Hard credit inquiries -- also known as hard pulls -- can impact your credit negatively. Below, we break down everything you need to know about credit inquiries, including how you can remove them from your credit report and work to improve your credit.
What Causes An Inquiry?
When you apply for a credit account like a credit card, auto loan, or personal loan, you have probably generated a credit inquiry -- a record of a bank, lender, or creditor requesting your credit file before extending credit.
The main reason creditors and lenders check your credit history is to determine your financial risk and whether or not you can pay a loan back on-time and in full.
For example, if you have multiple inquiries on your credit report, this could signal to lenders that you are facing financial difficulties and are in need of credit -- especially if you are already carrying a large credit balance.
There are other occasions in which you can end up with a credit inquiry, including:
- When a landlord or property manager check your credit for approving your apartment lease or deciding on whether or not to give you a deposit (and how much it will be)
- When a cell phone carrier decides whether or not they will approve you for a contract
- When a potential employer checks your credit to check your reliability before extending a job offer
If you are a cosigner on another person's loan or application, your own credit can be at risk since you are essentially promising to pay off a loan if the borrower defaults. The information and credit account will show up on your credit report, so be sure to only cosign for a financially responsible and trusted family member or friend.
While there is not an exact number of inquiries that are considered too many, it's best to keep your credit applications at a minimum or shop around in a short period of time since multiple inquiries in a two-week time frame count as a single one.
Types Of Inquiries
Hard inquiry: A hard inquiry (also called a hard pull) occurs when someone other than you looks up your credit history from one of the three major bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). You must give permission for a hard inquiry by applying for an account or authorizing the inquiry. The purpose of this inquiry is generally to allow the lender or creditor to determine if you will be a reliable borrower and repay your loan in full. Creditors and lenders that authorize hard inquiries include:
- Auto financing companies
- Business and personal lenders
- Credit card companies
- Mortgage companies
- Student loan companies
They will generally look into your credit history, such as:
- How much credit you have
- The types of credit (credit cards, auto loans, mortgages)
- The number of accounts you have recently opened
- Recent credit inquiries
- The time since past credit inquiries
This inquiry may take up to two years to fall off your credit report, but a single inquiry will probably not damage your credit enough to affect your credit eligibility.
Soft inquiry: A soft credit pull is usually done for a marketing or promotional purpose -- not only for loans and credit approvals -- and allows the creditor to have a limited view of your credit report. Instances in which a creditor may authorize a soft pull include:
- Matching borrowers with a potential lender through a lending platform
- Credit card companies verifying pre-approval for a loan or line of credit increase
- Credit card companies sending promotional materials for consumers who meet a certain credit requirement
- Potential employers checking your background during the hiring process
- A landlord or property manager checking your credit history for an apartment rental
- Banks, credit unions, and financial institutions verifying your identity
- Car rental companies checking your history before rental
- Phone, internet, and utility companies checking your background as a new customer
Soft inquiries are recorded on your credit report, but they are not seen in a negative light and do not impact your credit score; and unlike a hard inquiry, a soft inquiry does not require your permission.
When To Dispute An Inquiry
Hard inquiries generally remain on your credit report for up to 24 months before they fall off, although the impact lessens over time. However, if you find any unauthorized hard inquiries on your credit reports (which you can acquire once a year for free at AnnualCreditReport.com), you can file a dispute with the credit bureaus and request that they remove the inquiry.
You can dispute a hard inquiry under the following circumstances:
- You didn’t approve the inquiry. (Including inquiries that were a result of fraudulent activity.)
- You weren't aware of the inquiry.
- You were pressured or coerced into allowing the inquiry.
- The number of inquiries was greater than what you expected.
How To File A Dispute
In order to file a dispute, you need to contact the credit bureau(s) and contest it by stating the reason. (For more information, read our Comprehensive Guide To Credit Repair.)
In the dispute letter, include the name of the entity that made the inquiry and the date the inquiry was made. Be sure to include a copy of your credit report and mark the item you are disputing. The credit bureaus are required to conduct an investigation and remove any incorrect inquiries from your credit report.
Alternatively, you can save time and money by enlisting a credit repair service to do the work on your behalf.
Is it important to remove unauthorized inquiries?
FICO® generally breaks down your score with the following criteria:
Payment history: 35% Amounts owed: 30% Length of credit history: 15% New credit (which includes inquiries, or requests for new credit): 10% Credit mix: 10%
As you can see, removing a hard inquiry is not the biggest factor in improving your credit but it can boost your score by a few points and gives potential lenders an accurate reflection of your credit report.
Prevent Unauthorized Credit Inquiries
One way in which you can prevent any unauthorized inquiries and fraudulent activity is to request a credit freeze.
A credit freeze (or a security freeze) puts a lock on your credit report and makes it impossible for creditors and lenders to view your credit profile. This can also protect you from fraud and identity theft.
(Note: During a credit freeze, you won't be able to apply for loans and open new credit. In this case, you can lift the credit freeze temporarily or permanently with each of the three major bureaus.)
You may also want to look into credit monitoring to prevent identity theft and receive updated versions of your credit report and credit score.
The Bottom Line
While hard inquiries don't have a significant impact on your credit score, removing an unauthorized one can open up new possibilities for opening credit.
Not sure where to start? Look to our reputable credit repair services here.
Can I remove hard inquiries from my credit report?
Yes, but the inquiries must not have been authorized by you.
How long will it take for inquiries to be removed from my credit report?
A hard credit inquiry generally stays on your credit report for 2 years but it will only have a negative impact on your credit score in the first year.
How much does a credit inquiry impact my credit score?
New credit accounts and credit inquiries make up 10% of your FICO® score, which usually will affect it a few points.
Why do hard inquiries hurt your credit?
Hard inquiries may signal to lenders that you are looking for additional credit and therefore are a higher credit risk.
Credit Repair Company Reviews
Recently Updated Articles