The Not-so-Hard Truth About ‘Soft’ Inquiries

Published on Sep 11, 2013 04:00 am

What’s contained on your credit report isn’t the only information that helps determine your credit score. How often others look at your report can also influence your score. It’s important to understand the difference between the types of inquiries, how they affect your score and which inquiries don’t impact it at all.

Hard Inquiries When you apply for a loan – from a mortgage company, credit card issuer, auto finance company or utility provider – the lender is allowed to look at your credit report when considering your application. That’s a “hard” inquiry and it shows up on your credit report. Too many hard inquiries in a short amount of time can affect your credit score.

Soft Inquiries A second kind of inquiry – “soft” inquiries – don’t affect your credit score, either positively or negatively. A soft inquiry occurs when your report is viewed but you haven’t actually applied for credit. For example, when you apply for a job, open a bank account or receive a mail solicitation for a credit card, those are all soft inquiries.

Personal Inquiries Likewise, whenever you look at your own credit, that inquiry is considered a soft inquiry and it does not count against you. Watching your credit score and reviewing your credit report and regularly – at least once a year – is a good way to monitor your credit behavior and watch for suspicious activity.

Don’t worry about soft inquiries; they can’t hurt your credit. Do be aware of the number of hard inquiries into your credit report. While a soft inquiry can occur without your express consent – and often you won’t even know it’s happened – a hard inquiry requires your permission.

When you apply for credit, you’re giving the lender permission to take a hard look at your credit report. Too many hard inquiries in a relatively short amount of time may make lenders perceive you as an elevated credit risk.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.

Published by permission from, Inc.  © 2013, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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