The claims process for the largest-ever private anti-trust settlement in US history has officially begun. The case concerns claims that retailers allegedly paid excessive payment processing fees to accept Visa and Mastercard cards.
The US District Court, Eastern Court of New York has preliminarily approved a settlement with a minimal total payout of $5.54 billion – although this could ultimately rise to $6.24 billion, depending on the class members that have excluded themselves. Millions of US businesses are eligible for a share of the settlement money.
Recent settlements involving LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram have created a buzz online with users scrambling to submit claims, but the payout agreement in these cases pale in comparison to the multi-billion dollar settlement negotiated by the court.
- What Is the Visa and Mastercard Settlement Lawsuit?
- Who Is Eligible to Make a Claim in the Lawsuit?
- How to Submit a Claim for a Share of the Settlement
- How to Get an Early Payout for The Lawsuit
- Watch out for Visa and Mastercard Settlement Scams
What is the Visa and Mastercard Settlement Lawsuit?
Visa and Mastercard have settled a lawsuit that claimed the payment processing giants charged businesses using their systems excessive amounts to take payments from customers and clients between 2004 and 2019.
According to the class action settlement notice, the two companies violated the laws by setting interchange fees – typically around 1% to 2% of transactions – and limiting merchants’ ability to steer customers toward other payment methods, which shielded the company from “competitive pressure” to lower fees.
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It also said that Visa and Mastercard “conspired together” to uphold the business practices being challenged by the lawsuit in question.
The case has been moving through the US court system at a snail’s pace – it’s been almost two decades since it was first filed – but the claims process finally began on December 1.
Speaking to Supermarket News, Brian Blockovich of the Chicago Clearing Corporation says that a store that took around $1 million in interchange fees over the 15 years specified in the lawsuit would be eligible for around $10,000.
Reports suggest that between 12 and 18 million businesses across the United States that accepted Visa and Mastercard payments between January 1, 2004, and January 25, 2019, are eligible to claim a share of the lawsuit.
This includes grocers, convenience and liquor store owners, restaurants and diners, movie theatres, and fashion retailers – in other words, anyone and everyone who used these payment processors during the specified period.
How to Submit a Claim for the Visa/Mastercard Lawsuit
According to paymentcardsettlement.com, “claim forms began mailing on December 1, 2023, and will continue being sent for most of December”.
However, due to the high number of claim forms being mailed to businesses across the United States, many of those impacted won’t receive their claim forms until January 2024.
If you have received your claim form, then you can submit a claim on the website linked above by using the Claimant ID that will be included in the letter, and simply follow the instructions provided by the site.
So the instruction for businesses is: keep a close eye on your mail over the next two months, and as soon as you receive your letter, you can start the process. The filing process will close on May 31, 2024.
How to Get an Early Payout for The Visa/Mastercard Lawsuit
With the claims submission process set to go on for months – many companies won’t even receive their letters until late January 2024 – it’s understandable if you’d like to expedite that process and get a payout quicker.
Luckily, there are legal corporations that specialize in purchasing claims, such as Mitena and Certificate Clearing, which is part of the Chicago Clearing Corporation.
These companies will estimate your recognized loss, arrange your claim, and in some cases, “monetize your pending claim for immediate cash” Certificate Clearing explains on its website.
Along with the early payout, this will also take a lot of the claim admin off your hands. It might even improve your claim, too – The Chicago Clearing Corporation says it will “audit, review, and amend a claim” before purchase.
Watch Out for Mastercard/Visa Settlement Scams
The lawsuit referenced in this article is legitimate, and the claims portal linked in this article is the genuine claim portal for that lawsuit.
However, this is one of the biggest lawsuits to ever occur in US legal history, so it’s no surprise that fraudulent websites are trying to take advantage of the millions of people who will be looking to make a claim.
Reuters reported in mid-November 2023 that US Magistrate Judge Joseph Marutollo issued an order to probe a website presenting “false and misleading” information relating to the Visa and Mastercard lawsuit.
The news agency says that the fraudulent website looked similar to a legitimate, court-authorized page set up in 2019, when the case was first granted final approval. So, when applying for this settlement – either yourself or through third-parties – keep your wits about you, and never enter personal information into sites you haven't confirmed are genuine.