 

Annie Blatz, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors said, "We have a very competitive market very high demand and low inventory. That is making our prices go up. This is different from years in the past when we had a different economic set of circumstances when we had high demand and high prices and also high inventory. 

Massachusetts' most competitive markets right now are Boston and the western suburbs, where it's not uncommon to wait in line to get into an open house. 

Buyers need to be ready to pounce when they find something they like. 

Jim Cotter of William Raveis Real Estate said, "All your ducks in a row. Ready to make an intelligent offer on the spot is absolutely key. This market is so fast. It is not the type of situation where you can say 'we'll look at it tonight and think about it overnight.'" 

Blatz said, "They have to get in to the competitive spirit of it. They have to be ready to buy and have their checkbook with them and be ready to make their highest and best offer and if they do that they'll eventually get a house. 

She added, "They also need to have some flexibility. Maybe they need to consider a home that might need some repairs or renovation. There may be a better value there." 

A well-crafted offer can also make a difference if a buyer is willing to close quickly or waive the inspection. 

The situation is a good one for Joe McGowan, who just put his South Boston condo at 670 Dorchester Ave. on the market. 

McGowan said, "According to everybody that I have spoken to it won't sit for long. It should go into a bidding war and that's what we're hoping for. 

And for the would-be buyers who keep getting outbid, now is the time to save.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images/Image Source]]>
<![CDATA[Banned From Amazon: Too Many Returns?]]>389848721Thu, 11 Aug 2016 11:15:11 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/amazon+generic.jpgHow many times is to many when it comes to returning items bought from Amazon? One woman says she was banned for life, but wasn't given any guideline.

Photo Credit: FILE - AP]]>
<![CDATA[Fake Comcast Offer Scam]]>389619891Wed, 28 Dec 2016 12:38:47 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/phone+generic1.jpgA new scam that has impacted at least two women is making rounds. The caller claims to be from Comcast and is offering a fake deal.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Bed Bug Battle]]>389499521Mon, 08 Aug 2016 15:17:27 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/meriden-bed-bugs.jpgBed bugs can show up anywhere. So how can people get rid of them?

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Curing a Summer Spending Hangover]]>389470601Mon, 08 Aug 2016 10:59:50 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/credit+cards+generic.jpgAfter a couple of months of vacations, weddings and dining out, it can be easy for summer spending to get out of control.

Photo Credit: FILE - AP]]>
<![CDATA[What Does the Future of Augmented Reality Look Like?]]>388940641Tue, 02 Aug 2016 10:53:04 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-08-02-10h10m56s251.pngWe may rely less on our phones and computers in the future and instead have a virtual layer of information right before our eyes.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Fighting Credit Card Fraud]]>388652661Fri, 29 Jul 2016 10:18:06 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_072916_consumer_8am_1200x675_734662211595.jpgMany people are finding fraudulent charges with a Macy's credit card and some are not getting answers. ]]><![CDATA[Cyber Security Expert Warns of Pokemon Go Data Collection]]>388534871Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:53:23 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-579689190.jpgPokemon Go has been downloaded 10 million times in a week, but you may be giving up some valuable information to advertisers when you play.

