I have 19 inquiries on my credit report from Experian. I have been declined for credit cards three to four times in the recent past. The reason they give for declining the card is "too many inquiries." How do I go about getting inquiries off my credit report that I did not even apply for?
Any time someone requests your credit history, an inquiry will appear on your credit report as a record of that activity. Inquiries remain on your report for a period of two years as a record of who has looked at your credit report.
However, not all inquiries are the same. There are two types of inquiries that you will see listed on your Experian credit report, commonly referred to as soft inquiries and hard inquiries.
Soft Inquiries Do Not Affect Your Credit
In your Experian credit report, soft inquiries are shown in the section labeled "Requests for your credit history shared only with you." This means that you are the only one who sees them. They are not shared with lenders or others.
These inquiries are usually the result of pre-screened, or pre-approved, credit offers and account reviews by companies that you already have a business relationship with, such as your existing lenders.
Since soft inquiries can only be seen by you, they are not included in credit score calculations and do not affect your creditworthiness. If you see inquiries on your credit report that do not correspond to any transaction you initiated, it's likely that they are soft inquiries.
Hard Inquiries Are the Result of Credit Transactions Initiated by You
When you apply for things like credit or other goods and services, the company you are doing business with will likely check your credit report, resulting in a hard inquiry. These inquiries will appear under the section of the report titled "Requests shared with others." and can be seen by anyone who is viewing a copy of your credit report.
Inquiries on your credit report do not indicate whether you were approved or declined for credit, and a single inquiry is not likely to have a substantial impact on your credit scores.
Too many inquiries within a short period of time may be seen as a sign of financial distress, and can therefore negatively impact your credit.
Inquiries Alone Will Not Cause You to Be Declined
One of the risk factors you received with your declination was that there were too many recent inquiries. In virtually every instance, you will receive at least four, and often five risk factors from your lender.
Inquiries alone will never be the reason your application is declined. Because they have a minimal impact on credit scores, inquiries do not become a significant factor unless there are other -- more serious -- issues that make you a marginal credit risk.
The law requires that inquiries must be listed as a risk factor if they have even a single point impact on the credit score. For that reason, they are frequently referred to as the "fifth factor."
It would be helpful to know what the other risk factors are that you should have received. They would give better insight into why your application was declined.
With regard to credit cards, common factors are things like late payments, high balances as compared to credit limits, or charged off accounts.
All of the factors you receive are important; you cannot focus on just one of them. The factors are typically listed in order of importance. Inquiries will almost always be the last listed and least important factor.
What to Do If You See a Hard Inquiry You Do Not Recognize
Sometimes, the business name you see listed on an inquiry may be an abbreviation of the name you know, or the inquiry may appear under the name of a parent company you are not familiar with.
Other times, an inquiry you do not recognize may be the result of a loan application where several companies were competing to provide financing for your purchase. For example, when you apply for a car or home loan, your information may be submitted to multiple different lenders in order to "shop around" for the best rate.
Multiple inquiries for the same purpose within a short period of time are usually counted as one for credit scoring purposes, but you will still see each one listed on the report individually. With the newest VantageScores, for example, even multiple inquiries for credit cards within a short period are counted as only one inquiry.
If you have an inquiry on your credit report that you are unable to account for, it's a good idea to contact the company listed and request further information.
In some cases, an unfamiliar inquiry can be an indicator of identity theft. If you believe an inquiry on your Experian credit report may be the result of fraud, you should notify that company immediately and then contact Experian to dispute the information.
Once you dispute an item on your credit report as fraud, Experian will place an initial security alert on your credit file to help protect you. The alert will notify anyone viewing your credit report that you may be a victim of identity theft.
For more information on credit fraud and how to respond to identity theft, visit Experian's online Fraud Center.
Thank you for asking,
The "Ask Experian" Team