Credit Building Tips

How to Remove Hard Inquiries From Your Credit Report

Shaun Connell
April 3, 2023

A lender will check one or more of your credit reports when you apply for a new line of credit or loan, which is known as a hard inquiry or a hard pull.

If a creditor sees too many hard inquiries on your file, they can view it as a red flag. The more hard pulls on your credit report, the more they are likely to assume that you are trying to borrow money you can't afford to pay back.

Solution iconYou can only remove hard inquiries if they are inaccurate. Otherwise, you will have to wait for them to fall off naturally, which typically happens in about two years.
Though hard inquiries stay on your account for two years in most cases, their negative impact on your credit score is usually fairly temporary. Let's take a closer look at what you need to know about hard inquiries to help you in your quest to clean up your credit report.

What Is a Hard Inquiry?

When you apply for a new line of credit, such as a credit card or a loan, a hard inquiry occurs. Also referred to as a “hard pull” or a “hard credit check,” this means that the lender has requested to look at one or more of your credit reports.

Creditors and lenders want to look at your credit file before extending credit or lending money to you because it allows them to assess how much risk you pose as a borrower.

When a hard inquiry occurs, it shows up on your credit report and can have an impact on your score.

Hard inquiries usually stay on your credit report before they naturally fall off.

What happens when an account is closed when you still owe money? Take a look at this post about what happens if a credit card is closed with a balance.

Understanding the Difference Between a Hard and Soft Inquiry

Lenders and creditors can also do something known as a “soft pull” or a soft inquiry. Here are the major differences between hard and soft pulls:

  • A soft pull can be done without your knowledge while a hard credit pull typically only be done with your approval.
  • A soft inquiry is typically done before you receive a preapproval offer, while hard .inquiries occur when you apply for a credit card, loan, or another kind of financing.
  • Soft inquiries do not impact your credit score, while each individual hard inquiry can take a few points off your credit score.
  • Lenders cannot see soft inquiries on your credit report– only you can. Lenders can, however, see hard pulls on your credit report.

Are you motivated to improve your credit score and reports? Check out our guides to removing evictions from your credit report, opening a new credit card, removing late payments incurred during the pandemic, and hiding credit card utilization.

Understanding How Hard Inquiries Impact Your Credit

Hard inquiries usually only impact your credit for a few months, but during this time they will have a negative impact on your score. Though they stop having an influence on your actual score after a few months in most cases, they will remain listed on your credit report for two years until they fall off.

If your credit report shows that you applied for a number of loans and credit cards during a short period of time, this can have a negative impact on your credit and signal to potential lenders and creditors that you might be seeking loans and lines of credit that you might not have the ability to repay.

You can’t always avoid hard inquiries– they are a necessary part of the process of applying for an auto or home loan.

In these scenarios, credit bureaus are aware that consumers will frequently apply to a number of lenders in order to compare rates. This means that several inquiries made within a 14-45 day period for one type of loan won’t penalize your score and are often treated as one inquiry.

On the other hand, if you apply for a number of personal loans and credit cards during the same short period of time, they won’t be treated as one inquiry and is often viewed as a red flag that you’re applying for credit you can’t actually afford.

Can You Remove Hard Inquiries?

In most cases, you can only remove hard inquiries on your credit report if they are a result of fraud. For example, if a person opens a new account in your name using personally identifiable information like your Social Security number, you can dispute the hard pull and have it removed.

There are two reasons you can request to have hard pulls removed from your credit reports:

  1. You didn’t apply for a new loan, credit card, or another type of financing
  2. You otherwise didn’t authorize an inquiry into your credit file

Hard inquiries that you approved or that resulted from an application you submitted, you can’t remove them.

Is It a Good Idea to Remove Hard Inquiries From Your Credit Report?

Improving your credit has many benefits, including making it easier to borrow money and give you access to better interest rates on loans. For this reason, it can be quite tempting to try and remove hard inquiries from your credit report to try and boost your score a bit.

The reality is, though, that you can only really dispute hard pulls that result from fraud or an error. If a hard inquiry is legitimate, you will need to wait for it to fall off naturally after two years.

Hard pulls usually only drop your score by a few points and only for a short period of time– so you typically don’t have to worry too much about them. In most cases, hard inquiries will only have an impact on your credit score for a few months.

