Your credit report says a lot about your financial history. An inquiry is a record that appears on your credit report. This record displays the name of the person or company that pulled your credit and the date of the pull. A hard inquiry occurs when you apply for credit, such as applying for a credit card. A soft inquiry occurs when your report is viewed but you didn't apply for new credit, such as when you check your own report. Inquiries remain on your report for two years, but if you have an unrequested, or unauthorized, inquiry on your report, chances are you may be able to get it removed.
In most cases, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires a person or company to obtain your permission prior to accessing your credit report. An unauthorized inquiry occurs when someone accesses your credit report without this permission, which is illegal. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, only accurate information may appear on a credit report. This means you have the right to dispute false data, including unauthorized inquiries, and have them removed from your report.
Send the creditor that made the unauthorized inquiry a letter, via certified mail, that details your dispute. Inform the creditor that the credit inquiry was conducted without your permission and that you'd like to have the inquiry removed. Include the date of the inquiry as well as your contact information. Errors do happen. If a company becomes aware that the inquiry was not authorized by you, it likely will send a request to the credit bureau to have it removed.
Credit Bureau Dispute
If the creditor does not remove the inquiry within 30 days of your request, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau directly on the bureau's website. You can also file a dispute via mail or by telephone. Inform the bureau that you've tried to resolve the matter with the creditor but your attempt was unsuccessful. The bureau has up to 30 days to investigate your dispute. If it determines that the inquiry was unauthorized, it will delete it from your file.
There are exceptions when the bureau will not remove inquiries you believe are unauthorized. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act permits credit card companies and insurance companies to view your report in order to extend you offers of credit. Also, your current creditors can access your report for as long as you have an account with them. These types of inquiries are soft inquiries and do not impact your credit score. Multiple inquires obtained while loan shopping for a car or mortgage are not removed from the report, but they are only counted as one single inquiry when calculating your FICO credit score if they occur within a 14-day time span, according to Experian. Only inquiries within the previous 12 months are included in your FICO credit score calculation.
Mack Mitzsheva is a tax lawyer, personal finance expert and the author of the forthcoming ebook, "10 Best Places to Work Online." Mitzsheva is also a social media entrepreneur with five successful sites under her belt. Always innovative, Mitzsheva is currently developing a cutting-edge budgeting app for newlyweds.