Home > Credit Score > Should You Be Worried About Credit Report Inquiries?

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Some things never change when it comes to what annoys people about credit scores. While consumers’ understanding of credit scores has evolved over the years, within that always-increasing level of understanding there remain some parts of credit scoring, such as inquiries, that people just don’t seem to get. They get the idea of late payments and maxed out credit cards predicting risk. But inquiries?

A credit inquiry is a notation that goes on your credit report every time your credit report is accessed by anyone with a “permissible purpose,” as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Inquiries remain on a credit report for two years, and generally fall into two categories: hard and soft inquiries. Only hard inquiries from within the past year can impact credit scores. Older hard inquiries and soft inquiries are ignored by the scores entirely.

The typical hard inquiry is triggered when a lender accesses a consumer’s credit report and score as part of the credit application process. Hard inquiries can also result from collection agencies using credit reports in their skip tracing efforts.

Soft inquiries include inquiries resulting from consumers accessing their own credit reports, lenders making pre-approved credit offers, creditors periodically reviewing existing accounts, and insurance and employment credit checks. Not only are soft inquiries ignored by the scores, they are excluded from credit reports seen by lenders, and only appear on the consumer’s report.

Some of the ways in which inquiries provide value to lenders and consumers:

  • According to Fair Isaac (FICO), people who have added six or more inquiries during the past year can be up to eight times more likely to file for bankruptcy than those with credit reports showing no inquiries.
  • As the only major area of your credit report to update immediately, inquiries tend to be the earliest indication that a consumer has applied for new credit, which tends to be a factor indicating increased future credit risk.
  • Inquiries can provide early evidence of identity theft when a consumer’s credit file has been accessed fraudulently.

Knowing just a few basic facts about inquiries and credit scores can help avoid costly misunderstandings and mistakes that can drop valuable points from a credit score:

  • For most consumers, one additional inquiry will take less than five points off their credit scores.
  • The “rate shopping” feature of credit scores allows you to have any number of mortgage, auto or student loan inquiries (VantageScore includes credit cards) on your credit report from within any 14- or 45-day period (depending on the scoring model), with only one of those inquiries counting in the score.
  • Inquiries appear on your credit report for two years, but are only considered by credit scores for the first year.

Consumers who still don’t buy the argument that inquiries help predict risk and detect identity theft may instead want to consider inquiries as just one more good reason not to apply for a credit card they don’t really need, since an inquiry and new account could drop their credit score before the card even arrives in the mail.

To review the inquiries on your credit report, visit AnnualCreditReport.com, where you can access your own credit reports from the three major consumer reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Also, get your free Credit Report Card monthly from Credit.com.

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  • Jeanine Skowronski

    Unfamiliar hard inquiries may be a sign that identity theft has occurred. You should dispute these inquiries with the credit bureaus and contact the creditors associated with the inquiries to pin down if ID theft has occurred. You can find more information on what to do if you think you are a victim of ID theft here:


    Thank you,


  • ChopLicker

    I was just denied a credit card due to “too many inquiries” ….. 7 months ago I bought a new truck – 5 inquiries, 18 months ago I co-signed for my wife’s new car (we buy new cars every other year, alternating for each other) theres 3 more inquiries. By applying for the credit card (Discover) this added a new inquiry, and we changed our internet to Uverse 6 months ago, AT&T pulled a hard inquiry, totalling 10 now. We are as creditworthy as anyone you know, not in much unsecured/revolving debt, just monthly CC charges, paid off regularly. Our FICO hovers between 740-755 depending on when in the month I pay off the CCs. The system around inquiries is completely flawed.

  • Alondra

    I just turned 18 and made the stupid mistake of signing up for multiple credit cards leaving my inquiries at “fair” but close to poor and I don’t know what to do. I really want to start my credit so I can get loans for school next year. Any advise?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      The inquiries will age off in time. For now you can focus on building credit by using your cards responsibly: make all payments on time, keep balances low (below 30% and ideally 10% of your available credit) and limiting further inquiries.

      Thank you,


  • Kay

    I have 4 hard inquiries will this count against me for employment or rental/car? Two of them are over a year old the other two are a few months old. I have a fair credit score after the inquiries. I just want to get idea of my options

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Hi, Kay,

      Employers can’t see your credit scores, only your credit report. It’s hard to tell if the inquiries, specifically, would affect you. The same goes for rental applications, though landlords are more likely to look at unpaid debts or collections more than prior credit applications. You can often get a car with fair credit, but you pay for it in fees and interest. You can try improving your credit by paying down balances, limiting inquiries moving forward and making all new payments on time.



