Ultimate Guide to Remove Hard Inquiries From Credit Report
Many people do not really pay attention to hard inquiries when trying to improve their credit because they have little impact on the overall credit. However, it will benefit you on the long to pay attention to these hard inquiries. Credit reporting mistakes happen and removing inaccurate hard inquiries from your report can help you keep your credit in tip-top shape.
Some might still be wondering what these hard inquiries are and why it is important to really them. Find answers below.
- What Is a Hard Inquiry?
- Why Should You Remove Hard Inquiries?
- How Can I Remove Hard Inquiry From my Credit Report
- How Can I Dispute Inaccurate Hard Inquiries Myself
- Does Removing Hard Inquiries Increase Credit Score?
- Can Hard Inquiries be Removed Early?
- How Long Does it Take to Remove Hard Inquiries?
What Is a Hard Inquiry?
A hard inquiry occurs when someone you’re planning on doing business with, such as a lender, checks your credit report. They do this to understand the risk you pose as a potential borrower and how you’ve managed past debt obligations.
Read Also: How to Get Credit Card Debt Forgiveness
Hard inquiries can ding your credit score by up to five points. While they stay on your credit report for two years, they only impact your score for one.
You may also be familiar with soft inquiries, which have zero impact on your credit score. Soft inquiries typically happen when you check your credit or when a lender or credit card provider sends you preapproval offers in the mail.
It’s simply an evaluation of your credit by a potential lender. A lender reviews your credit anytime you apply for a mortgage or auto loan. Basically, if you’ve requested a business to review your credit for lending, then it’s going to be referred to as a hard inquiry.
Soft inquiries, on the other hand, can happen upon your request—such as when you want to check your credit report—or even without your knowledge, which happens when lenders check your credit before sending you a preapproval offer.
Second, soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score at all, while each hard inquiry typically knocks a few points off your credit score. The more hard inquiries you have on your reports, the riskier you’ll be viewed by prospective lenders. Why? Because applying for different types of credit relatively often could indicate financial instability, and that translates to risk in a lender’s eyes.
Hard inquiries stay on your credit reports for two years before they fall off naturally. If you have legitimate hard inquiries, you’ll likely need to wait until the 24-month period is over to see them disappear.
Not all hard inquiries impact credit scores. When you’re rate shopping for an auto loan or mortgage, you may have several hard inquiries, as lenders check your credit to determine what terms and rate to offer. As long as you apply for the loans within a 14-day period (or sometimes slightly longer), credit scoring models will consider them as one inquiry.
Why Should You Remove Hard Inquiries?
If you spot a hard credit inquiry on your credit report and it’s legitimate (i.e., you knew you were applying for credit), there’s nothing you can do to remove it besides wait. It won’t impact your score after 12 months and will fall off your credit report after two years.
However, if you spot a hard credit inquiry you don’t recognize, it’s vital to remove it. There are a few reasons for this. First, it means that you’re being unfairly penalized for that error, even if it only has a small impact. Second, it could be a sign of fraud, so it’s important to investigate it further and to get it removed.
The idea of removing hard inquiries from your credit report to improve your credit score may sound appealing. But disputing a genuine hard inquiry on your credit report will likely not result in any change to your scores.
You can, however, dispute ones that are a result of fraud. This can happen when an identity thief uses your Social Security number and other personally identifiable information to open a new account in your name.
For most people, that one extra hard inquiry may drop your credit score by just a few points temporarily, but new lenders likely aren’t going to decline your application for credit just because you have hard inquiries on your credit report. While hard inquiries take two years to fall off your credit report, typically their impact to credit scores lasts just a few months.
However, if you already have several hard inquiries on your credit report from the past couple of years or you have other, more serious, issues that are hurting your credit, one new inquiry could make it more difficult to get approved for a loan or credit card with favorable terms.
How Can I Remove Hard Inquiry From my Credit Report
Since we have been able to establish that hard inquiries can affect your credit in some ways, let’s now see how you can remove them and have an improved credit report.
While removing an item from your credit report is not as simple as checking your email, it’s not as difficult as it might sound. Here’s how you can dispute inaccurate inquiries and iron out your credit.
1. Check Your Credit Reports for Free
The first step is to get your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Often, the same information is recorded on all three, but not always, and that’s why it’s important to check all three.
You can typically pull your credit reports for free once per year on AnnualCreditReport.com. However, due to Covid-19, you can order free weekly credit reports until April 20, 2022.
2. Look for Any Inaccurate Hard Inquiries
Once you’ve received your credit report, there will be a section for “Hard Inquiries.” You’ll want to scan over the entire report to make sure it’s accurate, but pay close attention to the inquiry section. If there are any hard inquiries listed here, make sure that you recognize them.
