Over the past few months, millions of people have received checks in the mail for $18.04 related to the settlement of a class action involving foreign transaction fees on credit cards. However, as Gerri Detweiller of Credit.com points out, many people may not realize what they receive in the mail is actually a check, because it looks like junk mail. I also received one of these checks in the mail, and it is indeed difficult to separate the check from the usual deluge of credit offers. I might not have even opened the envelope if I had not recognized the return address was for a settlement administrator.
Compounding the problem in this case is sheer volume of time between settlement and the mailing of checks. In this case, the parties reached settlement in 2006. Millions of claims forms were sent to credit card holders, who were offered an "easy" option of receiving a $25 settlement check. The prospective class members were required to return the claim forms by May 30, 2008. All in all, over 10,000,000 people submitted claims - so many that the settlement fund was exhausted. Then, roughly three and a half years passed before anyone received a check in the mail.
That causes two problems. First, after that much time has passed, people are certainly not checking their mailbox every day looking for the settlement check. Many class members have likely forgotten about the claim, making them more likely to dismiss the check as another piece of junk mail. Also, many people have moved away from the address they listed on the claim form back in 2008. Those people may not receive a check at all.
Providing class notice and settlement proceeds to class members is always a laborious task when litigating a nationwide class action claim. Sometimes, there is more work to be done after a case is settled than there was litigating the case itself.
If you recall sending in a claim form in the foreign transaction fee class action and you have not received a check, you can visit the website for the settlement at www.ccfsettlement.com.