Disputing hard inquiries from your credit report is a lengthy process requiring your full cooperation with the credit bureaus and the lenders that furnished the information or made the inquiry. Removing hard inquiries is a complex task that demands a thorough analysis of your credit report, determination, and a lot of patience. Generally, valid hard queries cannot be lawfully removed from your credit report unless fraud is suspected, such as identity theft. If hard inquiries on your credit report are justifiable, they will disappear naturally after two years.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the three nationwide credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax – are required to present any performed hard inquiries, or “hard pulls,” on your credit report. Consumers are entitled to review their credit file for free once every twelve months, enabling them to monitor any changes and dispute all inaccuracies.
Here’s everything you need to know about hard queries, how they impact your credit score and creditworthiness, and the possible ways of disputing them on your credit report.
What is a hard inquiry?
A hard inquiry occurs when lenders check one or more credit reports on your behalf upon loan application. Creditors need to determine whether you are the right candidate before extending you a loan. To find out whether you meet their criteria, they pull and inspect your credit report. The act itself lands on your credit file for future potential lenders to see when and what was attempted. The more hard pulls on your credit report, the more risk you carry as a potential borrower as it may indicate your financial instability.
Hard inquiries prevail on your credit reports for two years, and after that time, they should vanish naturally.
Hard inquiries versus soft inquiries
Hard inquiries enter your credit report whenever you apply for a credit card, loan, and other financing options. A soft inquiry, on the other hand, occurs when you pull your own credit score for your own record. A lender can also perform a soft credit check in order to determine whether you qualify for a loan, which often happens during the pre-approval process.
Unlike hard inquiries, soft pulls do not affect your credit score in any way. Although some soft inquiries do show up on your credit report, they are not taken into account when considering your candidacy for a loan. They also play no part in calculating your credit score.
How does a hard inquiry impact your credit score?
It is important to understand that not all hard inquiries are created equal, and some may not even affect your credit score. Prospective lenders pay more attention to the number of hard inquiries on your file than to a specific single pull of your record. Before attempting a larger purchase, you may shop around for better terms and conditions of the loan. In that case, whether it’s a car loan or a mortgage, you may see many various queries on your credit report. If you apply for the loans within the period of 14 days, the credit scoring model will combine the inquiries as one on your credit file.
A credit pull by a potential lender, whether you get approved or not, may affect your credit score by 5 points, meaning you may see a drop in your credit score. You may experience a more substantial impact if your credit is poor, while consumers with better credit scores may not be affected by a single hard inquiry. Even though hard inquiries find their rightful place in your credit report and stay there for two years, the drop in your credit score is temporary and usually bounces back within the next few months.
How to Remove Hard Inquiries?
For hard inquiries to be removed before they expire on your credit report, the entries have to be inaccurate or based on fraudulent activity. The best way to avoid the damages of identity theft or credit reporting errors is to monitor your credit report periodically. You are entitled to free credit reports from all three credit bureaus annually. Reviewing it section by section can help you gain insight into your financial behavior and catch any inaccuracies, including faulty hard inquiries.
Review Your Credit Report
Your credit report is your financial resume. It contains all activities of the past seven years, the entire most recent credit history. Stephen R. Bucci, the author of “Credit Management Kit for Dummies,” compares your credit report to your dating profile, which ultimately determines what kind of date you deserve. The same applies to your credit profile and the type of loan you qualify for.
Understanding Your Credit Report
Understanding your credit report is essential before you attempt reading it like a pro. Every single section of your credit file can contain potential mix-ups and errors that ultimately damage your credit and lower your credit score.
Your credit report begins with personal identifiable information that needs to be carefully reviewed, including your date of birth, social security number, complete name, and address. Errors in the birth dates, name, or multiple social security numbers are some of the most common inaccuracies found in a credit report.
Another part of your credit report relates to your payment history, account balances, credit limits, and all activity associated with a given account. The main aspects to check for include any closed accounts that remain open, inaccurate balances and credit limits, unauthorized users or owners of the account in question, or current accounts labeled as late or delinquent.
Look for Unauthorized or Incorrect Hard Inquiries
The same rule applies to reviewing the inquiries section, where mistakes also happen. Check if all listed inquiries are, in fact, authorized by you to ensure no attempt of fraudulent activity was made. Even though the Federal law requires the inquiry to stay on your credit report for two years, expired, hard pulls may still remain on your file. Those can be easily disputed.
If the information is accurate and you did inquire about a given credit or loan, those hard queries cannot be disputed and will remain on your credit report for two years as a faithful representation of your credit history.
Not all questionable inquiries are false.
Although the names of some companies on the list may seem unknown or suspicious, it is not an indicator that fraud or error took place. If the list is long, again, it does not prove that a mistake has been made.
