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Topics addressed on January 5, 2011:
“Soft inquiries” are not an exception to access a frozen credit file
Can a utility company still obtain my report with a "soft hit" on my credit, or is my information frozen and no information can be released with a state credit freeze on my account? A utility company told me they can still do a credit check on my account even when it has a freeze on it because they do a soft hit.
You can continue to access your own report while it is frozen, but other types of soft inquiries are not automatically an exception to a credit freeze.
The term “soft inquiry” refers to inquiries that are shown only to you on your personal credit report. Because they are not shared with lenders, they do not affect credit scores.
Certain exceptions to the freeze rules vary by state, but freeze laws generally allow a business with which you have an existing relationship, such as a utility company, to access your credit report even if you have a credit freeze in place. These soft inquiries are identified as being for the purpose of account monitoring.
Therefore, if you already have an account with the utility company, it can access your credit report, but that has nothing to do with the type of inquiry. If you apply for a new utility account and your file is frozen, the access would be blocked, even though the type of inquiry created would be a soft one.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team