Yes, we know that you are busy. But taking part in a class action lawsuit is akin to voting: it is one of the most important ways to protect consumers (AKA you and me) from corporate misdeeds.

Instead of one person taking on a billion dollar business in court, class actions allow an efficient process for hundreds of individuals to have their collective voice heard. It’s the best way individuals can battle powerful companies and their powerful attorneys in a fair fight.

Unfortunately, corporate fraud sometimes goes undetected because it involves only a relatively small amount of money to any one individual. For example, if you were swindled out of $1 by a fraudulent fee, you likely wouldn’t file a lawsuit on your own. But if 5 million other people were also swindled out of the dollar it’s a way to hit the company in the pocketbook. The goal shouldn’t be to get the dollar back; it should be to make the company pay the $5 million they owe consumers to correct deceptive practices.

A class action lawsuit begins when an attorney files a case on behalf of his or her client against a company for committing alleged fraudulent acts. At first the case only involves a handful of plaintiffs, but gradually hundreds or even millions more who were harmed come forward to join the class action. When large numbers join the suit, it encourages wrongdoers to change bad behavior because it affects the company’s bottom line.

It’s important to know that class actions are not filed to get a windfall for the plaintiff. It’s about forcing a company to give up illegally earned profits or get the executives to change fraudulent practices.

Taking part in a class action is easy as filling out a form, or responding to an email. In this way it’s much like voting. One vote probably doesn’t make a difference, but if hundreds of people get together, there is an ability to effect change. An apathetic public is less likely to make a company change its behavior than one that is outraged by fraud. For a company facing a class action, silence is golden. Consumers can break the silence by joining a class action.

To learn more about class actions, visit the Baron and Budd website.