Hard Inquiry Removal Guide: Can you get a Hard Credit Inquiry Removed?

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How to Get Hard Inquiries Removed from Your Credit Report (a Complete Guide for 2020)

If you thought bad credit was only about non-payments, then think again. There are a number of factors that contribute to the credit score formula.  Inquiries can negatively influence your credit score.  They can hinder you from obtaining the credit or finance rate that you otherwise deserve.  Therefore, hard inquiry removal from your credit report is worth looking into.  Especially if those inquiries meet certain criteria.  If you have inquiries eligible for removal, get ready to send a letter.  You can do it yourself, or use a credit repair agency to do it for you.  Either way, the process is the same.  Here is what this guide will show you:

  • First, understand what inquiries are. Below you will find out what inquiries are, how they are initiated and, you’ll also learn what impact they have on your credit score.
  • Next, learn how to remove improper inquiries as fast as possible. You will be one step closer to taking charge of your financial profile.
  • Additionally, what happens if you do nothing?  Learn what happens and the consequences if you do nothing and just wait until inquiries fall off your credit report.
  • Finally, credit repair services – You will be pointed to where you can go if you need help from the best credit repair services. They can help you dispute inaccurate items on your report & work towards improving your credit score.

What is a Credit Inquiry?

Have you ever applied for credit? You may not have thought of it as applying for credit – like setting up a cellular phone contract.  Nevertheless, it results in a credit inquiry just the same.  The following are some examples of activities that usually warrant a credit inquiry and impact your credit report:

  • Car – Purchasing or leasing a new car
  • House – A new or existing home mortgage
  • Apartment – Lease oe rent an apartment or condo
  • Phone – Set up a cellular phone contract
  • Credit Card – Mastercard, Visa, Store credit card etc
  • Personal loan
  • Insurance – Applying for an insurance policy
  • Job Application – Applying for a job where a credit check is required

There are some activities where you made the connection, and others where you may not have.  But, these activities all result in a credit inquiry and accumulate on your credit report. The institution requesting information on your behalf should provide you with the results.  This is mandated by law, whether the results are favorable or not.  Either way, the institution has to provide you with notice.  They will contact you to advise that they have approved your application.  Or,  they must disclose if and why they have denied you credit.  A third scenario is if you are conditionally approved credit.  The conditions might be a higher finance charge, or a larger deposit if you are looking to rent.

Shared Credit Risk

Sometimes, your creditor will require a cosigner to apply, as well. This means that you are a higher credit risk and the company wants extra insurance they will receive payment for the goods or service.  It is in your best interest to monitor your credit report regularly.  This includes monitoring your inquiries section, which is located at the bottom of the report.  Checking regularly helps insure you keep the information as accurate as possible.  It also helps you score the best possible rate when you ARE looking for credit.

Credit Inquiry – Types

A credit inquiry can come in one of two flavors, hard or soft. The difference is determined by who made the request for information and the reason behind the request.

Hard inquiries occur when you, the consumer, apply for new credit. You must give express consent for a creditor to view information in your credit report.  A hard pull will then verify your information, your credit score, and items on your credit report. This information is needed for the creditor to decide whether to extend new credit or not.  A hard pull can also occur when you apply for a work position where the salary is over $70,000.

Soft inquiries are generally done without your express consent. Insurance companies or credit card companies make these inquiries when they are pre-screening you for eligibility of offers.  They tend to occur if you already have an open line of credit with a company, but not always.

Applying for Credit – Hard Inquiries

When applying for new credit you are usually required to give your name, address, phone number and social security number. These are needed to accurately verify that the correct credit record is pulled.  The credit application requires your signature.  That officially gives the lender or a financial consultant permission to access your credit file. If you have ever purchased a new car, you are likely familiar with this procedure.  When you walk into a car dealership, they will often ask you to fill out a credit application.  This is even before they allow you to test drive.

You may be subject to multiple hard inquiries when shopping for a new car.  Not only from dealership to dealership, but as the dealership shops around for the best financing. Events like this often result in amore than one hard pull.  Credit bureaus understan this behavior.  FICO scoring models usually treat  multiple inquiries for one type of loan as a single inquiry.  They will automatically assume that you were shopping around for the best car or the bestrates. This understanding prevents your score from taking a complete nosedive.

How long do hard inquiries stay on your report? Hard inquiries impact your score for about a year.  They generally fall off your report within 2 years.

Credit Reviews – Soft Inquiries

A soft credit inquiry is a little different and does not impact your score. Soft pulls are usually initiated by you, the owner of the report. There are other entities that can also contribute to soft inquiry reporting, but they generally have an existing relationship with you.  Say, for instance, you have a credit card or store charge card.  The company may periodically review your report to check on your credit standing. They do this for various reasons. One reason is to see if you are eligible for a credit limit increase without you having to request one.

Another reason your card company may check your score is to see if you are eligible for other products. Maybe, for instance, you have a credit card with a lender but they also offer mortgage and car loans.  They may check and then advise you through emails or direct mail that you are pre-qualified for another offer.

