The process for removing enquiries from your credit report
How to remove enquiries from your report in 4 steps and improve your credit score.
Lenders use details of your credit history to help them determine your eligibility for loan products. This includes the number of enquiries you've made.
These credit enquiries stay on your credit report for five years. If you have too many credit enquiries on your file in a short amount of time, it can negatively impact your credit score and your ability to get the card or loan you want. You can use this guide to learn about what credit enquiries are, your options for removing them or reducing them and what else you need to consider to optimise your credit report.
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Can I remove an enquiry from my credit report?
You can't remove a legitimate enquiry from your credit report. In most cases, you will have to wait until the five years has passed. After this, they are removed from your history.
In general, the only details that can be removed from your credit report are those that are incorrect or erroneous. This includes if a lender made an enquiry without proper authorisation from you. Another example is if your name was attached to an account you never opened or if an account was incorrectly listed as "in default". In these cases, you can submit a request to have the incorrect details removed from your file.
How to remove incorrect details and enquiries from your credit report in 4 steps
- Review your credit report. Start by getting a copy of your credit report, which you can do for free with finder. You can then go through all the credit enquiries and other details on record. Count the total number of enquiries and reference against the enquiries you know you have made. This includes loan, utility and credit card applications. Flag any enquiries that are unfamiliar or which you can't recall approving.
- Follow up on unfamiliar enquiries. If you have identified an enquiry you don't remember making, now's the time to contact the lender associated with it. Find out what the enquiry was made for and why to establish whether you approved it or not. Note that sometimes you can give approval simply by ticking a box on a form. For example, if you consented to receive credit limit increase offers on your credit card in the past, and then accepted an offer, it could've left a new enquiry on your credit report.
- Submit a request for incorrect details to be removed. If you have followed up on unfamiliar enquiries and still feel that authorisation was not properly given, submit a request to the credit reporting body to have it removed. Make sure your request is to the credit reporting body that issued your credit file. This is because the details may vary between them. For example, if you got your credit file from Equifax, you would submit a request to Equifax to have incorrect listings removed.
- Wait for an outcome. The credit reporting body will then review your request and the details, before providing you with an outcome. If you are successful, it will be removed. If you are unsuccessful, the listing will remain for the allocated time (such as five years from when an enquiry was made).
Alternatively, you may want to seek help from a company that offers credit repair for a fee. These organisations may be able to help you find and remove incorrect listings from your credit file. However, it's important to note that they can't remove any legitimate credit details on your file.
What is a credit enquiry?
There are two main types of credit enquiries: "soft" enquiries and "hard" enquiries.
A soft enquiry is recorded any time you request a copy of your credit file and doesn't really have an impact on your credit score.
A "hard" enquiry refers to any request for your credit file that's made by a third party, such as a lender. For instance, every time you apply for a line of credit, such as a card or personal loan, the lender you've applied with will submit a request for your credit file. This request is recorded on your credit history as a "hard credit enquiry". While a few of these enquiries is usually fine, too many hard enquiries on your credit file can suggest to lenders that you are not able to manage credit accounts responsibly. This may lead to a declined application.
How do I know if I have "too many credit enquiries"?
If you're concerned about the number of enquiries on your credit history, the first step is to get a copy of your credit file. You can check your credit report and credit score for free with finder and we'll notify you when something on your report changes, such as a credit enquiry.
When you get your free credit report and look at your credit enquiries, it's important to note that it's not so much about the total number of enquiries as it is about the time between them. Less time between credit enquiries increases the chances that they will have a negative impact on your credit score.
For example, if you have applied for five credit cards in a period of three months and have five hard enquiries as a result, it is likely to be considered as a negative detail on your file. In contrast, having five hard credit enquiries listed over a period of five years may have less of an impact.
I have too many enquiries on my credit file, what should I do now?
Improving your credit file takes time, but you can start optimising it by following the tips below:
- Limit new applications. You can keep the number of credit enquiries on your file down by only applying for new products when it's necessary. Applying for one account at a time and waiting a few months between applications will also help keep your credit enquiries to a minimum.
- Pay your accounts by the due date. Information about late payments can also have a negative impact on your credit file. Aim to make repayments by the due date on your statements.
- Settle outstanding debts. Repay any debts you can afford to pay off. This can show lenders that you are responsible with money.
- Close old accounts. Go through your credit file and check if there are any accounts that are still open that you don't use. For example, an old joint electricity account from a sharehouse. Closing these or removing your name from them will ensure that only current, relevant details are on your credit report.
What can I do if a provider declines my application?
If you have followed the credit repair tips above and still receive an unsuccessful outcome on your next card or loan application, be patient. Aim to wait around six months before submitting another application, and carefully review your options and eligibility when you do. These steps can also improve your chances of getting approved.
You may also want to consider contacting the lender that declined your application to see if you can find out why. Most lenders won't provide a specific reason, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
Removing incorrect details and enquiries from your credit file can have a positive effect on your creditworthiness. However, it's not a solution for any legitimate details recorded on your file. Consider this before contacting a credit repair company and weigh up your other options for improving your credit report.
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