If you've ever been curious about the many "credit monitoring" services advertised just about everywhere, you now have an opportunity to test one of those services for free as part of a class action settlement. TransUnion, one of the three dominant credit repositories, was accused of selling consumers' personal data to marketers in violation of federal law. Sixteen different class-action suits from around the country were consolidated into a single case against TransUnion in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Under the terms of the settlement reached in the consolidated action, you are eligible for benefits if you opened a credit account (credit cards, student loans, auto loans or mortgages, for example) between Jan. 1, 1987, and May 28, 2008. About 160 million consumers qualify for benefits under the settlement, which includes:
- Nine months of free credit-file monitoring if you agree not to sue TransUnion seeking damages. In addition to monitoring—the bureau alerts you by e-mail within 24 hours of any significant change in your credit data—you can also lock your file so lenders, insurance companies and others cannot access your report without permission. In addition, you can receive "unlimited daily access" to your credit report and TransUnion credit score, plus other credit analysis tools. TransUnion estimates the retail value of this at $115.50.
- Six months of free credit monitoring, credit-lock privileges and unlimited access to your credit report and score. This option, valued at $59.75, allows you to receive a possible cash payment out of the $75 million fund if any money is left over after paying lawyers' fees (I repeat, if any money is left over - it will be interesting to see if anything is left over), notification costs and named plaintiffs.
- Even if you choose to sue the company, you can still receive six months of free credit monitoring.
There really isn't a good reason to pass on this settlement benefit.
UPDATE: Call it "postus-interruptus," but I left out the last, crucial piece of information, where to submit a claim. To submit a claim, visit the web site www.listclassaction.com, or call, toll-free, (866) 416-3470.