How do you get hard inquires off your credit reports?
The short answer is, you may not want to go to the trouble of removing hard inquiries from your credit reports, but it is possible to remove them if you did not authorize the hard inquiries.
Credit inquiries fall into two general categories: hard inquiries and soft inquiries.
Hard inquiries appear when a potential lender checks a consumer's credit report or credit reports as a result of the consumer applying for new credit. Hard inquiries impact a credit score negatively, and appear on a credit report for two years. The effects of a hard inquiry on a FICO score fade after six months, are negligible after a year, and as mentioned disappear after two years. Fair Isaac & Co., the creator of the FICO scoring algorithm, scores all vehicle, mortgage, and student loan-related hard inquiries that occur within a 14 day window as one hard inquiry. If you are shopping person shopping for a vehicle or mortgage loan, be aware of the 14-day rule, so you are not penalized for multiple, related hard inquiries.
Soft inquiries appear when a company pulls a consumer's credit report without your prior authorization, or when a consumer pulls their own report. For example, an unsolicited pre-approval from a credit card issuer results in a soft inquiry. Soft inquiries are not disclosed to potential lenders when they pull a credit report, and they do not affect a consumer's credit score. The primary purpose of soft inquiries is to allow the consumer to see who has been reviewing their credit report.
A consumer may dispute a hard inquiry if the consumer did not authorize it under the Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(c)(3). If you notice a hard inquiry you did not authorize, then send a letter to the creditor and ask it to remove the unauthorized inquiry from your credit report. If that is ineffective, then dispute your credit report with each of the credit reporting agencies that show the hard inquiry.
Consider disputing hard inquiries only if there are many you did not authorize. However, if you opened an account with a bank, credit union, or credit card issuer, or got a car loan or mortgage, these legitimate hard inquiries are accurate and were authorized, and therefore cannot be disputed.
Consumers can choose to place a security freeze (aka, credit freeze) on their credit file. A credit freeze prevents a credit reporting agency from issuing information about a consumer to a creditor requesting a hard inquiry. To place a credit freeze on an account, the consumer must do so at each of the three major credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each of the credit reporting agencies offer a Web page that allow a consumer to do so. A freeze places a PIN number on your account, and only you or someone you tell the PIN to can access your credit report. A credit freeze makes it impossible for someone to open a new account in your name.
Contact each of the three consumer credit reporting companies separately to begin the freeze process. A freeze costs nothing, $5, $10, or $20 depending on your state of residence. The process is free if you have proof you are a credit theft victim.
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