Use these strategies to help you remove hard inquiries from your credit report. If you’ve read your credit report recently, then you’ve probably come across the term “hard inquiry,” or something similar sounding. They make it sound so serious – and quite permanent. ‘Can you remove hard inquiries from your credit report?’ Fortunately, there are proven ways to review and dispute these inquiries which we will discuss below.
What Exactly Is a Hard Inquiry?
In the credit world, when you apply for credit, the lender will “pull your credit,” which is referred to as a “hard inquiry.” 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.
Why Should I Care about Hard Inquiries?
Hard inquiries are different from other inquiries listed on your report because they will affect your FICO score. Anytime you give a lender permission to pull your credit, it’ll be reported on your credit history.
You may be wondering what happens if you need to shop multiple lenders for a loan. After all, there are times you need to compare lenders when you need a mortgage or auto loan – and they all need to pull your credit. Thankfully, while you are shopping for your particular loan, you will be granted a 45-day time period to receive multiple rate quotes which will all count as only one hard inquiry.
So is there a way to dispute a hard inquiry and have it removed? It’s possible a hard inquiry can affect your score as much as 5 points. And here’s another shocker – A hard inquiry can stay on your report for up to two years. After all, two years is a long time when you’re working hard to improve your credit score.
Three Steps to Have Hard Inquiries Removed From Your Credit Report
Since a hard inquiry can impact your score, let’s talk about legitimate ways of how to remove hard inquiries from your credit report.
Quick tip: If you did not authorize the lender to make a hard inquiry of your records, then you can dispute it!
1. Review Your Credit Reports for Free
Your first step in reviewing hard inquiries is to pull your own credit reports. But don’t worry, you won’t be dinged for checking your credit because as a consumer you are entitled to a free report annually from each of the credit bureaus.
The three credit agencies are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. But you can also visit MyFICO for obtaining your reports and your credit score. It’s tempting to not look at your credit too often, but trust me, knowledge is power! You’re not only evaluating your current score, but you’re confirming if the hard inquiries listed are legitimate.
2. Locate the Hard Inquiries Listed on Your Report
Locate the section in your report containing the Hard Inquiry information. Equifax and Experian make it incredibly easy for you. You will see a header titled “Hard Inquiries.” With TransUnion, you will want to look for the “Regular Inquiries” section.
Take a look at all the inquiries listed. Pay close attention – did you authorize this lender to access your information? If you aren’t sure if this is worth your time to review your report, believe me, it is. There are over 1.3 billion transactions monthly being reported to the credit agencies. It’s very possible a mistake could occur! If they are not legitimate, then you have recourse. Once you’ve identified the unauthorized (or inaccurate) hard inquiry, then it’s time to dispute it.
3. Dispute an Unauthorized or Inaccurate Hard Inquiry
Remember, if you did request the credit inquiry because you were applying for a loan, then you can’t dispute it with the agencies. But if something looks suspicious, then let’s take action.
If you find you could have a case of identity theft you’re dealing with, then you will need to file a police report. You would need the information from your police report to help you dispute the unauthorized inquiry. If you think this is a case of a mistake in reporting, then you can work directly with each bureau.
File A Dispute with Each Credit Bureau
Since you receive three different credit reports, you’ll need to dispute the inquiry with each corresponding bureau. Disputing a hard inquiry is a fairly straightforward process.
As a consumer, you have the right to send a letter of dispute to each agency. The agencies have step-by-step instructions for submitting the dispute online. However, you should take it a step further and send your dispute via certified mail too. Remember, you can use a template to ask the agency to verify the accuracy of the inquiry. You will need to continue to follow up to make sure the inaccurate inquiry is removed. You’re your best resource to make sure your credit report is properly restored.
Warning about Credit Disputes
Credit disputes don’t always work (or at least not immediately). When our co-founder, Mark Huntley, filed an Equifax dispute, they lowered his score by 72 points that same day! (Don’t worry, it came back, and then some, shortly).
But the point is, you may want professional help when dealing with the credit bureaus. Or perhaps you’ve tried removing the inaccurate hard inquiries yourself but haven’t had success, then it’s time to call the professionals. If you’ve ever searched for a credit repair company, then you’ll quickly realize there are a lot of choices and some really horrible sounding reviews of many of them.
We like to recommend The Credit Pros. Not only are they super helpful in removing inquiries, but they also offer the lowest monthly credit repair plan cost in the industry, and have a 90-day money-back guarantee.