'This check is real'
With scams running rampant in society today, it is no surprise Oregonians threw away checks last year that came from a class action lawsuit against gas giant BP.
But the nonprofit organization Oregon Consumer Justice, along with Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and the Oregon Department of Justice, wants the public to know that more checks are coming, and they are real.
Over the next few weeks, more than one million Oregonians, who used a debit card to buy gas at Oregon ARCO and ampm gas stations between Jan. 1, 2011 and Aug. 30, 2013, will receive a check in the mail in the amount of $94.42, according to a press release from OCJ and ODOJ.
"We always encourage Oregonians to be on the lookout for scams and to know the signs that something could be a scam," Rosenblum said. "But, in this case, the checks are real, and we want Oregonians to know they are safe to cash this check at the bank. If you used a debit card at an Oregon ARCO and ampm gas station during this time-period, you qualify for this class action settlement.
"This is your money, and we hope that all Oregonians will help us spread the word," she added.
Last year, Oregonians received similar checks, and per OCJ, 27% were not cashed before the expiration date.
OCJ, which came about because of this case, wants to stop this from happening again. To assure recipients that the settlement checks are valid, they have launched a public awareness campaign and website at ThisCheckisReal.org and in Spanish at EsteChequeEsReal.org.
The money comes as the result of a settlement from a class action lawsuit known as Scharfstein v. BP West Coast Products LLC, per the release. The suit was brought against ARCO's owner, BP West Coast Products, on behalf of people who used a debit card to buy gas at Oregon ARCO and ampm gas stations between Jan. 1, 2011, and Aug. 30, 2013.
In 2014, the jury and the court concluded that class members in this case were unfairly and illegally charged a 35 cent debit card fee in violation of Oregon regulations and the Oregon Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The jury verdict resulted in an award of damages of $409 million.
"We felt it is important that Oregonians who have been impacted as a result of this case know that they have a check coming to them, understand that it is their money to keep and also have access to cashing the check even if they don't have a bank account," said Henry Kantor, OCJ board chair. "Especially in this time of community need, $94.42 can go a long way."
Settlement recipients in the Portland area without a bank account can still get their money, thanks to Beneficial State Bank. A list of their locations can be found at ThisCheckisReal.org and EsteChequeEsReal.org. Individuals will need to present the check and a valid government-issued photo ID card, and the name on the check must match the ID. Face masks will be required at all participating bank locations.
While the forthcoming checks are not a scam, OCJ understands that many Oregonians do fall victim to various scams. Oregon residents who have information about or have fallen victim to a scam should contact the Oregon Attorney General's Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 or online at OregonConsumer.gov.
Last year, the Attorney General's Consumer Hotline received 36,000 phone calls, resulting in more than 6,500 written consumer complaints from Oregonians, the release said, and ODJ may be able to help.
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