  • Andrew Hammer

    Hello, Joe. I can’t answer your question, but perhaps you could answer mine: your comment here came up in google search results for me. I am questioning why the department of defense pulled MY credit report in June 2014 and it is shown with their Arlington VA address and a corresponding phone number in the inquiries section of my credit report. I do NOT work for the DoD, and it’s not like I’m looking for a job there. Just wondering, is it a common practice to pull a citizen’s report for seemingly no reason and without their permission?
    P.S. I totally understand if you’re “not at liberty to tell”!!

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Hi, Andrew,

      A mysterious credit report inquiry could be a sign that identity theft is occurring. You may want to dispute the inquiry and monitor your credit closely to ensure deeper fraud isn’t going on.



  • Wendy

    How long does it take to see my credit rating go back up due to hard inquiries?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      It really depends. If you have a thin credit report and multiple inquiries, it might take as much as six months. But if you have good credit and a single inquiry, your credit score might not be affected at all. You can get a free credit score that updates every 30 days from Credit.com to monitor your progress.

  • Alex

    On 10/01/2015, I went to 2 car dealerships (CogginKia, ArlingtonToyota) to find a car with 0 Down Payment and 0% Finance. They Basically where asking me how much my credit score is and they wanted to see the full report and I said sure why not like an idiot.
    And I got accepted because my score was Good (738). But I was still undecided if I wanted to purchase this car or or that car. So I decided to wait for another week. On 10/08/2015, MY CREDIT SCORE DROPPED TO 681 POINTS PEOPLE. That’s 57 POINTS. WHAT IN THE NAME OF GOD HAPPENED. Please let me know how to recover my score, or how to dispute these reports. Thanks.

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Hi, Alex,

      The credit pull at the dealership likely generated an inquiry, which often causes a small drop in score. A 57 point drop could have been caused by a variety of factors, unrelated to the inquiry. For instance, there could be a mistake on your credit report. You may want to review all the information on the report to make sure it is accurate or to see if a new red flag (like high credit utilization) has popped up. If you find inaccurate info, you can dispute it with the credit bureaus.



  • Killerswan

    I am very confused looking at Annual Credit Report. It looks like in the last year different credit companies have checked credit 6 times. I only have a card in 1 of them, so should I be worried? Also when I went to change an address with a bank account they gave me some security questions to answer and asked about the zip code of an address that was associated with my social but I’ve never lived at that address. When looking at credit report it doesn’t show it. Confused!!!

    • http://blog.credit.com/ Kali Geldis

      Hi Killerswan —

      Let’s tackle both of your questions.

      The first — on the credit checks — different card companies can do what’s called a “soft inquiry” on your credit to pre-approve or pre-qualify you for credit offers. You can check your free credit report card on Credit.com to see if any of these companies performed hard inquiries and if they did so without your permission, you can dispute the inquiries with the three major credit bureaus:

      The second question — security questions — the bureaus do an identity verification to make sure you are who you say you are when requesting your reports. Some of these questions may appear misleading because they throw in wrong information options to get you to pick the right option. If there is an address on your credit reports you don’t recognize, however, you should report that to the bureaus immediately and make sure you aren’t a victim of identity theft.

      Hope this helps!

  • Kelly

    I recently purchased a home and our lender pulled out credit 5 times in a row. Why would they need to do that? It brought our score down and my thoughts were that I thought the lender might have been doing it in order to get a higher interest rate and this make more commission on the loan. Is that possible?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I’d suggest you ask them to find out what the issue was. It’s not unheard of for a mortgage lender to pull a credit score a couple of times, but 5 is unusual.

      Keep in mind that under most commonly used scoring models mortgage-related inquiries in a short period of time (14 days or 45 days depending on the model) count as one.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Did the representative who acknowledged the mistake agree to dispute it again. If not you can dispute it again, and you can consider filing a complaint with the CFPB.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It’s definitely questionable. It may not fall under the rules for permissible purposes but that’s not spelled out specifically enough to say it’s definitively illegal. You could certainly either file a complaint with the CFPB and/or contact a consumer law attorney.