Photo Credit: FILE - NurPhoto via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Online Safety With Minecraft]]>386963981Fri, 15 Jul 2016 10:32:25 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-455478822.jpgIf your kids are hooked on Minecraft, there is potential for stranger danger online.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Luxury Living on the Rise in Boston]]>386798821Thu, 14 Jul 2016 11:06:58 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-07-14-11h04m58s202.pngBoston's real estate market is looking up. The city plans to add 9,000 new apartments and condos over the next three years.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Sharing Netflix Password a Crime?]]>386280751Mon, 11 Jul 2016 08:07:06 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Netflix-GettyImages-464215297.jpgA federal court in California has ruled that sharing your password for your Netflix, HBO Go and other streaming accounts is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Leslie Gaydos also talks about a study's findings into the most and least dangerous states for senior drivers and 7-Eleven Day.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boston Leads National Sunscreen Effort]]>385850951Thu, 07 Jul 2016 09:34:52 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_070716_consumer_8am_1200x675_720335427921.jpgThe Melanoma Foundation of New England is looking to get more people using sunscreen by providing it free to people in Boston.]]><![CDATA[International Dating Scam Hits Mass.]]>385201671Fri, 01 Jul 2016 10:11:02 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/computer2.jpgImagine getting caught up in an online romance and then getting into trouble with the law for receiving stolen property.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[New Airbag Safety Warning]]>385111251Thu, 30 Jun 2016 21:36:39 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/212*120/takata-airbag.JPGFederal safety officials are issuing an urgent new warning after tests found some Takata airbags may be even more prone to deadly malfunctions than initially thought.]]><![CDATA[Enrolling in TSA Precheck]]>383783591Tue, 21 Jun 2016 09:47:59 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/Logan+Airport+Thanksgiving.pngIf you travel frequently or dread long security lines, the TSA Precheck program may be just the thing for you.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Finding the Best Prices for Plants]]>383258361Thu, 16 Jun 2016 09:33:06 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-06-16-09h31m32s33.pngBoston Consumers' Checkbook has compared 61 Boston-area garden centers for where you can get the best prices and products.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Homebuyer Beware: Email Scams Can Target Money]]>382935901Tue, 14 Jun 2016 12:10:38 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/home-GettyImages-484768986.jpgBefore you close on a house, an email scam can leave your bankrupt.

Photo Credit: FILE -Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Marshal Issues Warning About Colored Powder]]>382445351Fri, 10 Jun 2016 05:58:52 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_060916_leslieconsumer_9pm_1200x675_702733379504.jpgColorful 5K runs are happening across the world, the the Massachusetts Fire Marshal is warning people about the fire dangers.]]><![CDATA[Henna Tattoo Warning]]>382310431Thu, 09 Jun 2016 05:01:34 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-06-09-05h00m45s214.pngWhat should have been a fun experience for a family turned into a nightmare after temporary black henna tattoos caused massive blisters.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Stopping Summer Learning Loss]]>381766101Fri, 03 Jun 2016 12:09:04 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-06-03-12h06m53s8.pngKids do deserve downtime after the school year ends, but parents should make sure kids don't lose all of that knowledge gained.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Faulty Airbags Still Being Installed on New Cars]]>381639631Thu, 02 Jun 2016 10:31:27 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/takata+airbag+ford+shelby.jpgThe U.S. Senate has released a jaw-dropping report over the defective Takata airbags and it is likely to make some new car buyers furious.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Liquidation Sales Not Always the Best Deal]]>381372221Tue, 31 May 2016 11:02:39 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-05-31-11h01m51s113.pngYou might think you'll get rock-bottom prices at a liquidation sale, but that's not always the case.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Memorial Day Weekend Cookout Gadgets]]>381098911Fri, 27 May 2016 10:52:15 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_052716_consumer_8am_1200x675_694137923715.jpgCheck out some of the coolest products to make your weekend cookout a hit.]]><![CDATA[Crowdfunding to Pay for Higher Education]]>380957351Thu, 26 May 2016 10:23:00 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/College+Generic1.jpgMore and more students are using crowdfunding sites to help tackle their massive college debts.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Takata Airbag Risk]]>380643651Tue, 24 May 2016 10:05:29 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/takata+airbag+ford+shelby.jpgNearly 70 million cars with Takata airbags are being impacted by a recall.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Face Cream Fine Print Swindles Customers ]]>380250311Fri, 20 May 2016 11:23:05 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-05-20-11h21m36s62.pngAn online ad claims to supply a wrinkle-reducing face cream for cheap, but customers are saying they were duped.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Study: 50 Percent of Teens Addicted to Mobile Devices]]>380104591Thu, 19 May 2016 12:17:47 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/phone+screen+generic.jpgHow often do you tell your kids to put your phones away? there's a chance overuse of a mobile device could become a serious problem.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Padded Bras for Kids Sparking Backlash]]>379783461Tue, 17 May 2016 09:57:42 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_051716_consumer_8am_1200x675_687175747589.jpgPadded bras for young children have hit stores and some parents are crying foul.]]><![CDATA[Are Billboards Spying on You?]]>379373701Fri, 13 May 2016 09:46:10 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-05-13-09h42m19s131.pngSpecial billboards can gather your data usage and customize advertisements for you.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Curbing Rising Pet Costs]]>379175291Thu, 12 May 2016 10:30:28 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Golden-Retriever-GettyImages-522796697.jpgThere's a growing push to help make pet medication cheaper in the country.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images/Hero Images]]>
<![CDATA[Beware of Phony Rental Listings]]>378249601Thu, 05 May 2016 09:50:03 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-05-05-09h49m24s167.pngIt's convenient to peruse rental listings, but not every listing is legitimate.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[New Identity Theft: Phone Porting]]>377943931Tue, 03 May 2016 09:59:07 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2015-10-12-09h17m54s251.pngThieves can now get complete control of your cellphone with a few basic pieces of information.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Mass. Turnpike Turns to All-Electronic Tolls]]>377567311Fri, 29 Apr 2016 09:49:17 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/MassPike.jpgThe Massachusetts Turnpike is switching to an all-electronic tolling system soon and this means big changes for those who still pay with cash.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[CVS Offering Curbside Pickup in Some States]]>377412341Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:03:58 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-04-28-10h00m02s158.pngCVS is offering a faster shopping experience with CVS Express, an app that allows you to set a order ahead of time.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Home Improvement Contractor Program]]>377338171Wed, 27 Apr 2016 23:30:45 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/home+improvement.jpgThe Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs is launching a new program.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[App Can Measure, Improve Driving Skills]]>377114391Fri, 29 Apr 2016 11:27:44 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-04-26-10h30m44s164.pngThe creators of the EverDrive app are trying to make roads safer.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[FBI Warns Vehicle Hacking is a Real Threat]]>375835371Fri, 15 Apr 2016 09:28:43 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/computer+generic1.jpgDid you know hackers can target the computer systems in your vehicle?

