Ethical to Take This Money?

by J. Money on Wednesday, March 9, 2016

good vs evil money

“Our records show you may be a Settlement Class Member. You may be entitled to payment if you complete and return a Claim form.”

That’s a notice I just got in the mail this week. Why? Because apparently Nationstar Mortgage – who we used to have as our 1st mortgage provider – went around calling up customers on their cell phones and allegedly did so without their permission. I didn’t know you needed permission to call up your own customers, but hey – what do I know about the law?

This is how much money is on the table:

“If the Court approves the settlement, Settlement Class Members who submit valid claims will receive equal shares of a $12.1 million Settlement Fund that Nationstar has agreed to create, after the payment of expenses and fees.”

Hot damn! I have no idea how many people we’re talking about here that were “infringed” upon, or will actually submit a claim, but a piece of *anything* out of $12.1 million is still 100% of something you did not have before :) And at the end of the day, who doesn’t love FREE money??

Well, apparently I may not as I’m torn between whether I should become a part of this lawsuit or not. The funny part is that I very much remember receiving this phone call a little while back for reasons I’m about to mention below, but the more I think about it the more ridiculous it all seems.

For one, who cares that a company called THEIR OWN customers?? Who doesn’t do that?

For two, I actually ENJOYED getting the phone call. I don’t know if everyone else got the same one that I did, but the reason I liked it so much was that they were calling to see if I wanted to refinance my loan with them. Something that would not only possibly save me money, but also be a lot less annoying to do since you’re not switching over to an entirely new company to make it all happen.

Another reason I loved it? I got the very same call from Chase Bank 5 years ago out of the blue, and it ended up saving me thousands of dollars over the years! In fact, I actually thought it was a prank when they first called because I had tried for MONTHS to get it refinanced to no avail whatsoever. And then here comes Chase – who previously declined me – and all of a sudden wanted to trash a loan that was paying them more, and substitute it out for one that was much better for their customer? With no processing fees and no fuss? It was heaven, and I signed as fast as I could. (They were on the hunt to hold onto their customers and probably wanted to make sure we could afford our loans too so they could get their money… Coincidentally enough, they also ended up selling this loan over to Nationstar who’s now carrying on the “let’s call up our customers and see if we can help them refinance” torch :))

Which leads us to my 3rd reason I could care less about their wrongdoing phone call to me – they were trying to offer me a better product! They weren’t trying to sell me on an additional loan or something totally random like life insurance or a new credit card or anything like that, they were merely asking if I wanted to run the #’s and see if it made sense for us to refinance the very same loan I already have with them. And had I not been in the middle of selling our place at the time, I would have taken them up on it in a heart beat.

Now, do I remember giving them consent to reach me on my cell phone which is the basis of this suit? (It regards the Telephone Consumer Protection Act) I couldn’t tell you – I signed that $300,000 death pledge* almost a decade prior – but I do know that I felt no wrong doing whatsoever as I fully expect that every now and then you’ll get on the phone with a company you have a loan with and *gasp* talk about it. And I’m certainly not bothered by a 10 second phone call regardless.

So with all that being said, does it seem fair that I throw my hat into the ring and try to snatch up some of that cold hard cash here? Even if I don’t believe in it?

My heart says “No” which is probably what I’m going to go with here, but my wallet/practical side is telling me to slow down and review the facts. Which are simply:

  1. Nationstar has agreed to put aside $12.1 Million to resolve the suit (the settlement does not establish who is correct, but rather, “is a compromise to end the lawsuit.” One which Nationstar denies any wrongdoing.)
  2. It’s going to be given out regardless of whether I get involved with it or not
  3. I’m technically “owed” the money regardless of my feelings towards it
  4. All I have to do is fill out a quick 5 seconds claims form

I really don’t know of any faster money than that? Maybe outside of free 401(k) matches from your employer? (Which, btw, if you aren’t signed up for you better get on!! You’re practically getting PAID to invest for the future which you should be doing anyways!)

Lastly, another thing that’s totally unrelated, but also not, is the fact they (Nationstar) just cut me a refund check for $872.15 that finalizes our house sale the other month that I was definitely not expecting. And whether accurately assigned or not, I’m very much feeling the love for them, haha…

So that’s the deal! What do you think? Would you take the money if you were in my shoes? Do you see anything wrong with this suit one way or the other? Does it even matter what we think if the courts/lawyers have come to an agreement?

I plan on sending it to the shredder by end of day unless someone can convince me otherwise, but I’d be lying if I said it’s gonna SUCK feeling like I’m shredding cold hard cash, haha… Who does that??