Pre-screening for Marketing

Pre-screened offers from other companies are usually only made after a soft inquiry to your report. According to the Federal Trade Commission, creditors or insurers will ask the CRA (credit reporting agencies) for a list of people with a certain score to market to.  Some may find this a nuisance, but it can be very beneficial to others.  Exclusive, pre-qualified offers are usually available only through pre-screening.

When you have various kinds of insurance, your provider may periodically check your report.  They can then offer more product or reduce your rates at renewal. This results in a soft inquiry on your report.  Hoowever, nly you can see the soft inquiries and the date of the inquiries when you check your credit report. Soft inquiries generally fall off within a year.

How Credit Scores are Affected by Hard Inquiries

When a hard inquiry is reported, it will usually result in a  minor decrease in your credit score. This decrease will last for about a year.  This is good to know if you are in the market for a car or house and need to shop around for favorable loan terms.  You should focus on keeping your inquiries within a 30-day time frame. All inquiries during this time frame will count as one, having a minimal impact on your score.

Although a hard pull can affect your score, this effect is usually minorYou may see a 1 to 5-point reduction in your score.  The best action is for you to continue paying your bills on time and maintaining your good credit.  A few poins downward should not present a problem and will return quickly over time.  Monitoring your credit utilization and refraining from new credit applications are other tactics to minimize the effects of hard inquiries on your credit score.

How Many Hard Inquiries are Considered Bad? 

Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) was the first company to offer a credit-risk model with a score.  FICO reports that there is a correlation between hard credit pulls and bankruptcies.  Consumers with six or more hard inquiries can be up to eight times more likely to undergo bankruptcy.  This is compared to a person with no hard pulls on their credit report. The impact is greater when there are multiple hard pulls of your credit history within a short period.

As stated above, multiple inquiries within a short time usually count as a single inquiry. Single credit inquiries are classified as requests for new credit. Asking for additional credit is one of the five activities that help determine your credit score:

  1. Payment history – 35%
  2. Amounts owed – 30%
  3. Length of credit history – 15%
  4. New credit – 10%
  5. Credit mix – 10%

New credit counts for 10% of your FICO credit score. Hard pulls are treated as requests for new credit, and so belong in this category.  They do not affect your credit score nearly as much as limiting overall debt and making payments on time.

Remember, YOU can check your own credit report as often as you want without impacting your credit score. Such inquiries are soft pulls when you make the request from a credit bureau or an authorized agency.  According to FICO, the impact of hard pulls depends on the context of the inquiry.  Agencies consider how many accounts you already have by type of account, as well as the number of new accounts. When you add new credit accounts, you reduce your average age of credit.  Younger credit can have a larger effect on your score than older, established credit.

Hard Inquiry Removal – Incorrect or Not Authorized

The best advice when it comes to your credit report is to review it once or twice a year.  Check everything for accuracy and make a note of any discrepancies. This includes inquiries.  As you now know, creditors sometimes view the number of inquiries in their decision to lend.  Also, having an excessive amount of inquiries can also lower your score.

  • Verify that the information is yours. You can start by determining that you initiated all hard inquiries, either with a signed application or an online form.
  • If you find anything unusual, contact the company – If you have an inquiry from a firm you do not recognize, you should contact them for more information.  Ultimately, you can opt to have the company remove the inquiry. When in doubt, seek the help of a credit repair company.  Especially if you are unsure of what to do, or want to understand how an inquiry impacts your credit score.
  • Get advice – A credit repair company can advise you on how to deal with unwanted inquiries.  They can answer questions about other potentially negative items on your credit report. Moreover, they can also assist you in handling the issue yourself.

Hard Inquiry Removal Step 1: Review your Credit Reports

You should make it a habit to regularly review your credit reports from the three major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The credit bureaus may not know which information is incorrect unless you flag it.  To check for incorrect hard inquiries on your credit reports, look for a section with one of the following labels:

  • Credit inquiries
  • Hard inquiries
  • Requests viewed by others
  • Regular inquiries

There should also be a separate section for soft inquiries.  It should be identified as requests viewed only by you.  Unlike hard inquiries, soft inquiries won’t affect your credit scores.

Hard Inquiry Removal Step 2: Identify Anything Unauthorized or Incorrect 

You can request to remove hard inquiries from your credit reports if the inquiry is inaccurate, or not authorized by you.  What that means is:

  1. Incorrect – You didn’t apply for a new credit account
  2. Not Authorized – You didn’t otherwise authorize the credit inquiry

If you DID apply for a credit account or you authorized a hard inquiry by application or signature, you can’t remove it from your reports. It remains on your credit reports as part of an accurate representation of your credit history. It should fall off your reports after about two years, but loses impact after about twelve months.  However, some inquiries may seem suspicious.  You might not recognize the name of the company that made the inquiry, or there may be more inquiries than you expect. Be careful, however.  Those situations don’t necessarily indicate a mistake or fraud.

For example, you may have used a loan broker for your car purchase.  That broker may have shopped around to try to find you the best rate possible on your loan. Each application the broker submitted on your behalf could lead to an authorized inquiry, even if you only took out one loan.

