Ask Andy: TransUnion settlement e-mail

By Andy Wise - bio | email

MEMPHIS (WMC TV) - Call it a case of cyber-Jekyll & Hyde.

Twice in the last 24 hours, viewers have sent me a copy of an e-mail they presumably received from TransUnion (

It's about a class action lawsuit against the credit bureau. Portions of it look like this:

Dear Class Member: 

As part of the terms of your Class Action Settlement with TransUnion, you've received a nine month enhanced subscription to TransUnion Credit Monitoring, fulfilled by TrueCredit.  Register now and start enjoying the benefits of credit monitoring right away!  You'll get: 

  • The ability to lock your credit report so third parties, such as lenders or other companies, will not be able to access your credit report without your consent (unless allowed by law);
  • Unlimited daily access to your Trans Union credit report and credit score;
  • Credit monitoring with email notification of critical changes to your credit report;
  • A suite of insurance scores; and
  • A mortgage simulator service.

Now here's where this e-mail becomes an issue.

The class action suit is real. Plaintiffs did indeed sue TransUnion a few years ago for privacy violations. In settling the case, the bureau agreed to contact qualifying consumers and ask them to register in order to collect either the cash benefit or the free trial offer of the monitoring service. According to Steve Katz, TransUnion's corporate communications director, the settlement administrator's web site is still active:

But the registration deadline was September 2008.  It's over.  No more applicants.

Puzzled viewers who've told me they have never registered -- nor were they ever solicited to register -- are forwarding me their copies of the e-mail.

"What we have found is some consumers (getting these e-mails) have forgotten that they had registered for relief in the class action lawsuit, and that's why they may be receiving them," said Katz. "But if they did not register by September 2008, they shouldn't be receiving any e-mails (regarding the settlement)."

That means if you truly did not register -- and you got one of these e-mails recently -- then someone's using the legitimate TransUnion lawsuit settlement to "phish" for your personal information.

So this e-mail really is a Jekyll & Hyde.  If you have documented proof that you registered for the settlement before the deadline, then the e-mail is likely a legitimate notification of what's coming to you.  But I advise you ignore the e-mail, delete it and instead go to the web site above for more information.

If you have never registered for the TransUnion settlement, destroy the e-mail.

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