UPDATE: While a few of you put out quite the compelling argument, I did indeed send the card over into the shredder, *gasp*… How much $$$ we just let go I’ll never know (and don’t anyone of you Google it later and make me regret my decision! :)), but it was a fun thing to think about throughout. Thanks for always participating in these random quandaries, and hope it helps future ones for you too!

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*Mortgage literally means “Death Pledge” in old French ;)

PS: For more ethical $$$ situations, check out this thread over at Reddit that my boy Mike Delgado shot over – it’s pretty interesting! “What’s an unethical way you save money?” Or read one of the most trafficked articles on this site, if you can believe it: Guess What? If Someone Accidentally Gives You Money in Your Account, It’s Still NOT Your Money!

{ 88 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brian @DebtDiscipline March 9, 2016 at 6:03 am

I have been contacted a few time for these types of lawsuits. I believe the last one was related to some software I purchased. I never filled out the info. Whatever the claims were did not affect me. Just like in your case. It was not a negative, so I’d shred away.

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2 Robb @ Late 2 the Game March 9, 2016 at 6:48 am

I also have received those types of class action settlements. Unless I truly think I have been taken by the company, I will shred the letter. If I were you I would shred it and move on. This country is way to quick to sue.

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3 Sabrina March 9, 2016 at 7:09 am

Wow. Fill out the freaking form! You’re unlikely to be convinced, since you already laid out the arguments in favor, but I would recommend rereading your four points.

Let’s say NS had been found guilty and was paying out the same amount. The issue isn’t whether they bothered each individual person, it’s whether they broke the law in the process.

Or what if a different company had stolen the phone numbers from NS and used then to try pushing a refinance offer? They had no right to contact you, correct? That is essentially what NS allegedly did by calling phone numbers they didn’t have permission to use.

I work in a field with heavy customer protections in many areas, and have been involved in coordinating outreach campaigns. Making sure we don’t contact people without permission is a big issue for our company.

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4 Tom March 9, 2016 at 11:54 am

^ What she said!

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5 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Yeah, I’d be singing a different tune if it was from a random company trying to sell me something vs my own. Though not that I’d do anything about it other than mutter a few choice words under my breath – hah.

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6 Downunder Sugarglider March 12, 2016 at 12:55 am

I am not sure what is unethical about taking the money?? The bank is at fault. They will pay out $12.1million to whomever from the eligible pool signs up. Just because you did not incur any great damage does not negate the requirements of this legal action. The other interactions with the bank are irrelevant. They over charged you! and refunded – that’s a zero sum game.

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7 Nona March 9, 2016 at 7:10 am

Just fill in the form! If you feel unethical accepting the money for your own, just donate it to a good cause. See it as free good cause donation…or some well doing from the bank ;-)

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8 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Oooh charity!!! Didn’t even think of that!

That might be the only thing that could convince me actually, interesting…

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9 Laura March 9, 2016 at 7:43 am

Well, here’s my take on the issue, based upon personal experience. I worked for an industry notorious for not paying overtime (wholesale mortgage lending). Their reasoning was that “bonus” earnings based upon production took the place of overtime and relieved them of that responsibility as long as employees were salaried. Over the years, my coworkers and I logged thousands of hours of overtime, working nights and weekends and holidays and bringing files home. I was a very high producer and received per file bonuses (as did everyone else). Several of the companies I worked for were eventually sued, and eventually settled, lawsuits in the multi-millions of dollars based upon failure to pay overtime regardless of paying out millions and millions of dollars in bonus income. All you had to do, to be included in the settlement, was fill out a form indicating the approximate dates of employment, your job title, and approximate average weekly hours worked. I made a strong argument for not doing so. We were all salaried, not hourly. We all knew when we took the job that there was no overtime. We were all well compensated. We all received production bonuses based upon our own contribution. I felt it was unethical to file a claim, and I didn’t. To my knowledge I’m the only one I know of who did not do so. One of my coworkers, who had many less years in the covered jobs than I did, actually shared with me the eventual amount of the settlement check she received (over fourteen thousand dollars). I was in shock. I had no idea the awards would be anywhere near those numbers. I was instantly regretful. Have I gotten over it? Yes, I have. It was many years ago. But Jay, we had three little kids, two mortgages, car payments and credit card debt. That settlement would have jump started us on the road to early retirement years sooner, and I was legally entitled to it. It was actually unethical of me to deprive my family of funds I was owed because of my desire to do what was “right.” In retrospect, I would have filled out the document and accepted the settlement. Failing to do so is a mistake I still look back on with a cringe. Are we fine without it? Of course we are. Was I a fool to think my stance on the issue made me somehow more virtuous than those who chose to accept the inevitable settlement? Yes. Yes I was, and to this day when I recall the situation I feel only regret. My ethical stance may have felt noble to me at the time, but with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight it feels a lot closer to stupidity.