If there are a lot of hard inquiries on your report, though, one new inquiry could have a negative impact on your ability to be granted a new line or credit or loan, or it could impact the terms you are offered. Similarly, one new hard pull can have an unfavorable effect on your credit if there are other, more serious issues that are hurting your score.

If there are illegitimate hard inquiries on your report, you will absolutely want to get them removed. In the next section, we’ll look at the steps you’ll want to take.

How to Remove Hard Inquiries From Your Credit Report

Checking your credit report regularly is important in order to ensure that there aren’t any errors. If you notice a hard pull that you didn’t approve, you can file a dispute with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion– the three credit reporting agencies.

There are a few reasons a hard inquiry might show up on your credit report even if you didn’t authorize it:

  • The credit bureau added the inquiry to your report mistakenly
  • Your credit was pulled by a creditor without your authorization
  • Someone applied for an account using your personal information fraudulently

identity theft removing hard inquiries

If you believe that someone has stolen your identity and that is why the inquiry is on your report, there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Filing a police report
  • Reporting the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission
  • Putting a fraud alert on your credit reports
  • Locking your credit or freezing your credit

If an unauthorized inquiry showed up on your account, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Contact the creditor to close the account
  2. File a dispute with the credit reporting agency that showed the incorrect information and request that they remove it

You can file a dispute with the appropriate credit bureau by using their online system, disputing the inquiry over the phone, or mailing a letter. The Federal Trade Commission offers a sample dispute letter that you can use if you are going to be sending the dispute through the mail.

Your dispute letter should include:

  • Each item that you are disputing
  • An explanation as to why you’re disputing the information
  • A request that the credit bureaus remove or correct the information

You’ll want to send this letter by certified mail and select the option “return receipt requested.” This way, you know that they receive the letter and it didn’t get lost in the mail.

Reasons Why You Might Not Recognize a Hard Inquiry on Your Credit Report

Seeing a hard inquiry that you don’t recognize on your credit report can be a truly distressing experience. The last thing anyone wants to deal with is identity theft. That being said, there are a number of reasons why a hard inquiry might show up on your report that weren’t caused by fraudulent activity.

home lender pulled hard inquiry for on credit report

Here are some examples of reasons why a hard pull might be on your report that you don’t recognize:

  • If you applied for financing for a mortgage or a car loan, the company might have sent your loan application to multiple lenders in order to help find the best rates for you
  • If you applied for a store credit card, the retail store might use a financial services company in a way that shows up on your card with a name you don’t recognize
  • If you provided your Social Security number when soliciting a home repair, they might have checked your credit in order to determine your eligibility for financing

If you see a hard pull on your report with a company name you don’t recognize, contact them. They will be able to provide you with more information.

Are you motivated to fix your credit? Check out our recent posts about whether installment loans can help rebuild bad credit.

Final Thoughts About Removing Hard Inquiries

When you are preparing to apply for a loan or a credit card, it can be distressing to look at your credit report and see marks that you know a creditor will see as negative. At the same time, a lot of recent hard inquiries can have a notable impact on your credit score in a way that can affect your ability to borrow money or the terms you are offered.

If you see a hard inquiry on your credit report that you believe is an error or the result of identity theft, you can connect with the credit bureaus in order to have the problem fixed. If it was the result of fraud, you'll also want to take additional steps to ensure that your identify and private information is protected.

There are three national credit reporting agencies-- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each credit bureau from, a site authorized by Federal law.

Unfortunately, it is difficult if not impossible to remove hard inquiries when they are accurate. The good news, though, is that they usually only remain on your credit report for two years and their impact on your score decreases over time.

If you have an extra hard inquiry or two on your credit report, most lenders aren't going to turn you away. Lots of hard inquiries or other more serious issues that are harming your credit, however, can be a red flag to creditors.

For more information about how to improve your credit file and rebuild your credit, make sure you check out our credit building blog.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why. 

It's important to share the news and spread the truth. Most people won't.
Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell is a personal finance and credit expert with a passion for helping individuals eliminate debt and improve their credit. He's enjoyed writing investing and financial content for over 15 years, with expertise in real estate, debt, banking, credit, and wealth building. His work has been seen by millions on the web.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Our Credit Building Tips Newsletter
Subscribe to receive information, free guides and tutorials