The Watchdog: The Watchdog on Bitcoin machines, retired teachers’ pensions, property tax reform, roofers, robocalls | The watchdog


When Bud Cawyer from east Texas, an 80-year-old scammer who lost $ 295,000 to fake federal agents, told me how he fed $ 20,000 in $ 100 bills into a Bitcoin machine at a gas station to target his scammers pay, I said: “Wait! , What?!”

Did you know that there are now Bitcoin ATMs in gas stations and convenience stores? Certainly not me.

Bitcoin, or cryptocurrency, as it is also known, is gaining more and more acceptance. For example, you can buy Dallas Mavericks tickets using cryptocurrency.

I played a little game this week. I went to a neighborhood Bitcoin machine at a gas station and pretended to send money to a scammer. How does this work?

On the day I did this, a bitcoin was worth $ 33,000. But in my review, I only wanted to buy the $ 50 minimum. For that amount, I would own .00112 of a coin.

I stood by this machine for 20 minutes trying to get it to work. But between giving all of my personal information, copying my 12 “recovery words” along with checking my password and phone identity, and even uploading a photo of my driver’s license (front and back), I still couldn’t get it to accept my money .

Two credit cards and one debit card were declined. My bank later emailed me that the rejection was for security reasons.

I imagined my fictional imposter getting mad at my incompetence.

CoinCloud, the machine I was on, does an admirable job of warning customers about falling for scams, with both screen warnings and a permanent sticker. The warnings are loud and clear: “You can be the target of a scam if you have been sent to this kiosk by a third party, lawyer, or law enforcement agency who has not met you in person.”

After further warnings (“the IRS and Social Security Agency will NOT request payment”), she adds, “Stay vigilant and buy responsibly.”

I never bought my 0.00112 of a coin.

Sorry cheater. Do you do a personal check?

Stuck in the middle

Among the many Texans caught in the crossfire of the House of Representatives’ escape to Washington, DC, are home ownership taxpayers seeking reform. Same goes for retired teachers who say they urgently need an increase in the cost of living on their state pensions.

Bills that address these two issues will be blocked without any House intervention. Of course, both subjects should have been dealt with during the regular session of the legislature.

Teachers who retired after 2004 never received an increase.

Regarding property tax, the state Senate has passed bill aimed at eliminating the property tax shock experienced by homebuyers for their first year in a new home. Under current law, a new homeowner cannot claim a homestead exemption discount until January 1st of the next year.

Senate Bill 8 would allow buyers to apply for their homestead exemption for the year they bought instead of waiting until the next year. This could save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in property taxes.

It is a pity that the heads of state are not thinking of lowering the 10% annual ceiling of the estimated value of a house. That would lead to real tax savings.

Stop selling our data

Now that the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Department of Motor Vehicles are no longer allowed to sell our personal data to marketing companies, why are government agencies no longer banned from selling our data?

The answer I heard from Senator Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, State of Legislature, is that his new law is called the Texas Consumer Privacy Act (Phase 1). Phase 2, he says, will come in 2022 when he tries to make the practice illegal for the rest of the state government.

Nichols told me Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick offered to extend the scope of the law to more departments, but Nichols said he wanted to focus on the biggest fish the first time around.

Improvement of Robocalls? Ha!

My favorite stupid headline recently appeared on “Robocalls are out of control. But that could change today. “

The story came out on June 30th, the deadline when major phone companies had to use new technology to stop spam calls.

For the past two weeks, phone companies have allegedly tracked spam calls and determined where they were coming from. From now on, the caller ID must match the actual sender.

How are you? I celebrated this development by answering several spam calls. So much for the heading “That could change today”.

Check the trade association

“Any suggestions for an honest roofer?” I was asked recently.

It is in the minds of many of my neighbors who have been hit by a spring hail.

I received 28 postcards advertising roofers. Billboards have also popped up for roofers. There was a knock on my door, even though I had posted a “No Prompt” sign.

Who to rent I would turn to the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association. Logic dictates that when a company joins its local trade association, it seeks to be a long-term player in that market as opposed to a nighttime scammer.

And if something goes wrong, you can ask the club for help. In a state without a roofing license, this is the best The Watchdog has to offer.

Keep track of things

Did you happen to notice the news last month that astronomers saw a black hole swallow a neutron star for the first time?

Ten days later, they saw the same thing on “the other side of the universe,” reported The Associated Press.

Did you even know that there is “the other side of the universe”?

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