Here’s Why Google Owes You Money From a Class-Action Lawsuit

A google sign is shown outside their headquarters in San Francisco.
A Google sign is shown at the company's office in San Francisco, on April 12, 2023. Google recently settled a class-action lawsuit that alleges they “improperly shared your search queries with third-party websites and companies.” If you googled anything from 2006 and 2013 then you qualify. The current estimated payout is about $7.70 per person. Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

If you Googled anything between 2006 and 2013, then Google owes you money for violating your privacy.

Those are the terms of a class-action lawsuit that Google has settled for $23 million.

How much money does Google owe you? Well, it depends on how many people come forward to claim their share of the settlement. The current estimated payout is about $7.70 per person.

Of course, that number could go up or down before it’s all over. If fewer people than expected file claims, the payout amount will go up. But if more people than expected file claims, the payout amount will go down because more people are sharing the settlement money.

Hey, no matter what, it’s free money. The deadline to file a claim is July 31.

How to File a Claim in the Google Settlement

Here’s the important part. It’s pretty easy to file a claim, but it takes more than just one step to do it. You’ll have to go through a few steps. It’s not hard, though.

  1. Go to this website.
  2. Click on the button that says “Registration Form.” Fill out that form with your name, address, phone number and email address.
  3. After you submit that form, a “Class Member” ID number will be sent to your email address. It’s important to keep in mind that you might not get an immediate response. (Or you might get an immediate response — we did.) Just keep an eye on your inbox.
  4. Go back to the settlement website and click on the button that says “Submit Claim.” Type in your ID number and hit “Login.” Type in your address again, choose a payment method, and you’re all done.
  5. Wait for your free Google money.

When Will You Get Your Money?

When can you expect to get your payout from Google? That depends.

The final approval hearing for the class-action settlement is scheduled for Oct. 12, but further appeals are possible. You’ll get your share of the settlement after the court gives it final approval.

Who Qualifies for Payouts From Google?

If you Googled anything between Oct. 25, 2006, and Sept. 30, 2013, and clicked on a search result, then you have a valid claim.

The vast majority of people on the internet use Google as their primary search engine. Sure, some people use Bing or maybe Yahoo or the Chinese search engine Baidu. But most everyone has Googled something at one point or another. It’s kind of unavoidable.

Realistically, if you were on the internet anytime between late 2006 and 2013, the odds are really good that you qualify for a payment.

What Is This Class-Action Lawsuit About?

So why did Google get sued? It’s all a little technical.

Basically, the class-action lawsuit alleges that Google Search “improperly shared your search queries with third-party websites and companies” during the time period in question. This has to do with how Google allegedly included your search query in the link that’s created whenever you click on a website in a Google search. This involves something called a “referrer header.” Like we said, it’s all pretty technical.

Even though Google settled the case, it still denies any wrongdoing or liability. As part of the lawsuit settlement, Google is updating its FAQ page.

None of this changes the fact that Google owes you money. All you have to do is claim it.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.