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10 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:05 pm

OH wow! Did not see that one coming, jeez…. Yeah, $14,000 vs $14 is a much bigger difference! I’d like to say that wouldn’t change my feelings towards it, but it’s $14 THOUSAND DOLLARS!! If only your friend didn’t tell you :(

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11 theFIREstarter March 12, 2016 at 6:40 pm

Wow, that is a huge kick in the teeth!!!

J I say +1 for the charity idea. They are paying out that money regardless so at least if you took a share you know it would go to a good cause of your choosing. And if it turned out to be in the $1000’s (which I highly doubt) at least you will have a second moral dilemma of whether to keep any which you can turn into another blog post ;O)

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12 jestjack March 9, 2016 at 7:46 am

Hmmm….IMHO it depends on if you agree with the “spirit” of the agreement. For me I would sign up for the settlement because I’m just about done with folks calling my cell without permission. My cell is for emergencies….call me if you’re bleeding or broke down…not to ask me if I’d like to book a cruise or take a survey. Perhaps a compromise would be to sign up for the settlement, take the money and then donate it to a charity that provides cell phones for folks that are needy. And for the record $12M for an institution the size of Nationstar….is a pittance…they spend this much on pencils…..

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13 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:11 pm

hah!

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14 COD March 9, 2016 at 7:46 am

It’s going to be about 50 cents, so I wouldn’t spend much time thinking about this. I was automatically included in a class action suit against Google related to the prices of adwords. I never actively did anything but one day I got a check from Google. it was for 50 cents. The lawyers make bank on these deals, the “class” ends up with a couple of bucks or vouchers you’ll never use.

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15 Chadnudj March 9, 2016 at 7:51 am

While I’m a lawyer, I want it to be clear I’m not giving legal advice here, you/any reader is not my client, and I am just offering my opinion not legal advice.

Take the money/make a claim. ALWAYS take the money/make a claim if you’re in a class eligible for settlements.

First of all, the TCPA exists for a very good reason — to prevent all of us from getting telemarketing calls on our cellphones, calls that can cost us if it uses up minutes we’ve paid for. Regardless of whether you care about that (or if you think, “hey, that doesn’t affect me since I have unlimited talk minutes”), it is is the law, and major companies doing millions of dollars of business and paying millions of dollars to lawyers to provide legal advice regarding compliance with the law SHOULD follow the law. They broke that law, and this is the “fine” for doing so. I may think that driving 55 in a 35 zone is perfectly fine/safe, but if I get pulled over, I have to pay the fine.

Second, if this case had no merit, it wouldn’t be settling. It would have been dismissed early in the case. The fact that it got a class certified is indicative that there was enough merit for it to survive a motion to dismiss and get a motion for class certification granted (both difficult to do in today’s environment). Companies settle for all variety of reasons (even when they did nothing wrong!), but generally speaking you don’t settle a suit that has no merit.

Third, our economy and consumers NEED class actions and settlement like these to ensure we’re not getting ripped off. Maybe this case (being a technical violation of TCPA) isn’t the best example, but tons of class actions involve false marketing (that hurts consumers/lies to them about what a product does), or overcharging (by pennies per consumer, but it adds up to millions or tens of millions of dollars of illegal profits by a company). Companies need to be held in check from abusing their power, and class actions have the power to achieve that in some cases.

Fourth, this is YOUR money. A court (or, in this case, the litigants in a trial that are settling), have decided you’re entitled to some small amount. Why wouldn’t you take YOUR money? I assume you accept all tax credits and deductions the government gives you, even if you think a given tax credit or deduction is silly….why wouldn’t you accept this?

In fact, I’d encourage you to go a site like Top Class Actions (topclassactions.com) and look for other cases where you might be eligible for money/can put in a claim. That’s YOUR money (assuming you meet eligibility requirements), and you SHOULD claim it. (Plus, it’s a nice bonus for your Challenge Everything Account).

Finally, if you don’t claim it, it either goes back to the company, or to the lawyers. I think it’s better that you (technically a wronged party, even if you don’t feel that way) get the money, rather than the lawyers getting an additional windfall (above what they’ve already been paid) or the company keeping the money (they broke the law, after all).

