A Credit Inquiry Removal Letter can be a relatively easy and effective way to improve your credit score. While credit inquiries are typically the least significant scoring factor on your credit report, accounting for approximately five points for each inquiry, they can add up quickly if you’re not careful.
I would recommend thinking about removing unauthorized credit inquiries as a potentially significant piece of an overall effort. If you manage to have one or two inquiries removed along with a judgment or two, you could see a real difference in terms of approvals and interest rates.
You can think of your credit report as something like the bushes in your front yard. It doesn’t need constant attention every day. However, you do need to clean it up and monitor it from time to time. Make sure it grows to become healthy and strong.
Is your credit score is wilting from an unhealthy amount of credit inquiries over the past few years? Then it may be time to break out your metaphorical hedge trimmers. Attempt to eliminate them.
Here are a few things you should understand before you begin the process of getting your credit score to where you need it to be.
What are “hard inquiries” and “soft inquiries?”
Hard inquiries show up on your credit report. Soft inquiries do not. Applications usually count as hard inquiries. Offers usually count as soft inquiries.
A hard inquiry is often the result of an application for credit, like a home mortgage or an auto loan. You’ve probably applied for either of those at some point in your life.
You can probably recall the volume of paperwork as something resembling a college textbook. When filling out these applications, the lender is required to provide you with a disclaimer. They are going to run a check on your credit and that it may appear on your credit report.
It’s important to note that not EVERY hard inquiry will appear on your credit report. For instance, if you are shopping around for auto loans, the credit bureaus will typically be able to deduce that you are in the market for a loan.
They will know you are searching for approvals and/or comparing rates. According to TransUnion, if you have multiple inquires in a span of around 45 days, they will only count them as one hard inquiry.
Soft inquiries are the reason you may be getting a lot of unsolicited credit card offers in the mail. Lenders will scour millions of credit reports in order to determine who to send offers to. That kind of activity won’t appear on your credit report, since you had nothing to do with it.
You may also generate soft inquiries yourself if you go to an “aggregator” site. Those include Lending Tree or NerdWallet. You would do this in order to generate offers from banks and lenders.
They will typically ask you for a limited amount of information like income and whether you rent or own. They may also ask what you are looking to do with the borrowed funds. Some will also usually inform you that they are going to run a check on your credit, but that it WILL NOT impact your credit score.
Equifax has a pretty comprehensive list of the types of third parties that may have “permissible purpose” to access your credit report as part of a hard or soft inquiry.
How Can I Remove an Inquiry?
Now that you understand what kinds of inquiries might appear on your credit report, you should look through your report to see if there’s anything in there to challenge. An example might be an auto loan inquiry that was just a few days or weeks past the “cutoff” date to not be included as part of an earlier “batch” of car loans.
Another example could be an inquiry made by a company that you simply never authorized to run a credit check. In those cases, you should contact the company immediately and tell them to remove the inquiry by notifying the credit bureaus. However, that does not mean you shouldn’t contact the bureaus on your own. You should always be your own best advocate in all things financial.
Once you’ve taken the appropriate actions with any lenders that accidentally found their way onto your credit report, your next step is to write a letter to each credit bureau reporting the bad inquiries.
What should my letter look like?
Fortunately, I’ve written a few of these letters with the help of a reputable credit repair company, and I am happy to provide a sample of what this kind of letter can look like:
<Credit Bureau: Name>
<Credit Bureau: Address>
RE: Request Investigation of Credit Inquiry on My Behalf
Dear Sir or Ma’am,
I recently conducted a review of my credit report, and I noticed that your agency showed two (2) credit inquiries that I find to be problematic.
The first inquiry in question was apparently made by Company X on May 2nd, 2016 and I have no recollection of doing any business with Company X.
I contacted Company X, and asked them to take action to get this inquiry removed from their records and to erase any record of the inquiry with all credit reporting agencies. They assured me they would comply with my request and take whatever steps necessary to resolve the issue, but I wanted to contact you as well, just to make sure this gets done.
The second inquiry was made by Company Y. I do remember working with Company Y, as they are the company I used for my recent auto loan. However, I applied for that loan just a few weeks after applying for similar loans from Company W and Company Z. Based on my research, I believe only Company Y, W, or Z should be showing on my report.
Please investigate these inquiries at your earliest possible convenience, as I am going to be applying for a home mortgage in the near future. I would very much like to ensure my credit score is showing an accurate depiction of my creditworthiness.
Please update me with a full report on your findings within the next two weeks. I look forward to having this situation rectified as soon as possible.
Thanks for your prompt attention to this matter,
What should I send with my letter?
It’s best to treat this like a trip to the DMV. Make sure you prepare more than you think they would need in order to validate your claims and process your letter.
As a minimum, I would recommend that you include a copy of the report in question. Either circle or highlight items. This will make them easily identifiable for the investigators.
You should also send any supporting documents, like loan applications or rejection/approval letters. Using the letter sample, I would include the relevant application pages from Companies W, Y and Z.
You may even want to include personal identification items. This may include a copy of your driver’s license. It’s always better to send too much information. Too little could derail your efforts and prolong the process significantly.
I would encourage you to be aggressive in asking them to resolve the situation quickly. Ask for two or three weeks, but understand it may take them a bit longer than that.
Help is out there
Does all this sound like too much? I would recommend doing what I did and consult with a reputable credit repair company.
They can review your credit report. They can also help you identify potential problem areas. Their consultants can help to formulate and execute a game plan.
A good credit repair company might also help you to spot additional opportunities to improve your score beyond problematic inquiries. I mentioned the judgment they helped me remove.
To elaborate on that point, they identified the judgment as a worthy target to go after. They developed and executed the plan of attack to perfection.
Remember, your credit report is like a living entity that needs your attention and care. It is just like the bushes in the front yard. You need to keep an eye on what’s happening in there. And you will likely need to perform periodic maintenance.
If you follow that simple piece of advice, your happy and healthy credit score will thank you for it.