    • Singh kulwinder

      I have 13 inquiries since may 2014 when it will go away from my credit

  • Nancy

    I had an incident with an ex b/f who i thought was out of my life was stalking me as his address came up on my credit report as mine. Now i see within the last few months there have been about 4 “soft pulls” all from banks. Not having good credit i am not the customer that a back would be offering a free card to. WHat has be so angry is that they were able to tell me no accounts were opened in my name or CC’s but what i want to know is WHERE the soft pull and for what reason it was done, not authorized by me! I believe the banks know they have the date and time but say they don’t know from where. If there is a person going around impersonating me trying to obtiain anything i feel like every file in my personal life has been violated without my authorization. Why am i not allowed to know where these soft pulls came from? I think its disgusting and it doesn’t help me in identifying the person who stole my SS# i feel like these banks are in fact protecting them.

    Does anyone know how i can find out the banks will not assist one customer service rep did admit that it would have had to have been someone applying for a card at one of the stores that uses them as its not a walk in bank as I have ever heard of. To me fraud is fraud and you are not allowed to report a soft pull as fraud either anyone know why? I still think if they can tell me the time and date the pull was done they must know from where, how can i obtain that informaton? Crazy laws that are a pain in the side to try and fix up..

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I am not sure how a bank employee could do a soft pull on an individual unless you have an account there. Checking credit for an application would be a hard inquiry. Soft inquiries are usually for preapproved offers (done on a mass basis) or to review existing customer’s accounts (again, usually part of a review of groups of customers, not a single one.) You could try filing a complaint with the CFPB.

      Regardless, it sounds like you have some very important reasons for protecting your credit. Have you thought about placing a freeze on your credit reports?

      • Charlotte

        Thank you for the reply. The person or persons I suspect doesn’t need my money I am worried that he took out an insurance policy on me or anything morbid the more likely this is unraveling like a Steven King novel I never in my wildest dreams would think anyone would do some of the things he has done. The employee at the bank that is a CC company basically unless she was not well informed said it would show up as a soft inquiry but u make more sense it’s an application wether denied or approved there was still activity.
        In the area I live the only fee offers to open an account are from the same local bank and there is no inquiry from them. The ones that were on my report were out of state but their home offices are out of state also read the rules for reporting fraud and a soft inquiry although it’s illegal and an intrusion is not something that can be reported as fraud even though it’s easy for me to eliminate as my banking and personal is a small circle or so I thought. I just wish the banks would tell me the truth who ran the soft reports. If I had the $$ for an investigator they would find it in a minute.

        Thank you for the time you took it seems as long as it’s not them they don’t care to me I am dealing with a sick individuals and would like to know what was he or his g/f actually trying to obtain. Thanks again! Be careful out there

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          Wow – maybe you want to get a police report and file a fraud report with the credit reporting agencies.

          • Charlotte

            I all ready have thank you.

  • sylviag

    I was online seeking for an installment loan when I found a site that states that they “DON’T” pull credit scores but match you with a lender that meets your needs. It specifically states that “IF” the lender wants to approve you or consider you for a loan that they will contact you before proceeding to pull your credit report YET, I’ve had 2 hard inquiries and never received a call from any lender.. This happened to me before and I don’t like having so many inquiries on my report considering I’m trying to rebuild my credit and that is noted as a red flag for lenders. What can I do about this matter? I previously tried disputing some inquiries with the CB and I honestly go no where I am not sure if there is a better option. Thanks.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      You can go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website and submit a complaint (or simply “tell your story”).

      • sylviag

        Thanks I appreciate your reply and will do that now.. Should I call the companies first??

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          You can try but once the inquiry is created it is hard to get it reversed. The good news is that after one year, they probably won’t affect your credit scores and after two years they will be removed.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It’s not unusual. Different models are likely being used to calculate different scores even though the same data is being used.

  • DaniNColo

    Which model is 14 days, and which is 45 day window to c ount as 1 inquiry? Also, can we require, or request that a lender use our preferred model? How do we go about requesting, when working with a mortgage broker?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Unfortunately, you don’t have a choice. But most mortgage lenders use FICO models that have the 45-day window. My understanding is that the exception is on your Experian score where the window is 14 days. (Keep in mind with a mortgage the lender will pull all three scores and reports and use the middle score of the three for qualification purposes.)

