If you believe that the number of hard inquiries showing up in your credit report is hurting your credit score, you might be wondering whether it is possible to remove these from your credit report.
A hard inquiry or also referred to as a “hard pull” takes place when a lender pulls your credit report when you’re applying for new credit. A hard pull will provide the lender with necessary information about your borrowing history which will help them determine if you are a good risk.
Can you remove hard inquiries from your credit report if you willingly applied for new credit and authorized the lender to do a hard pull? The answer is NO. If you actually applied for a loan or a mortgage and gave your authorization for the creditor to pull your credit report, then you cannot have this removed from your credit report.
However, there are special circumstances when it is possible to get a hard inquiry removed.
Can I Get Hard Inquiries Removed?
Hard inquiries cannot be easily removed just because you want them off your credit report. While legitimate hard inquiries are not possible to get off your credit report, it is possible to dispute a hard inquiry, Here are 3 Instances when this is possible:
1. You Do not Recognize the Company that Performed the Hard Inquiry
You might be wondering: Can I get hard inquiries removed if I do not recognize the entry? The answer is YES.
A lot of times, people just ignore hard inquiries in their credit report without carefully checking if these inquiries are accurate.
If you do not recognize the company and you were able to verify that you did not engage any credit application with the company or any of its associated companies, it is possible that the credit bureau made a mistake. You can have this mistake corrected by filing a dispute (we explain how to do this below).
2. You Are a Victim of Fraud or Identity Theft
Can you remove hard inquiries from your credit report if you are a victim of fraud or identity theft? The answer is YES.
If you are positive that you did not recently apply for a new credit, you might have been a victim of fraud or identity theft. This means someone used your personal information to get a loan. It is very important that you take the necessary actions not only to remove the hard inquiry entry from your credit report but also check and secure your other accounts.
3. You Did not Authorize the Hard Pull
Can you remove hard inquiries from your credit report if you did not authorize it? The answer is YES.
A company can only perform a hard pull on your credit report if you give them permission to do so. Even if you recognize the company or if you have a current account with the lender, they are not legally allowed to do a hard inquiry unless you give them your authorization.
If you believe that the hard inquiry was done without your permission, you can dispute this inquiry. The lender or the credit bureau can then remove it from your credit report.
How to Remove Hard Inquiries From your Credit Report?
If the hard inquiry on your credit report is inaccurate, if it was unauthorized, or if you are a victim of identity theft, then it is possible to dispute the entry. How can you dispute a hard inquiry that appears on your credit report?
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to get rid of hard inquiries.
Step 1: Check Your Credit Report Carefully and Spot the Inaccuracy You Want to Dispute
The law requires credit reporting agencies to inform you when a company checks your credit. You can find these credit checks listed in your credit report under the “Inquiries” section.
When you look at the entries, you will see the name of the company that performed the hard pull and the date when your credit report was accessed. Review the entries carefully to see whether you recognize all of them and that they are accurate.
To get a free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
Step 2: Make a Copy of the Credit Report and Highlight the Entry You Want to Dispute
Including a copy of your credit report can strengthen your dispute. Make a physical copy of your credit report and highlight the hard inquiry you want to dispute if you are sending a dispute by mail. You can also make a digital screenshot and highlight the entry if you are doing the dispute online.
Step 3: Contact the Company Who Performed the Hard Inquiry
One method to get the hard inquiry off your credit report is to contact the company who pulled your credit report. The best way is to send a letter via certified mail and include the following details.
- Information about the hard inquiry including the date your credit report was accessed and company name
- State that you are disputing this entry because you did not authorize this hard inquiry
- State that you want them to remove the hard inquiry
- Ask them to send you documentation that the hard inquiry has been removed
- Ask them to send you proof if they believe that the hard inquiry was done with your authorization
- Include a copy of your credit report and highlight the entry you are disputing. If you have other supporting documents that will prove that the entry is unauthorized, inaccurate, or fraudulent, include these as well.
You can also use this sample letter from the Federal Trade Commission or FTC:
Step 4: File a Dispute with the Credit Bureaus
Aside from contacting the company who pulled your credit report, another way to have the inaccurate or unauthorized hard inquiry removed from your credit report is to file a dispute with the credit bureaus.
Only file the dispute where the hard inquiry appears because there are times that inquiries are not reported to all three major bureaus which are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. This means that if the hard inquiry only appears on your Experian credit report, only file a dispute with Experian.
If the hard inquiry appears on all three credit bureaus, file disputes with the three bureaus.
