Anytime you apply for credit or other services, you are giving the lender permission to check your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act does not require lenders to get explicit permission to access your report when you submit an application. The act of submitting that application is considered giving your permission.
However, applications almost always include a statement that essentially says that by signing the application you are giving permission for the lender to review your credit report. You might have to check the fine print, but you will very likely find that you did in fact authorize that access if you submitted a credit application.
When you apply for credit a "hard" inquiry will be added to your credit report, meaning it can be viewed by lenders and can affect credit scores. Federal law requires that the inquiry remain for two years. Be aware that inquiries have very minimal impact on credit scores and only for a short time.
If you believe an inquiry is the result of fraud, you should dispute it as fraudulent. Experian will investigate it with the creditor and it will likely be removed.
If you are a victim of credit fraud, you should file a police report. You can then submit a copy of that report to Experian and we should be able to remove the inquiry.
There are also "soft" inquiries in a credit report. They include reviewing your credit report to make pre-approved credit offers, getting your own credit report, and review by your existing creditors. Soft inquiries don't affect credit scores in any way. They only show to you, though there are a couple of exceptions, so you don't have to worry about them. They are there to show a complete record of who has accessed the report.
Soft inquiries on your credit report are only visible to you, except: (1) insurance companies may be able to see other insurance company inquiries; and (2) inquiries by debt settlement companies you have authorized to access your report may be shared with your current creditors. These inquiries have no effect on your credit score as they are never considered as a factor in credit scoring models. Soft inquiries are not disputable but are available for reference.
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Scoped on: 10/13/2016