It’s important to note that sometimes the company listed that made the inquiry doesn’t match exactly with who you did business with. This often happens if a retailer partners with a bank to manage its credit card program.
For example, while you may have thought you were applying for a card with Victoria’s Secret or Sportsman’s Warehouse, you may have a credit inquiry from Comenity Bank, which manages the credit cards for these two retailers. Thus, you may have to do a bit of Google sleuthing to make sure an inquiry is legitimate.
3. Submit a Dispute
Inaccurate hard inquiries could happen for two reasons.
First, if you were shopping around for a new service, the provider may have checked your credit report without you realizing it. For example, if you’re shopping around for a new cell phone carrier and the company did a hard credit check against your knowledge or approval, that could be grounds for submitting a dispute.
Second, if you find an inquiry that you don’t recognize at all, it could be an honest mistake, or it could be a sign of fraud. It’s important to reach out to the company listed to check. If it is a fraudulent inquiry, it may be a good idea to set up a credit freeze or even a fraud alert.
In either case, you’ll want to dispute inquiries that aren’t legitimate with each bureau and report that lists them.
Dispute Errors With Experian
- Online: Experian’s online dispute portal
- Mail: Send a dispute letter to Experian, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, Tx 75013
- Phone: 888-397-3742 or the phone number listed on your report
Dispute Errors With Equifax
- Online: Equifax’s online dispute page
- Mail: Send a dispute letter to Equifax Information Services, LLC, P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta 30374
- Phone: 886-349-5191
Dispute Errors With TransUnion
- Online: TransUnion’s online dispute page
- Mail: Send a dispute letter to TransUnion Consumer Solutions, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA, 19016
- Phone: 800-916-8800
After the company does an investigation, it should remove the inquiry. If for some reason it doesn’t, it will send you an explanation.
How Can I Dispute Inaccurate Hard Inquiries Myself
It’s important to check your credit reports regularly for accuracy. If, while doing this, you’ve noticed a hard inquiry on your credit report that you believe is the result of identity theft, you can file a dispute with each of the three national credit reporting agencies and petition to have them update the inaccurate information.
The first step is to review your Experian credit report through our Dispute Center and verify your information. Next, confirm that the inquiry was not a result of identity theft.
There may be situations where you don’t recognize the name of a company that checked your credit or you don’t remember applying for a loan with a company you do recognize. Here are a few scenarios when inquiries you don’t recognize may be legitimate:
- You may have solicited a home repair and provided your Social Security number to the vendor, and they may have taken that as an authorization to check your credit for financing reasons.
- If you sought financing when you were shopping for a car, a dealership may have sent your loan application to multiple lenders to find you the most favorable interest rates. Multiple inquiries with company names that you don’t recognize could show up from that time period. If they all fell within a window of a few weeks, they will be considered rate shopping and will only count as a single inquiry in credit score calculations.
- The same scenario could happen with mortgage applications. For example, you may have solicited mortgage rates online, where a website sent your application to multiple lenders to find you the best rate. Also, you may have worked with a mortgage servicer who sent your application to a lender, and that lender may have checked your credit on behalf of the mortgage servicer.
- Another example when a hard inquiry may look like fraud involves store credit cards. National retail stores may use financial services companies for their store cards, and when inquiries are made, they may show up with company names you don’t recognize. For example, if you apply for credit at Kay Jewelers, you may see an inquiry from “Comenity Bank/Kay” on your credit report.
If you don’t recognize the company name that performed the hard inquiry, contact the company for more information. When you check your credit report through the Experian Dispute Center, the hard inquiry will be accompanied by the company name and typically the mailing address and a phone number.
If you have verified that the hard inquiry is due to identity theft, then the dispute would be handled over the phone with Experian specialists. You can visit our Dispute Center to find out support options. There is no charge to use this service.
Once you submit the request, you can track your progress through the Dispute Center. Generally, the dispute process will be done within 30 days. If the inquiry was found to be valid, it will not be removed from your credit report. However, if the investigation shows the inquiry was a result of identity theft, it will be removed from your report.
Does Removing Hard Inquiries Increase Credit Score?
Hard inquiries happen when you apply for a new loan or credit card and the lender pulls your credit reports to determine if you qualify. In most cases, hard inquiries have very little if any impact on your credit scores—and they have no effect after one year from the date the inquiry was made. So when a hard inquiry is removed from your credit reports, your scores may not improve much—or see any movement at all.