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16 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Damn… so much involve in this and fascinating to learn about! Thanks for taking the time to type it all out and shed more light… You guys are doing good at trying to move me over to the other side, haha… I can totally see each having merit!

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17 Chris @ MindfulExplorer March 9, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Dang, I don’t know with that one J …. when you look at it from a law standpoint Chadnudj made one heck of a compelling argument. Based on his comments I say Yes but feel as torn on it as you do.

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18 Jover March 9, 2016 at 7:55 am

I’ve been involved in about a dozen of these over the years, and have yet to receive a payment. If it really is 5 seconds to fill it out, even 50 cents is an hourly rate of $360/hr. Not bad.

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19 paul March 9, 2016 at 8:01 am

I am with you Jay. I am actually sick to my back teeth with lawyers. The only true winner is the lawyer. As for ethics, I just wish more people would actually be honest rather than pretend to feel outraged and have their hand out for “free money”. All this does is perpetuate into a more entitled society with blame being pointed quite often unnecessarily in other directions, than taking responsibility for your own actions. I do however get that there are nuisance calls, but not everyone was actually offended. I know you werent.

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20 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Yeah, people get so upset over EVERYTHING these days? I mean with this one I do get if your cell phone is off limits and companies are blowing it up without your permission, but there are tons of REALLY random/stupid cases going on all the time that just makes me so sad for the route our world’s going down… And social media isn’t helping with it either.

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21 David March 9, 2016 at 8:01 am

Take the money! The defendant in this case has already spent $1.2 million to settle their case. If I was a multi billionaire I would still fill out the form and take the money. Like was said earlier, it’s your money if you dont claim it your throwing it away and that’s just stupid.

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22 Hannah March 9, 2016 at 8:12 am

Oh man, this post makes me want to read a John Grisham novel. I probably wouldn’t take the money because I would lose the form, but if you still know where it is, I say go for it.

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23 Money Beagle March 9, 2016 at 8:13 am

I wouldn’t. One time I got a notice about my lawn mower and how there was some silly thing about the horsepower being slightly lower than had been advertised. I’d had it for three years already and it was just fine, so I threw the card away.

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24 Steeb March 9, 2016 at 8:16 am

Quick – think of a person or charity that could use a little free money. Did one come to mind right away ? Take your portion of the settlement and hand it over to them once received.

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25 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:26 pm

This is the main reason I’d change my mind w/ everything :) Still have a few hours to go, but my trigger finger is starting to get a little happy haha…

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26 Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies March 9, 2016 at 8:33 am

I don’t know what to tell you to do – but mortgage is definitely a death pledge. That made me smile :) I suppose you’re entitled to the money. Think of it as a gift? I guess I would be curious what would happen if you didn’t take it. Does it go to other people? The company? I also wonder if it would actually show up. True story: my mom ordered me and my friends concert tickets when we were in high school (we paid…but no credit cards). And quite some time later, she got about $5 from a Ticketmaster suit.

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27 Jason March 9, 2016 at 8:33 am

Take the money!
#1-It’s free money
#2-It’s already going out to others anyway, how much each gets just depends on how many file the claim
#3-As the lawyer stated above-the less that goes to consumers, the more the lawyers get. Very true they are the ones who really make the money off those lawsuits anyway-think of it as you are taking money ouf their pocket-not the companies.
#4-It’s free money you are entitled to, per the court case.
If all else fails..see #1

Peace, love, and money..
-J

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28 Alex March 9, 2016 at 8:36 am

I always struggle with these. Yes, I guess technically I was ‘wronged’ but at the same time dont think I suffered any ‘damages.’

The money will be paid out regardless, and i would rather it go to people who were ‘damaged’ but at the same time I think others just say “cool, free money” and sign up.

I received a few hundred $$ when my credit card was incorrectly calculating their commission on foreign transactions. It added up and I was out the money so felt it was appropriate to file a claim.

I received another one because “Puffins” cereal mislead their customers with health claims on their packaging, not having enough “whole grains” as they claim, or whatever. I enjoy puffins, I dont really care about their whole grain content. I know they’re ‘healthier’ than Fruit Loops but lets not pretend its a kale smoothie either. I opted not to file a claim.

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29 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Hahahahaha…. Puffins! I could actually go for those right about now!

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30 Samantha March 9, 2016 at 8:43 am

Fill out the form and then decide later, if you ever do get a check (it will probably be for .32 anyway). Then if you do get a check of any size, and feel kind of guilty about it, donate it to your favorite charity.

