How Long Do Inquiries Stay on My Credit Report?

By Carly Kullman

  • Overview

    If you've ever taken a good look at your credit report, you might have noticed an inquiry section that lists all of the times someone has looked at your credit report. But what are they? Did you know that inquiries have an affect on your credit score? Inquiries are one of the most elusive items on a person's credit report.
  • Definition

    When there is an inquiry on your credit report, it basically is a record of when someone has checked your credit report. There are two different types of inquiries--hard inquiries and soft inquiries. Hard inquiries show up on your credit report when someone checks your credit, such as when you apply for a credit card or a loan. Hard inquiries can affect your credit score since they are available for viewing by any creditor that looks at your credit report. Soft inquiries show up on your credit report and are only visible to you. Soft inquiries happen when you look at your credit report or review it on line. They do not show up on a permanent copy of your credit report, nor do they affect your credit score.
  • Purpose

    Inquiries are placed on a credit report to show potential lenders how many times you have applied for credit within a certain time frame. This can be a red flag to potential lenders or creditors if they see several inquiries from several different lenders. This may make the lender think that you are in a financial bind or that you are getting more credit and possibly living beyond your means. Inquiries show who you are applying for credit with. For instance, if you are shopping for a new car, there might be several different hard inquiries on your credit report showing the different lenders that have reviewed your credit. Potential creditors will view this differently than credit card lenders that reviewed your credit report in one day.

  • Time Frame

    Hard inquires are required to stay on your credit report for at least one year. However, many inquiries last on a credit report for a period of two years. Inquiries can also be disputed, but it can prove to be a tough task to show that the lender did not have permissible purpose to do so. Any inquiry, either hard or soft, shows up on a person's credit report instantly.
  • Considerations

    Any time a potential creditor looks at your credit report, that inquiry remains on your report. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, only creditors with permissible purpose can access your credit report. Besides lenders who you already have a business connection with, companies with whom you have debt with can also review your credit report. This also extends to landlords, insurance companies and utility companies. In addition, some lenders are also able to view your credit history in pre-approving you for special offers or credit cards.
  • Effects

    Inquiries on a credit report can affect a person's credit score. Too many can lower a credit score a few points. Those few points can be detrimental in determining the interest rate that you will get if purchasing a new automobile or opening a new line of credit. Remember that these inquiries stay visible on your credit report for a period of two years. It is wise to really shop around and see what is available before you begin applying for something and try to stick with credit cards or loans that you are confident that you will get approved for.
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