Credit inquiries are a record of when someone requests a copy of your credit file. Hard inquiries or hard pulls may affect your credit score, but a single hard inquiry probably won’t impact your approval for new credit accounts.
If a hard inquiry on your report is legitimate and you applied for an account and authorized this pull, it may take up to two years to disappear from your credit report.
However, it may be possible there are unauthorized hard inquiries on your credit report. To know if this is the case, review your credit report regularly for any inaccuracies. If you find one, file a dispute with the credit bureau that provided the credit report and ask to remove the inquiry. You could improve your credit score by disputing credit report errors successfully.
The steps to dispute a hard inquiry can be found below.
Review Your Credit Report
As mentioned above, you need to regularly review your credit report from the three main reporting agencies – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. These credit reporting agencies may not be aware of inaccuracies unless you point them out.
There is likely a section for hard and soft inquiries. Soft inquiries do not affect your credit rating.
Look for Any Suspicious Hard Inquiries
You are allowed to request so that a hard inquiry is removed from your credit report under certain circumstances, including:
- You never applied for a new credit account
- You never authorized a credit inquiry on your account
If you apply for a new line of credit or authorize the hard inquiry, you will not be able to remove it from the credit reports. It will stay on your credit reports as an accurate representation of your credit history. It should fall off within two years of showing up.
There could be inquiries that seem suspicious. You may not recognize the company’s name that inquired, or there could be more inquiries than you expected. Neither of these situations indicates fraud or a mistake.
You may have used a loan broker that shopped around to help you find the best rate for your loan. Each of the applications the broker submitted for you could leave to the appearance of an authorized inquiry, even if you only accepted one loan.
However, if there is a hard inquiry you never authorized, it could be present for several reasons:
- Someone applied for a credit account fraudulently with your information
- A creditor pulled your credit without permission
- The credit bureau added the inquiry to your report mistakenly
If an unauthorized inquiry is present, then you have the right to take steps to have it removed. If the inquiry was a result of fraud, taking steps to protect your identity is also recommended.
File an Official Dispute
If you decide to move forward and dispute any errors on your credit report, including any unauthorized hard inquiries, the credit agencies must investigate. They must also correct any inaccurate information.
All three credit bureaus (listed above) provide consumers a method of filing a dispute. This will help remove the inaccuracy that is present.
Protecting Your Good Credit
No one will protect your credit for you, so it is so important that you take matters into your own hands. In many cases, this means reviewing the information on your credit report and correcting anything inaccurate. Being informed and knowing what to do is the best way to ensure you can maintain your good credit and avoid potential consequences of inaccurate reporting.