The methods for determining credit damages vary from expert to expert. And, there are three categories of people who do credit damage expert witness work; the Plaintiff’s only expert, the industry-only expert or someone who is neutral and is willing to represent either side, which is what I do. There is no single metric for a) determining if credit damages have occurred or b) quantifying said damages.
We all seem to determine damages different ways. I’ve seen credit experts suggest that a consumer has been damaged in an amount equal to any credit denial. I’ve seen credit experts suggest that a consumer has been damaged in an amount equal to cost of a multi-year lease. I’ve seen credit experts suggest that a consumer has been damaged a flat amount due to the persistence of a public record. And, I’ve seen credit expert suggest that a consumer has been damaged in an amount equal to the amount of credit denied plus the tax liability.
And while some credit expert witnesses try to suggest that there is a single formula for determining credit damages, that’s simply not true. The reason you can’t have a single metric for credit damages is because most experts cannot determine the exact point impact of offensive credit reporting to FICO credit scores. I have some authority on this matter as I spent 7 years at FICO, the company responsible for the industry standard FICO credit scoring system. Most experts fail to recognize that you have to have in depth knowledge of the credit scoring system before you can assign a true impact of credit reporting.
Point being, if an allegedly incorrect collection is on a consumer’s credit reports, how much is that lowering their FICO scores? What if that collection is the only negative item on the credit report? What if that collection is accompanied by other score lowering attributes such as credit card debt or excessive credit inquiries? And finally, what if that collection is one of many collections?
There’s certainly a way to segregate the impact of any one item to a consumer’s credit scores but you’d need to have first hand knowledge of scoring algorithms to do so. This is why it’s important when seeking the assistance of a credit damage expert witness that they have more than just experience reading credit reports.
Credit Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. John has served as an expert in over 100 cases, serving Plaintiff’s and defendants.