If Experian Reports Unauthorized Hard Inquiries In Your Credit Report, You Have the Right to Dispute and Seek Correction!
Unauthorized hard credit inquiries in your Experian credit report can harm your credit score and keep you from accessing credit when you need it most. Don’t wait! Learn everything you need to correct unauthorized inquiries, including how to dispute them, what your rights are, and how to get compensation.
Errors abound in credit reports, with research confirming that up to one-third of consumers experience reporting mistakes during their lifetime. One of the common types of reporting errors is the inclusion of unauthorized hard inquiries in someone’s credit profile. If this happened to you with Experian, know that removing hard inquiries from an Experian credit report can improve your credit score, protect your creditworthiness, and increase your likelihood of accessing credit when you need it most.
I’ll explain what credit inquiries are, how unauthorized inquiries happen, why they are harmful, how you can dispute and remove them, and how consumer protection attorneys can help. Keep reading to be fully informed and know which steps to take next. Knowing how to remove hard inquiries from Experian reports is an important part of ensuring overall financial health.
What Is a Credit Inquiry?
A “credit inquiry” is the general term used to describe the act of either you or a third-party entity (such as a service provider, lender, or landlord) requesting your reportable credit history from one of the credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. A credit report is a compilation of all of your reportable financial data.
Reportable financial data might include such things as:
- information about bank and other financial accounts you’ve opened, closed, transferred, etc.
- debts and loans you’ve taken on with respect to credit cards, mortgages, auto financing, education, and others, including details about origination and payoff dates, loan status, late or missed payments, etc.
- properties and addresses in your name, whether owned or rented, and the status of any contracts related to them (mortgage, lease, or other).
Credit inquiries can either be passive, such as when you regularly monitor your own credit report for any anomalies or suspicious activity, or active, such as when a third party reviews your credit in light of a loan application. See below for more details.
Experian is a Consumer Reporting Agency
Experian, along with TransUnion and Equifax, is one of the three credit bureaus. These bureaus are actually just the three most commonly used of several dozen consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) nationwide. CRAs are companies that operate in the consumer data industry by buying and selling data in the form of reports.
CRAs purchase data from other companies that provide it. When companies that you have a direct relationship with sell your data to CRAs, those companies are called data furnishers. This includes credit card companies, banks, mortgage and auto lenders, service providers, etc. CRAs also buy data from third-party companies (ones you don’t have a direct relationship with), which use algorithms to scour public records databases for such things as property records, court records, tax records, arrest records, and others.
Experian and other CRAs are regulated under federal law by legislation such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and under state law by comparable or complementary legislation that differs by state. The FCRA sets legal standards for the CRAs to maintain and grants you a number of important rights in how your data is handled and reported. Most importantly, you have the right to accurate information in your credit reports, and this includes inquiry accuracy.
Types of Credit Inquiries
Whether you or a third-party entity looks at your credit profile, it is considered a credit inquiry. Since credit inquiries can cause your credit score to go down (as explained below), the industry recognizes a need to distinguish between routine monitoring and credit inquiries done with an ultimate purpose in mind. These two types of credit inquiries are called soft inquiries and hard inquiries, respectively.
Soft Credit Inquiries
The industry term for the act of checking your credit report with the intent to get a general idea of your overall credit health is making a “soft inquiry.” Soft inquiries do not have any impact on your credit score because they are not done with the intention of growing your debt. These types of inquiries can include:
- Checking your own credit report or credit score as part of routine monitoring. Experts recommend reviewing your credit at least once per year.
- Seeking pre-approval for a loan or purchase. This is meant to assess if it’s even worth considering a purchase like a car or home.
- Background checks for employment or housing.
- Marketing purposes. Some companies check consumer credit reports in order to market financial products. An example would be receiving a “prequalified” offer for a credit card in your email or mailbox. These types of offers are sent out by companies that have “peeked” at your credit through a soft inquiry.
Hard Credit Inquiries
The industry term for the act of checking your credit with the intention of moving forward with a financial transaction and expanding your debt is making a “hard inquiry.” Unlike a “pre-approval” or a “pre-qualified” offer, a hard inquiry is an official assessment of whether a bank, credit card company, mortgage lender, or auto financier is going to extend you the credit you need to make an actual purchase. It is a sign that you intend to increase your borrowing soon.
These types of inquiries include:
- Mortgage approvals.
- Car loan approvals.
- Equity loan approvals.
- Credit Card approvals.
Hard inquiries are how lenders determine whether to lend to you and what the terms of the loan should be (amount, repayment terms, interest rate, etc.). The better your credit score, the better your loan terms typically are.
