If you are worried about hard inquiries on your credit report, a paid service is not likely to help and might actually be a scam.
When you apply for credit, the lender or creditor will usually check your credit report to assess your creditworthiness. This credit check is known as a hard inquiry and is recorded on your credit report.
While a single hard inquiry is unlikely to impact your credit score significantly, multiple inquiries within a short period can lower your score and may be seen as a sign of credit-seeking behavior.
Unfortunately, numerous services claim to be able to remove hard inquiries from your credit report. These services may promise to use legal loopholes or other strategies to remove hard credit inquiries, but in reality, many are scams at worst and ineffective at best. These services can be risky and may cost you money without delivering the promised results.
In this article, we'll look at hard inquiries and why they matter for your credit report. We'll also explore the risks of using hard inquiry removal services and provide alternatives for improving your credit report.
This article aims to help you understand how to manage your credit and avoid credit report inquiry removal flimflam.
What's a credit inquiry?
A credit inquiry is just a request to review your credit file or report. These inquiries fit into two types or categories, according to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Hard inquiries. These lender inquiries run after you apply for credit. These inquiries will impact your credit score because most credit scoring models consider how recently and frequently you apply for credit.
Examples of hard credit inquiries include:
- credit card applications,
- rental or mortgage applications,
- automobile loan applications,
- mobile phone applications,
- and some types of student loans.
Soft inquiries. These are reviews of your credit file. Think of them as pre-screenings, reviews, or free annual reviews that will not change your credit score.
Soft credit inquiries are things like:
- background checks,
- employment credit checks,
- IRS tax refund identification,
- free annual credit reports,
- credit pre-approvals,
- insurance applications,
- and credit limit increases.
Why You Should Avoid Hard Inquiry Removal Services
While it may be tempting to use a hard inquiry removal service to improve your credit report, there may be risks.
In at least some cases, there are services that take advantage of people looking for a quick fix to their credit problems. To make matters worse, the folks who seek out these services might already be struggling with credit and debt.
Here are some of the risks of using hard inquiry removal services:
Scams — unfortunately, some hard inquiry removal services are scams that take your money and don't deliver the promised results. There have been reports that some of these services may even engage in illegal or unethical practices, such as disputing accurate inquiries or creating false identities. It's essential to research and read reviews before using any credit repair or monitoring services.
Inaccurate information — some hard inquiry removal services may promise to remove legitimate inquiries from your credit report, which is impossible. If you dispute accurate information on your credit report, it can actually harm your credit score and make it more difficult to obtain credit in the future.
Unethical practices — even if a hard inquiry removal service can remove inaccurate inquiries from your credit report, they may use unethical methods. For example, they may create false identities or dispute inquiries on your behalf without your knowledge or consent. These practices can be illegal and land you in hot water with credit reporting agencies and law enforcement.
The risks of using hard inquiry removal services far outweigh any potential benefits. It's always better to focus on improving your credit report through legitimate means, such as paying down debt, making on-time payments, and keeping your credit use low.
If there is inaccurate information on your credit report, you can dispute it with the credit bureaus directly.
How to Remove Hard Inquiries from Your Credit Report
As mentioned above, a hard inquiry occurs when a lender or creditor checks your credit report as part of the process of deciding whether to approve your credit application.
In the United States, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires credit bureaus —think Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax— to let you know when there is a hard inquiry of your report, and, de facto, this is done by showing those "hard pulls" on your credit report. Thus the credit monitoring that comes with your bank account or credit card can help identify these.
Here are some options for removing a hard inquiry from your credit report:
Dispute the inquiry — you can dispute the accuracy of the inquiry with the reporting credit bureau. You can dispute the inquiry online, by mail, or by phone. The credit bureau will investigate your dispute and remove the inquiry if it is inaccurate. The key here is that the inquiry needs to be an error. If it was a legitimate credit request, it will stay on your report for 12-to-24 months.
Request a goodwill adjustment — you can contact the lender or creditor who made the inquiry and ask them to remove it as a goodwill gesture. This option is relatively more likely to work if you have a good payment history with the lender.
Wait for it to fall off — hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years, but their impact on your credit score diminishes over time. After six months, the impact on your score is usually minimal.
It's important to mention that removing a hard inquiry may not have a significant impact on your credit score, especially if you have a strong credit history. However, if you have multiple hard inquiries within a short period, it can lower your credit score and may be seen as a sign of credit-seeking behavior.
Improve Your Credit Score Without an Inquiry Removal Service
While hard credit inquiry removal services may promise a quick fix for your credit report, there are legitimate ways to improve your credit without resorting to these services.
Here are some alternatives for improving your credit report:
Pay off your debt — one of the most effective ways to improve your credit report is to pay down your debt. Paying off a debt will lower your credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of credit you're using compared to your total credit limit. A lower credit utilization ratio can help improve your credit score.
Keep credit utilization low — besides paying down debt, it's important to keep your credit utilization low. Keep your credit utilization below 30 percent of your total credit limit. If you have a high credit utilization, it can indicate that you may be overextended and could be a risk to lenders.
Make on-time payments — your payment history is one of the most decisive factors in determining your credit score. Making on-time payments is crucial for maintaining good credit. If you have trouble making payments on time, consider setting up automatic payments or reminders to help you stay on track.
Monitor your credit report — monitoring your credit report can help you identify errors or fraudulent activity that could be impacting your credit score. You're entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year. Consider checking your credit report annually or signing up for a credit monitoring service to stay on top of changes to your credit report.
The key to improving your credit report is to practice good credit habits over time. While looking for quick fixes or easy solutions may be tempting, the best way to maintain a good credit score is to be responsible with your credit and manage it carefully.
By paying down debt, making on-time payments, keeping credit utilization low, and monitoring your credit report, you can take control of your credit and improve your creditworthiness over time.
While hard inquiry removal services may promise a quick fix for your credit report, the risks associated with these services far outweigh any potential benefits.
At least some of these services are scams that take advantage of people looking for an easy solution to their credit problems. Instead of relying on hard inquiry removal services, there are legitimate ways to improve your credit report.
By paying down debt, making on-time payments, keeping credit utilization low, and monitoring your credit report, you can take control of your credit and improve your creditworthiness over time. It's important to be patient and persistent when it comes to managing your credit, as it can take time to see significant improvements in your credit score.
If you do have inaccurate information on your credit report, you can dispute it directly with the credit bureaus. However, legitimate inquiries cannot be removed from your credit report, so be wary of any service that promises to do so.
Overall, the key to maintaining a good credit score is to practice good credit habits over time. By being responsible with your credit and managing it carefully, you can improve your creditworthiness and achieve your financial goals.
- "What's a credit inquiry?" via the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
- "How do I dispute an error on my credit report?" via the CFPB.
- "How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?" from You, Money, Happiness.
- "How to Remove Hard Inquiries From Your Credit Report" by Experian.
- "How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report?" from CapitalOne.