Hard Inquiry Removal From Credit Report? [COMPLETE GUIDE]

Shawn Manaher
Shawn Manaher
Updated on December 2, 2022
hard inquiry removal

If you have a hard inquiry on your credit report, you might be wondering how to get it removed. This guide has everything you need to know. 

Hard inquiries have a negative impact on your credit score that can make it harder for you to secure loans and get funds when you need them if you’re trying to build your credit, having a hard inquiry on the report can be difficult. 

The best ways to remove inaccurate hard inquiries are to always check your credit reports, look for inaccurate hard inquiries, and to submit disputes as soon as possible. 

Inaccurate hard inquiries need to be disputed and removed from the credit report as soon as possible. This will ensure that it can be removed and that all signs of fraud are reported and monitored right away. If the hard inquiry was not a mistake, though, you would find a hard time getting it removed. 

What Is A Hard Inquiry? 

A hard inquiry will show on your report when submitting an application for a loan or credit card. A lender and business will check your credit report to see your credit score. Lenders often want to do this when they’re assessing the risks for them since you are a potential borrower. 

In general, lenders want to lend to people that are less risky borrowers since they are more likely to give them their money back. Hard inquiries will usually bring your credit score down by about five points. They impact your credit score for one year but will show on the report for about two years. 

Hard inquiries are different from soft inquiries. Soft inquiries do not have as large of an impact on your credit score. They will happen when a lender or credit card provider wants to preapprove you for offers. Once you submit a real application though, the lender will need to do a hard inquiry on your credit report to make sure your credit score and debt to income ratio are in line with the standards they have for borrowing. 

Why It’s Important To Remove Inaccurate Hard Inquiries?

There are some points in your life where you will get hard inquiries on your credit report when you are applying for loans like auto loans or mortgages. If you see a hard inquiry on your report and know that it’s legitimate, you do not need to report it. Legitimate hard inquiries cannot be removed from your credit report. 

You will need to wait 12 months for it to stop affecting your score and two years for it to drop off your credit report. 

If you notice a hard inquiry that should not be there, you need to report it right away. You should report anything you do not recognize. Any hard inquiry will impact your credit score, so you shouldn’t leave it on the report and get penalized for something that you did not do. 

A hard inquiry you do not recognize could also be a sign of fraud. If you think there has been fraud on your accounts, you also need to investigate your bank accounts and credit card accounts to make sure no one has been taking money and that no one has been applying for loans or credit cards in your name. 

How To Remove Inaccurate Hard Inquiries?

Once you see a hard inquiry on your account that you do not recognize, make sure to begin the steps for removing it right away. It’s not very difficult to remove the inquiry from your report, but it does take a few steps you need to be aware of.

Check Your Credit Reports for Free

Make sure you are checking your credit reports often to make sure there is no activity that you do not recognize. There are three main credit bureaus including Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Most of the time, you will see the same information on all three. However, it’s worth checking all three to make sure they list the same thing. Some might also list an inquiry when others do not.

You can use many different online tools to get a free credit report. You can also get an annual free credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com. Ideally, though, you need to be checking your reports more than once a year.

Look For Any Inaccurate Hard Inquiries

Once you have accessed your credit report, make sure to check under the section that says, “hard inquiries.” It will list all your hard inquiries from the last two years. Make sure to go through the list and make a note of any you do not recognize.

Keep in mind though that the company you are doing business with is not always how the name is listed on the credit report. This might be the case if there is a retailer partner that uses a bank to manage their credit program.

For example, if you get a credit card from a store, your credit report will most likely not show the name of the store, but the name of the bank they use for their credit program. You can always call the store and ask who they use for the credit program to see what it will be listed as on the report so you can prepare yourself.

Submit A Dispute

There are several reasons why an inaccurate credit dispute might happen. If you were shopping around for a car or a particular service, the company might have checked your credit report without you knowing. If the company checked your credit report without you signing a document giving them permission, you can dispute the inquiry.

Companies should always ask you to authorize a credit report check before they do one. You might also see hard credit inquiries that you do not recognize at all. This could just be a mistake or it could be a sign of fraud.

You should always reach out to the company that did the inquiry and ask them why it was done. If you think there is fraud, you need to put up a credit freeze or a fraud alert. Make sure to report illegitimate inquiries with all three of the bureaus, not just one.

Disputing Inaccurate Hard Inquiries

As you can see from above, it’s important to always check your credit reports for accuracy. You should always check for signs of identity theft. Make sure to file a dispute with TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You should be able to find a file dispute option under your account.

Before filing a dispute, you will often need to confirm your information so that the bureau knows it’s you. You will need to answer some security questions. You also need to see if the inquiry was a result of identity theft.

If you have also had activity on your bank account and with your social security number, the result might be because of identity theft and not just a mistake with the hard inquiry on your credit report.

However, there are some reasons why you might see a charge you do not recognize when it is fact still legitimate. Here are the most common reasons:

  • You gave your social security number to a vendor and they took that as authorization to check your credit report for financing reasons. As stated above though, you can still report this as fraud since you never actually gave permission. 
  • A car dealership sent your application to many different lenders to try and find the best interest rate. If this is the case, it’s considered rate shopping and you will see the inquiries drop off after a few weeks. 
  • The same scenario might also happen with mortgage applications. Mortgage servicers might send your application off to many different lenders to see what the best interest rates are. 
  • You might also see a bank name you don’t know if you applied for store credit cards and they use a specific bank for their credit card programs. 

 When in doubt, always contact the name of the company that is on the report. They should be able to tell you what their company does and give you some reasons as to why their name appears on your credit report.

After you have submitted a dispute, you can check the progress of it under the dispute center on your account. If the bureau decides that the inquiry was fraudulent or a result of identity theft, it will be removed from the report.

In Closing

If you want to remove a hard inquiry from your report, it needs to be because it was the result of fraud or identity theft. You cannot remove a hard inquiry just because it dropped your score and you want to see it removed.

Make sure to check your credit report regularly. Once you see an inquiry you do not recognize, submit a dispute to all three of the credit bureaus. You can contact the company listed on the inquiry as well to get more information.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author.

He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.

He loves to share his personal finance tips and money management wisdom with others to help them find financial freedom.
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