For almost well over a decade, Georg Finder has been sought out by attorneys and others looking to build a case and quantify damages done to personal credit worthiness. You could say he is something of a pioneer in the area.
"The thing I looked for is whether a third party caused the damage," says Finder. "If your credit rating is damaged because of something you do, then that doesn't count.
"You have to identify who caused the problem. Was it your bank, or was it a crook or your insurance company," says Finder. "There has to be an identifiable third party that did the damage."
The courts didn't always see it that way and attorneys didn't always seek to include credit damage in personal injury suits. If they did, they didn't always supply the courts with the information necessary to quantify the damage to a credit rating.
But because of Georg Finder, a smart-thinking California consultant and credit report expert, that's all changing. Many attorneys are now including, where applicable, damages for harm to an individual's ability to get credit or the increased cost of that credit because of what was done.
"Less than one percent of credit damage claims included in a complaint are recognized," says Finder. "They are thrown out because they do not come with backup."
On the other hand, cases where Finder provides expert testimony have about a 97 percent success rate.
Finder was doing seminars on credit reports for the real estate industry and lawyers when an attorney first asked him in 1995 to quantify the damages to the credit rating of a woman who had been duped in a real estate deal. "When she went to buy another house, she found out that the first one was in foreclosure and had not really been sold," says Finder. "Even thought she had done nothing wrong, the bank wanted to penalize her because of the information on her credit rating."
When the situation was resolved, the bank would only offer her $4,500 for damages to her credit reputation. The bank ended up paying the woman almost 10 times that amount because of Finder's testimony.
Four years ago, Home Depot had illegally and incorrectly interfered with a man's credit report. Because of the actions of Home Depot, the bank wanted to dramatically increase his borrowing costs. Finder quantified the damage to the man's credit reputation at $930,000. In the end, Home Depot was ordered to pay the individual well over a million dollars.
Credit ratings count big time! And damage to a credit report is compensable—although Finder says lawyers still need to recognize that putting forward detailed evidence at trial time will result in larger settlements and verdicts.
Georg Finder has expertise in analyzing, measuring and identifying compensable credit damage for individuals and attorneys. He has been testifying at trials in the US for the last 15 years. He hosts seminars and has written several books. The most recent is Credit Damage, Evaluation & Compensation.