48 Investigates

  Watching Your Wallet: Make smart money moves before 2020

From maxing out retirement contributions to checking your car insurance rates, experts say there are a few smart financial steps to take before the new year starts.

  Cashing in on Charity: Donations meant to help sick children, wounded veterans, abused animals instead benefit for-profit fundraisers

  Cash or consequences: The fight over unpaid child support

  48 Investigates: Madison County volunteer fire chiefs call out chairman on funding

  Top Alabama scams: What you need to know

Missed Opportunity: Federal initiative meant to help poor neighborhoods benefits the rich

  Hidden Damage: Wrecked, flooded border patrol truck sold at dealership without damage declared

Continued Coverage

  How school officials handle active shooter training with students

  Fake Filters? Made-up addresses, strange receipts and copycat websites reveal knock-offs on the market

  Watching Your Wallet: Student loan debt reaches all-time high

  Cold Case: Huntsville man’s murder still unsolved after nearly 11 years

  Morgan County family desperate for justice after man caught on camera peeping on stepdaughter

  ‘It’s a crisis under our feet’: Valley nursing homes putting the elderly at risk

  Huntsville police asking for help to solve 9-year-old cold case

Investigators are working to solve the nearly decades-old murder of Herbert Gray.

  Locked Down: Inside the prison where inmates set each other on fire and gangs have more power than guards

Widespread concern about understaffing in Mississippi's prisons has people calling for a change. They say inmates, correctional officers and surrounding communities are in danger.

  Measure of Hate documentary explores the undercounting of crimes in America

InvestigateTV shows issues with undercounting hate crimes, including the FBI failing to meet a federal mandate to report. After months of reporting on this issue, this documentary also highlights results of the investigation, including police departments amending their records.

  Watching Your Wallet: Decade-by-decade, experts help you save for retirement

By retirement, financial experts say you should have at least eight times your annual salary saved up. NerdWallet explains how to get there, decade-by-decade.

  Cold case: Leads run dry in Huntsville murder case

  Fake Filters? Companies falsely claim to have prestigious water safety certification

  Untested Waters: Feds take small steps toward inspecting more seafood

  Drug trafficking: Pipeline into Alabama

Watching Your Wallet: Experts say to shop around for the best deals on car insurance and cell phone plans

Study: Ring cameras may not be as good a crime fighting tool as advertised

  Flagging down a football alternative

Football is still king in Alabama, but some parents are holding off on when they allow their children to play tackle football. Instead, they're replacing the helmets and shoulder pads with flags, as they decide if full contact football is right for their kids.

  Vets Take Aim At Cancer

Millions of dogs and cats are diagnosed with cancer each year. Yet, new technology is allowing doctors to prolong the lives of more pets each year.

Watching Your Wallet: Spring housing market secrets revealed

Want to get top dollar for your home this spring? Or are you looking to buy your first home? NerdWallet gives tips for those on both sides of the equation.

  Closing the gender pay gap

While the pay gap between men and women is slowly closing, women are still having to deal with the issue of being paid less than their male coworkers.

  DNA Detectives: Scientists combining forensics with genealogy break ‘unsolvable’ cases

Scientists are using forensic genetics to help solve decades-old cold cases.

  Failed and Forgotten

The deaths of hundreds of children because of abuse or neglect goes unnoticed every year by agencies that protect kids. Congress and a 45-year-old law are largely to blame.

  A trifecta of failures puts kids at risk

When children die because of abuse or neglect, child protection agencies are often blamed – they are underfunded and overworked. But there are many other culprits who failed children.

  Digital rollbacks: Millions of cars have false mileage on odometers

Carfax experts say there are potentially more than one million cars on the roads with false odometer readings - meaning their mileage has been rolled back to make the vehicles look like they have less wear and tear.

  Tuscaloosa PD release bodycam video of woman’s arrest circulating on social media

Jhasmynn Sheppard was pulled over for leaving the scene of an accident that had happened earlier that day.

Watching Your Wallet: Experts give advice on reining in your tax refund

Rather than taking a tax refund check and splurging on a quick shopping spree, NerdWallet advises people make smart spending – or saving - plans.