Unauthorized or Incorrect Hard Pulls

Here are some situations where a  hard inquiry you didn’t authorize may show up your credit report

  • Someone fraudulently applied for a credit account using your information
  • A creditor pulled your credit report even though it didn’t have your permission
  • The credit bureau mistakenly added the inquiry to your report

You should always pay attention to unauthorized inquiries on your credit report.  If someone else was applying for credit with your information, it could be an indication that your identity was stolen. You might want to take some additional steps to help prevent further misuse of your information, such as …

You should also frequently monitor your reports to insure no fraudulent account appears following the unauthorized inquiry. If a fraudulent account appears on your credit reports, you’ll want to contact the creditor to close the account.  If a creditor pulled your credit without your permission or a credit bureau mistakenly added an inquiry to your report, the incorrect hard inquiry could still harm your credit.

No matter how it got there, you’ll want to file a dispute with the credit bureau whose report shows the incorrect hard inquiry.  You should request that the bureau remove the incorrect information – in writing.

Hard Inquiry Removal Step 3:  File a Dispute with the Credit Bureau 

If you dispute errors in your credit reports, including unauthorized hard inquiries, the credit bureaus are required to investigate. They’re also required to correct information that’s found to be inaccurate.  You can file a dispute with any of the three major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  If you find a mistake on one, you will want to check that there are no inaccuracies on any of the other reports.

You may be able to dispute inquiries online, but a registered letter via the US Postal Service provides a nice record. If you need help writing a letter, you canl ook for sample credit dispute letters online.  The  Federal Trade Commission, provides a nice example that you can just copy and send.

Hard Inquiry Removal Letter – Items to Address:

  • A separate letter should be addressed to each of the credit bureaus.
  • The contents of your letter should include the reason you are writing – to dispute a hard inquiry.
  • The company that requested your information,
  • List the reason you are disputing – It is usually due to unrecognized or unauthorized activity.
  • Formally request to have the item removed.

You should also include a copy of your credit report. Highlight the inquiry in question to better indicate which item you want investigated and removed.  If there are multiple inquiries to investigate, it may be suitable to number or letter them. That will make it clear for referencing in your letter.

Hard Inquiry Removal – Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Inquiries Stay on My Credit Report? 

Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion track hard inquiries on your credit reports for 24 months. Interestingly, FICO credit scores are only adjusted once per year by the hard inquiries reported to the three bureaus. The impact of each pull fades over time.  Typically, hard pulls have little effect on credit scores after one year. Soft pulls also remain on your credit history for two years, but they don’t affect your credit score. You can dispute hard pulls, but not soft ones.

Why do Creditors Even Care about Inquiries to My Credit Report?

Creditors look at the number and frequency of hard credit pulls because inquiries could indicate financial risk. For example, multiple inquiries may be a warning sign that you have financial difficulties.  Maybe your  finances are overextended and you urgently need credit.  Before granting you a loan or line of credit, lenders will want to thoroughly check your finances.  Will you be able to pay the loan back on time?  Or, are so stretched financially that you may not be able to make full and timely payments.

Can I make hard inquiries on my credit report just go away?

You can shorten the time an inquiry remains on your credit report by winning a dispute with the credit bureau. To win the dispute, you must report that a company or individual pulled your credit without your permission or knowledge.  If the credit bureau in question investigates and finds that the inquiry wasn’t authorized, it should remove the inquiry from your corresponding credit report.  This is required by law.

What if I Don’t do anything and just leave it there?

If you don’t do anything, a hard pull will sit on your credit report for 24 months and then fall off.  Alternatively, the credit pull may have been incorrectly assigned to you when another person actually received the inquiry. This underscores the importance of monitoring your credit reports for false or fraudulent activity.

Hard Inquiry Removal – Final Words

When it comes to inquiries, new credit and inquiries make up only 10% of your credit score.  That may seem small, but it can still hurt you financially.  Inquiries on your credit report give insight into how often you authorize lenders to look at your credit history.  The most obvious reason would be for them to offer you a loan or new line of credit. If you have a multitude of inquiries, you can appear as a credit risk to potential creditors.  This is bacause it appears you are regularly requesting additional credit.  This is why you must check your report regularly.  If you find an inquiry you did not authorize appearing on your report, you should absolutely contact the company and/or file a dispute.

The goal is to remove the inquiries quickly by writing a letter to the credit agencies or the creditor on record. If you are not familiar with this process or not a great formal letter writer there are templates available online.  Also, you can choose to hire a credit repair agency to assist with the inquiry removals.  Additionally, they can help with credit repair and the removal of other negative items that can weigh down your credit score.

Bottom Line

Depending on your specific situation, hard inquiries may not have a major impact on your credit scores. The higher your overall credit score, the less negative impact hard inquiries have.  But for some with lower credit scores, those negative points make it more difficult to qualify for credit, a loan or a credit card. Regularly checking your credit reports for unauthorized hard inquiries is always a good idea. If you find an unauthorized or inaccurate hard inquiry, you can file a dispute letter and request that the bureau remove it from your report.

The consumer credit bureaus must investigate dispute requests.  If they find an inquiry was not authorized or a mistake, they must remove the inquiry.  That is the law. 

 

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