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Carmakers Under Investigation for Exploding Sunroofs]]>375389411Tue, 12 Apr 2016 10:13:19 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-04-12-10h12m06s180.pngSome sunroofs are spontaneously exploding, shattering and scaring drivers.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Is a Home Warranty Worth it?]]>375025771Fri, 08 Apr 2016 10:13:23 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Homes+Generic.jpgEven if you think you're covered in a home warranty, you may have to fight for repairs in your home.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Malware Warning]]>374888241Thu, 07 Apr 2016 21:27:29 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/180*120/generic-computer.jpgUnwanted software downloads are costing consumers billions of dollars; TechTarget's Jamison Cush explains what to watch out for.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[People Failing to Collect From Class-Action Lawsuits]]>374600881Tue, 05 Apr 2016 16:00:07 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_040516_consumer_8am_1200x675_659203139798.jpgPeople are failing to collect on class-action settlements that could get people hundreds-of-dollars in compensation. Click here for more]]><![CDATA[Foolish Financial Mistakes]]>374256561Fri, 01 Apr 2016 09:24:29 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/credit+cards+generic.jpgWe take a look at some of the foolish money habits that can end up costing us big time.

Photo Credit: FILE - AP]]>
<![CDATA[Find Your Cape Cod Summer Rental]]>374116791Thu, 31 Mar 2016 10:13:22 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-03-31-10h12m28s214.pngIf you have your sights on renting on Cape Cod this summer, now is the time to start planning.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Online Funeral Costs]]>373837421Tue, 29 Mar 2016 09:47:04 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/funeral+home.jpgFinding out how much it it will cost for a funeral has been made easier by a website.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[BBB Warns of Home Improvement Scams]]>373350021Thu, 24 Mar 2016 10:09:50 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-03-24-10h06m47s166.pngSome scammers are offering same-day work and a good discount, but are only after your money.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[How to Avoid Mystery Shopping Schemes]]>372565661Fri, 18 Mar 2016 11:38:44 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/shopping-generic-sepia.jpgMystery shoppers are hired to evaluate shopping experiences, but some scammers are using it as a way to steal money from unsuspecting people.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Beware of What Teens Are Doing Online]]>372396451Thu, 17 Mar 2016 11:48:01 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/computer+generic2.JPGEvery year statistics show more and more teens are trying to hide what they are doing online from their parents.

