How do I Remove an Inquiry from My Credit Report?

Having inquiries on your credit report is normal, but sometimes inquiries can appear that you didn’t initiate. Yes, you can dispute erroneous inquiries and potentially have them removed from your credit report.

How do I Remove an Inquiry from My Credit Report?

Here’s what you need to know about removing inquiries from your credit report.

What is a Credit Report Inquiry?

A credit report inquiry (also known as a “hard inquiry” or “hard credit check”) happens when a business checks your credit report.

There are two main types of credit inquiries:

Soft Inquiries

Soft inquiries are when you check your credit report or a business checks your credit without your direct permission (like for pre-approved credit card offers). Soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score.

Hard Inquiries

Hard inquiries are when you apply for new credit and the lender checks your credit report. Hard inquiries can lower your credit score slightly, but the impact is usually minor and temporary. Too many hard inquiries in a short period can indicate higher risk to lenders.

Why Would an Inquiry Appear on My Credit Report?

There are a few reasons why an inquiry might show up on your credit report:

  • You applied for new credit: Anytime you apply for a credit card, loan, mortgage, or other credit line, the lender will check your credit report. This results in a hard inquiry.
  • A creditor periodically reviews your account: Some lenders will periodically review your credit report to assess the risk of existing accounts. This may generate an inquiry.
  • You applied for utilities, cell phone service, etc: Many service providers check your credit before approving services. These inquiries appear on your credit reports.
  • Identity theft: If someone illegally uses your information to apply for credit, it could create an inquiry on your report.
  • Error: In rare cases, an inquiry could appear due to a clerical error or technical glitch.

When Should I Dispute an Inquiry?

You typically only need to dispute an inquiry if it does not match a credit application you completed. Here are some examples of inquiries that may warrant dispute:

  • An inquiry from a company you did not apply to for credit
  • Multiple inquiries from the same company on the same day
  • Inquiries for accounts you never opened

Before disputing an inquiry, always check your records. Make sure you don’t simply forget about an application. If you’re certain it’s an error, you can move forward with the dispute process.

How to Dispute an Inquiry

Disputing an inquiry requires contacting the credit reporting agency/companies (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax) that show the inquiry. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Identify the Inquiry

  • Get copies of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Review the “Inquiries” section and look for any questionable inquiries. Note the company names.

Step 2: Contact the Creditor

  • Contact the creditor/company that inquired question.
  • Explain that you did not authorize the inquiry and ask them to remove it.
  • Get confirmation in writing if they agree to deletion.

Step 3: Dispute with Credit Bureaus

If the company does not remove the inquiry, dispute it with the credit bureaus:

  • File a dispute with each bureau (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion)
  • Explain in writing that the inquiry was unauthorized.
  • Include any documentation that supports your claim.
  • Request that the item be deleted from your report.

Step 4: Follow Up

  • The credit bureaus have 30-45 days to investigate the dispute.
  • Monitor your credit reports and ensure the inquiry was removed.
  • If not, file another dispute or request an investigation.

How to Prevent Erroneous Inquiries

While inquiries may be impossible to avoid completely, there are ways to reduce unwanted ones:

  • Opt out of prescreened credit card offers that can prompt soft inquiries.
  • Freeze your credit reports to block all new inquiries.
  • Set up credit monitoring to track new inquiries in real-time.
  • Mark your mail as “Return to Sender” if it’s addressed to someone who doesn’t live at your address.
  • Routinely check your credit reports for any unrecognized inquiries.
  • Be cautious about giving out your social security number.

The Impact of Removing Inquiries

Removing an erroneous inquiry won’t result in a big credit score increase. One stray inquiry that you dispute likely won’t lower your score that much to begin with. However, removing it gets your credit report one step closer to perfect accuracy.

Over time, keeping your reports inquiry-free can benefit your credit scores. Too many inquiries can negatively impact your scores, so try to dispute any erroneous ones when possible.

When Inquiries Will Not Be Removed

In some cases, you may not be able to delete an inquiry from your credit report:

  • If the inquiry was valid and authorized, credit bureaus likely will not remove it.
  • Even if you close an account, the inquiry history may remain for up to 2 years.
  • If you do not recognize an inquiry, but the creditor confirms it’s valid, it probably won’t be deleted.
  • Older inquiries usually cannot be removed once they age more than 1-2 years.

If you cannot get an inquiry deleted, don’t worry too much about a single item. Just continue practicing good credit habits going forward.

Alternatives to Removing Inquiries

If you have difficulty removing an inquiry from your report, consider these alternatives:

  • Add a statement to your credit report disputing the inquiry.
  • Ask the creditor to note that you dispute the inquiry in their records.
  • Provide context to lenders about the inquiry if it impacts a credit application.
  • Apply for credit only when needed to minimize inquiries.
  • Increase your credit scores to offset the inquiry’s minor impact.

With patience and perseverance, you can often remove unwanted inquiries from your credit history. But even if one remains, focus on all the positive data in your credit reports as well. A few stray inquiries will not doom your creditworthiness if the rest of your profile is solid.

Conclusion

Checking your credit reports regularly can help you catch any unauthorized inquiries early. If you discover an inquiry that you don’t recognize, take steps to have it removed by disputing it with the credit bureau and contacting the company that made it.

While removing inquiries has minor credit score benefits, it’s worthwhile to correct errors and maintain the accuracy of your credit history. With diligence, you can keep your credit reports free of erroneous inquiries.

More Related Content