  • Madi

    I had a dispute down on my account becasue I had a collections that was not mine, Before the dispute though, I forgot I applied for a credit card, which got denined because of the collections account which is now removed. Could I call them to re look at my account because the problem was removed, or will that add another hard inquirey for me?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      You can call and ask if it will be necessary to do a second hard inquiry. In some cases, employees are authorized to make decisions that override the original decision. But first, check to be sure the collections is really off your credit reports and is now reflected in your score. For more, see: The Art of Overturning a Credit Card Rejection

  • John

    This inquiry thing aggravates me! I still have 6 inquiries on my report. 5 of which never should have been an inquiry in the first place and are mistakes. 2 that are now more than two years old, but remain on my credit report anyway!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    You can dispute fraudulent inquiries if you don’t believe the lender had your authorization to pull your credit.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Hard inquiries should call a small, temporary drops, but we can see how five small drops in a short time could add up! There’s not anything you can do now, but please know the damage is not permanent, and it is far less damaging than, say, a habit of paying late or a collections.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Yes. It likely will though the impact should be small.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It would depend on which model was used to calculate the score. The “buffer” may not built into the model used when you received that message.

  • drakedog

    most count as one inquiry if within 14 days to national indirect lenders…but if they use sources that may not be the same type of institution, it could count as multiple inquiries. most dealers use national indirect lenders. If they send to Credit unions or local sources each inquiry might count as separate.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    There’s no need to panic. The SSN mismatch should have been caught sooner. As for the not being reported, is it possible you haven’t used your cards? Some creditors don’t report until the new tradeline has been used.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    When you pull your own credit, it does not affect your credit score. But when a potential lender does, it counts as a “hard inquiry,” and it does result in a small, temporary drop in scores. You can find more information in these Credit.com resources:
    What is a hard inquiry?
    Does Checking My Score Hurt My Credit?
    What Happens to Your Credit When You Buy a Home?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I have emailed you.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Wow – wondering what credit scoring model was being used since those should have been grouped as one or a few…After one year you should be OK with most models. Do you know what credit scoring model is being used to pull your score?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Technically, they probably can. However, every credit pull costs your employer money, so it seems unlikely anyone would invest the time and money in daily monitoring of a credit report. Legislation has been introduced that would ban the use of employer credit checks in hiring, but it contains an exception for positions requiring credit checks in the interest of national security. You can read more about that bill here: Warren Bill Would End Employer Credit Checks.

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  • April

    Hi there! I’m hoping you can clarify something for me.
    Recently, I was in the financing process for purchasing a car. My husband and I have been embroiled in a home deed-in-lieu/foreclosure process for the past 2 years. We are finally short-selling it, but this amont of time with no payments on a $340K home has annihilated our credit as you can imagine.
    Needless to say, auto financing was an issue. Out of desperation, we asked my mother with near-perfect (if not perfect) credit to cosign. That backfired, as I am 39 years old and living in a separate residence from her. Having the cosigner made only a $5 per month improvement on the financing that we were able to obtain ourselves. When I learned this from the dealership, I contacted our personal bank, PNC, to see if it was possible to do an auto finance with them. That was declined. Then as a result of the dealership rate shopping for us, several of those apps were denied as well. My husband and I ended up coughing up a lot more money for a downpayment and doing the financing with the two of us, not using the cosigner at all.
    So now 3 weeks after the fact, I am still receiving credit denial letters from several banks – maybe 7 in all. So I know my mother must be receiving the same ones. And she’s mad at me – not even talking to me.
    Though she has wonderful credit history, I’m not sure that she fully understands how these inquiries work – who does?
    My question is – I know that it’s ME who was denied, not her. So do those inquiries that were denied show on her report that she was denied credit? She is concerned that it looks like she applied for 7 different loans on the same day. How is this situation reported on the cosigner? And what is the maximum point damage that this could do to her credit?

    Thank you so much!

    • http://www.credit.com Barry Paperno

      Hi April,
      Not to worry about those inquiries and denials for a few reasons:
      1. Nothing on a credit report indicates credit was denied, nor do scores “imply” credit was denied if there’s an inquiry without a resulting trade line.
      2. Scores for auto loans treat bunches of inquiries incurred within a short time as one inquiry, which is only likely to count for about 5 points or less – if at all.
      3. Those inquiries that do count only do so for one year, though they remain on the report for two.

      The only thing that determines whether the above apply to a co-signer is whether the co-signer’s credit reports/scores were pulled. Most likely they were, so, yes, the inquiries are on the co-signer’s report, and, yes, they could have knocked a few points off her score, though it shouldn’t matter much to a high score; but, there’s nothing on a credit report or in a credit score to indicate that either you or she was denied credit.

