If a Caller Says Dish Network Owes You $1,200, It May Actually Be Legit
If joining the National Do Not Call Registry did nothing to stop the calls from eager Dish Network sales reps, you could be getting a check in the mail — assuming you don’t dismiss your notice or phone call as a scam.
That’s the trouble West Virginia attorney John Barrett is running into as he tries to tell the 18,066 people he represented in a class-action lawsuit that they are owed a portion of the $61 million judgment against Dish Network.
Barrett said just over 30% of those people have responded after a series of mailed letters and postcards, emails and phone calls. And getting them to submit claim forms means convincing them that yes, they really could be entitled to $1,200 per phone call from Dish Network; and no, this isn’t a scam.
The telemarketing calls happened between May 11, 2010 and August 1, 2011. To qualify for this class action, those who received the calls had to be on the do-not-call list at the time.
If you’re among the 70% of people who ignored a mail or phone notice, there’s still time to submit your claim and get your money.
If you can dig up your claim ID and PIN code that was included in the mail or email notice, you can use that information to log in and file. If you don’t have a claim ID number or you’re not sure if you qualify for this class action, use the phone number search tool to see if you’re included.
Claims are due by June 18.
It could take some time before members of the class see any cash. Attorneys for Dish Network have until May 6 to appeal. That could kick off another yearlong court battle.
“What we are trying to do is establish the connect between ourselves and the class members,” Barrett said. “We want to establish that connection so that when the time comes six to 12 months from now, we can connect with them easily and get them paid.”
How Can You Tell if It’s a Real Class Action or a Scam?
Barrett’s trouble getting class members to believe this is a legitimate class-action lawsuit highlights the importance of knowing how to tell a real from a fake.
We’re Penny Hoarders, of course. We don’t want to fall for scams but we definitely don’t want to miss a payout either. Barrett gave us some ideas to help sniff out a scam.
1. Make Sure There’s a Claims Website
Just about every class-action lawsuit will have a website where all the information about the case will be stored. We should warn you that these websites are usually bare bones and can look like they’re straight out of 1995. Don’t be alarmed. Pay attention to content, not just appearance.
On the website you should find information about why the case was filed, important court documents, frequently asked questions, dates for when claims are due and information about the law firm handling the case.
2. Look Up the Lawyer
If you get a phone call from a lawyer who says they are working on a class-action case you may be part of, double-check their credentials. Get the lawyer’s name and bar number, and find out which state they practice in. Each state has a bar association you can use to look up attorneys to be sure they are in good standing and can practice law.
Once you look up the attorney, send them an email to the address on the bar website and make sure it’s the same person who reached out to you about a class action.
3. Don’t Forget to Google It
Google is your friend. Look up the case to see if you find any news stories about it. Class-action lawsuits against large companies usually get at least an article or two on reputable news sites.
4. Finally, Search for the Case in the Court System
The system you can use to search for most class-action cases is called PACER. It’s a website managed by the federal government and allows you to search for cases across the country.
We’re going to warn you, though: PACER isn’t exactly the most intuitive or easy-to-use site, and court system pages can vary from state to state. You will also have to create an account and pay a fee of 10 cents per page for each search you make and document you view. But if you can navigate it, PACER will confirm without a doubt that the case exists and that the court documents on the class-action website are legitimate.
Take some or all of these steps, and you should be able to avoid scammers and get your cash.
Desiree Stennett (@desi_stennett) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She once got a call saying she won a new truck in a holiday sweepstakes and refused it because she didn’t remember signing up for a sweepstakes and it seemed too good to be true. She’s still not sure if that was legit or a scam.