Photo Credit: FILE - Fairfax Media via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Elderly Scams Committed by Family]]>372099631Tue, 15 Mar 2016 10:09:00 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/Senior_Citizens_Generic.jpgLow-income senior citizens are falling victim to scammers, often someone they are related to.

Photo Credit: FILE - AP]]>
<![CDATA[Tax-Related Identity Theft on the Rise]]>371786031Fri, 11 Mar 2016 12:16:38 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/tax2.jpgThe IRS and the tax industry are enacting new safeguards to help protect you from tax-related identity theft.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warmer Weather Heats Up Sales on Winter Clothes]]>371385241Tue, 08 Mar 2016 10:32:41 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_030816_consumer_8am_1200x675_639400515662.jpgWant to prepare for next winter? Buying winter clothes now can save you big bucks later.]]><![CDATA[Beware of Wire Transfer Fraud Scams]]>371045441Fri, 04 Mar 2016 10:38:30 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Woman+on+Phone+Generic+Telephone+Customer+Service.jpgPolice say wire transfer fraud scams are on the rise, especially with the elderly.

Photo Credit: FILE - AP]]>
<![CDATA[AAA: 87% of Drivers Engage in Unsafe Behavior]]>370915171Thu, 03 Mar 2016 10:35:23 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Traffic+Generic2.jpgNew survey shows majority of drivers engage in unsafe activities behind the wheel.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Changes Coming to Women, Infants and Children Program]]>370639761Tue, 01 Mar 2016 12:19:53 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_030116_consumer_8am_1200x675_634103875660.jpgWIC vouchers will transition from paper to vouchers over the next five years.]]><![CDATA[MBTA Investing in New Technology]]>370103581Thu, 25 Feb 2016 10:59:34 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-02-25-09h58m30s147.pngThe MBTA now has a chief technology officer, David Block-Schacter, who is working to improve the technology on the 'T'.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA['Hello Alfred' A New Virtual Butler App]]>369802311Wed, 24 Feb 2016 07:55:38 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_22316_ConsumerDoesItWork_8a_1200x675_629035587734.jpgNecn’s Leslie Gaydos explores "Hello Alfred," a new app that connects users to cheap butlers that run your errands. ]]><![CDATA[Beware of Tax Refund Cards]]>369414981Fri, 19 Feb 2016 12:07:53 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_021916_consumer_8am_1200x675_626240579987.jpgIf you're expecting money back from your taxes, Leslie Gaydos explains how you should be aware how fees on pre-paid refund cards may eat away at chunks of your money.]]><![CDATA[Protect Yourself From Gas Pump Skimmers]]>369258121Thu, 18 Feb 2016 10:19:34 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/209*120/fuel_jet_fuel.jpgHere's what to look out for and how you can protect your information from thieves.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Introduced to Combat Hotel Booking Fraud]]>368952161Tue, 16 Feb 2016 14:55:23 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/hotel_generic.jpgA group of lawmakers has introduced a bill to help combat hotel booking fraud.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Protect Your 'My Social Security' Account]]>368669061Fri, 12 Feb 2016 23:52:48 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_140005813_dinero_social_security.jpgIdentity thieves are using Social Security numbers to gain access to victims' government benefits.]]><![CDATA[Delicious Valentine's Day Gift Ideas]]>368456271Thu, 11 Feb 2016 10:42:31 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-02-11-09h40m28s192.pngIf you're not into sending flowers, here's some great-tasting alternatives.]]><![CDATA[Avoiding a Puppy Pitfall]]>368443971Thu, 11 Feb 2016 09:26:48 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-02-11-08h25m04s250.pngIf you plan on buying a puppy from a breeder, there are precautions to take to make sure you don't end up with a puppy pitfall.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[New Hampshire's Primary Boost]]>368162631Tue, 09 Feb 2016 10:33:48 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_020916_consumer_9am_1200x675_619299907863.jpgVisitors in New Hampshire for the primary have spent an average of $350 per day, according to the U.S. Travel Association.]]><![CDATA[Avoiding Tax Scams]]>367804581Fri, 05 Feb 2016 10:29:37 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/w9-taxes-generic-tax-form.jpgWith tax season underway, many scammers are attempting to steal identities. Head to https://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts for more information.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Do You Need Drone Insurance?]]>367657871Thu, 04 Feb 2016 12:09:54 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/drone-file1.jpgWith drones becoming more popular, do you need drone insurance to protect your assets?