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31 Abigail @ipickuppennies March 9, 2016 at 8:52 am

The settlements are usually $20 when all is said and done. If they broke the law, however little it affected you, might as well sign up. But if they said “might” then they might go over the records to verify that you didn’t give permission. If it turns out you did, you wouldn’t get anything. So it’s okay either way.

Then again, I’m sleep deprived right now so maybe you shouldn’t take my advice…

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32 Jason March 9, 2016 at 8:53 am

You should take the money J… whether you fill out the form or not, there is still $12mm going out the door. You’ve cleared your guilt by writing this post, but it’s free money that you are 100% entitled to… go for it!!

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33 Mike @ TipYourself.com March 9, 2016 at 8:54 am

Way to be! I’ve gotten similar class action notices in the mail, and honestly I’ve never really considered the ethics of them. Now thinking about it, I completely agree with your gut and think it’s absolutely money you should walk away from. And.. Feel damn good about it!

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34 Abigail @ipickuppennies March 9, 2016 at 8:55 am

Oh, and if it’s a substantial amount and you’re not sure you’re comfortable with it, you could donate it to charity!

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35 Lindy March 9, 2016 at 8:58 am

Fill out the form, take the money, help support what the TCPA is doing. Maybe eventually they’ll be able to go after the jerks who call me up on an almost daily basis to tell me there is nothing wrong with my credit card but if I don’t call them back Right Now I’m going to be liable or sued or something. I hate those people with a passion and so far there is nothing that can be done other than file a complaint which ends up gathering dust. In this case, you will at least benefit from the work TCPA is doing on (y)our behalf as the consumers. Might as well have someone benefit from their (lack of) ability to cut down on crack calls.

Although I too have trouble thinking that a business with which I DO have a relationship should not be allowed to call me on the only phone number I have.

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36 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Sorry your phone is getting blown up like that :( Annoying as $hit.

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37 SavvyFinancialLatina March 9, 2016 at 9:03 am

It doesn’t matter whether you feel like taking this money. The company did violate a specific law. It might not have bothered you, but imagined if it had been a law that had actually caused you harm? You would feel different.

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38 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:29 pm

If it bothered me I’d def. fill it out. That’s the part that really makes the difference for me. And not only did I not get bothered by it, but I actually LOVED getting the call! So I’d feel so hypocritical taking it, ya know?

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39 Kim @ Needing The Dough March 9, 2016 at 9:08 am

I would go for it! If it’s just a simple form and not too much effort on your part, there isn’t much of a down side. This settlement is happening whether you participate or not. Despite the fact that you don’t feel wronged, the actions of the company are in question, not your feelings about it. The lawsuit they’re settling has to do with whether or not they had the right to make such phone calls at all, and not the results of them.

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40 Joe March 9, 2016 at 9:21 am

Just do what you think is right. You probably won’t get much anyway. Last year I got about $7,000 from the high tech antitrust settlement. That was worth it and I’m glad those companies lost.

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41 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Nice!!! I don’t think I could say no to $7,000 :)

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42 DIY$ March 9, 2016 at 9:26 am

Take the money! But don’t get your hopes up. The more people that sign up for it, the less each person will receive. Also, the attorney is going to take his cut (~1/3) plus their expenses before you see a dime. My guess is you’ll get $20-50 max.

I’ve seen a bunch of these in the past for people suing mutual funds or shareholder lawsuits and the biggest check I’ve ever seen was around $150 and that was for someone who had hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in the mutual fund during the affected period. Most of the checks were around $20. Great deal for the attorneys though, they get the full ~1/3 of the $12.1M plus straight up reimbursement for all their expenses.

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43 Lisa O March 9, 2016 at 9:33 am

I would say fill it out and see where it goes. If they have already committed to the money being paid out then you are just collecting $ based on their records. It isn’t that you went looking for it, or you complained to get something…..it came looking for you!

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44 Harmony March 9, 2016 at 10:17 am

I recently received my check for the Redbull class action (I spent a ton of money on energy drinks in my pre-frugal years). My share of the $13 Million? A life changing $4.25. The total gets split up between the claimants and the lawyers. Claim your share. It probably won’t be a big amount, but you might as well. The company is paying the same settlement amount whether or not you are included among the claimants.

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45 rachel March 9, 2016 at 10:18 am

I had one of these class action lawsuits with my car and ended up getting just 35.00. I’m sure you can go to the online site and see how many people are expected to file and see what it comes out to, to see if it’s worth five questions of your time.