How Credit Inquiries Could Hurt Your Experian Credit Score
As discussed above, only hard inquiries impact your credit score since soft inquiries do not reflect an intent to expand credit or grow debt. By contrast, hard inquiries do impact your credit score because they indicate that you are actively seeking an extension of credit and represent a likelihood of taking on additional debt in the near future.
Because hard inquiries are understood to reflect an immediate interest in expanding credit and growing debt, the formulas that calculate credit scores subtract a certain number of points per hard inquiry within a period of time. In addition, as Experian explains, research shows that consumers who take on additional debt struggle more with paying existing debts, which is another reason why hard inquiries lower credit scores.
The formula that Experian uses to calculate credit scores tries to account for the fact that people might “shop around” for the best deal, so it attempts to group obvious rate-shopping hard inquiries into a single credit score deduction. However, Experian expressly states that it does not group inquiries related to credit cards into a single deduction. Each hard inquiry from a credit card company counts as a unique “hit” against your credit and receives a deduction. Hard credit inquiries on Experian reports remain for up to two years.
A certain degree of mild fluctuations in your credit score is normal, but for the most part, it is generally best to keep hard inquiries to a minimum to keep your score steady. Avoid big swings or notable discrepancies in your credit score over time. When you really do need credit, you don’t want to have any otherwise avoidable obstacles blocking your path.
Can You Remove Inquiries from Your Experian Credit Report?
Yes, you can remove inquiries from an Experian credit report, but not all inquiries qualify for removal.
Any inquiry that was authorized by you cannot be removed from your credit report. If it was authorized, it is rightfully reported. If it is rightfully reported, it cannot be removed simply because you regret authorizing it.
However, if you did not authorize a hard inquiry that appears on your Experian report, it can be removed. Experian provides a dispute process for seeking investigation and error correction. You can access the necessary information on the Experian website. However, we recommend filing your dispute via certified mail. See below for more details.
How to Dispute Hard Inquiries on Experian
Under the FCRA, Experian has to provide a means for you to dispute credit inquiries on an Experian report, and this includes information pertaining to hard inquiries. Notably, the Experian website explains that Experian removes hard inquiries that result from fraud (meaning, identity theft). It then lists a series of ways that hard inquiries might show up on your credit report that you don’t recognize but that you just didn’t realize you were authorizing. For the latter, Experian basically explains that these are legitimate, and it’s your fault.
However, the law does not support Experian’s approach. Instead, under the FCRA, Experian is legally responsible for investigating and removing any inaccurate, misleading, or false information from your credit report. This standard can only be met if, among other things, the information being reported is verifiably accurate, and that obligation falls on Experian, not you. So, if your credit report is littered with hard inquiries that didn’t result from identity theft but that you did not expressly authorize, it is on Experian to show that they are authorized and reportable.
How to File Your Experian Dispute
While you can file an Experian dispute via an online platform, phone, or mail, we recommend using certified mail. Frequently, the use of online dispute platforms requires you to agree to terms and conditions that include a waiver of your right to file a lawsuit over the dispute. It is not a good idea to waive this right at the outset of the dispute.
Send a dispute letter, along with copies of supporting documentation (if any), to the address provided on the Experian website. Note: the Experian dispute address for hard inquiries is the same as the address for disputing any other information in your credit report.
Ask that the disputed information be investigated and removed from your credit profile or else verified (meaning documented proof that you authorized it). Within thirty days, if Experian does not investigate, remove the inquiry, respond to the dispute, or verify that the inquiry was authorized, you need to speak to a credit report lawyer.
If Experian responds by informing you that the hard credit inquiry is verified and accurate, but you are certain that it is not, reach out to Consumer Attorneys to discuss what to do next.
For detailed information about letter templates to dispute a credit report with Experian, see our article, How to Write a Dispute Letter to Credit Bureaus.
You may use the following template as a guide, adding, removing, or altering the langue as needed for your situation. Anything in [brackets] should be updated with specific information or selections. Confirm the current address information for disputes on the Experian dispute page. Send all correspondence and documentation to Experian via certified mail.
[You Street Address]
[Your City, State, Zip Code]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email Address, if any]
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Subject: Disputing Information in Credit Report - Unauthorized Hard [Inquiry/Inquiries]
I am writing to dispute the following information that appears in my Experian credit report. I have enclosed a copy of my current Experian credit report and circled the [item/items] in dispute, marking each with a number corresponding to the list below.
This item, circled and marked with #1 on the enclosed copy of my credit report, is inaccurate because I did not authorize a hard inquiry from [business name] on [date]. I do not recognize this inquiry, and I did not authorize it. I request that Experian provide me with documentation showing proof of my authorization for [business name] to make this hard inquiry on [date] or remove this item from my credit report and adjust my credit score accordingly.
