FAQs - People v. Jackson Hewitt
I just heard that the Attorney General has settled a lawsuit against Jackson Hewitt, the tax preparation service. I have been a Jackson Hewitt customer. How does this affect me?
If you are among the customers eligible for a refund, you will be notified by mail in the next couple of months. The Attorney General’s settlement requires Jackson Hewitt to provide $4 million in refunds to customers who paid for high-cost loans that the AG believes were unfairly marketed as tax-refund advances, or who had money automatically deducted from their tax refund to pay off debts they supposedly still owed on past “refund anticipation loans.”
The refunds apply to customers who between 2001 and 2004 paid for same-day “Money Now!” loans and other “Refund Anticipation Loans,” as well as similar “Accelerated Check Refund” or “Assisted Direct Deposit” products. The refunds also apply to customers who between 2002 and 2004 were subject to the automatic debt collection process. See Judgment, pdf.
In January 2007, the Attorney General reached agreement with Jackson Hewitt on remedies for alleged unfair business practices. Jackson Hewitt’s records indicate you were a customer in the years 2001-2004 and may be eligible for a refund under a consumer protection action brought by the Attorney General.
Under the Judgment, pdf, and Stipulation, pdf, Jackson Hewitt does not admit that it did anything wrong, but the company must stop the practices cited in the consumer protection lawsuit. Jackson Hewitt must also refund money to its Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) and Accelerated Check Refund (ACR) customers who were subjected to marketing and other practices that the Attorney General believes were illegal. Jackson Hewitt must also refund money to its customers who had “past debts” automatically collected from their RALs. According to Jackson Hewitt’s records, you are one of the customers who may be entitled to a refund. That is why you received the Notice from the Attorney General.
The Attorney General believes that the business practices of the Jackson Hewitt tax preparation service violated California and federal law. Jackson Hewitt denies that any of its practices violated the law.
Among other things, the company is alleged to have misled customers into believing that they were getting quicker access to their own tax refund money when in fact the customers were signing up for high-cost, short-term loans with hidden costs. The company also is alleged to have taken part in a debt-collection scheme without the knowledge of customers. See Complaint, pdf.
There are three groups of Jackson Hewitt customers who are being notified and are eligible for refunds. (A customer may qualify for more than one group.)
If you fall into any of these categories, you should receive a Notice in February or March 2007 informing you of your eligibility and of the number of Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) or Accelerated Check Refunds (ACRs) you purchased, as well as the amount of illegally collected debt (if any) that you are eligible to have returned to you.
- Refund Anticipation Loan Customers These customers will receive up to $30 per RAL obtained in the years 2001-2004. Your notice will indicate the number of refund anticipation loans you purchased. As directed in your notice, sign and return the postcard to confirm that the Settlement Administrator has your correct address. Your refund check will be mailed to you.
- Accelerated Check Refund Customers These customers will receive up to $15 per ACR or Assisted Direct Deposit (ADD) obtained in the years 2001 -2004. Your notice will indicate the number of ACRs or ADDS you purchased. As directed in your notice, sign and return the postcard to confirm that the Settlement Administrator has your correct address. Your refund check will be mailed to you.
- Debt Collection Customers These customers are entitled to a refund of the full amount received by Jackson Hewitt (as distinct from the RAL-lending bank(s)) through the automatic debt collection process. Your notice will indicate the amount of illegally collected debt for which you may obtain a refund. As directed in your notice, you will receive this refund if you sign the release-of-claims included on the response card. If you are also entitled to a refund for RALs or ACRs you purchased and you want a refund for both the debt collection and the RALs/ACRs, then you should sign the card in both places provided. If you don’t wish to sign the release regarding debt collection (because, for example, you are considering your own Fair Debt Collection lawsuit against Jackson Hewitt and/or its lender bank), and you are entitled to a refund for RALs or ACRs you purchased, then you should just sign the bottom space on your Confirmation Card that says you would like to receive a refund for RALs and ACRs.
What should I do if I have been a customer of Jackson Hewitt but didn’t receive a Notice from the Attorney General?
There are several reasons why you may not have received a notice:
- Refund Anticipation Loan or other product not within refund period If you purchased a Refund Anticipation Loan or Accelerated Check Refund before 2001 or after 2004, then you are not eligible under the Attorney General’s action for a refund of any amount you paid for these products. If you purchased a Refund Anticipation Loan in 2005, you may, however, be eligible for a refund under the terms of a private class action settlement in Brailsford v. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service; if you are covered by the Brailsford action, you should have received an additional notice in the envelope along with the notice of the resolution of the Attorney General’s action.
- Collected Debt not within refund period If you were subject to automatic debt collection from your refund anticipation loan or accelerated check refund for “past due” refund anticipation loan debt before 2002 or after 2004 then you are not eligible under the Attorney General’s action for a refund of any amount that was collected from you.
- Other reasons There may be other reasons that you did not receive a Notice, including that your address has changed recently. If you believe you are eligible for a refund but have not received a notice letter, you can contact the Settlement Administrator for further information.
On June 15, 2007, Settlement checks were mailed to individuals who properly and timely (that is, by May 17, 2007) completed and submitted a confirmation form. Please allow up to two weeks to receive your payment. If you have any questions regarding the receipt of your payment, please contact the Settlement Administrator at 1-800-804-0673 or you may email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the Attorney General’s action against Jackson Hewitt, the company also has settled a private class action titled Brailsford v. Jackson Hewitt Inc. The Attorney General’s action provides refunds to Jackson Hewitt customers who purchased RALs or ACRs or ADDs from 2001 to 2004, as well as customers who had past RAL-related debt illegally collected from their refunds. The Brailsford settlement provides refunds to customers who purchased RALs in 2005. You received two notices because you are eligible for a refund from both settlements.
For example, if you purchased a RAL in 2004 and another RAL in 2005, you would be eligible for a refund from the AG action (2004 RAL) and one from the Brailsford action (2005 RAL).
The two actions are separate, however. If you choose to “opt out” of the Brailsford settlement, you can still receive any refund that you are due under the AG action. Just complete and send in the Response Card and you will receive the amount you are due under the AG settlement.
You should contact the Settlement Administrator by calling toll-free 1-800-804-0673, by emailing email@example.com, or by writing to:
Jackson Hewitt Settlement Administrator
P.O. Box 1871
Faribault, MN 55021-7126
You may also visit the website JacksonHewittSettlement.com