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Avoiding the Food Danger Zone]]>367349481Tue, 02 Feb 2016 13:15:49 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/wings7.jpgThe USDA has put together a list of steps you should take to stay healthy when eating plenty of food during the Super Bowl.

Photo Credit: File - AP]]>
<![CDATA[Winter Weather Scams]]>366974691Fri, 29 Jan 2016 11:37:28 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-01-29-10h34m15s104.pngMass. AG Maura Healey discusses ways to protect your funds when winter damage sets in.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Identity Thieves Targeting Boarding Passes]]>366837861Thu, 28 Jan 2016 10:35:34 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2016-01-28-09h33m43s157.pngAs many people gear up for February vacation, experts are warning travelers to guard their boarding passes.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Gas Prices at Lowest in 7 Years: Survey]]>366402481Mon, 25 Jan 2016 09:57:43 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-81522130.jpgLeslie Gaydos also talks about how Nielsen will start using Facebook to track how people watch television shows, and a study on impulse purchases.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Top Scams of 2015]]>363985741Fri, 01 Jan 2016 12:35:50 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/office+phone+generic+necn.PNG

After launching its scam tracker, the Better Business Bureau has put out a list of the top scams of 2015.

The roundup makes it clear that there are plenty of people out there trying to take advantage of you.

Tax scams top the list - 24 percent of the scams reported to the BBB last year were about impostors pretending to be the Internal Revenue Service.

"The best thing to do as a consumer is to arm yourself with knowledge on what the scams are and how to avoid them," said Paula Fleming of the BBB. "The primary scams revolve around taxes - IRS scam, government grant scam - they're clearly not true. So, the IRS isn't going to pick up the phone and call you and threaten you that a sheriff is going to come to your home and arrest you."

The rest of the top 10 scams were all some form of impostor scams - criminals pretending to be government agents, lawyers, debt collectors and police officers. They rely on scare tactics.

"'You've won money, but we've overpaid you. The check, you can cash, we just need the difference of what we overpaid' - and people are giving this and they continue to do this year after year," said Fleming. "So they may give the people $250."

Remember, you should never have to pay money to claim a prize you have won.

The BBB offers some tips to protect yourself:

  • Don't be pressured into making fast decisions.
  • Take time to research the organization.
  • Never provide your personal information to people you don't know.
  • Don't click on links from unsolicited email or text messages.
  • Never wire money or send a prepaid debit card to someone you don't know.
  • And don't engage. Hang up the phone, delete the email, shut the door.

These scams account for more than a million dollars lost from those who filed with the BBB. They also recommend that you get your annual credit report every year and review it to make sure everything is in order.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[New Drone Regulations ]]>363126111Mon, 21 Dec 2015 10:54:39 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_122115_ConsumerNews_7p_%282%29_1200x675_589365315626.jpg]]><![CDATA[How to Avoid Holiday Charity Scams]]>362925011Fri, 18 Dec 2015 10:50:51 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_121815_consumer_8am_1200x675_588189763810.jpgNot every charity during the holiday season can be trusted. Here's how to protect yourself and your money.]]><![CDATA[Drinking Habits in Boston]]>362786611Thu, 17 Dec 2015 11:27:22 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/beer-AP-11082606478.jpgA new survey finds many Bostonians don't know the legal limit of drinking and don't use ride sharing services.

