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Remove Inquiries From Your Credit Report

Remove Inquiries from your credit

As you review your credit report, you notice at the very end of the report there is a section labeled “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 have no idea why they pulled your credit so it may seem a bit unnerving.  Don’t panic, there is something you can do about it.

How Important is it to Remove Inquiries?

Many people tend to over focus on removing inquiries when their reports are full of late pays, collection accounts or even a bankruptcy. In these cases, you might want to hold off on your efforts to remove inquires 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.

How Do You Get Inquiries?

Every time you apply for credit and the credit grantor checks your credit report, a credit inquiry is placed on your file. Even if you receive a credit 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.

Types of Credit Inquiries

  • Hard pull inquiries occur when you applied for new credit, like a credit card, submitted a loan application for a car or home. Hard pull inquires can affect your credit score.
  • Soft pull inquiries occur when an existing creditor pulls your credit to see what your credit situation is. A soft credit inquiry occurs when you pull your own credit report. Soft credit inquiries do not affect your credit score.

Does an Inquiry Affect Your Credit Score?

  • Credit inquiries are bad because too many of them can indicate to a creditor that you’re “credit hungry” and may be 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 Inquiries

All credit inquiries should come off your credit report after two years. If you’re not willing to wait, you may take these steps:

Step 1
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. You should recognize some of these as places where you applied for credit, but others may be a complete mystery to you.

Step 2
Find the addresses for each credit inquirer. Your Experian credit report will list addresses for each – TransUnion and Equifax reports will not include addresses. 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 Trans Union or Equifax, you will have to call the credit bureau to get their address. It is almost impossible to get a live body 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 directory (1-800-555-1212) 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 step three.

Step 3
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.

Step 4
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 your 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 thirty 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 keep you from being denied credit.