I pay close attention to my mail, looking for new trends, great stories and, to use that rhythmic cliché, news you can use.
When you write me, it’s confidential, but before printing anything I ask permission to use real names.
Every one of these letters arrived in the past month. They’ve been edited for space reasons.
What is the safe way to put a freeze on all credit reports? There are way too many links online to feel safe using any of them.
– Joe Haywood of Sunnyvale
You go to each of the big three credit bureaus’ websites (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) and you search for “security freeze” or “credit freeze” within their domain.
I just did it as part of my recent story on this. Best advice: Have a pad and pen nearby because you’re going to have to write down code numbers and passwords you’ll need later to unfreeze your security freeze.
If you get locked out, and I have, it’s a hassle to prove your identity. That’s why good recordkeeping is a must. Be extra organized because this gets a bit confusing.
I’m sorry for bothering you with this. I need an Apple gift card for my niece. I will reimburse you with the money spent.
Go away, you worthless grifter.
I’m having a hard time finding some details about the new proposed voting laws in Texas. Could we have a comparison to current and proposed changes?
– Judith Pelowski of Red Oak
Here’s the best way to look this up. Go to TexasLegislatureOnline.com and search for the bill by its numerical name, HB for House Bill and SB for Senate bill.
If you don’t know the bill number, and I usually don’t, I first do a web search looking for a news story or a lobbying group’s web page that has the number.
Once you put in a bill’s name, you can see all versions of the bill, what is new language (it’s underlined) and even videos of public hearings and floor debates.
By the way, the bill you’re interested in is SB 1 (2021, second special session).
Your email account was selected for a donation of $3.5 million for a charity. Please contact us.
– [email protected]
Sorry, I’m busy right now buying the Brooklyn Bridge.
You have written about Caller ID spoofing and the new Federal Communications Commission standard. The TRACED law (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act) was signed into law in December 2019 by President Donald Trump. It set a deadline for service providers to comply by the end of June 2021. It basically makes compliance with new blocking technology mandatory for all voice service providers.
Can’t prove it by me. It is now the end of August, and I see no change in the number of spoofed calls received daily. Can you give me an update?
– Harry Gaertner of Richardson
That’s an excellent summary of the robocall situation. The new technology is a key piece of a new requirement that all phone calls must show the correct Caller ID. No more pretending to be calling from a local number when they’re nowhere near you.
Copper land line phones, however, don’t accept the new technology. Neither do phone carriers with fewer than 100,000 customers. They have until June 2023 to comply.
AT&T says it’s now blocking a phenomenal 1 billion spam calls a month.
The problem, and this shouldn’t surprise you, Harry, is that robocalls originating from overseas are harder to stop.
Robokiller, a company that measures spam calls, estimates that in July, the first month of the new technology, Americans received 5.7 billion spam calls, a 3% decrease from June. Spam texts increased 5% from June to July to 7 billion.
Texans received the most spam calls of any state in July with 684 million, or an average of 29 spam calls for each Texan, about one a day. California was second with 575 million spam texts, or 17 a month for each person.
Most of the calls are about vehicle warranties, health insurance or insurance scams.
Texas also leads as the state receiving the most spam texts in July (735 million or 31 for each person).
We’re Number One!
I write to find out if you or your company can help me to invest in your country. I have $20.5 million. Email me.
– Diana Wills
You silly swindler. How’d you get my address?
I read your article on lousy contractors. Unfortunately, construction is a great place for thieves and crooks. I think they are a small minority.
I am a 93-year-old retired general contractor. I thrived in the Dallas area for 40 years under my own name. My work was commercial, schools, churches, hospitals and remodels.
In 1966 I was president of the Associated General Contractors of America. Contractors in Texas don’t have to have a license. We don’t want any.
When people deal with contractors they should never ever advance them money. They are supposed to be businesspeople, and as such, they should have the capital to begin a job.
– Hyatt Cheek Jr. of Dallas
Thanks for your note and the advice about upfront payments. We’ll disagree about the license. The Internet, which wasn’t around when you were working, makes it so easy to fool people. Texans need protections.
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The Dallas Morning News Watchdog column is the 2019 winner of the top prize for column writing from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. The contest judge called his winning entries “models of suspenseful storytelling and public service.”
Read his winning columns:
* Helping the widow of Officer J.D. Tippit, the Dallas police officer killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, get buried beside her late husband
* Helping a waitress who was harmed by an unscrupulous used car dealer