How to Remove hard Inquiries from Your Credit Report (For Real)

Written by Kim PinnelliUpdated: 17th Aug 2021
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In this Article: Find out right now how to remove hard inquiries from your credit report and protect your credit score.

Unauthorized credit inquiries could be a sign of identity theft. Catching them and disputing hard inquiries quickly is important not only for your credit score but your finances too.

If you don’t dispute them, not only can your credit score drop, but thieves may getaway using your identity to open new credit. Talk about a nightmare.

The results can be devastating, but if you know how to remove hard inquiries from your credit report AND protect yourself, you’ll come out the winner.

Quick Review: Hard Inquiries 101

Hard inquiries occur only when you apply for new credit. Fill out an application for a car loan – that’s a hard inquiry. Apply for a credit card online – that’s a hard inquiry too.

Any time you apply for credit, the inquiry shows up on your credit report and knocks your credit score down a few points.

Pulling your credit yourself, credit card pre-approval offers, and employers checking your credit aren’t hard inquiries and don’t affect your credit. These are known as soft inquiries.

Hard inquiries aren’t a ‘bad thing’ when used correctly. Timing them, so you only get hit with one inquiry, not over applying for unnecessary credit, and watching out for inquiries that you didn’t authorize provide you with a healthy credit score.

Why Do Hard Inquiries Hurt Your Credit?

Hard inquiries signify that you’re trying to get new credit. That’s not a bad thing except when you do so incessantly, then it’s a red flag.

It tells lenders you are desperate for money and may not pay your bills on time or at all.

Hard inquiries don’t hurt your credit a ton, but five points here and there adds up. If you don’t do it ‘right’ you could knock your score down quite a bit just because you apply for credit too often.

Instead, only apply when you need the credit and when it makes sense to do so.

In short, don’t apply for every credit opportunity that comes your way – it makes you look desperate to lenders when you really do need the money, say for a car loan or mortgage.

Can You Dispute Hard Inquiries?

You have the right to dispute anything incorrect or unfair on your credit report. It’s your right according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and that includes inquiries.

Why would you care?

Here are a few reasons.

  • If you didn’t apply for the credit, the inquiry is an unfair representation of your financial responsibility.
  • It could be a sign of identity theft.
  • It may make it harder to get credit when you need it.

Should You Remove Hard Inquiries from Your Credit Report?

Hard inquiries that don’t belong to you should be removed from your credit report. While they only hit your credit score for five points, it is what they stand for that matters the most.

Inquiries tell lenders you may or may not have other credit outstanding that is not yet on your credit report.

It could affect your approval on the loan you do need, and if it is not a legit inquiry, it shouldn’t be there.

How to Remove Hard Inquiries from Your Credit Report (Step-by-Step)

#1: Obtain a FREE Copy of Your Credit Report

To remove hard inquiries from your credit report, you must know what’s on it. Pull your FREE credit report here.

Pull all three bureaus – you get free access annually. Right now, though, they are offering all consumers free weekly access due to the pandemic. Take advantage.

#2: Thoroughly Review Your Credit Report

Look at each credit report in the inquiries section. Do you recognize each inquiry? If not, look into it.

Maybe it is a company that operates under a different name that you don’t recognize, but you applied for credit. If not, make note of it, because you’ll need to dispute it.

Unauthorized Hard Inquiries

Here’s the thing. You must provide approval for hard inquiries. They only occur with the intent to lend. If you didn’t provide your approval, then it’s unauthorized, and you must dispute it. Here’s how.

#3: Partner with a Credit Repair Company

Credit repair companies do this day in and day out. They know what to say to the credit bureaus to get them to remove unauthorized credit inquiries.

Credit repair companies know how to demand proof that you applied for the credit. If the creditor or credit bureau can’t supply the evidence, the credit bureau must delete the inquiry.

It sounds simple, but of course, the credit bureaus and creditors do not make it easy. It takes a lot of back and forth and patience to get to the bottom of it.

Most people give up, which is why using a credit repair company is crucial – they do not give up until they win.

Bonus Insight: Credit Saint is our favorite credit repair company. To date, they have removed thousands of hard inquiries and are affordable. They have helped thousands of hardworking Americans protect their credit score and build credit.

>> Still Not Sure? Read Our Credit Saint Review

#4: DIY Approach: File Dispute with the Credit Bureaus

Are you more of a DIY type person? Get your pen and paper ready because you’re going to write some killer credit dispute letters.

Give the credit bureaus all the information. Highlight the inquiries on your credit report for reference and then demand proof.

What type of proof? Anything and everything including:

  • How they obtained your permission to pull your credit
  • Proof of the permission or inquiry
  • The date you applied for the credit
  • The method you applied
  • The name of the person who processed the application

Exhaust all details. If they can’t provide proof of what you ask, they must delete the inquiry.

Again, this requires patience, a lot of phone calls, and tracking the paper trail to ensure you have all the details to fight it.

Yes, it’s your right to remove hard inquiries from your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act ensures that everything on your credit report is fair and accurate. If you can prove an inquiry isn’t fair or accurate, they must remove it.

Think about it. If you leave the inquiry there, it stays for 2 years. Now what if you have more inquiries (authorized or not), this hurts your credit score and your reputation more.

When you need credit, say a mortgage, you may not get it because the inquiries stand in your way.

Use your legal right to remove the hard inquires that you didn’t authorize.

Can You Remove Hard Inquiries from Your Credit Report?

You can remove hard inquiries from your credit report, but it takes time. It’s not going to happen overnight, and if you aren’t persistent in your efforts, it won’t get removed.

Have patience, be strong, and always have a paper trail so you can refer back to it should something fall through the cracks.

How Long Will a Hard Inquiry Stay on My Credit Report?

Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for 2 years. They do not affect your credit score that long, but they’ll always be that little red flag on your credit report, forcing lenders to see it.

Old inquiries do not often harm anything, but recent inquiries (within the last year) could be an issue.

If nothing else, lenders may ask about them. They may want proof that the inquiry did not result in new credit if they don’t see a tradeline that coincides with the inquiry.

It may be harder to prove that you do not have a new tradeline than if you did. Inquiries cause headaches that you just don’t need.

Only apply for credit when you need it to avoid these issues.

Looking Ahead: Monitor Your Credit Report Routinely

Unauthorized inquiries are a sign of identity theft. Monitoring your credit report regularly is the only way to stop it.

If you only pull your credit report once a year, that’s an entire year that a thief could use your identity.

Instead, check your credit report monthly. Know the inquiries that you authorized and dispute the ones you didn’t.

If you see unauthorized inquiries, look into other areas where hackers could have stolen your information.

Are there new tradelines you don’t recognize? Did your credit score drop? Are there unauthorized charges on your credit cards?

Monitoring your credit regularly ensures you catch any and all of these issues as early as possible to prevent serious problems.

Bottom Line: How to Remove Hard Inquiries from Your Credit Report

Inquiries seem like such a small detail on your credit report, but they’re bigger than you realize. They give a lot of insight into your level of credit responsibility and potential identity theft.

Any inquiries you authorize, make sure they are for a good reason and within a short window when you shop around.

Inquiries you do not authorize, make sure you dispute as quickly as possible to stop the threat of identity theft and the financial devastation it can cause.

Additional Items that Affect Your Credit (Remove Them):

Kim Pinnelli
Kim Pinnelli

Kim Pinnelli is a Senior Writer, Editor, & Product Analyst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been a professional financial writer for over 15 years, and has appeared in a myriad of industry leading financial media outlets. Leveraging her personal experience, Kim is committed to helping people take charge of their personal finances and make simple financial decisions.