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46 rachel March 9, 2016 at 10:27 am

Also for a simple call that they weren’t supposed to do, I would expect it to be a small amount (under 50), as the lawyers take most of it, and they’ve already calculated the number of people that will “most likely” claim and how much should be paid to the lawyers. It’s not some random amount of 12 million. That company has already calculated how much they’d have to reasonably walk away from the suit, so it’s probably only going to be a small amount for a simple phone call.

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47 Pengepugeren March 9, 2016 at 10:24 am

I wouldn’t do it. Personal integrety is more important than any amount of money.

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48 Gwen March 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

I’d take the money. Filling out the form wouldn’t take a horrendous amount of time, and if you’re uncomfortable with the money received you can always donate it to charity.

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49 Fervent Finance March 9, 2016 at 10:27 am

For the most part I feel class action lawsuits are BS and just ways for lawyers to drum up some nice paydays (some are legit). I just got four Red Bull in the mail for free since someone sued them because it didn’t give them wings… :)

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50 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Hahahahhaaha….

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51 Raz March 9, 2016 at 10:29 am

Take the money. Regardless if you sign up or not it’s getting paid out. Whatever money you do get, donate to charity. This way you don’t feel guilty about taking it, the money goes to a good cause and you get a tax break. Win win win!!

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52 Stephanie M March 9, 2016 at 10:38 am

I got this notice too, Nationstar is my current mortgage holder. And I can say I have had a very different experience than the one phone call you got. I was getting phone calls at least once a week sometimes more, plus emails, plus mailers. Rates have gone done a little since we bought our house, but since we’re thinking of moving within the next few years, we really aren’t interested in going through the hassle of refinancing. While you’re probably right, they may be allowed to call for stuff like this, I did ask them to stop several times. I spoke with several managers and faxed in letters and it didn’t stop even when they assured me it would. Also if I didn’t pick up, they wouldn’t leave messages they would just keep calling every few hours until I answered. I finally blocked several of the numbers they called from, I figured if there was a problem with my account they’d probably call me from a different one. It finally stopped but the letters and emails haven’t, at least I can just throw those away and delete them without too much thought.
So, yes I definitely filled that out and mailed it back the next day! I don’t care if all I get is $1, it’s the $12.1 million that they have to pay that will hopefully get them to stop harassing their own customers.

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53 Joanna March 9, 2016 at 12:17 pm

I had the same experience as you, Stephanie! The emails, mailings and calls (I also had to block several numbers) have felt like harassment!

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54 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:35 pm

ACK!!! That makes way more sense to sue!!! Sorry you all are having to deal with this! :(

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55 Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life March 9, 2016 at 10:40 am

I would just fill out the form an go for it! It’s free money and even though it doesn’t feel like you were wronged, in a way you still were based on the settlement. It probably will not be that much after everyone’s cut, but at least you won’t feel as bad!

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56 Maggie @ Northern Expenditure March 9, 2016 at 11:01 am

My opinion? Fill it out. The class action will be for the same amount of money whether you’re part of the pot or not. I’ve gotten $12 from Airborne and $23 from a diamond settlement. So, either way, you’re probably not in for a whole bunch of dough… and I agree that this country is quick to sue and that’s annoying. But you not filling out the form will only impact your own return. The suing still happened, the class action will happen regardless of whether you are a filer… you just change whether or not you are one of the people on the list to split the pot.

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57 BeachMama March 9, 2016 at 11:29 am

I received one of these notices recently, but I can’t remember who it was from – I thought it was pretty silly. I don’t have a landline and haven’t had one for many years. Whenever a company I do business with asks for my number I give them my cell as my “home” number. So in my case, they have no other way to contact me.
And more than likely, I didn’t answer even if they did call me because I only answer my phone if the call is from a stored contact. Everyone else can leave a message if they really need to speak to me. So I just shredded the letter and gave it to my worms for composting :)

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58 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Composting worms! I need some of those – my attempts of composting is starting to backfire over here, hahah… my bin is completely full but nothing is composting! I think cuz of the winter and not enough heat? Or worms?

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59 Joe March 9, 2016 at 12:14 pm

If it were me, unless I felt slighted by them, I wouldn’t take it. I think the fact that you’re questioning it to begin with should tell you something.

The only ones benefiting from this are the lawyers. Just a way to fleece their linings. 1.3MM of them running around this country. There’s a reason we’re over-saturated, it’s big business.

I think I have tossed these into the same category as spam emails. Someone is benefiting, and it won’t be me. All of this IMO of course.