If a hard inquiry has been on your credit report for less than a year, you could possibly gain a few points by having it removed if you disputed it due to fraud. The more recent the inquiry, the more points you stand to gain. Gaining just a few points might feel satisfying, but it isn’t usually enough to make a difference in being approved or declined on future credit applications.
When a hard inquiry falls off your credit report naturally because it has reached the two-year mark, your credit score will likely not be affected at all since hard inquiries do not impact your scores after one year.
It’s important to do some comparison shopping when you’re looking for a new credit card or loan. You may not be able to avoid new hard inquiries on your credit report, but there are a few ways to reduce the impact of shopping around:
- Time your applications strategically. If you’re shopping for a mortgage or an auto loan, make all of your applications within a 14-day window. If you stick within this timeframe, all of your applications will be calculated as just one hard inquiry.
- Apply selectively. Reduce the number of applications you submit by getting selective about where you apply. Compare rates and fees first, and see if the lender offers prequalification. Prequalification can allow you to get quotes on interest rates, fees and loan amounts without a hard inquiry.
- Practice good credit habits. Virtually all other credit activities have a bigger effect on your credit scores than hard inquiries. Even if you have to add multiple hard inquiries to your reports, you can keep your credit rating high by staying current on loan payments and keeping your credit card balances to a minimum.
Can Hard Inquiries be Removed Early?
Hard inquiries on your credit report, along with any new accounts you’ve recently opened or loans you’ve received, together account for 10% of your FICO score. FICO credit scores are the most widely used by lenders and creditors. Even though a hard inquiry will hurt your credit score, it’s generally only a minor dip. FICO says a single hard inquiry will typically cause a drop of less than five points.
When you discover an unauthorized hard inquiry, it’s a good idea to check if your credit report is also listing a new credit card or a loan that you don’t recognize. That could indicate identity theft – more about that later.
If you see an unauthorized hard inquiry without an associated fraudulent account, you can request that the unauthorized hard inquiry be erased from your account by filing a formal dispute with the credit bureaus. Because the government and the credit reporting industry recognize credit reports can be error-prone, they provide a way to dispute your credit report. Here are the main steps:
- Get a copy of your credit report, look for hard inquiries and make sure you recognize – and authorized – all that you find.
- If you find an unauthorized hard inquiry, write a dispute letter or fill out an online form to report it and request its removal.
- You’ll need to collect documents to support your claims.
- Each bureau – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – lets you file disputes through online forms, telephone, or postal mail.
- Allow 30 days or less to get the results of a dispute investigation.
How Long Does it Take to Remove Hard Inquiries?
Hard inquiries on your credit — the kind that happens when you apply for a loan or credit card — can stay on your credit report for about 24 months. However, a hard inquiry typically won’t affect your score after 12 months.
Applying for credit can knock a few points off your credit scores. But making multiple inquiries in a short window counts as a single inquiry when you shop for a mortgage, student loan or auto loan.
The amount of time you have to shop varies by the type of credit score. Newer versions of FICO scores typically give you a 45-day window for such inquiries. VantageScores have a shorter window for hard inquiries — 14 days.
You won’t get to choose the score or score version a lender uses, so it pays to do your comparison shopping quickly.
For people with extensive credit histories, a single credit application — and hard inquiry — has no effect or a fairly minimal one.
If you’ve lost points because you applied for a lot of credit in a short time span, take heart. Credit applications are not a major factor in calculating your credit scores.
VantageScore describes recent credit behavior and inquiries as “less influential.” Applications for new credit account for 10% of FICO scores.
But people who have short credit histories or few accounts may see a bigger change.
If you’re trying to build credit, every point counts, and pulling back on new applications for a few months should restore lost points. Particularly if you are taking out a mortgage, wait until after closing to apply for new credit.
Multiple hard inquiries can put a serious dent in your credit, particularly if you are new to credit, and it’s an easy mistake to make. Say you’ve just rented an apartment. The leasing agent may check your credit. And then you may apply for financing for furniture. Then you decide you want a card with travel rewards, so you apply for a couple of those. That could be four credit inquiries within a short period, and it could result in a lower score.
Statistics cited by FICO show that people with six or more recent inquiries are eight times as likely to file for bankruptcy as those with none, and scoring formulas reflect that.
If a hard inquiry on your credit report is inaccurate, you can dispute it as you would any other credit report error.
Any credit score damage done by inquiries can be remedied with time. When you need credit, it’s a good idea to check to see if you are likely to qualify before you actually apply, because a hard inquiry will be recorded whether you are approved or not.
In the meantime, focus on the two things that have the most powerful effect on your scores:
- Paying on time, every time.
- Keeping credit card balances no higher than 30% of your credit limit, and lower is better.