How to Remove Hard Inquiries From Your Credit Report

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What is a hard inquiry?

On your credit report, at the end of the report, you will notice a section called “Credit Inquiries.” This section lists your credit inquiries, which are made by companies assessing your creditworthiness for a loan or credit card based on your credit history.

A hard inquiry occurs when you apply for new credit, such as a mortgage, car loan, or credit card. Hard inquiries can also be triggered by requests for new insurance policies, jobs, or cell phones.

Whenever this happens, a hard inquiry is listed on your credit reports, along with the date it was requested.

How long do hard inquiries stay on your credit report?

Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years. When a hard inquiry is made, it’s typically recorded by the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. And each time a hard inquiry is logged, it can potentially impact your credit score.

What is a soft inquiry?

Soft inquiries, on the other hand, occur when a creditor checks your credit without your permission. It could be a lender you’ve gotten a pre-approval quote from but haven’t actually applied with.

A soft credit pull can give you an idea of what your rate will be without actually conducting a hard inquiry.

Sometimes a soft inquiry might even be pulled by an existing creditor just checking on your current credit situation. Soft inquiries can also come from credit card issuers who want to offer you credit cards.

How long do credit inquiries affect your credit score?

Each hard credit inquiry on your credit report can hurt your credit score by up to 5 points each. Soft inquiries don’t impact your credit at all. Having too many hard inquiries on your credit report at once can indicate to a creditor that you are desperate for money and may be in trouble financially.

Lenders may also assume that you’ve recently opened multiple new credit accounts. They could deny you credit because new lines of credit often take time to show up on your credit report.

Five points may not seem like much. However, if you’ve applied for many loans or credit cards recently, it adds up fast.

Inquiries Affect Your Credit Score Less Over Time

While the impact on your credit scores diminishes over time, lenders will still be able to see the full list of hard inquiries on your credit report for two years.

Remember that credit approval or denial, or a lower or higher interest rate, is usually determined by preset credit score ranges. If your credit score is on the cusp between “poor” and “fair,” 5-10 points can make all the difference in getting better loan terms.

One or two hard inquiries may be all that stands between you and better interest rates or access to a loan at all. The impact of hard inquiries on people’s credit scores may not be significant for some, but they can leave a lasting impression on others.

How important is it to remove inquiries from your credit report?

Inquiries are relatively minor items to remove from your credit reports compared to other negative items like missed payments and delinquent debts.

They have a relatively low effect on your credit scores and cause less damage over time. Hard inquiries only affect your credit score for twelve months and drop off entirely after two years. So, they are by no means the worst thing you can have on your credit report.

Many negative items stay on your credit report for anywhere between seven and ten years. As you work on increasing your credit scores, removing hard inquiries should be your last priority if your credit history is full of derogatory marks.

It often helps to consult a professional credit repair company. They can help you analyze your credit reports and prioritize issues that need to be resolved. They understand your legal rights when it comes to dealing with creditors. Plus, they can tell you how likely you are to get certain items removed.

Does checking your credit hurt your credit score?

If you check your credit, whether you check your credit report or your credit score, it’s considered a soft inquiry. It does not hurt your credit score.

Combining Multiple Hard Inquiries

It’s important not to apply for too many types of credit at one time.

However, the credit scoring models understand that people make multiple hard inquiries to compare terms and rates. If you make multiple inquiries in a short period of time while shopping around for one type of credit, like a mortgage, they only count as one hard inquiry.

Lenders have become increasingly lenient in this regard because they know that today’s consumers are more likely to perform their due diligence before making a major financial decision. This is true for credit cards or an auto loan as well. They do not impact your credit scores as long as they occur within a 30-45 day period.

Carefully Plan Your Hard Inquiries

Don’t start applying for credit until you’re serious about it, then you can stick to this time frame.

If you are shopping around, you’ll see separate hard inquiries stack up on your credit reports when they are spread out over time. It always helps to have a financial goal with a deadline so you can plan your inquiries in advance.

If you’re not applying for too many types of credit at the same time, you probably won’t have to worry about disputing inquiries. You can just leave them alone.

However, if you have several inquiries, you may want to consider disputing them because they can add up. And if your credit score is borderline between two scoring categories, then every few points can make a difference.

How to Remove Hard Inquiries From Your Credit Report

Because you often don’t control who checks your credit, your first step is to request a copy of your credit reports to review all the items listing in the Credit Inquiries section.

Check each hard inquiry on your credit report carefully. If you didn’t authorize it, you can dispute it with the credit bureaus.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can dispute any questionable items on your credit reports. By law, the credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate your dispute. If the hard inquiry can’t be verified, the credit bureau must remove it. There are two ways to remove inquiries.

Do-It-Yourself Inquiry Removal

There are two ways to remove inquiries. The first way to remove a hard inquiry from your credit report is to tackle the dispute process on your own. Get the address of each creditor whom you did not authorize to perform a hard inquiry.

Send them a certified letter in the mail (make sure you keep a copy for your records) stating that the hard inquiry was unauthorized and should be removed immediately.

You can also dispute a hard inquiry with the three major credit bureaus. You will need to file a separate dispute for each credit bureau reporting it. Here’s a complete list of instructions on our Credit Inquiry Removal Letter page.

Hire a Professional

If you have other negative marks on your credit reports that need to be dealt with, you may consider hiring a credit repair company.

You probably don’t need to hire a credit repair company if you’re just working on removing a few hard inquiries. However, if there are other issues, or you have many hard inquiries, a professional can help expedite the process. This will reduce your time spent dealing with your creditors on the phone and through letters.

Preventing Unauthorized Hard Inquiries

To prevent future unauthorized hard inquiries, consider placing a freeze on your credit report. This option prevents any lenders or creditors from accessing your credit information.

A credit freeze can also help you prevent identity theft. No one can open a new credit account using your financial information because they won’t be approved without a credit check. However, it also helps prevent unwanted inquiries if you find this to be an ongoing headache.

Placing a freeze on your credit report and having it removed incur separate fees in most states. So, don’t do this if you intend to apply for a new credit card or loan in the near future. However, if you don’t intend to apply for credit, it can be a convenient option to keep your credit safe.

List of Hard Credit Inquiries Found on Credit Reports