An inquiry is a record that someone has looked at your credit report. There are two types of inquiries — soft and hard.
Soft inquiries are only seen by you (though there are a couple of exceptions) on your personal credit report. They are not shared with anyone else.
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.
These inquiries are not the result of a credit application and they do not affect credit scores in any way. Soft inquiries may include reviews of your credit history by existing creditors, such as your credit card provider or lenders with whom you have existing accounts. Soft inquiries also include getting your own report, reviews for employment purposes, insurance purposes and preapproved credit offers, among others.
Hard inquiries are the result of an application for credit. They can affect credit scores because they represent potential new debt that doesn't yet appear in the credit report.
However, the effect of hard inquiries on a credit score is minimal and short term. Typically, any negative impact will decrease after several billing cycles. In a few months, there will either be a new account entry, which then becomes the key risk indicator, or there will be no new account, which means the inquiry doesn't represent any risk.
Both hard and soft inquiries remain on the credit report for two years to reflect a complete history of who has reviewed your credit report.
More information on inquiries can be found on the Ask Experian blog.
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Scoped on: 7/18/2017