Joe-

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60 Crystal March 9, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Okay, so I am also ruled by my heart AND I would take the money AND then use it in some way that BENEFITS Nationstar. You already said nice things about them here, so if it’s less than $300, add a link to them. If it’s less than $500, write another blog post about this whole thing that asks for people to support Nationstar when they can since they were good to you. If it’s more than $500, you could open an account with them for a year or more so they could use your money for their own investments and whatnot before you close out your account. Banks like just holding onto money, lol. And they much rather have part of their settlement cash go to someone who wants to support them than everyone else who won’t.

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61 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Hey!! That’s pretty clever actually! Haha… I don’t think I like them *that* much though if they’re pissing other people off, haha… But I do like the way you think here :)

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62 Mrs. CTC March 9, 2016 at 1:49 pm

O damn those principles! They always seem to get in the way.

The only reason I can think of to take part in the class action is that the action itself has a better chance of succeeding. That would help the people who do feel damaged by receiving said calls (I hope they would use their compensation for therapy by the way, if they really suffer that much from a phone call).

That said, if your conscience says no, don’t do it.

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63 Nicky March 9, 2016 at 2:06 pm

I understand what you’re saying, but they did break the law. Those protections are in place for a reason. Back in the early 2000s, at least in Missouri, the solicitous phone calls got so bad that 1/3 to 1/2 of the calls you got every day were companies. Several would call from muliple numbers throughout the day so they couldn’t be blocked. It was out of control and at the point of harrassing. They only stopped when these laws were passed and consumers started reporting companies for ignoring them.
You don’t have to take the money, but even if the call didn’t bother you, those rules they’re breaking (and likely know they are breaking) are for a reason.

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64 J. Money March 9, 2016 at 4:39 pm

I agree with that. Shouldn’t break the rules no matter of our feelings towards it :)

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65 ReseAnne Sims March 9, 2016 at 5:44 pm

Helloooooooo J Money… you wouldn’t leave $$$ laying on the ground if you found it. You’d pick that up fast as you could and you would log it in your Challenge Everything spreadsheet under Found Money. You log PENNIES found… so regardless of the amount, fill out the form. I do like the charity suggestion if you’re really feeling its an ethical dilemma… that money is going to go somewhere, might as well be you and used for something good.

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66 J. Money March 12, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Hah – true dat ;)

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67 Avia March 9, 2016 at 6:18 pm

You should take the money, as you are entitled to it legally – there is no alternative morality about it. It’s business, plain, simple and uncorrupt.

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68 J. Money March 12, 2016 at 2:59 pm

It’s only a moral thing to me since I don’t personally feel it’s owed to me.

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69 serenity March 9, 2016 at 7:30 pm

wait, i have a mortgage with them… i didn’t get a notice.. i want some free money.

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70 J. Money March 12, 2016 at 3:00 pm

I just found out you can submit a claim online too – maybe give it a shot and see if you can be included or not?

https://automatedphonecallsettlement.com/Home/SubmitClaim

More info on it all is at that site too.

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71 Thias @It Pays Dividends March 9, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Here’s the thing…if they are required to pay out the money for that activity and they did it to you, I see no problem with taking it! I understand the feeling of not deserving it but if that is why they are being told to pay it out. Free money is free money :)

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72 Andrew @ moneyship.net March 9, 2016 at 8:01 pm

I gotta weigh in on this one from a pretty basic level. You state your quandary as an ethical one, and it is admirable that you wish to do the right thing.

The thing to remember is, that this mortgage company, along with EVERY OTHER corporation out there has ONE goal – make more money.

Even though you got warm fuzzy feelings because they were calling you, out of the kindness of their heart, because they found out how they could save you money, that was a calculated decision based on market analysis combined with the one thing they care about (make more money). They wanted to keep you as a customer (to MMM) and they succeeded. The market showed rates plummeting and a high incidence of people refinancing to lower rates – they wanted to keep you on their team (and MMM).

Bottom line – sign the paper, take the money. That’s what they would do itf the tables were turned.

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73 J. Money March 12, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Yup, totally agree they were only in it for the money regardless of how it helps me out personally or not. But still doesn’t change the fact I don’t feel like I’m owed anything, even though technically I may be.

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74 Gary @ Super Saving Tips March 9, 2016 at 10:20 pm

If it were me, I’d accept the money. But let’s examine what happens if you don’t. The company still pays out the same amount. The remaining claimants get a negligible micro-fraction of a penny more in their settlements. Pretty much nothing changes. So you’re not helping the company you appreciate by not taking the money. So my suggestion is that if your conscience is going to bother you about it, it’s not worth taking, but otherwise, go for it.

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75 Jennifer March 10, 2016 at 12:32 am

I got a free pizza one time and $12 from another one once. Do it!

