Credit inquiries won’t necessarily tank your credit score, but they can lower it by more than a few points if you’re not careful. But what about credit inquiries that you didn’t authorize? Keep reading to learn how to have them removed. You can also use our credit inquiry removal letter template to get started.
What is a credit inquiry removal letter?
A credit inquiry removal letter is used to alert the credit bureaus of an unauthorized inquiry and request that it be removed. Upon receipt, it is the credit bureaus duty to investigate your claim with the information provider and make a decision about whether it should remain or be deleted from your credit report.
While inquiries don’t have a major impact on your credit score, damage could result if too many appear in a short window of time. That’s why it’s important to have unauthorized inquiries removed as your report should only reflect what is accurate.
What are the different types of credit inquiries?
There are two types of inquiries that appear on your credit report.
Hard credit inquiries
Also known as voluntary credit inquiries, hard credit inquiries are generated when you submit an application for a debt product. This includes personal loans, student loans, auto loans, home loans, and credit cards.
They are classified as voluntary because they stem from actions take on your behalf to obtain credit. In essence, you’re granting lenders and creditors permission to review your credit profile to reach a lending decision.
Each time a hard credit inquiry appears on your credit report, your credit score will decrease between two and five points. However, an exception to the rule applies to what’s known as rate shopping.
In a nutshell, rate shopping allows you to apply with multiple lenders without sustaining too much damage to your credit score. The FICO scoring model will recognize that you are shopping for the most competitive loan product and will group all related hard inquiries generated in a 45-day window into a single credit inquiry.
This means you have the freedom to apply with various lenders when you’re searching for the best deal on an auto loan, home loan, personal loan, or student loan. And while this may seem a bit too tedious for you, it’s definitely worthwhile to do your homework until you find a low interest rate as a small increase could cost you hundreds or thousands more over the life of the loan.
Soft credit inquiries
Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries have no impact on your credit score. Why so? In some instances, they result from credit pulls that you did not authorize, which is more common than you may realize.
In fact, scores of creditors and lenders screen credit data to determine if consumers potentially qualify for their offerings. Those that seem to be a good fit will receive unsolicited correspondence by mail inviting the prospects to apply.
Your current creditors may also run soft credit checks to gauge how you’re managing your existing debt obligations. If there are signs of chronic mismanagement or financial trouble on the horizon, they may decrease your credit limit or close out your account altogether to minimize the risk of default on their account. On the contrary, current creditors could also like what they see and consequently increase your credit line or invite you to take advantage of a special promotion they’re offering.
You may also have soft credit inquiries on your report from a credit card or loan pre-approval. Select lenders and credit card providers afford you the opportunity to submit your information to determine if you have a strong chance of qualifying for their offerings with no impact to their credit score. This is a win-win for consumers as they can determine if a debt product is worth applying for without affecting their credit score.
How long do credit inquiries remain on your credit report?
Hard credit inquiries sit on your report for 24 months. However, they are only factored into the FICO scoring model for 12 months, which means your score will no longer be impacted after this time period.
What happens when you check your own credit?
Afraid to check your own credit? Don’t be. Credit checks you initiate count as soft inquiries and will not impact your credit score.
Writing credit inquiry removal letters
Have you reviewed your credit report and noticed hard inquiries that you did not authorize? The next step is to draft up a letter to have the items removed.
What to include
Before you sit down and start pecking away at your keyboard, be sure you have your credit report on hand. You’ll want to highlight or circle the inquiry in question. A photocopy of this report should be included with your letter. That way, the credit bureaus will know exactly which inquiry to investigate.
The next step is to draft up the letter using language that is concise and clearly conveys what you’re seeking. Be sure to include the following components in your letter:
- Name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth
- Today’s date
- Reason for the dispute
- Description of the inquiry (including the creditor’s name, date of the inquiry, and page number of where it appears in your credit report)
- Request for prompt removal
- The credit report or the confirmation number that includes the unauthorized inquiry
How to submit a credit inquiry dispute letter (where to send)
When your letter is received by the credit bureaus, they have 30 days to respond or the inquiry must be removed from your credit report. Below are your options to confirm your package lands in the right hands:
Equifax: P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Experian: P.O. Box 9701, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
Experian: disputes can only be filed by mail or online
*Quick note: You should also contact the lender or creditor that reported the inquiry to your credit report. Make them aware of your active dispute and kindly ask that they remove the credit inquiry from your report. They may be willing to do so before the letter even reaches their office, which expedites the process.
Sample credit inquiry removal letter
(City, State, Zip Code)
(Social Security Number)
(Date of Birth)
(Credit Report Dispute Department)
(Credit Bureau Name)
(City, State, Zip Code)
To whom it may concern,
The reason for this letter it to dispute an unauthorized inquiry on my credit report. On (insert date of report), I retrieved a copy of my credit report (insert credit report number) and discovered an inquiry that I have no knowledge of.
Because I did not apply for credit with (insert creditor or lender), I have also reached out asking that they remove the inquiry from my credit profile.
Please launch an investigation into (creditor’s name) inquiry to determine who authorized it. Upon completion, please provide written correspondence that details the results of your findings.
If you find that the inquiry is invalid, I am requesting that it be removed from my credit report as soon as possible. But if (creditor’s name) is able to prove that the inquiry is indeed valid, please provide written proof and a description of how the investigation was conducted.
Thanks in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.
(insert signature here)
What to do if my credit inquiry removal letter is ignored
You have the option to initiate another dispute or hire a professional credit repair company to do the legwork for you. If you’re leaning towards the latter, keep in mind that it’s only a worthwhile investment if you have other negative entries in your credit report that need to be addressed.
But if the questionable inquiry is older or isn’t making a big dent in your credit score, it may be worthwhile to just ignore it altogether and let time run its course until it falls off your report.