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How to Remove Unauthorized Credit Inquiries

Written by Allison Martin

You’ve spent several years rebuilding your credit. Now that your score is well over 700, you decide to apply for an airline credit card to take advantage of the perks. Unfortunately, the creditor rejects the application.

So, you give them a call, only to discover there are too many recent inquiries on your credit report. The only problem is you haven’t applied for credit in years. There must be some sort of error!

What’s the best way to handle this situation?

Types of Credit Inquiries

Before taking action, you should familiarize yourself with the types of credit inquiries.

Hard Inquiries

When you apply for credit, a hard or voluntary inquiry appears on your credit report. The decrease in your credit score is usually no more than five points. But it depends on how many new accounts you have along with the number of recent credit inquiries, notes my FICO.

You should also know that “rate shopping” isn’t detrimental to your score if done within a 45 day period. Instead, all hard pulls for this time frame count as a single inquiry. Rate shopping is applicable when exploring auto loan, mortgage or student loan options.

Soft Inquiries

Soft or involuntary inquiries occur when you check your own credit. They also surface when companies screen your credit for promotional offers. This includes pre-qualification offers for personal loans, credit cards or auto loans. Soft inquiries do not affect your score.

A Step-by-Step Guide

Too many hard inquiries could send a negative message to potential creditors. So, you should get unauthorized inquiries removed sooner than later. Here’s some guidance to help you out:

Tip #1: How to Identify Unauthorized Credit Inquiries

There’s no way to know unauthorized credit inquiries are on your credit report unless you review it. So, head on over to www.annualcreditreport.com to retrieve a free copy from each of the credit bureaus.

(If you want to see your score, it’ll cost you a few bucks. Or you can access it without spending a dime with free credit monitoring services. More on that shortly).

But why should you care if you don’t have any suspicions? Well, too many unauthorized hard pulls in a short span of time could signal bigger problems. In other words, a fraudster may be exploring the playing field before he steals your identity.

And if you detect this beforehand, you’ll have a lot more to worry about than a few hard pulls.

Tip #2: Know Your Rights

Under the Fair Credit Credit Reporting Act, “you have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information,”notes the Federal Trade Commission.

Once you file a formal dispute, the consumer reporting agency must investigate your claim and issue a written response within 30 days.

Tip #3: Ways to Have It Removed

To file a formal dispute, you have two options:

(Quick note: if the consumer reporting agency feels that your dispute is frivolous, they can toss it out).

Should You Get a Lawyer Involved?

If you don’t feel comfortable filing a dispute, you can pay a credit repair firm to do it for you. But, it may not be worth the investment.

Unless your credit score took a huge dip, you’re rectifying the issue on your own. So, consider filing an online dispute before investing in an attorney. It’ll only take a few minutes of your time, and you can save your hard earned cash.

How to Prevent Unauthorized Credit Inquiries In the Future?

The best way to prevent unauthorized credit inquiries is to stay on top of your credit profile. There are a few ways to go about this:

  • Credit Monitoring: this is a great way to know what’s going on in your credit profile at all times. When you enroll, you will receive instant alerts via email or text of any activity in your credit profile. This means you won’t have to wait until you’re denied for credit to find out about unauthorized inquiries. You can stop an identity thief dead in their tracks the minute they make a move. Even better, you can file a dispute right away and protect your credit rating. Plus, there are several free and paid options to choose from, so you won’t have to break the bank to stay in the loop.
  • Fraud Alert: do you suspect the unauthorized credit inquiries are on your profile as a result of identity theft? Contact the credit bureaus and notify them of the issue. Not only will they be removed if you can substantiate your claims, but the credit bureaus will place a fraud alert on your credit profile. A fraud alert lasts for 90 days, and prompts creditors to require additional verification if you apply for credit. Once the fraud alert has expired, you can request that it be renewed. This is definitely a deterrent to identity thieves.
  • Security Freeze: a security freeze will prevent access to your credit profile by prospective lenders altogether. The freeze can only be lifted if you submit a formal request to the consumer reporting agency.

Finally, take the proper precautions to minimize the chances of your identity being hijacked by fraudsters. Take a peek at 7 Steps to Take Right Now to Protect Against Identity Theft to get started.

About the author

Allison Martin

Allison Martin is a digital content strategist and personal finance junkie. Her work has appeared on on a number of reputable sites, including The Wall Street Journal, Investopedia, Daily Finance, MSN Money and Credit.com. She also travels around the nation facilitating financial literacy workshops for nonprofits, governmental organizations, colleges and universities.

24 Comments

  • Annualcreditreport.com is NOT as cooperative as you may think. Nor is EQUIFAX. Both make it extremely difficult to get your file(s) online, without jumping through one or more onerous processes. They protect one another. It’s stacked against you, the consumer.

  • I saw someone leave an info under comment section on helping to repair credit. I was interested in knowing more and if the hacker still does this. I had poor credit, a old bankruptcy & problems with getting approved for a apartment due to 2 broken leases from the past which I explained to CREDIT BRAINIAC when I made contact to him. The hacker cleaned my credit records and boost my credit score within just few days of knowing him. Everyone having credit problems should reach him a t creditbrainiac.repair (@ g ma i l . com).