Photo Credit: FILE - AP]]>
<![CDATA[How to Avoid Holiday Allergies]]>362413251Tue, 15 Dec 2015 12:48:38 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2015-12-15-11h47m40s252.pngIt's one of the busiest travel times of the year and for the 15 million Americans with allergies, traveling can become scary and stressful.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Making Financial Resolutions]]>361778881Mon, 14 Dec 2015 10:24:58 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/moneymonday-120715.jpgA survey finds more Americans are now willing to make resolutions related to their finances. Leslie Gaydos reports.]]><![CDATA[TIPS: Realty Red Flags]]>361560751Fri, 11 Dec 2015 11:32:03 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/home+for+sale1.JPGThe traditional home buyer season may be over, but in this hot real estate market, many people are looking for some off-season deals.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Facial Recognition Software]]>361476271Thu, 10 Dec 2015 20:02:01 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2015-12-10-18h59m34s222.jpgA unique camera can identify, within seconds, who you are and what you do.]]><![CDATA[Are Christmas Lights Affecting Your WiFi Connection?]]>360927831Tue, 08 Dec 2015 10:31:20 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/computer+generic2.JPGDoes your internet connection seem slow this month? Your Christmas lights could be to blame.

Photo Credit: FILE - Fairfax Media via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Avoiding Holiday Debt]]>360788281Mon, 07 Dec 2015 10:46:05 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/shopping-GettyImages-459533350.jpgBetween gifts, hosting parties, and for some, fewer work hours, it's easy for debt to add up this holiday season.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Working During the Holidays?]]>360772551Mon, 07 Dec 2015 08:52:05 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_120715_consumerleslie_7a_1200x675_581252163562.jpgStaffing firm Robert Half surveyed 1,000 U.S. workers employed in office environments and found 59 percent of them will work at least part of the week of Dec. 28.]]><![CDATA[Tips: Protect Your Holiday Packages From Thieves]]>360563961Fri, 04 Dec 2015 10:42:23 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2015-12-04-09h39m50s25.pngA whopping 23 million Americans have had packages stolen from their homes before they could open them, according to a new insurancequotes.com report.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Bunchems May Entangle Hair]]>360442411Thu, 03 Dec 2015 13:02:48 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_120315_consumer_8am_1200x675_578659907661.jpgBunchems are a hot selling toy this holiday season, but they can seriously damage hair.]]><![CDATA[Money Saving Mondays: Cyber Monday]]>358832291Mon, 30 Nov 2015 11:43:43 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2015-11-30-10h39m23s231.png

With so many deals available on Cyber Monday, it can tough figuring out where to go to get the best savings.

The National Retail Federation coined the term Cyber Monday 10 years ago and they launched a website which highlights thousands of deals.

The site will be offering deals by the hour with the top offers websites have to offer.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Getting the Best Deals This Black Friday]]>355721671Fri, 27 Nov 2015 11:24:29 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/112715+black+friday+shopping.jpgBlack Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, but are you really getting the best deals available?

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Surviving Life's Emergencies: Saving a Choking Pet]]>353157681Tue, 24 Nov 2015 11:16:09 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2015-11-24-08h54m23s118.pngIf your cat or dog begins to choke, do you know how to save them? We take a look at the proper technique.]]><![CDATA[Money Saving Mondays: Black Friday Shopping Strategies]]>353013381Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:45:57 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-134095161.jpgBlack Friday shopping has changed. We take a look at some of the ways you can stay on top of deals and out of those lines.

Photo Credit: FILE -Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How to Avoid Holiday Gift Scams]]>352181861Mon, 23 Nov 2015 11:50:39 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NECN_112015_consumer_8am_1200x675_570683971749.jpgEveryone shops during the holidays, so make sure you know different ways scammers can try to target you.]]><![CDATA[Rescheduling Flights to Paris]]>351753811Thu, 19 Nov 2015 12:56:03 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/generic+airplane+1.jpgIn light of the recent Paris attacks, some people may want to cancel their travel plans. Here's what you should know.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Changes Coming to Fast Food Menus]]>350987811Tue, 17 Nov 2015 09:11:23 -0400https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/McDonald%27s_breakfast.jpgLeslie Gaydos also talks about Marriott's latest acquisition, making it the world's largest hotel chain.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>