WSVN — You have seen many stories over the past few days recapping the big news stories in 2015. Now, what is going to happen in 2016? No one knows, but we do know the problems you will probably face and how do you deal with them. Lets find out in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Patrick Fraser: "Hello, everybody. I’m Patrick Fraser."
Howard Finkelstein: "And I’m Howard Finkelstein, ready for another year of helping you with your problems."
Patrick Fraser: "And hopefully another year of solving your problems. We were pretty decent at it in 2015. Let’s hope we keep rolling along in 2016."
Howard Finkelstein: "Who knows what you will face, but let’s talk about the top problems South Floridians had to deal with last year."
Patrick Fraser: "At number seven, the first time we have ever had this category. People who felt their religious rights were violated. Latoya Anderson said she was fired from her state job for sending an e-mail to her fellow workers that in part said, ‘Nothing is impossible with God.’"
Patrick Fraser: "Chaya Bruck was kicked out of college for missing school to go to religious services. We got her reinstated."
Howard Finkelstein: "America was founded on the promise of both freedom of religion and freedom from religious persecution. That hasn’t changed, and you cannot be discriminated against because of your religion."
Patrick Fraser: "At number six, just call it the family feuds. Andrea Prophete was at a family gathering when she says she was attacked and cut in the face by a relative. It was all caught on camera."
Howard Finkelstein: "Anna French found out an ex-boyfriend had opened a corporation in her name. Not a good thing."
Anna French: "I don’t know if there are any lawsuits with this company in my name."
Patrick Fraser: "At number five, people and their pets. This one became a court battle: Emily rescued a sick stray dog, then two months later, a neighbor said. ‘That’s my dog.’ In court, the judge looked at the evidence and ruled the dog was Emily’s."
Patrick Fraser: "To many people, their pets are priceless, but legally they are not worth much at all."
Howard Finkelstein: "Patrick, in the eyes of the law, your precious pet is treated like a piece of furniture. If it’s killed or stolen, you don’t get what it’s worth, only what you paid for it."
Patrick Fraser: "Some animal lovers just screamed."
Patrick Fraser: At number four, scammers. Whether on the phone or on the Internet, it seems they increase every single year."
Patrick Fraser: "Marvin got taken by the scammers that tell you, you’re a secret shopper. Their secret: They’re crooks, and you lose your cash."
Patrick Fraser: "Eileen thought the caller was from the DEA and was coming to arrest her. The con man was convincing, but Eileen was smarter."
Howard Finkelstein: "It’s illegal, of course, but with new technology it’s almost impossible to track them down. Just be careful, and don’t believe anyone who calls or e-mails and threatens or promises to give you money. It’s usually a scam."
Patrick Fraser: "We have all probably had to deal with number three on our list: Customers complaining about businesses, or business owners complaining about other business owners.
Howard Finkelstein: "From a valet company that damaged Maria’s car and didn’t want to fix it, to an Internet company that kept charging Susan months after she canceled them, to a business that hired Jorge’s business to provide security … and then didn’t pay him."
Patrick Fraser: "Howard, the obvious answer is to only use reputable businesses, but it’s not always that simple, is it?"
Howard Finkelstein: "No, Patrick. Two suggestions before you do business with anyone. First, get the details it in writing and make sure you read what you are signing. Secondly, pay with a credit card, because if you are ripped off, you can dispute the charges and get your money back."
Patrick Fraser: "At number two, problems with your home. Whether it’s an association or a landlord, it’s not always home sweet home. Joseph Maldanado was upset when a palm frond smashed into his car at his apartment complex."
Howard Finkelstein: "Marcalla was stranded, literally, when the elevators broke in her condo and they were not fixed."
Howard Finkelstein: "Patrick, The law doesn’t care much about dogs, but it cares deeply about your home. If someone — a neighbor, an association — is depriving you of the enjoyment of your home, the law is on your side, so call the police or go to court."
Patrick Fraser: "And, if you live in an association, make sure you get a copy of your documents so you know the rules and regulations."
Howard Finkelstein: "Now, the most popular, or unpopular, at number one: the wonderful government agencies."
Patrick Fraser: "John Schmidt had a tree hanging over his property and cracking the foundation under his house. The city wouldn’t let him remove the tree, ’till John called us."
Howard Finkelstein: "Francis was outraged when he was hit by a Florida Highway patrolman. FHP investigated their trooper and decided not to charge him, just give him counseling."
Patrick Fraser: "So, Howard, how can you get a government agency to listen to you?"
Howard Finkelstein: "As the head of a government agency, I can tell you that most often your problem isn’t getting solved because you’re not talking to the right person. Start at the top of the agency, because if the head of the agency hears from you and wants your problem, it will get corrected."
Patrick Fraser: "And I have to say, Howard, many government agencies have gotten much better than they used to be. Much more helpful when we contact them about people’s problems, so give them credit for that."
Howard Finkelstein: "That’s why I always say, be the squeaky wheel, whether your are calling for your problem or we’re helping you out."
Patrick Fraser: "We would love to help you out this year. If you have a problem you can’t solve, please get in touch with us. With the lawyer with the ponytail, Howard Finkelstein, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News."