Learn how credit inquiry removal can improve your credit score.
Lenders use details of your credit report, including the number of inquiries that’ve been made, to help them determine your eligibility for financial products.
You shouldn’t have to deal with a negative drop in your credit score for credit inquires that you never authorized. Let’s find out what a credit inquiry is and how to dispute and remove any incorrect inquiries from your credit report to keep your credit score in good shape.
What is a credit inquiry?
Every time you apply for a line of credit, the lender you’ve applied to will submit a request to review your credit report. This is recorded on your credit report as a “hard credit inquiry”. While a few inquiries is usually fine, too many hard inquiries on your credit file can suggest to lenders that you’re not able to manage credit responsibly and may lead to a declined application.
A “soft credit inquiry” is when you or a creditor who you already do business with checks your credit report. Another common soft pull of your credit can be when a business or lender checks your credit report to prescreen you to see if you’re eligible for its product. Soft inquiries will have no affect on your credit report.
Can I remove an inquiry from my credit report?
You can’t remove a legitimate inquiry from your credit report.
The only inquires that can be removed from your credit report are those that are incorrect or erroneous, like if a lender made a hard pull on your credit without proper authorization from you. In these cases, you can submit a request to have the inaccurate details removed from your report.
How long do credit inquiries stay on my credit report?
For a legit credit inquiry, you’ll simply have to wait two years to have a hard inquiry taken off your credit report — though it’ll only impact your credit score a year at most. On the other hand, a soft pull on your credit can only be seen by you and has no affect on your credit score.
How to dispute a credit inquiry
Now is the time to do some maintenance on your credit report to make sure no errors or false inquires have slipped through the cracks. Here’s how to get started:
Review your credit report
Start by getting a free copy of your credit report and go through all the credit inquiries listed. Count the total number of inquiries and reference against the inquiries you know you’ve made — any recent loan or credit card applications. Flag any unfamiliar inquiries that you don’t recall approving.
Follow up on suspicious inquiries
If you’ve identified an inquiry you don’t remember approving, now’s the time to contact the lender associated with it. Find out what the inquiry was made for to figure out whether you approved it or not.
Submit a credit report dispute letter
If you’ve followed up on unfamiliar inquiries and still feel that authorization was not properly given, you can submit a request to the credit reporting agency for incorrect details to be removed using a credit inquiry removal letter. Make sure your request is to the credit reporting agency who provided you with your credit report, as details may vary between them. For example, if you got your credit report from Equifax, you’d submit a request to Equifax to have the error removed and then check with TransUnion and Experian to see if the same false inquiry is listed.
Wait for an outcome
The credit bureau you filed a request with will then review the details before providing you with an outcome. If you’re unsuccessful, the listing will remain. If your request was successful, it’ll be removed.
You can unknowingly give approval for an inquiry simply by checking a box on a form. For example, if you consent to receiving credit limit increase offers on your credit card and then accept an offer, it could lead to a new inquiry on your credit report.
Credit repair services to help you remove credit inquiries
What about inquiries from fraud?
Once you’ve submitted a request to dispute the fraudulent inquiry with the correct credit reporting agency, your next step to protect your identity could be either putting a security freeze on your account or placing a fraud alert, which lasts 90 days, with all three major credit bureaus. A security freeze will put a stop on any new accounts from opening and prevent inquiries without your permission.
How do I know if I have “too many credit inquiries”?
Well, no one can put a concrete number on how many credit inquiries is too many. If you’re concerned about the number of inquiries on your credit history, the first step is to get a free copy of your credit report. It’s not so much about the number of inquiries, but more so the time between them.
For example, if you’ve applied for five credit cards in a period of three months and have five hard inquiries as a result, it’s likely to be considered as a negative detail on your report. In contrast, having five hard credit inquiries listed over a period of five years will have far less of an impact, or sometimes none at all.
I think I have too many inquiries on my credit report, what should I do?
So if you looked at your credit report and you think the number of credit inquiries listed could have a negative impact on your credit, you can start to improve your credit score in other ways:
- Limit new applications. Keep the number of credit inquiries on your report down by only applying for cards and loans when it’s necessary. Applying for one account at a time and waiting a few months between applications can keep inquiries to a minimum.
- Pay your accounts by the due date. Information about late payments can also have a negative impact on your credit report, so always aim to make payments by the due date on your statements.
- Settle outstanding debts. If there are debts you can afford to pay off now, doing so could help show lenders you’re responsible with money — and save you some cash that would have been paid on interest.
It’s good practice to monitor your credit report frequently to make sure there’s no sneaky person in the shadows damaging your creditworthiness by making false inquiries in your name.
Removing credit inquiries you never authorized from your credit report can slightly repair your credit, however, if you find other items listed like accounts you never opened or accounts you’ve settled that have misinformation regarding payments, take care of those first because they weigh much heavier on your credit score.