Q. Can I get rid of hard inquiries on my credit report?
— Credit bothered
A. Yes, you can get rid of hard inquiries on your credit report!
Before we go there, let’s go over what a hard inquiry is and what it means.
Whenever organizations pull your credit report, they are “making an inquiry” and those inquiries are either hard or soft, said Cynthia Aiken, a certified financial planner with RegentAtlantic in Morristown.
She said hard inquiries are those when you give a lender permission to pull your credit report.
“Most often, this occurs when you are applying for a loan,” Aiken said. “Other hard inquiries may be due to requests relating to a new insurance policy, job application or cell phone.”
When your existing creditors check your credit or when a business checks your report with the intention of selling you services or products, these are soft inquiries.
Soft inquiries do not impact your credit score, Aiken said, but hard inquiries can ding your score by five to 10 points for 12 months, and they stay on your report for two years before dropping off.
So how do you make a hard inquiry go away?
Check your reports to see if the hard inquiry applies across all three bureaus and if you authorized it.
When disputing a hard inquiry, you can approach either the creditor that made the inquiry or the credit bureaus, Aiken said.
“If contacting the creditor, you can begin by requesting that they remove the inquiry as a courtesy,” she said. “If you did not authorize the inquiry, then request in writing that they remove it due to lack of authorization. Send your letter by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested.”
If you decide to approach the credit bureaus, you can request removal of the inquiry if you did not authorize it, she said.
Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Section 604, a creditor shouldn’t have access to a consumer credit report unless the individual has provided written permission or credit access is court-ordered or requested by a state or local government agency in relation to child support, Aiken said.
She said if you have been a victim of identity theft, it is wise to request removal of hard inquiries.
“Note that the credit bureaus will impose a fraud alert on your credit when you make this request,” she said.
The fraud alert typically lasts 90 days and lenders will need hard copies of your personal information if you are applying for credit in those 90 days.
“If you are concerned about unauthorized inquiries, you may place a freeze on your credit report, which will prevent lenders or creditors from accessing your credit information,” she said. “You can unfreeze it when you are applying for a loan.”
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