It’s not abnormal to become obsessed with your FICO score when it’s time to apply for credit. If it’s stellar, you’ll qualify for the most competitive terms and interest rates, and your chances of rejection will be low assuming everything else checks out. But if it’s on the lower end of the spectrum, you could be hit with exorbitant rates, crappy terms, or even worse, be rejected altogether.
So it may be worthwhile to take a peek before applying to see where your stand. And don’t worry. Your credit score will not be impacted if you check it.
However, that’s not necessarily the case when your creditors or lenders access your credit report or score. Read on to learn why.
Types of Credit Inquiries
There are two types of credit inquiries that you should be aware of.
A hard inquiry is generated each time you submit an application for a credit card or loan product, including a mortgage, student loan, auto loan, or personal loan. When you apply for an apartment, the landlord will also check your credit, resulting in a hard inquiry.
In most instances, each hard inquiry will deduct between two and five points from your FICO score. But if you rack up multiple hard inquiries in a small window of time, your credit score could take a hit. The exception to the rule: rate shopping. When you submit multiple applications to creditors to see who has the most competitive rate on financing, your credit score will not take a major hit as long as you find a loan within 30 days, thanks to rate shopping.
If you’re a credit newbie or have limited accounts in your credit profile, keep in mind that hard credit inquiries could mean bad news for your credit score. New credit, which accounts for 10 percent of your credit history, is where hard inquiries come into play. But if there’s not much other information in your report, this section may hold more weight and in turn, hurt your FICO score.
Soft inquiries, which have no bearing on your credit score, are generated when you access your own credit report. You may also notice soft inquiries on your credit report when:
- A creditor or lender views your credit profile for prescreened offers
- An insurance agency review your credit profile to determine if they should offer you coverage and what the premiums should be
- A prospective employer or some other entity conducts a background check that includes a credit screening
- Your current credit card issuer pulls your credit to determine if you qualify for a special promotion without your prior knowledge. (If you request a lower rate, it will more than likely result in a hard inquiry).
- You use a prequalification tool online from a creditor or lender’s website to determine if you’re eligible for a credit card or loan offer, and with what terms. (Before using these tools, read the fine print to confirm that you’re not submitting a formal application and only a soft inquiry will be generated).
Help! There Are Fraudulent Hard Inquiries On My Credit Report
The good news is you can file formal disputes with the three credit bureaus to have the fraudulent hard credit inquiries removed by following the steps listed below. But before you do so, keep in mind that it’s best to submit them separately as the credit bureaus don’t notify one another when they receive dispute requests. And it would be pointless to have fraudulent hard inquiries removed from one report and not the other.
How to File a Dispute
|Online||By Mail||By Phone|
|Equifax||Online Dispute Page||Equifax
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Hours of Operation:
Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST)
|Experian||Online Dispute Center||Experian
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
|TransUnion||Credit Dispute Center||TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
Need additional assistance getting started? You can file comprehensive guides on how to file formal disputes with the credit bureaus using the links below:
An Important Note
The best way to file a dispute is by mail to maintain a paper trail. There’s no way to do so if you decide to call in, and when you file a dispute online, you automatically waive the right to a redispute if your initial grievance is rejected.
How Often Should You Check Your Credit Score?
While you may be inclined to do check your credit score often to monitor your progress, it’s more important to keep tabs on what’s happening with your credit report. Why so? Well, it’s the information in your credit report that’s used to calculate your credit score. So if it’s incorrect or untimely, your score will suffer as a result.