  Undercounting hate: FBI will not report its hate crime numbers again this year as required by law

The Uniform Crime Reporting Act of 1988 requires federal law enforcement agencies to submit information about their cases to a federal database maintained by the FBI; however, those agencies are currently not submitting data, including information about hate crimes.

  Will Alabama gamble on sports?

Now that Mississippi and Arkansas have legalized sports betting, many people are wondering if Alabama will take a similar path by asking voters to change the state constitution.

  Watching Your Wallet: Thousands of consumer complaints hidden in federal watchdog database

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides information about financial institutions, including complaints. But NerdWallet and InvestigateTV have found examples of complaints that don't show up in the database.

  State to investigate alleged mistreatment at Huntsville VA retirement home

Two former employees are alleging veterans are being mistreated at the home, and state records show it could go back years.

  Jemison High School labeled as failing; students and teachers disagree, citing big accomplishments and success

What is a failing school? According to lawmakers in Alabama, Jemison High School is failing because of low ACT scores. But the school is also celebrating after students have earned more than $600,000 in scholarships.

  Letters being used to smuggle Suboxone into Madison County Jail

Madison County Jail officials are battling a new war on drugs. Inmates have found a clever new way to sneak contraband into jail.

  Watching Your Wallet: Experts explain the new tax code in simple terms

With sweeping tax code changes affecting this year's filings, experts from NerdWallet help explain how the changes will work for different people.

  Dirty hands & dirty dishes in this week’s Kitchen Cops Report

Several restaurants were written up for hand washing issues this week, and one owner fires back at the system that gave him the lowest score on the list.

  Untested water: 99.9 percent of foreign fish goes without testing for unsafe drugs

According to government reports, there is evidence that the main oversight agency for seafood, the Food and Drug Administration, has failed to meet new mandates to increase inspections at foreign food facilities.

  Top online scams hitting Alabamians

"Non-delivery" is the number one scam hitting the top of the list for both the FBI and the Better Business Bureau for online scams.

  Calculating hate: Federally mandated count leaves out untold number of crimes in America

Serious hate crimes from murders to attempted bombings do not show up in federal hate crime data, according to analysis by InvestigateTV.

Punishing hate: Paper tiger laws serve up little to no penalties for attackers

Prosecutors say some state hate crime laws are so weak they "aren't worth the paper they're printed on."

  Multiple sex offenders found on Facebook despite ban

Under Facebook's policies, convicted sex offenders are not allowed on the site; however, InvestigateTV identified multiple offenders who appeared to have recently active profiles.

  Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights aims to combat backlogged rape kits

Some Alabama lawmakers and national victims groups are saying it's time for Alabama to create an inventory of sexual assault kits. They say, if it's mandated, kits sitting in evidence rooms would be tested quicker and victims would see justice much sooner.

  Alabama corrections putting murder convicts in public, unsupervised by department

One such murder convict just escaped last month, and a Valley woman is concerned her mother's murderer could be next.

  Local cabinet refinisher leaves work unfinished

More than a dozen people say they have been having the same problems with a local contractor.

Watching Your Wallet: How much could you earn if you invested your coffee money?

Financial experts from NerdWallet say saving and investing as little as $20 a week can amount to $170,000 in retirement money.

  Watching Your Wallet: Strengthen your financial fitness before 2019

While many people think about health and wellness resolutions for the new year, financial experts recommend thinking about money goals too.

  Small Huntsville business target of potential $13K scam

If you own a small business, you know how much it takes to make it a success. So when a scammer tries to steal that success, it hurts even more, including your bottom line.

  Study: One energy drink can harm our blood vessels

Caffeine packed energy drinks are popular. You've heard the health risks about drinking them before, but you may want to pay attention to a new study.

  Nuclear fallout: $15.5 billion in compensation and counting

Thousands of nuclear weapons workers are seeking compensation from a federal program that has ballooned far past initial projections - and some say they're being denied based on incorrect information.

  Finding family through DNA kits

More Americans are discovering long lost family members by using affordable in-home DNA test kits.

Watching Your Wallet: Company offering to help lower student debt under investigation

A company offering to help people reduce their student loan debt is now under investigation. One St. Louis woman says her debt actually increased after trying to work with the company.

  Mice. Mold. Messes.