If you used the services of a loan broker, who was looking for the best rates and loan conditions, he was most likely submitting applications on your behalf to various creditors. This could result in numerous inquiries authorized by you, even if you ended up with a single loan.
What to do when you suspect fraud?
If you think that because hard inquiries do not significantly affect your credit score, you should leave suspicious entries as they are, think again. Any unauthorized activity on your credit report most likely indicates identity theft or other types of abuse of your personal information. If you presume fraud, act quickly and contact all credit bureaus with your concerns.
Even if someone did not receive a loan in your name, they might be luckier next time. Besides reaching out to credit reporting agencies, additional steps should be taken to prevent further issues:
- A fraud alert on your credit reports will minimize the risk of granting a loan to an unauthorized user in the future. You, and everyone else using your social security number, will be questioned to establish your true identity.
- Federal Trade Commission should be notified about identity theft.
- Do not skip filing a police report.
- In extreme cases, it might be wise to do a credit freeze or credit lock.
Every piece of information on your credit report should be screened for possible fraud, and that includes your personal information and inquiries. Despite having a minimal impact on your credit score, these are vital components that need regular monitoring for possible abuse, misuse, or inaccuracies.
If a mistake has been made or an unauthorized user pulled your record, you have a right to dispute all wrong information on your credit report. Whenever a hard inquiry is made on your account, the creditors need your permission to do so; otherwise, it is subject to removal.
File a dispute with the credit bureau
Whenever you file a dispute with a corresponding credit bureau, they are responsible for thoroughly investigating your file. Working closely with your creditors, all valid disputes will have to be corrected on your credit report.
Because you receive three credit reports from different credit reporting agencies, all three files need to be checked for accuracy. You may find similar items on each credit report, but some may differ quite significantly. When filing a dispute, consider doing so with all credit bureaus. When your credit reports are combined, they generate your credit score based on the information provided within the files. Your potential lender may look at one report or consider all three when determining your creditworthiness.
While platforms such as Equifax or TransUnion provide an option for dispute directly on their website, mailing your request the traditional way might work for your advantage. The online tools are limited, and by providing an accurate dispute letter to the credit bureaus, you can contain more information about your specific case.
You can find templates of dispute letters online or use the services of a reputable and legitimate credit repair company, which will be able to handle more in a shorter amount of time. A respectable credit repair company has industry experts who will monitor all activities and ensure your data stays safe. A precise course of action is usually drawn during a free initial consultation, where you will be assigned your personal account manager.
How a hard inquiry affects your credit and score depends on many variables unique to your case. People with strong credit may barely feel the impact of hard inquiries, while someone with a low credit score and previous financial misfortunes may experience the burden of inaccurate or valid hard queries on their file.
Whether you are suffering from a poor credit score or not, regular monitoring of your credit report is always recommended to ensure everything is in its rightful place. Unauthorized inquiries not only hurt your credit but are an open road to potential fraud. Annual credit report check provides you insightful information about your credit, financial situation, and unhealthy spending habits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most commonly asked questions by our consumers about credit inquiries:
How can I get inquiries removed from my credit report fast?
While you may be tempted to jump into disputing all negative information in your credit report in bulk, it is essential to understand what hard inquiries mean for your creditworthiness and fully understand the concept of your credit report. The only way to remove credit inquiries from your credit report is by drafting a dispute letter to all three credit bureaus. Make sure that you find the queries to be unauthorized or wrongfully entered into your credit file. Otherwise, they will not be considered for dispute. Along with the letter, attach all supporting documents that you can come up with to prove your case. Credit reporting agencies have 30 days to investigate your request in collaboration with the corresponding furnisher, aka your creditor. You should be notified of any changes to your account after that time. Follow up with the credit bureaus if you do not receive any response within the next 30 days.
How do I remove hard inquiries from TransUnion?
You may follow the same route highlighted above or use the TransUnion online tools to open a dispute. In addition, Credit Karma members have access to dispute errors on your TransUnion report by utilizing the Credit Karma Direct Dispute tool.
How many points will my credit score increase when a hard inquiry is removed?
Unfortunately, the impact of removing a hard inquiry will not be… impactful. After one year of making the query, its impact on your credit score is minimal, if any at all. After removing a hard inquiry, you may see a few points boost in your credit score or none at all, which is often the case.
How do I stop hard credit inquiries?
In a perfect world, there would only be one answer: minimize your loan or credit applications. In other words, do not inquire about a loan if you are not in immediate need of one. Start from repairing your credit before you attempt any significant credit inquiries.
Unfortunately, in a digital world, you may not be the only one inquiring for credit on your behalf. Fraud does happen more often than not. To minimize the risk of your credit being abused by an unauthorized person, monitor your credit report frequently to ensure no illegal activity took place.