Class action lawsuits within a wide range of industries, products and services are a large and growing source of unclaimed funds. Each year hundreds of companies are involved in class action litigation. These fall into a number of broad categories including: Securities Fraud (insider trading and mismanagement)
- Consumer Protection (fraudulent marketing)
- Public Health (tobacco)
- Antitrust (unfair business practices and price fixing)
- Human Rights (unfair practices and discrimination)
- Environment (pollution)
- Product Liability (defective products causing or involving personal injury)
Recent class action settlements have exceeded $ 11 billion ($ 5 billion in 2006 alone), yet more than half of those entitled to payment fail to file a claim.
Current and former customers and stockholders in over 2000 companies are entitled to receive unclaimed class action settlement payments. Legal notice of class action claims eligibility is often buried deep in newspaper classifieds. If you've moved, physically hold stock certificates, or hold stock in street name and switch brokers, you may not be informed.
Even if a product was used years ago or stock has long since been sold, class members may be eligible to receive cash, credits, shares or dividends in companies like AOL, AT & T, Ford, GM, Dow Corning, Coca Cola, NASDAQ, Publishers Clearing House, Bank of America, MCI, Merrill Lynch, Schwab, Wal-Mart and hundreds of others.
If you are current or former customer or stockholder in a company named in a class action lawsuit, you must file a claim to receive your share. Because many class actions are filed in federal court, settlement payments to class members will not show up in a State Unclaimed Property Division search and unlike most other unclaimed money there is a time limit by which the settlement must be claimed.