This item, circled and marked with #2 on the enclosed copy of my credit report, is inaccurate because I did not authorize a hard inquiry from [business name] on [date]. I do not recognize this inquiry, and I did not authorize it. I request that Experian provide me with documentation showing proof of my authorization for [business name] to make this hard inquiry on [date] or remove this item from my credit report and adjust my credit score accordingly.
[Add as many additional numbered dispute items as necessary.]
Please reinvestigate [this/these] disputed [item/items] as soon as possible and in accordance with the law.
SSN: [Your Social Security Number]
Enclosures: Marked-up copy of my Experian credit report indicating disputed [item/items].
Benefits of Professional Legal Support with Experian
The best way to dispute Experian hard inquiries is by working with a skilled and experienced lawyer, like one from our team at Consumer Attorneys. Our lawyers will provide an evaluation of your situation, guide and advise you on the process for disputing inquiries with Experian, help expedite the delays to delete Experian inquiries fast, and sue Experian for error correction and compensation.
At Consumer Attorneys, we have over seventy-five years of combined experience as litigators and advocates, and we’ve helped thousands of clients fight back against the credit bureaus for harmful reporting errors. We know the federal and state laws that impact your rights and Experian’s obligations. We know the common challenges that arise in removing Experian credit inquiries. And we know how to file a lawsuit on your behalf if you end up hitting a complete roadblock in your efforts.
We’ve been doing this long enough to know that simply having a dispute process and filing a dispute are frequently not enough to get Experian to do the right thing. Experian may try to put the responsibility for investigating and documenting the hard inquiry errors on you. It may also conduct inadequate or shoddy investigations, delay or fail to respond, make inadequate or incomplete corrections, or any number of other things.
Note that if you discover unauthorized hard inquiries as part of an Experian background check that includes a credit review, we can help with this, too.
How Much Does it Cost?
It does not cost you anything out-of-pocket to work with a lawyer from Consumer Attorneys to correct errors in your Experian credit report. Our initial consultations are always 100% free, and the law requires Experian to pay all of our legal costs and fees for helping you fix reporting errors if we sue and win.
Ask for Our Help Now
Any time you notice errors in your credit report, you should take it seriously. Mistakes can show up for all kinds of reasons, including fraud. Even things as seemingly minor as a credit inquiry can be very damaging to your credit score, especially if there are several within a relatively short amount of time.
If unauthorized hard inquiries show up in your credit profile, ask for our help now. With no out-of-pocket cost to you, there is nothing to lose in discussing your Experian reporting error with one of our skilled consumer protection lawyers today!
With a nationwide practice, we’re always right where you need us to be. Call now.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do credit inquiries stay on your credit report?
Experian maintains hard inquiries on your credit report for up to two years. After this time, they expire and are no longer reportable. However, Experian explains that many hard inquiries stop having a meaningful impact on your credit score well before the two-year reporting period ends. As always, if you did not authorize the inquiries that appear on your report, you can dispute those inquiries with Experian. If you need help to remove hard inquiries with Experian, a consumer protection lawyer is your most valuable asset.
Where do I find hard inquiries on an Experian credit report?
Hard inquiries will be grouped and labeled together. So, when reviewing your Experian credit report, scan until you locate a section advising that it contains all of the hard inquiries about your credit made over the reportable period (two years). Review carefully to be certain that you recognize the dates, names, and circumstances of any reported inquiry. If you identify any entries that were not authorized, you can remove credit inquiries from Experian reports through the dispute process.
How do I delete inquiries on an Experian credit report?
You can remove unauthorized hard inquiries from your Experian credit report by following the procedures for disputing a reporting error. This involves (1) reviewing your report for errors, including unauthorized inquiries, (2) disputing the errors via a dispute letter and supporting documentation sent by certified mail, (3) contacting a consumer protection lawyer such as those at Consumer Attorneys to help navigate the process and file a lawsuit if necessary. Note that we do not advise that you dispute Experian inquiries online because the use of an online dispute platform may require you to waive your right to pursue a lawsuit.
Can you temporarily block Experian inquiries?
Yes. Not only can you dispute inquiries with Experian, but you can also prevent hard inquiries from being made in the first place. This is a proactive process that requires you to contact Experian and request a credit freeze. This will essentially “lockdown” your Experian credit profile so no further investigations of your creditworthiness can take place. However, it will also freeze your ability to access further credit as well. If you suspect that you have been the victim of identity theft or fraud, you should do this immediately. Taking this step as soon as you have concerns is a good way to lessen any potential harm. Preventing them before they happen is better than having to work to get hard inquiries removed from Experian after the fact.