Unrecognized inquiries could be sign of fraud, but most often are not

Dear Experian,

What do I do if I see a request for credit information from a company I am unfamiliar with?



Dear LCF,

An inquiry from an unrecognized business could be an indicator of credit fraud, but generally is not. The first thing to do is identify the type of inquiry.

There are two types of inquiries on your report: Requests viewed only by you, and requests viewed by others.

Requests viewed only by you are often referred to as “soft inquiries.” They are typically preapproved offers and account reviews by your existing lenders. You may not recognize all the companies that reviewed your credit report in order to send you preapproved offers. These inquiries are not shown to creditors and do not have an affect on your credit scores. They are provided so that you have a complete record of who has accessed your credit history.

Requests viewed by others, sometimes called “hard inquiries,” are the result of your application for credit or other services. If you haven’t applied for any services, a hard inquiry from an unknown company could indicate someone is using your identity to apply for credit.

Keep in mind that when you shop around for the best rate on a mortgage or auto loan, the lender may send your information to multiple companies searching for the best loan terms. Although you may not recognize the name of each of these individual companies, they will each appear on your report.

An account or inquiry may also appear on your report under an abbreviated name or the name of a parent company that you do not recognize. This is most common with retail credit when an account is reported by the bank that manages the account rather than in the name of retail store.

If you are unable to identify why your report was accessed, you should contact the company directly for more information. When possible Experian provides contact information for the company.

Thanks for asking.

- The “Ask Experian” team

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