Don’t be alarmed, but The Wealthy Accountant is involved in a class action lawsuit. Mrs. Accountant and I were also dragged into the mess and we couldn’t be happier.
Class action lawsuits are everywhere as major corporations find increasingly clever ways to strip hard-earned money from your hide. Enterprising shysters, ah, I mean attorneys are equally as enterprising in exposing this malfeasance to line their own pockets while throwing a few crumbs to the proletariat to give the whole process an air of credibility.
Except the crumbs can be mighty large at times. This last week Google deposited $485 into my business checking account as settlement from a class action lawsuit. Mrs. Accountant received unwanted telemarketing calls that ended up in a class action lawsuit and she is eligible for up to $300 per unwanted call with a max of 3 calls. Yes, my lovely bride will bring a whopping 900 bucks into the family budget for being a victim. Keep a stiff upper lip, honey. It’s for the kids.
For several years I’ve worked the class action lawsuit network with reasonable success. Even in a low spending household, the amount of money owed us ends up over $1,000 every year. Some years we break $5,000. When that happens I break down and splurge by buying a pack of gum. Ah, the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Whenever I broach this topic, people want to know if they qualify. (Why is it always about them? I’m the victim! Honest.)
Almost everyone is the victim of some scam. Even in the low spending Accountant household we find we are victims a lot. We just don’t play the role well. We need to practice our sad faces more.
Many class action lawsuits revolve around the purchase of a product or service. Other times you qualify for a reward, ah, compensation for damages caused you and your family for things like unwanted telemarketing calls.
You may be familiar with class action lawsuits as law firms send letters letting you know you are a part of a class action suit. If you take the time to respond, acknowledging you qualify for compensation, you get a check in the mail about a year later. But you have to respond and it can be a pain in the tail.
Then there are the myriad class action suits you have to discover yourself or forever hold your peace (or is that piece—I always forget which).
Finding Class Action Lawsuits
Now we need to find all the class action lawsuits we are entitled to compensation from. Thank God, it’s a simple process.
There are multiple websites listing all the many current class actions taking place. Top Class Actions is the best in my opinion and is the site Mrs. Accountant and I use.
Virtually all class action claims can be handled with a simple online form. A few require you to print out a claim form, fill it out and mail it in. The process takes less than a minute in most cases.
Many class action lawsuits are small in size, only a few million dollars. For a few seconds of time (if you qualify) you can get a check for a few dollars six months to a year from now. As long as you are scanning the list of suits you may as well submit a claim for all you qualify for.
Problems with Claims
The worst problem with filing a claim is proof. You probably don’t have a record of every nuisance call to determine if you should be compensated for an illegal telemarketing call. You probably don’t have a receipt, or any kind of proof, you bought xxxx between June 1, 2002 and September 24, 2012.
Some class actions require proof. Many provide a lower level of compensation with only a sworn statement you bought said product in question. When it comes to the list of telemarketing calls you can be compensated for, you enter your phone number and they’ll let you know if you’re a victim. (Ah, the new world order! Where the internet helps us determine if we should feel like a victim. Yes, we should, it seems.)
Review of Current Actions
The process is pretty simple, but this post is too short to stop here so I’ll use some current examples to spur you into action. You can send my commission check to . . .
Note: This is not an affiliate program and neither I, nor The Wealthy Accountant, receive any compensation if you use Top Class Actions and/or submit a claim to an action. However, if you see me at a conference you owe me a beer.
I will not link to any of the current class actions I found interesting as the links will break after the suit is finalized and I’m too lazy (or stupid) to remember to come back and update this post multiple times as class actions expire.
The first one we will review is of interest to travel hackers lurking about. The Citibank American Airlines Miles Promotion Class Action Settlement is worth up to $245. It seems Citibank reported erroneous information to the IRS causing people in their program undue stress. (The IRS wanted more money than they deserved and Citibank helped the IRS get it.) So Citibank owes you the losses due the faulty IRS document they filed and refused to correct. Since it is out of statuette, tax returns can’t be amended so Citibank is paying your taxes. Gawd! I love this country!
Did you get an unwanted text from Hooters? Then you might get 50 bucks! Doesn’t really make up for the tongue lashing the missus gave you three years ago, does it. But it is enough to enjoy a night at Hooters! (What’s a hooter? The boy from the backwoods wants to know.)
Do you shop at Costco? Yup, you might want to check out the claim form.
Did Citgo send you an unwanted text? Don’t remember? Fill out the claim form. They ask for your phone number and tell you within seconds if you qualify. (Dang! I wasn’t a victim. I hate it when I’m not a victim.) The settlement amount is still undetermined.
Did you buy a computer in the last ten years? Then you’re a victim! Congratulations! But you better hurry. Claims must be submitted by October 31st. I’m a victim here both personally and my tax practice. Verification of purchase is not required, but may be asked for later. I have most of my records (I hope).
This last one brings up a good point. Should I submit a claim when I don’t have proof? It depends. The instructions tell you which documents are required. I wouldn’t lie; it’s a good way to get into trouble. But, if you purchased a product—or at least think you did—then I would submit a claim. In most cases it’s not a big deal. I yell across the room, “Mrs. Accountant, do we buy xxxx?” If she says yes, I submit a claim.
Terminix had some trouble with the law due to their robocalls. I had no idea if we received any such calls. Good thing they had a record on file. All I did was enter our cell phone numbers (it only applies to cell phones) to see if we were victims. Sadly, I was not victimized. Thank Jesus and all the powers that be Mrs. Accountant was! We can expect 60 smackeroos in about a year.
I could go on, but you get the point.
I check the list of class actions every couple months and apply for those that I qualify for. It seems we qualify for a lot of them. Insane!
One final class action settlement you might qualify for if you were a part of the Ashley Madison data breach. It’s worth a humongous $3,500! I thought it was safe when I used my brother’s name. Now I can’t collect. Dang it!
Reminder: The forum is a great place to get tax questions answered and find a tax professional in your area. The more people the forum the more vibrant it will become.