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76 Sonja J March 10, 2016 at 10:50 am

I feel you on this one. Is our society over litigous? Sure. But this case has already be settled.

I’d say take the money and put it towards your kids’s college fund or donate it, if you don’t feel right keeping it for yourself.

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77 Broke Millennial March 10, 2016 at 11:12 am

Sounds like you were still what the court would consider a victim, so I agree with filing out the form. Like someone mentioned above, just donate the money if you feel icky about it after cashing the check!

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78 Julia M March 10, 2016 at 11:48 am

I eat Nutella on my banana EVERY day. I received notice that they were involved in class action lawsuit. Apparently, they falsely advertised that Nutella was part of a balanced breakfast.

I have never once thought that chocolate was nuturious. It just gets me to eat my banana.

Do I think Nutella wronged me? No
Did I take my $7 and buy more Nutella? Yes.

The question is not whether or not I think Nutella was wrong. That was decided by judge/jury/lawyers. The question was did I purchase Nutella. Yes, I did.

Nothing wrong with taking the money if you used the product.

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79 J. Money March 12, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Haha… I’ve never tried Nutella on a banana before! Sounds delicious!

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80 Brad B. March 10, 2016 at 11:53 am

I worked for Chase for a short time and received one of these letters due to a lawsuit being settled. I couldn’t imagine my portion would have been more than just a few dollars and my life wasn’t effected by lawsuit’s subject so I felt there was no need to look for a reward.

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81 kcmama March 10, 2016 at 4:56 pm

I have been a part of several class action lawsuits over the years. My thoughts were the same as yours. I was never really harmed by any of the claims of the lawsuit so I shredded the forms and went on with my life. I have registered my home phone and all 5 members of my families cell phones with the “Do Not Call List”. Yet, I still get calls. If I see “unavailable” or a number with an out of area area code and no name, then I do not even answer the call. If I were a part of a lawsuit today for a company that has called me either at home or on my cell, I would most definitely participate. There is nothing I hate more than getting phone calls from politicians or companies that I have not given permission to contact me so I would feel “wronged/harassed”. I do not give out my cell phone number to businesses. In fact, the only reason I have a land line is to use that number when I am required to give out a phone number! I have the ringer turned off on my home phone and my volume on my answering machine turned off as well. I check my machine periodically and most of the time it is just hang ups. You have to do what you feel deep down is the right thing to do. I enjoy your blog.

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82 J. Money March 12, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Thanks for reading and participating! Makes my job so much more fun when we get juicy discussions going :)

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83 sn March 11, 2016 at 10:03 am

Hi Jay,

Thanks for the article. I am with Mr. Lawyer. What your decision will be boils down to the type of person you are: are your actions driven by facts or emotions? In your article above, the facts are laid out as to why you should file the claim, yet your heart is tugging to go the other way. This is where your emotions come in. Try to separate the two and see what you are more of and do what’s comfortable for you. At the end of the day, either way you choose, you still win :). Claim file = “free” $ or no claim file = comfortable with your decision.

So what’s it going to be?

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84 J. Money March 12, 2016 at 3:06 pm

True indeed, my friend. And as a man who almost always goes with his heart, I have decided to send the little guy into the shredder and now we go on w/ our merry lives :)

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85 The Creepiest of Pasta March 12, 2016 at 4:03 am

Hell yeah, banks have screwed the public since the rothschild’s took over. Take all you can.

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86 Dawn March 15, 2016 at 1:58 am

Refusing free money? What are you doing?

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87 Lisa April 2, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Walk away if the action of the bank benefited you. It is unethical to take money just because lawyers want to make money by filing a lawsuit. There have been cases where people were nasty enough to sue doctors who volunteered assistance in random emergencies. Dreadfully unethical. Some monies are not worth having.

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88 Tj July 14, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Just received a class action form against PHRG LLC. It states based on their telemarketing practice those accepting inclusion in this claim may receive (up to) a whopping $50 of the $5,200,000 settlement. From this the counsel is asking the court for in excess of $2,500,000 in expenses. This is the reason I do not participate in these suits. I’d like to think the fewer of us that agree to this the fewer the frivolous lawsuits there will be.

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be consequences for PHRG’s breaking laws but for the lawyers to bank as they do is unethical. In a perfect world PHRG would be held accountable (sued) for their indiscretion and the lawyers would receive a commensurable remuneration. Payment to the class action members should be nothing more than satisfaction that enough of these reasonable lawsuits would reduce, if not eliminate, unwarranted telemarketing practices.

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