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How to Remove Hard Inquiries from Your Credit Report

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Updated February 22, 2024

If you’ve spent time learning how credit reports and scores work, you’re probably aware of something known as an inquiry. An inquiry is an entry on your credit report placed by a third party that has formally checked your credit. Though it’s usually a creditor, it can also be a landlord, an employer, or other interested party.

There are two types of credit inquiries: hard inquiries and soft inquiries. A hard inquiry is when an institution actually pulls your credit report for information. This type of inquiry is made as part of an application for credit and will appear on your credit report.

A soft credit inquiry, often called a soft credit pull, will not appear on your credit report or impact your credit score. Soft inquiries occur when someone examines your credit as part of a background check. It could include a potential employer or a credit card company determining if you are eligible to apply for one of its cards.

From a credit score perspective, hard credit inquiries are the real concern. Though a single hard inquiry will lower your credit score by only a few points, multiple inquiries within a short period can have a bigger impact. This is why you may want to remove hard inquiries from your credit report.

Experian

Experian CreditWorks℠

Experian CreditWorks℠

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Free
Credit scoring model used
FICO
Identity insurance
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Experian CreditWorks provides everyday access to your Experian Credit Report FICO® Score, updated Score Factors that show what’s positively or negatively impacting your FICO® Score, daily monitoring of your Experian Credit Report, and personal support from our dedicated team of credit and Fraud Resolution Agents.

Five ways to remove hard inquiries from your credit report

To remove hard inquiries from your credit report, you’ll first need to get your credit report for the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Since each bureau reports slightly different information, it’s important to obtain all three reports for a complete picture of what’s happening with your credit profile.

One option is to order your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com, the only website authorized to provide your official credit report from all three bureaus. You can obtain one free copy of each annually.

Once you have your reports, review the “Inquiries” section to see who has been checking up on your credit. How important is removing a hard inquiry from your credit report? Potentially very.

“Removing hard inquiries from your credit report is a strategic move in enhancing your financial profile,” advises Jeff Rose, a certified financial planner and founder of the website Good Financial Cents. “It's about presenting a polished and accurate financial history to lenders, fostering trust, and potentially unlocking superior financial opportunities. Addressing each hard inquiry on your credit report is a step toward a healthier credit score.”

With that in mind, here are some steps you can take to remove hard inquiries from your credit report.

1. Determine if the hard inquiry is legitimate or fraudulent

A legitimate hard inquiry is made after you’ve authorized a creditor or other organization to access your credit report. A fraudulent inquiry is one that takes place without your authorization.

A legitimate hard inquiry will be difficult to remove from your report. Neither the creditor nor the credit bureau is required to do so. That doesn’t mean they won’t, but you should understand that removal will be a long shot at best.

For this reason, we will focus primarily on removing fraudulent hard inquiries from your credit report. If you can prove a fraudulent or duplicate inquiry, you should be able to have it removed.

2. Consider the age of the inquiry

One of the advantages you have with a hard inquiry is its short shelf life. Inquiries will only impact your credit score for one year. If an inquiry is approaching the one-year mark, the best strategy is to wait until one year has passed.

“Removing inquiries that are 12 months old or less can add some extra points to your credit score,” reports Markia Brown, a certified financial education instructor and registered financial associate at The Money Plug. “Removing inquiries older than 12 months will not affect your score because though they report on your credit for two years, they only affect your score for one.”

3. Dispute the hard inquiry with the creditor

If a hard inquiry is fraudulent or was made in error, the best first step is to ask the creditor who pulled your credit to have it removed.

To do this, you’ll need to write a letter explaining why the inquiry was fraudulent. Your case will be much stronger if you can also include copies of documents supporting your position.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a creditor must cooperate in resolving disputes and can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission for failure to comply.

4. Dispute the hard inquiry with the credit bureaus

If you cannot get the creditor to remove the fraudulent hard inquiry, you can take your case to the credit bureaus. Just like creditors, they are required to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

You can often get a credit entry deleted simply by filing a dispute letter with the credit bureaus. They are required to investigate your claim within 30 days. If the creditor who reported the hard inquiry does not respond to the credit bureaus within that time, the bureaus must remove the entry from your credit report.