      Hope that helps. -Barry

  • Kevin Lindahl

    In regards to the number of hard inquiries and specifically “rate shopping”. Is there any way to dispute a hard inquiry and have it removed? I set out to buy a car 6 months ago. My Credit Union pulled a hard inquiry and I was pre-approved with a 60 day validity. I couldn’t find the exact car I wanted so after the 60 days I withdrew the application. I found the car I wanted in February and started over. My credit union pulled another hard inquiry and then again to list my pre-approval in the CUDL system??? When I went to the dealer to pickup the car they had me fill out their credit ap but told me they weren’t going to do an inquiry it was only to “verify” my information etc… After the usual upsell, negotiations, etc…They informed me that they could get me a better rate than my Credit Union. I again explained I didn’t want another hard inquiry as I really wanted to keep the total to 6 or less in a year. They assured me that it would only count as one for the credit union and the dealer. I pull my report monthly and the following month I found that the dealer had sent my application out to 4 different lenders to include Amex for a Credit Card. How can I determine which(if any) of these multiple inquiries will be grouped togther. Can I dispute the Amex inquiry as I definitely didn’t authorize them to submit that. I’m sure I’m stuck on the auto loan inquiries since I was dumb enough to fill in the supposed credit ap for information only.

    • Barry Paperno

      Hi Kevin. You’ve described a situation that has been driving consumers crazy for years. Generally, you can’t dispute inquiries, since the inquiry simply indicates your credit file was accessed, which it was in these cases. The reason for the inquiry or lack of written permission – particularly auto inquiries – are normally not grounds for having the credit bureau remove them. If your credit file was accessed fraudulently, however, the credit bureau would remove the resulting inquiries.

      It’s helpful to remember that inquiries only make up a very small percentage – about 10% – of your scores. The ‘rate shopping” provisions for auto, mortgage and student loan inquiries, are such that you can incur any number within a 14-45 day period (depending on the scoring model used) and only one will count towards your score. Also, after a certain number of inquiries, which you very well may have already reached – even after being reduced for rate shopping – they stop impacting your score entirely.

      Keep in mind that even under the worst scenario, inquiries alone will never take a high score down to a low score, and that although they remain on your credit report for 2 years, they only impact your scores for the first year.

      As for the Amex credit card inquiries, you may be able to have some success disputing them, starting with contacting Amex and the credit bureaus. I have never heard of them pulling a credit card inquiry as part of an auto purchase, but nothing surprises me. I would be prepared for an uphill battle with Amex and the credit bureaus if you decide to dispute them. Good luck!.

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  • Barry Paperno

    Hi Starla, I can certainly understand your frustration. Addressing all of these errors at once can seem an insurmountable task, and it can be difficult to even know where to begin.

    First, get your credit reports from all three credit bureaus by going to http://www.annualcreditreport.com, where every consumer is entitled to one free report annually. You can also purchase additional reports there throughout the year.

    You should not need an attorney to dispute charges you didn’t make. You can file a dispute with the credit card company, including a fraud claim, if necessary. If you contact the card issuer and follow their processes for correcting such errors, including filing a police report in the case of fraud. You will not be charged for charges you didn’t make.

    Since you mention the mixing of your credit file with your son’s and possible other people, you can also use those credit reports from Annual Credit Report.com to dispute whatever erroneous information you find. The credit bureaus are required to investigate and respond to you within about 30 days.

    I understand and also lament that things aren’t like they used to be. But we have rights as consumers that we didn’t used to have, and we might as well use them. Thanks for writing.

  • Starla Anne Lowry

    The most inaccurate credit information is with credit bureaus and I hope some day business will wake up and realize that credit reports are one-sided and any claim can be made against a consumer, even if false — and there is nothing that can be done about it. I have tried — even contacted an attorney — but the attorney wants copies of my credit report and I cannot obtain all my reports. Experian is the only one who has sent me one, but the attorney wants all three. My problem is that two cell phone companies have me charged with cell phones I did not order or receive. In fact, sometime near the time one was sent I was out of state for about two months and the other has not even sent a bill and that was about three years ago. Also, parts of my credit report I have been able to obtain show me as previously living in places where I never have been; much less having lived there. They have my name mixed up with my son and seemingly many other people and there is no possible way to get the whole mess straighten out. I have given up trying and consider any business who relies on a credit report as being shady for even trusting a business that is definitely not trust worthy. The problem is, having national credit reporting companies. I am 71 years old and back in the old days when credit bureaus were local, consumers did not have these problems. Because of false trust large firms have in credit reporting bureaus, I only trust local merchants as being honest in their dealings.

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