Credit inquiries are a hot topic in credit repair these days as it is widely known that it is possible to remove them from your credit reports. As you review your credit report, you will notice a section at the end of the report called “Credit Inquiries” or “Regular Inquiries.” These inquiries were made by companies who pulled your credit report, and these inquiries will remain on your credit report for two years. You may not recognize their names — and you may have no idea why they pulled your credit — so it may seem a bit unnerving. Fear not. We will show you how to remove unauthorized credit inquiries from your credit reports. And, we will let you know which credit inquires hurt your credit score and which ones don’t.
Is it Important to Remove Credit Inquiries?
Many people tend to overfocus on removing inquiries when their reports are full of late payments, collection accounts, or even a foreclosure. In these cases, you might want to hold off on your efforts to remove inquiries until after you have successfully removed some of the bigger problems on your credit report. But, if you are tackling your other credit issues, it doesn’t hurt to tackle this problem, too. On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst thing on your report, credit inquiries are a mere 1 on the problem scale.
What is a Credit Inquiry?
Every time you apply for credit and the credit grantor does a credit check on you, a credit inquiry is placed on your file. Even if you receive a credit card offer in the mail and you respond, your credit will almost certainly be checked and a credit inquiry will be added to your credit report.
Type of Credit Inquiry
- A hard inquiry occurs when you applied for new credit, like a credit card, or submit a loan application for a car or home. A hard inquiry can affect your credit score.
- A soft inquiry occurs when an existing creditor pulls your credit to see what your current credit situation is or when a potential creditor pulls your credit to pre-approve you for credit that you have not actually applied for yet. Pulling your own credit is also considered a soft inquiry. A soft credit inquiry does not affect your credit score.
Will Too Many Credit Inquiries Affect Your Credit Score?
- Hard credit inquiries are bad because too many of them can indicate to a creditor that you’re “credit hungry” and maybe in financial trouble.
- Worse yet, the creditor has reason to believe that you received many of the credit lines that are showing as inquiries and that many of those credit lines have not yet appeared on your credit report.
- Too many recent inquiries indicate to a potential credit grantor that your debt-to-income ratio may be much higher than you say.
You can read our full article on how inquiries impact your credit score.
Step-by-Step Procedure for Removing a Credit Inquiry
All credit inquiries should come off your credit report after two years. And only hard inquiries made within the past 12 months will be included in your credit score. If you’re not willing to wait, you may take these steps:
First, find out which credit inquiries are getting in your way by ordering all three of your credit reports. When your reports arrive, look toward the end of your credit report to find the inquiries. Some of the inquiries are only promotional and will not be shown to prospective credit grantors. You need not worry about those. Identify only the inquiries that are shown to credit grantors (i.e., hard inquiries). You should recognize some of these as places where you applied for credit, but others may be a complete mystery to you.
Find the address for each creditor. Experian will list addresses for each but TransUnion and Equifax reports will not. Match your Experian with your TransUnion and Equifax reports. You should be able to use the same addresses on the inquirers that are listed on Experian. If some of the inquirers don’t show up on Experian but do show up on either TransUnion or Equifax, you will have to call the credit bureau to get their address. It is almost impossible to get a live person on the telephone at TransUnion, but Equifax has an 800 number listed at the top of their reports. If you have an inquirer listed on your TransUnion report and you can’t reach them by phone, you might try calling the 800 directories and request the 800 number for the inquiring creditor.
Once you have collected all of the addresses for each inquiring creditor on each credit report, you are ready for the next step.
Prepare letters to each inquiring creditor asking them to remove their inquiry. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows only authorized inquiries to appear on the consumer credit report. You must challenge whether the inquiring creditor had proper authorization to pull your credit file.
Use our sample letter to remove inquiries.
Some of your creditors may provide documentation that a credit inquiry was authorized by you. Read the authorization that you signed very carefully. If there is any ambiguity, you can write back and argue that the inquirer’s authorization form was too complicated and not easily understood by the layman. You can threaten to contact the State Banking Commission and complain about a deceptive and unclear authorization form if they don’t remove the inquiry.
Some creditors will try to ignore your challenge. Be sure to send each letter Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested and keep close track of the time that you sent the letter. If the inquiring creditor doesn’t respond within about 30 days, you will have ample grounds to call the inquiring creditor and demand some action. At that point, it’s almost irrelevant whether or not you authorized the inquiry. Now the issue becomes the creditor’s lack of response to a consumer dispute. Be sure to hold your ground. Demand that the inquiry be removed immediately or you will complain to the State Banking Commission or similar authorities.
Many of your inquiring creditors may simply agree to delete the inquiry as a courtesy or because they cannot, or will not, verify your authorization. That’s the goal. Remember, it is not likely that you will need all of your credit inquiries removed, just enough of them to increase your credit score.