Credit inquiries are records of when credit lenders or creditors request to see your credit file. A single hard inquiry, also called a “hard pull,” isn’t likely to impact your eligibility for a new line of credit, such as a credit card. However, it can affect your credit score for around two years.
When you review the challenging inquiries that show up on your credit report, you want to make sure they’re correct. What does this mean? For every hard inquiry on your credit report, you need to decide if you gave that credit lender or creditor permission to pull your credit report. If you gave permission, then you don’t have to do anything.
But it’s not unlikely that when you monitor your credit report that you’ll find an inaccurate hard inquiry. If you find one of these, you might ask yourself, “How to get inquiries off your credit report?”
Because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), credit bureaus are required to inform consumers when creditors or other business entities perform hard inquiries on their credit reports. The way that credit bureaus do this is by noting the hard inquiry on your credit report.
To get the inquiry off your credit report, you’ll want to file a dispute with the major credit bureau that created the report and ask them to remove that inaccurate inquiry. Below we’ll go into more detail about how to find inaccurate inquiries on your credit report and the process of filing a dispute claim.
How to Get Inquiries Off Your Credit Report
The best thing you can do to get incorrect inquiries off your credit report is to file a dispute. Here’s a rundown of how to file a dispute.
Always Review Credit Reports When They’re Available
You need to make it a habit to review your credit reports regularly from the three significant credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. These credit bureaus won’t know what’s incorrect on your credit report unless you report it.
To look for incorrect inquiries on the credit reports that you get from the credit bureaus, look for the section labeled:
- Regular inquiries
- Requests reviewed by others
- Hard inquiries
- Credit inquiries
You might also find a section specifically for any soft inquiries, which can be labeled as “Request reviewed by you.” Soft inquiries, unlike hard inquiries, will not impact your credit score. A soft credit inquiry can occur if you check your credit score using free credit score tracking websites such as Credit Karma. They show up on your credit report, but as stated above, do not affect your credit score.
The kind of inquiries that show up on your credit report can have an impact on your credit score. Hard inquiries especially can have a negative impact on your credit score and can even bring it down.
This is all because anyone who has recently applied for new credit can be seen as a risky borrower. You’ll find that this is primarily the case when you carry large credit balances or large loan amounts.
Search for Incorrect or Unauthorized Hard Inquiries
You can send in a dispute to get rid of any hard inquiries if:
- You didn’t apply the new line of credit, such as a credit card, or
- You didn’t authorize the credit inquiry
If you did authorize the hard inquiry or applied for the credit account with the credit card company, then you’re unable to remove it from your credit report. Because of this, it will remain on your credit report as an accurate representation of your overall credit history. However, if the hard inquiry is accurate, the inquiry will fall off your credit report after two years.
Not Every Suspicious Inquiry Is Fraudulent
There might be some inquires on your credit report that seems suspicious: there could be more inquiries than you expected, or you may not recognize the company’s name that made the hard inquiry. But these situations don’t always indicate fraud or a mistake.
As an example, you might have hired a loan broker that ended up shopping around to help you find the best possible rate on a loan. Your broker submitted each application in your name, which could have led to an authorized hard inquiry, even if you didn’t take out a loan with that company.
But if you find any inquiries that you can’t find a reason for, then it might be fraud, and you should look into it more.
If Fraud is Suspected, You Need to Act Fast
If you find an inquiry that you know you didn’t authorize and is showing up on your credit report, it could be because:
- Somebody fraudulently applied for credit using your confidential information
- A creditor was able to pull your credit report without your permission
- One of the major credit bureaus mistakenly put that inquiry on your credit report
If you find an unauthorized inquiry because somebody applied for credit with your confidential information, it can indicate that someone was able to steal your identity. Because of this, you may want to take some other steps as soon as you first notice the unauthorized activity to prevent that person from using your information even more. Some things that you should consider doing includes:
- Turning on a fraud alert for your credit reports
- Reporting the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission
- Placing a police report
- You might even consider locking your credit or freezing your credit
You should continue to check your credit reports to see if any fraudulent accounts appear after that unauthorized hard inquiry. If any fraudulent accounts appear on your credit report, you need to contact the creditor to get the account closed.
Suppose you find that a creditor pulled your credit report without permission or that the credit reporting bureau incorrectly put an inquiry on your report. In that case, that incorrect inquiry will harm your credit until you can take action.
It doesn’t matter how the incorrect inquiry got on your credit report. You need to file a dispute with the credit bureau with the credit report that shows the incorrect information. The dispute is a request to have the bureau take the incorrect inquiry off your credit report.
If Necessary, File the Dispute with the Credit Bureau
If you end up filing a dispute for any errors found on your credit report, the credit bureau must investigate the errors. They’re also required to fix any information that they find to be inaccurate.
You might be able to file disputes for inaccurate inquiries online, but you should consider mailing any dispute. You can search for sample dispute letters or a credit inquiry removal letter on the internet to help you write your dispute letter.
If the credit bureau does an investigation and finds that you didn’t authorize the inquiry in question, they should remove it from your credit report.
How much of an impact a hard credit inquiry has on your credit score will depend on specific situations in your life. For some, hard inquiries can decrease credit scores, which makes it harder to get new credit. For others, the hard inquiries barely make an impact on their credit scores.
It’s always a good idea to regularly check your credit report for any unauthorized inquiries. If you end up finding an inaccurate or unauthorized hard credit inquiry when you do a credit check, you can do something about it.
How to get inquiries off your credit report is as easy as filing a dispute with the credit bureau. When you file a dispute with the credit bureau, they’re required to investigate the claim to see if it’s correct. If they find that you’re right and the hard inquiry was unauthorized or inaccurate, they’re also required to remove it from your credit report.
Remember that not every dispute with a credit reporting company is accepted after the credit bureau has done its investigation. If that’s the case, it’s either because it was authorized, or they couldn’t find information to support your claim. While the hard credit inquiry can impact your credit score, it will fall off after two years.
Never be afraid of disputing what looks incorrect on your credit report because getting incorrect information off your report will help your credit score, which in turn will help you get better interest rates and credit offers.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand how to get inquiries off your credit report and why it’s important to keep an eye on your credit report. Without knowing what’s on your credit report, you’ll never truly know why your credit score is lower than you expected.