If you open a dispute with the credit bureaus, be sure to do it with all three of the major bureaus:

If you open a dispute with only one bureau, a fraudulent credit inquiry may continue to appear on the other two reports.

Experian

Experian CreditWorks℠

Experian CreditWorks℠

Monthly fee
Free
Credit scoring model used
FICO
Identity insurance
N/A
Experian CreditWorks provides everyday access to your Experian Credit Report FICO® Score, updated Score Factors that show what’s positively or negatively impacting your FICO® Score, daily monitoring of your Experian Credit Report, and personal support from our dedicated team of credit and Fraud Resolution Agents.

5. Use a credit monitoring service to monitor inquiries

The best way to stay on top of credit inquiries, both legitimate and fraudulent, is to monitor your credit on an ongoing basis. You can do this using services available from the credit agencies themselves. By noticing a credit inquiry as soon as it happens, you can deal with it quickly and efficiently.

FICO® Advanced from myFICO is a credit monitoring service provided by the company that creates the FICO score models. For $29.95 monthly, you will receive quarterly credit reports from all three credit bureaus and continuous credit and identity monitoring. The service also includes $1 million in identity theft insurance.

Experian, the largest credit bureau in America, also provides a credit monitoring service. For no charge, you can get an updated report every 30 days, new inquiry alerts, credit score tracking, access to an online tool to review and dispute your Experian credit report, and the ability to build and boost your credit score by factoring in payment histories for rent, utilities, cell phones, and streaming services. This service, however, only covers Experian credit reports. For daily access to all three credit reports and other additional benefits, Experian charges $24.99 a month or $249.99 annually.

TIME Stamp: Can removing hard inquiries make a difference?

Credit inquiries admittedly don’t have a major impact on your credit score. At most, you’ll see a decline in your score of just a few points, which will disappear after just 12 months. But if you’re looking to improve your credit score quickly, or are bordering between fair and good credit or good and excellent credit, one or two hard inquiries can make a difference.

If you need to remove hard inquiries from your credit report, take action as soon as you spot them. When the information is fresh in your mind, you’ll be motivated to get them removed.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How can I get inquiries removed from my credit report fast?

You need to tread lightly here. Correcting errors on your credit report, including fraudulent credit inquiries, takes time. It generally takes at least 30 days to remove a credit inquiry properly.

Be careful with companies who promise to remove credit inquiries on your behalf. They will most likely file a dispute with the credit bureaus, in which case the bureaus will temporarily delete the inquiry. But if the dispute proves unsuccessful, which will most likely be the case with a legitimate hard inquiry, it will be restored to your report.

Can you get hard inquiries removed from your credit?

You can, but it will take time and effort. The most effective strategies are to either dispute the inquiry with the creditor that placed the inquiry on your credit report or complain to the credit bureaus.

Neither of those strategies is likely to work with a legitimate hard inquiry. But you’ll have an excellent chance if the inquiry is fraudulent or duplicated.

What is the easiest way to remove hard inquiries?

The easiest way is to file a dispute directly with the creditor. If the creditor cooperates, the inquiry may be removed after sending a single dispute letter.

Can a letter remove hard inquiries from a credit report?

Though the outcome isn’t guaranteed, you can send a letter to either the creditor or the credit bureaus requesting the removal of the hard inquiries from your credit record or report.

“You can request what is called a ‘goodwill’ removal if the inquiries are accurate but were the result of a genuine mistake or a one-time situation, such as applying for multiple lines of credit from the same lender by accident,” says Jeffrey Wood, a certified public accountant (CPA) and partner at Lift Financial in South Jordan, Utah. “Sometimes the bureaus will remove these ‘duplicate’ inquiries as a goodwill gesture. Always remember to be polite and professional and explain thoroughly the circumstances that led to the inaccurate inquiries.”

Be aware that a goodwill letter is a request and does not create an obligation on the part of either the creditor or the credit bureau to remove the inquiry. If they do, they are simply extending a kindness that is not required by law.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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