Hundreds of Americans live in deplorable rental properties and their landlord is the federal government. The properties need $50 billion in repairs. Uncle Sam now is hoping that private investors will save public housing.

  Watching Your Wallet: Will Social Security be there when you retire?

Research shows many Americans are concerned with whether Social Security will be available when they retire, but many aren’t saving. NerdWallet experts help explain the realities of Social Security and what you can do.

MISSING PERSON: Jazzmine Sierra Holt

Jazzmine Sierra Holt of Tuscumbia has been reported missing by the Colbert County’s Sheriff’s Office.20-year-old Holt suffers from schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and her mother said she has not had her medication in several days.

You’re in a political ad. (But you don’t know who’s behind it)

Political organizations with shadowy origins are spending millions on Facebook ads, and some people featured in the ads don't know who the groups are either.

  Using cryptocurrency in the Tennessee Valley

Bitcoin is thriving and people in the Tennessee Valley are using it as they shop.

  Radon: A silent killer

You can't see it and can't smell it but radon gas can seep into your home and greatly increase your risk for lung cancer. It's a real threat for those of us here in the Tennessee Valley and the only way to know you have it, is to test your home.

  Watching Your Wallet: Travel More, Spend Less

Brad Barrett took $4,000 Disney trip for a family of four for only $150. Seriously.

  Thousands laid off as PESG leaves Michigan; fears it could happen in Huntsville

Thousands of people in Michigan were notified late Monday evening that they were out of a job, leaving nearly 100,000 students without classroom instructors. This same company has hundreds of employees in Huntsville.

  Big hits, lower numbers

Fewer kids are playing football in the United States as parents worry about the effects of concussions. North Alabama coaches are responding with a greater emphasis on safety.

  New stats & new law in AL to combat human trafficking

Alarming data continues to surface on human trafficking in Alabama. The numbers back up the need for more education and tougher legislation targeting the buyers helping fuel the multi-billion-dollar industry.

One arrested following shooting on Triana Boulevard

One person has been arrested after Huntsville police responded to a call of a shooting on Thursday.

  Watching Your Wallet: Budget now for holiday spending

Planning travel and shopping months in advance can pay off in the long run, financial experts say.

  Huntsville group slapped with lawsuit over evictions

A Huntsville group is slapped with a lawsuit after tenants receive questionable evictions. It goes deeper, these same tenants contacted WAFF to highlight the living conditions at their apartment complex in Huntsville and the group over it, promising to bring people in off the streets.

  Report: Customers are overpaying on a quarter of all prescriptions

A new study shows patients are overpaying on prescriptions sometimes because they are using insurance, rather than paying the cash price.

Lincoln County officials seize drugs, money, weapons during search

Authorities in Lincoln County seized drugs, money, and weapons in a search.

School systems continue to evaluate sentry program

Alabama schools are considering whether or not to implement the sentry program

  Prescription for wiping out debt

We all love to find a good bargain. Yet what if you could save more than one hundred thousand dollars on something? A young couple from Huntsville claims they paid off their house in 6.5 years by using a debt reduction software program.

  Big Pharma was supposed to self-police fentanyl prescriptions. It failed. Patients died.

Internal documents show lax enforcement, missed opportunities by the federal government.

  FBI Investigators search Huntsville home

Huntsville Police confirm they have a police report against a Michael Scott Harris of the same address for criminal computer tampering encoded data fraud.

Glaucoma numbers increase in baby boomers

In the next decade, a disease impacting the vision of baby boomers will triple from more than 2 million cases to upwards of 6 million.

  You can help uncover political ad targeting on Facebook

Use the Facebook Political Ad Collector to help categorize ads and understand why they are targeting you.

Kitchen Cops: Pink Substance in the Ice Machine & 3 Great Food Trucks

Several schools are on our top performers list, but one local cafeteria was hit hard by health inspectors.

  Mold infests government housing in Huntsville

A mold infestation at Searcy Homes has one mother concerned for her family.

  What to keep in mind when hiring a contractor

Imagine hiring a contractor to replace your roof and paint your home, but you're left with shoddy work or work never finished.

Doctors escape punishment for profiting off prescribing opioids to those who don’t need them

Doctors who received the most money from a controversial drugmaker to prescribe its potent opioid have faced little scrutiny for their role in what federal agents have called a scheme.