Class Action Settlements and Beneficiary Tracing

When speaking of class action settlements and beneficiary tracing, it’s important to note the difference between class action lawsuits and traditional lawsuits. A class action lawsuit is inherently different than a traditional lawsuit in that there are many plaintiffs who are suing a business or institution rather than an individual. The plaintiffs are considered a “class” of people. There can be hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people in a class. In this article, we will explore the importance of beneficiary tracing when it comes to class action settlements. Let’s dive in!

An example of a well-known class action lawsuit would be the Enron scandal of 2001. Nearly $7.3 billion in settlements with over 1.5 million individuals. That’s a lot of money and a lot of people! Of course, a court case that big is going to take some time to settle. The class action that resulted from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (Deepwater Horizon) took more than 5 years to settle. A lot can happen in 5 years… People move, people die, new people are born, and some people marry or change their names (this is all “vital data” from our previous articles – check it out!).

So how do they get paid out for their settlement if we can’t even find them?

Enter skip tracing! Think of it like reverse debt collection. Rather than tracking a person down for the purposes of collecting on a debt owed, we’re trying to find someone to give a settlement payout to.

Typically, the law firm that takes on the case for the plaintiffs will keep track of all the class members. In addition to the information needed to determine whether they belong to the class (was the person a consumer of the product, did they live in the affected area, etc.) they will also collect some basic contact information: Name, address, phone number, email, and in some cases DOB or last four digits of their SSN. When it becomes evident that these people are not easily contacted for one of the many reasons we listed above, the law firm may choose to use a skip tracing tool or service. has been servicing this market for years. Our clients can bring us an excel formatted document with the plaintiffs most recent contact information and we’ll do the rest. We can give you current contact info like their new name, new address, or additional phone numbers. We’re even able to run the individuals through a deceased search which can tell you their next of kin.

If you or your law firm are looking for help tracking down beneficiaries of a class action settlement, contact our sales team today. We’re experts!

The authors of the information presented on this page are not attorneys nor are they affiliated with attorneys. The information presented on this page does not constitute legal advice. Before acting on any of the information obtained from this page or any others on this website, please consult your own legal counsel.
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