Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to Dispute and Remove Unauthorized Hard Pulls on Your Credit Report

When you pull your credit report, it includes a list of credit inquiries. This is a list of the companies that have requested to review your credit report over the last two years. Credit inquiries connected to financial transactions, such as those conducted by lenders, collectors and other people you either do business with or have considered doing business with, are known as "hard pulls." A hard pull slightly damages your credit score. One or two hard pulls a year isn't going to hurt you, but numerous hard pulls over a short time frame can cost your credit score a considerable number of points. In some cases, you may be able to petition the credit bureaus to remove certain hard pulls that you did not authorize.

Permissible Purpose and Credit Inquiries 

A company or individual can't just pull your credit reports at any time for any reason. Your credit reports are a smorgasbord for identity thieves, and the credit bureaus keep a tight leash on the information. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that a company have permissible purpose to access your credit reports. Your credit card company, for example, has the right to periodically pull your credit reports to review your financial standing. It has permissible purpose because you have an account with the company. A credit card company you do not have an account with and did not apply for an account with, however, lacks permissible purpose to access your credit records. Non-permissible purpose pulls are a violation of the FCRA and the law.

Why You Should Dispute Hard Credit Pulls

Numerous hard pulls can tank your credit scores.
Credit inquiries remain on your credit record for two years, on average. I believe this time period is slightly shorter for TransUnion, but don't quote me on that. Your credit scores recover fairly quickly from a hard credit pull, but as long as the pull is there your current and future lenders will see it. Credit pulls from lenders and credit card companies make it appear that you are shopping for debt. This sends up a red flag to lenders that you may be in some sort of financial trouble – making doing business with you risky. Don't think that your credit score is the only aspect of your credit history that matters to lenders: inquiries matter too.

But what if the company conducting the inquires isn't a bank? What if the hard pulls come from a collection agency? That looks even worse to lenders. Collection agencies generally pull your credit records to evaluate your financial standing before slapping your credit report with a negative tradeline. Collection agencies are notorious for getting mixed up, and the last thing you need is to have future lenders balking at the sight of a collection agency's hard pull. You don't have to sit by quietly while companies violate the FCRA and abuse your credit report.

Have Hard Pulls Removed From Your Credit Report

You should recognize credit inquiries from lenders and creditors you either currently do business with or applied for an account with. When you find hard pulls you don't recognize on your credit report, however, its time to take action. Write a letter illustrating the following:

  • You did not apply for credit with the company
  • The company did not have permissible purpose, and thus pulled your credit illegally.
  • Demand proof or removal of the inquiry

The FCRA requires creditors to make fair and accurate reports – and credit inquiries are included in this!

Sample Letter to Remove Hard Credit Inquiries

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, I'm going to include a sample letter to a creditor requesting that it remove its hard pull from my credit report. Feel free to use and modify this letter for your own purposes.

Dear Random Creditor:

My name is Lee Edwards. I recently pulled my credit reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion and noticed a hard credit inquiry from your company on all three of my credit reports. You are not one of my current creditors, nor do I recall ever applying for a loan or credit card with your company. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that you have permissible purpose before accessing my credit records. Because I have no business relationship with your company and never sought one, you lack that permissible purpose. Your company accessed my credit information illegally and, in accordance with the FCRA, I demand that you either delete your hard inquiry or provide me with written proof that you have or had a business relationship with me that authorizes you to make such an inquiry. 

If you would like to reach me to discuss this matter further, you can contact me via email at or by phone at (555) 555-5555. 

Thank you,
Lee Edwards 

Don't Worry about Soft Pulls!

Soft pulls and hard pulls are two different beasts. Soft pulls don't count against you and don't hurt your credit scores. Don't bother wasting your breath and time trying to get soft pulls removed from your credit reports. Hard pulls are the only inquiries you should bother attempting to remove.

Related Posts:

Deleting Collections From Your Credit Report

Removing Re-Aged Collections From Your Credit Report

Collection Agencies Conduct Hard Credit Pulls Without Permission

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