Last week I wrote about a totally unexpected $100 check I had received from American Express. Based on the comments left by our readers in that article, it became evident that I was far from the only one to have received such an unexpected check. More importantly, it became apparent that the check and letter received could be part of a scam, which prompted me to investigate the matter further even though I had already deposited my check.
I first called Amex. There was no record in any of my Amex accounts of such a letter. Furthermore, they were adamant that they would never send an un-requested check like that over the mail, that the letter was fake and that, therefore, the check must also be fake. At this point I really started to get nervous.
I then called my bank and got a completely different story from them. It turns out that the check was real. Furthermore, the fraud department agent I was talking to told me that he had himself received a similar $100 check from Amex and that, coincidentally, he had deposited it that day. The wording from his letter was different from mine, but he did point out to something at the bottom of his letter that also appeared at the bottom of my letter that I had not noticed before.
In seems like a company called RUST Consulting, Inc., who describe themselves as a “recognized leader in class action settlement administration with decades of experience handling some of the largest and most complex cases in history” was the actual entity behind my letter and check. That explains why Amex might have been completely unaware of the letter.
I think I was also able to figure out why no specific Amex account was identified in my letter. It turns out that my mother also received a letter and $100 check from Amex. Her letter specified the account that prompted the check. I had at one point been an authorized user of that account. Somehow, that must have added my name to the list of people receiving $100 checks from Amex in connection to a potential class action suit.
There is no question that there are scams out there that follow a similar pattern, but at least in my case it turns out that both the letter and check were legitimate. Hopefully, the same is true for you.