  • What’s the point of having a good credit score if the creditor still review your credit report before making a decision? In the process lowering your score. Isn’t the credit score reflective of your risk. Seems like the credit system is stacked to monopolize the borrower at both ends of the spectrum. They need us as much as we need them. Someone kindly enlighten me?

  • Well, look at the fine print when you authorize the merchant to do a credit check. You’ve often authorized them to check your credit any time in the future after this transaction – often times leading to multiple pulls you thought you hadn’t authorized.

  • HORRIBLE article. A FAQ with definitions would have been a better read. Devoid of any actionable advice. What is documentation we should show the credit reporting agencies, for instance?

  • I found after disputing each of the three(3) National Credit Bureaus three times, they will not remove your hard inquires. They send you this notice to contact the company’s and dispute with them. I know any accounts you can dispute, but they (NCB) are not doing their job. I have filed a complaint with Federal Trade Comn

  • Monty. The 13 point drop was likely a result of the inquiry AND the new account you where approved for showing up on your report. New accounts drop your average age of accounts.

    • It has grown much worse than the original 13 point drop. Now I am facing A FULL ON ATTACK on my credit score. I have gone from 785 to to 732 in 3 months time. Only one account has been opened and that is the only account applied for. My monthly balance runs about 10% of my credit limit. This is over a 50 point drop and there is no other information change on my credit report other than opening this single account.

  • I was preapproved with my bank for a car purchase. When I went into the dealership and filled out the paperwork. I told them I was preapproved for the loan with my bank. They told me I was eligible for 0% financing through the corporation. They asked me to fill out a credit application. I did and wrote on it for that corporation only….no others. Come to find out they checked 5 other banks and lowered my score some 50 pt. can I dispute these hard inquiries. This has happened to me a second time recently even though I have specified who they could check with.

  • I unsubscribed to The 800 Club, which you did, but you said it was a 100% money back guarantee for any reason. Well I see where you took my money, but I don’t see where you gave it back like you said you would. Can you please explain why you are not keeping your word and refunding the $19.97 you took from my account?

  • If 5 points are all we should see our credit score by upon a hard inquiry to our files then my question is “Which of the many credit scoring algorithms are you referring to?”. Many of us know FICO and Vantage the credit bureaus compete in this area with both selling credit scores based upon similar yet different methods to compute our credit scores. Within the systems to score credit there are sub areas that score credit based on very specific lending (Auto Loans, Credit Cards, Home Loans, Personal Loans, Ect.) bringing the total number of differing credit scores for an individual well up 20 potentially differing results for each person scored. This does not take into account other companies who are also in the business of credit scoring.

    To discuss this in a meaningful way we have to be specific about how we are being scored. Otherwise people have no way to know if those mentioned 5 points a hard pull might take off you credit score is from FICO or VANTAGE and which scoring algorithm within those two are being affected by 5 points.

    My credit is spotless but I only have about 2 & 1/2 years of reported data. There have been no bad marks of any kind on my credit report during this period of time and nothing but a completely clean report is what is seen when I review my 3 credit reports.

    How do we explain a 13 point loss in my credit score because of a single hard credit pull that was approved for a Master Card World Card? After reading what is said here this is very troubling to me and sounds like it should not be as it is. Even after the 13 point drop in my Vantage score I expect to see a much large drop in my FICO score. (The two reporting methods weigh things differently.)

    How can we consumers fix things like this? I have only 1 hard credit pull on my credit report. I waited over 2 years prior to applying for another Credit Card so the single past hard inquiry I had fell off the report. Now I am back to square one and the amount of credit history gathered in the 2 plus years seems meaningless where credit scores are concerned.

    How can you help a person with a 784 FICO – 8 score, at 2 credit bureaus, escape this seemingly harsh degradation in my credit score at the bureau where the hard inquiry was submitted?

  • How do I defend myself against a debt buyer got info about a charge off from an old bank account? I was going to work for a major company they run background check. Mine showed the bank charge off THEFT BY CHECK. PENDING
    The profession. I’m in. This was a death knell. O was already moving to another state when this info stops everything. The bank kept allowing an online crook keep grabbing money from my account after disputing this. Trying to cancel this never ending purchase now what can I do? I have started the dispute process but I don’t feel good about my chances. I got robbed plus no credit check was supposed to happen. Please help

  • I read above where you stated, “rate shopping isn’t detrimental to your score if done within a 45 day period. Instead, all hard pulls for this time frame count as a single inquiry.” Well, that is true with trans union, but equifax, I guess, did not receive your memo, because each of my inquiries when shopping for a car I eventually purchased, was counted as separate hard pulls. I am very upset about this. I sent them a letter concerning the matter and the outcome was, no change. My hard pulls with equifax are currently in the red! My score with equifax is currently a low 775 while trans union is 790.

    • Yes, each hard pull will show up but supposedly it won’t effect your score if it’s within 45 days. This is actually crap because the next person that looks at your credit will see all the hard pulls and doesn’t care if it’s for a vehicle only that you had it pulled.

      • My dealership played me when I was purchasing a car. I told them I didn’t want to have my credit run, all over town. They told me it would count as only 1 hard inquiry. They lied. I looked at my report soon after, and it shows that I have 5 separate inquiries from different banks and credit unions, and the bureaus refuse to remove them. Was told it would be 2 years before they drop off. This is a BS rule.

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