“Oh, brother,” I said, when my husband handed me the small blue card he’d just taken from our mailbox. A random check for $18.04 from strangers. Sounds like a scam. But it says we were improperly charged foreign transaction fees on our card during the years 2000-2006. We did travel to England in 2003. So, it could be legitimate.
How to find out if it’s any good?
First, I ran the phone number through www.bbb.org. Nothing. So I checked the card to see what court it was coming from. Again, nothing. Printed on the check was the website www.ccfsettlement.com, so I Googled “CCF Settlement” plus “scam” and “fraud.” Some page results say it is a phishing scam. Others insist it’s real. I clicked on Snopes (www.snopes.com), a website I trust, and it says the settlement is legitimate. So does MSN Money.
I proceeded to the CCF website. It listed the judge’s name and the name of the court: Honorable William H. Pauley III, U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York. Next step: Contact the court independently. On www.nysd.uscourts.gov I verified Judge Pauley’s existence. I was about to email the court, or at least search the website for the lawsuit, but then I noticed that there were two phone numbers on the check. The one I had used was actually for a second lawsuit against American Express. We don’t have an AmEx card.
So I ran the first number (800-945-9890) on bbb.org. It came up with “US District Court Administrator in Philadelphia, PA.” and “Currency Conversion Fee, Antitrust Litigation” as well as the card’s website. Very good. Since this file was started by the BBB in 2007, we would have heard by now if it were a scam. Looks like I just earned $18.04. Favorite coffeeshop, here I come!
Having said that, however, do beware of “look-alike” scams who may try to piggyback on the legitimate settlement offers. Always verify the details and you’ll keep yourself safe.
Previously published in the Spokane-Spokesman Review.