Fortunately, experts say there are still things you can do if you feel frustrated and misled.
Respond to that Equifax settlement emailThis may seem obvious but the best thing you can do, especially if you have credit monitoring protections active, is make sure you find, open and respond to the Equifax email the settlement team sent out. Theodore H. Frank, a lawyer who specializes in class-action suits, told me this week that only 3 percent of the people who get class-action emails actually respond. But responding is important, because it shows real consumer interest in restitution.
Of course, you’ll need to show proof that you have credit monitoring to be eligible for a cash settlement. But there’s a chance you might have credit monitoring active even if you weren’t previously aware. Many major credit cards actually provide a form of credit monitoring — it’s worth checking with your credit card company to see if you have some form of monitoring in place. If you do, it’s a loophole that might allow you to receive your piece of the settlement.
Granted, this requires some legwork — more than many people may be willing to put in. But giving up is exactly what the settlement team is hoping for when they send out a suspect-looking email, Mr. Frank argued. “Boycotting this unfair settlement isn’t doing anything. The settlement attorneys will still get paid, even if you don’t,” he said.
Write a letter to the courtBefore anyone can get their money, the court — specifically, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia — has to approve the settlement. This, two class-action lawyers told me, is where victims have some real power to exert some influence. According to one lawyer familiar with the settlement, one of the factors the court looks at are the responses from those who write letters.
These objections can come in many forms — you can find information on how to object here under FAQ section 25 — and you can simply write a standard one-page letter. No legalese or lawyers necessary. “Courts actually read all the objections,” one attorney said. Because most people are too intimidated to write in, a small percentage can go a long way. “Even if it’s just 1,000 or 2,000 people, that can send a big message.” The letter should be brief and outline the process, stressing that you feel deceived by the terms of the settlement — if you do.
Another option is to write your state attorney general to complain about the settlement. Multiple class-action lawyers I spoke with noted that a number of state attorneys general were part of this settlement and that inundating them with letters could ratchet up the pressure to push back on the settlement.