Should You Respond to Class-Action Lawsuits?

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If you’re still getting junk mail in your mailbox, it may have included a letter about a class-action lawsuit of some kind. Those letters often detail a huge amount of money that consumers could get if they are eligible to join the suit.

A Clark Howard Podcast listener recently asked whether she and her family should respond to the many class-action lawsuit notices they’ve received.

Class-Action Lawsuits: Should You Respond?

We can certainly understand the allure of such offers. At Clark.com, we’re all about ways to find money to put back into your wallet. But are class-action lawsuits worth it?

Class-action lawsuits are lawyer-driven correspondence that could potentially take up a lot of your time just to see if you qualify. Depending on the type of class-action lawsuit, you’ll typically have to submit a claim form online or mail it to show:

  • Proof of purchase (although no proof of purchase is becoming more common)
  • Proof of losses/damages
  • Proof of injuries

Even slight deviance from the listed instructions could disqualify your claim, making the effort and time you put into it all for naught.

Clark’s Take on Class-Action Lawsuits

While it’s understandable that you may have concerns about the legitimacy of solicitations that offer financial gain, Clark says that many of these letters are legit.

“Usually these legal notices, I would say, almost always are completely legit that you receive. The problem is what you’re going to get for them.”

Clark says he’s even gotten a few of these himself: “The last one I got was for $1.10. … It won’t even buy me lunch at Costco.”

Clark is onto something here. While it’s true that some Illinois Facebook users received checks of nearly $400 related to a class-action settlement, it’s more likely that you’ll qualify for the ones that pay out paltry amounts.

ClassAction.org has a list of ongoing class-action settlements that estimate payouts ranging from single digits to thousands of dollars. But again, you have to qualify and be meticulous about following the instructions.

Bottom Line

For the most part, Clark says filling out information related to a class-action lawsuit may not be worth it when you consider the low payouts.

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“This is an area that really has not worked out for consumers,” Clark says. “It worked out well for class-action law firms.”

As for whether the notices are actual scams, Clark says that’s not usually the case.

“They are not generally bogus, I’m not aware of any that have been bogus. But don’t believe you’re ever going to have enough money even to buy a meal for yourself.”

Tired of getting solicitations filling your mailbox? Read our guide on how to get rid of junk mail.

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