How to Remove Inquiries from Your Credit Report
November 29, 2023 | 6 min read
November 29, 2023 | 6 min read
When you spot inquiries on your credit report, it’s a record of institutions checking your credit history. While inquiries are a standard part of credit processes, excessive ones can affect your score. Here’s everything you need to know about managing and potentially removing these inquiries.
A credit inquiry is a record of when a company or person requests a copy of your credit report. There are three major credit bureaus in the US—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—and each one adds inquiries to your report whenever they’re asked to create and share your credit report. The bureaus separate inquiries into two categories, hard and soft inquiries. Sometimes, called hard and soft credit pulls.
A hard inquiry occurs when lenders check your credit for lending purposes, like when you apply for a credit card, mortgage, or loan. Hard inquiries can temporarily reduce your credit score by a few points and stay on your report for 2 years. Often, creditors only request one of your credit reports, so it’s common for a hard inquiry to appear on only one credit report.
A soft inquiry is a record of someone checking your credit for a non-lending reason. Soft inquiries can happen when:
While you can wind up with many soft inquiries on your credit reports, soft inquiries never impact your credit scores and won’t appear on credit reports that most creditors receive.
|Impacts your credit scores
|You apply for credit
|Your credit is checked for a non-lending reason
|Requires your permission
|Stays on your credit report for
|Impacts credit scores for
|Up to 12 months for FICO scores and 24 months for VantageScore scores
|Doesn’t impact your scores
When a hard inquiry hurts your credit, the exact impact will depend on your overall credit profile. Often, a single new hard inquiry may only drop your scores by around 3 to 10 points. Generally, scores rise back up to the pre-inquiry level within a few months if there’s no new negative information added to your credit report.
Multiple hard inquiries can lead to larger score drops, as someone who’s applying for many new credit accounts might be at a greater risk of missing a payment in the future. However, credit scoring models also recognize that shopping and submitting multiple applications isn’t always risky behavior.
FICO and VantageScore (the two main credit scoring companies in the US), take slightly different approaches to rate shopping:
Knowing these rules, you can rate shop for a new loan without having to worry that it will have a major impact on your credit scores.
For example, an auto dealership may help you apply for auto loans from multiple lenders at once and then you’ll accept the best offer. While you could see a flurry of new hard inquiries on your credit reports, they won’t impact your scores more than one new auto loan hard inquiry.
You might find an inquiry on your credit report that you believe shouldn’t be there. Perhaps because it was the result of someone stealing your identity and applying for credit or a creditor checking your credit without a permissible purpose. Here are steps you can take to remove credit inquires:
You can send your dispute directly to a credit bureau and the bureau will usually have 30 days to investigate your dispute. The credit bureau will reach out to the creditor that initiated the credit check and attempt to verify that the creditor had the right to check your credit.
The credit bureau should send you a response with the result of its investigation. It may find that the inquiry was accurate and leave your credit report the same. Or, it may find an error and either correct or delete the inquiry.
Because each credit bureau maintains its own databases, you’ll have to send separate disputes to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can do this by mail, phone, or online.
You can also contact the creditor that initiated the credit check rather than (or in addition to) filing a dispute with the credit bureau.
If you don’t remember authorizing a credit check, ask the creditor to verify that they had the right to request your credit report. A creditor should be able to produce a copy or recording of the application where you agreed to give it access to your credit. If not, you can request the creditor to tell the credit bureaus to remove the unauthorized hard inquiry.
You shouldn’t dispute a hard inquiry when you gave the creditor permission to check your credit as that’s a legitimate record of what happened. Also, if the inquiry led to you opening an account and you say you didn’t authorize the inquiry, the creditor may close your account assuming it was the result of fraud.
Sometimes, understanding which credit inquiries are legitimate can be difficult because the creditor’s name on your credit report might be different than the consumer-facing name that companies use on their websites or products.
Professional credit restoration specialists regularly review credit reports and can quickly spot when something may be amiss. After speaking with you about your specific situation, they can explain what should and shouldn’t be in your credit report and may be able to help you remove erroneous negative marks that could be hurting your credit scores—including things that have a larger impact than hard inquiries.
Since hard inquiries are the result of new applications for credit, you can control how many new hard inquiries get added to your credit reports by limiting how many applications you submit.
However, unauthorized hard inquiries can happen when a creditor checks your credit without your permission or someone uses your information to fraudulently apply for credit. One step you can take to prevent this is to freeze your credit reports.
Once frozen, you’ll need to unfreeze your credit before the credit bureau will release your report to a new creditor. It’s a free process that can help prevent unauthorized credit inquiries and protect you from fraud. Here are additional steps you can take to protect your credit from future inquiries:
While individual inquiries might have a minor impact, a flurry of them can signal credit desperation to potential lenders. By actively managing and understanding the nature of these inquiries, you can maintain a healthier credit report and ensure a smoother financial journey. Remember, your credit is a reflection of your financial responsibility, and every detail counts.
Ashley is currently the Chief Compliance Officer for Credit Saint, previously the Chief Operating Officer. Ashley got into the Financial world by working as a Logistics Coordinator at Ernst & Young. Coming from a previous career in education, she is eager to teach the world everything she knows and learn everything that she doesn’t! Ashley is a FICO® certified professional, a Board Certified Credit Consultant, a Certified Credit Score Consultant with the Credit Consultants Association of America, UDAAP certified, and holds a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Compliance Certificate.