How to File a Dispute with Credit Bureaus?
You can file a dispute with credit bureaus by certified mail or by phone. If you are sending a dispute by mail, you can use this sample letter from the FTC.
It is also possible to file a dispute online. The online method is one way on how to get rid of a hard inquiry fast if it is inaccurate or unauthorized. To file an online dispute, follow the outlined steps below:
- Go to the dispute page of the relevant credit burea
2. Create an account to file a dispute for free.
3. Carefully follow the instructions provided by the specific credit bureau as the steps will be different depending on the dispute process of the credit bureau.
4. Supply supporting documents, if available, as proof that the hard inquiry was not authorized, inaccurate, or fraudulent.
5. You will get confirmation and notification via email regarding the status of your dispute.
6. It will typically take 30 days for the investigation process to be completed by the three nationwide credit bureaus.
7. If the credit bureau finds that it was indeed a mistake, they will revise your credit report within 30 days. This will also result in an increase of your score.
8. If they are able to verify that the information was correct, no change will be done on your credit report and this will not impact your current score.
9. If you are convinced that the hard inquiry is really inaccurate, you can file a dispute again by providing additional proof or explanation.
Why Do you Need to File the Dispute with All Three Credit Bureaus?
If the hard inquiry appears on your credit reports from all three credit bureaus, then you have to file a dispute with all three bureaus. When one credit bureau revises the information on your credit report, this will not necessarily impact your credit reports from the other two. That’s why you have to file a separate dispute for each.
Some Questions and Answers About Hard Inquiry and Credit Score
How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay on my Credit Report?
If you authorize a company to pull your credit report, this hard inquiry will normally remain in your credit report for up to two years. However, even if this entry will remain in your credit report for 24 months, the hard inquiry will only affect your score for 12 months.
How Does a Hard Inquiry Affect my Credit Score?
When a lender or a company performs a hard pull on your credit report, your credit score will drop by a few points. The number of points will depend on your individual credit history but according to some experts the drop will be about 5 to 8 points.
If there is only a single hard inquiry, this will not affect your credit score that much especially because new credit inquiries and new credit accounts only account for 10% of how your credit score is determined. However, if there are multiple hard inquiries performed on your credit report, then this can result in a significant reduction in your score.
Does Every Single Hard Pull Affect my Credit Score?
According to FICO, when multiple auto loan, mortgage or student loan inquiries take place within a 30 to 45-day period, these inquiries will count as one inquiry. For VantageScore, all inquiries of any type will be counted as one within a 14-day rolling period.
Will a Hard Inquiry Affect my Ability to Get a Loan?
If you recently applied for new or additional credit, lenders may view you as a higher credit risk. However, this is not the only factor that could affect your loan application. If your credit score is quite good and you have an excellent credit history, a couple of hard inquiries will not deter you from getting a new loan.
On the other hand, if your credit report is already poor, hard inquiries can further hurt your score. In this case, even just a single hard pull can impact your ability to get a loan approval.
How Can I Avoid a Hard Inquiry in the Future?
An inaccurate or unauthorized credit report can be disputed and removed from your credit report, however, there may also be situations when you were unaware that you actually gave authorization for the creditor to do a hard pull.
If you don’t want this to happen again or you want to know how to stop hard inquiries on your credit report, below are some precautions that you can consider.
- Ask the creditor if they are going to do a hard inquiry. When you are inquiring or applying for a new line of credit, ask the lender if they will do a hard credit report or not. Why do you need to ask? There are instances when borrowers assume that the credit application does not require a credit check only to find out later on that a hard inquiry caused a drop on their credit score. Creditors like car loans financing companies, mortgage companies, credit card companies, student loan companies, and money lenders often do a hard inquiry.
- If you are still shopping for the best rate, try to complete the process in a two-week period. These inquiries can then be counted as one inquiry.
- Review the application requirements very carefully and don’t apply for credit where you’re not likely to get approved. This will only lower your credit score without really benefiting you.
If you are not planning to apply for new credit, you can put a credit freeze or security freeze on your credit report. This means that creditors will not be able to access your credit report. This will also prevent you or identity thieves from opening a new account in your name.
Improve Your Credit Score After a Hard Inquiry
If you want a hard inquiry to be removed from your credit report, this will only be possible if the inquiry is inaccurate, fraudulent or unauthorized. If it was a legitimate inquiry, this will only impact your score for 12 months. To improve your credit score during this period, make sure to pay your bills diligently and avoid late payments.