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UPDATE ON THE VISA/MASTERCARD SETTLEMENT

There has been a lot of information circulating regarding the Visa and Mastercard class action lawsuit. As promised, MSP Consulting is following up with some facts about the case and action you may or may not want to take. The important thing to note is despite solicitations, articles and reports, there is currently no immediate action required at this time.

Here’s what you need to know:

The US District Court, Eastern District of New York has issued an official notice regarding the Visa and MasterCard class action lawsuit titled In re Payment Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, MDL 1720.  The lawsuit claims merchants paid excessive fees to accept Visa and Mastercard cards because Visa and Mastercard, individually, and together with their respective member banks, violated antitrust laws.

The Court has preliminarily approved a proposed settlement between $5.54 and $6.24 billion.  The settlement class includes all businesses and other entities that accepted any Visa or MasterCard branded cards between January 1, 2004 and January 25th, 2019.  If you received a notice in the mail from Payment Card Interchange Fee Settlement, the Defendants’ records show you are in the settlement class.  The notice explains the details of the settlement and outlines your rights and options in the case.  While no action is required at this time, the notice includes some important details worth mentioning. 

  • The Fairness Hearing is currently scheduled at 10:00 AM on November 7, 2019.  At the hearing, the Court will consider any objections and listen to class members who have asked to speak at the hearing.  The Court will then determine whether the settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable.  It is unknown how long the Court will take to make its decision. 
  • Merchants have until July 23rd, 2019 to either exclude themselves from the settlement or file an objection to any part of the settlement agreement.  By excluding your business, you retain your right to be a part of another lawsuit based on similar claims but you will not get a payment from this settlement, (if approved).  If you wish to object to a part of the settlement, you may write to the court or ask to speak at the court Fairness Hearing. 
  • If you do not exclude your business from the settlement by July 23rd, your business will be bound by the terms of the Class Settlement Agreement, (if approved).  The agreement stipulates that any merchant in the settlement class forfeits their right to pursue future monetary compensation or injunctive relief against Visa, Mastercard, or other defendants based on claims that were alleged or raised in the litigation or substantially similar claims up to five years following the court’s approval of the settlement and resolution of all appeals.  
  • If the settlement is officially approved, any merchants who have not opted out will be eligible to file a claim at that point.  The claim form will be mailed or emailed to you automatically.  It will also available on the website www.paymentcardsettlement.com.  If you did not receive the notice in the mail, you may visit this website to pre-register to receive a claim form when they are sent out. 
  • Beware of solicitations: Some companies may offer to help you file your claim form in exchange for a portion of your recovery from the settlement.  These companies are seeking a large percentage of any fee settlement you may receive. MSP recommends not using one of these firms.   
  • The amount paid from the settlement to each claimant will be based on their actual or estimated interchange fees attributable to Visa and Mastercard between January 1, 2004 and January 25, 2019.  The Class Administrator expects to have the necessary data to estimate these fees and will provide class members the ability to access the claims website in order to view the manner in which their claim value was calculated.  Class members will have the opportunity to challenge the data used to calculate their settlement figure if they disagree with the data. 

If you are not sure if you are a part of the settlement class, you can contact the Class Administrator at 1-800-625-6440.  You can also visit www.paymentcardsettlement.com for a complete overview of all details regarding this case. 

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