Over the next few weeks, more than 1 million Oregonians who used a debit card to buy gas at Oregon ARCO and am/pm gas stations between January 1, 2011, and August 30, 2013, will receive a check in the mail for $94.42. The nonprofit organization Oregon Consumer Justice (OCJ), in partnership with Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum of the Oregon Department of Justice (ODOJ), wants the public to know that the checks are not a scam; they are a settlement from a class action lawsuit against BP.
According to OCJ, 27% of the checks from the first round of settlement checks distributed last year were not cashed before their expiration and the organization wants to ensure that doesn’t occur this time around. To assure recipients that the settlement checks are valid, they have launched a public awareness campaign and website: www.ThisCheckIsReal.org and in Spanish at www.EsteChequeEsReal.org.
“We always encourage Oregonians to be on the look out for scams and to know the signs that something could be a scam. But, in this case, the checks are real, and we want Oregonians to know they are safe to cash this check at the bank,” said Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum. “If you used a debit card at an Oregon ARCO and am/pm 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.”
The mass mailing of settlement checks is the result of a class action lawsuit known as Scharfstein v. BP West Coast Products LLC. 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 am/pm gas stations between January 1, 2011, and August 30, 2013. In 2014, the jury and the court concluded that class members in this case were unfairly and illegally charged a $0.35 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.
Henry Kantor, OCJ board chair, said, “Oregon Consumer Justice was launched as a result of this case to advance consumer rights in Oregon through advocacy, research, education and engagement. 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. 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.