Top Consumer Stories of 2017 Will Have Lasting Impact

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KGO) -- Twenty-seventeen is slipping into history, but events of the year will have lasting impact on our lives. We saw the makers of the potentially dangerous Takata airbags go bankrupt as millions still wait for safe replacements. Uber lost its controversial CEO; the nation's top consumer watchdog has quit - and something that didn't happen made big news: Obamacare was "not" killed in a repeal campaign in Congress.

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But now, a look at five of the big stories that could impact our lives for years to come.

First, many recall the widely circulated video showing United Airlines passenger David Dao being dragged off an overbooked flight.

The 68-year-old doctor had refused to give up his seat to a crew member, so United had police forcefully remove him from the plane.

"We were horrified and shocked and sickened,'' said his daughter, Crystal Dao Pepper. The outrage sparked hearings in Congress, apologies from United and caused many airlines to soften their bumping policies. United now offers up to $10,000 to passengers willing to give up their seats.

Something else you may see more of this coming year-self-driving cars. The DMV took a big step toward getting them on the roads, setting up a system for companies to test-drive their cars. The DMV permit would allow testing on public roads with or without a human behind the wheel. Expect rules to go into effect by June.

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A late-in-the year action could have a dramatic effect on our access to the internet. Protests began right after the FCC repealed rules requiring net neutrality. It means internet service providers don't have to provide equal access to every website or content provider. They can charge more to big companies that require fast downloads like Netflix and Youtube or slow down speeds for small companies that don't pay up. Higher internet access costs could be passed on to consumers

There was good news for hundreds of fraud victims. Anyone who wired money to a scam artist through Western Union may get their money back. Western Union agreed to settle a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, which says the Western Union knew about fraudulent conduct and didn't do anything to stop it. Many scams operate by persuading victims to wire money somewhere - once it's wired, a sender can't get it back. Now the Western Union has agreed to refund nearly $600 million to those who fell victim from 2004 until last January.

And the biggest consumer story of the year has to go to the huge Equifax data breach. Equifax admitted hackers stole the most sensitive and comprehensive personal data of 145 million Americans. That's nearly half the population. Hackers got everything from names, addresses, social security numbers to bank accounts, credit histories, and more. It's enough to steal identities, bank accounts, credit cards, medical records and more.

" I regret the frustration that many Americans felt,'' Equifax's then- CEO Richard Smith said during a Congressional hearing. He retired but left millions of Americans on edge wondering if, when - and how hackers might use their sensitive data.

Congress grilled Equifax about faulty data protection -- but has not acted on proposals to improve security or let consumers freeze credit for free. Get ready for another year of ups and downs. We'll be there watching.

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