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The process for removing enquiries from your credit file

Too many credit enquiries can negatively affect your ability to get loan approval. Here's what you need to know reduce these black marks and improve your credit score.

Whether you want a shiny new credit card, a car loan or a mortgage, your credit file plays a crucial role in the application process. Lenders use details of your credit history to help them determine your eligibility for loan products – including the number of enquiries that have been made on your file.

These credit enquiries stay on your credit file for five years, so 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. Here, we look at what credit enquiries are, your options for removing them or reducing them and what else you need to consider to optimise your credit 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 to 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, and 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 request a free copy from each of the major credit reporting bodies (CRBs) once every year. When looking at these details, 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.

Can I remove an enquiry from my credit file?

You can't remove a legitimate enquiry from your credit file. In most cases, you will simply have to wait until five years has passed and they are taken off your history.

In general, the only details that can be removed from your credit file are those that are incorrect or erroneous. For example, if a lender made an enquiry without proper authorisation from you, 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 file

  1. Review your credit file. Start by getting a copy of your credit file, and go through all the credit enquiries and other details on record. Count the total number of ladyCCbillsenquiries and reference against the enquiries you know you have made (ie. loan, utility and card applications). Flag any enquiries that are unfamiliar or which you can't recall approving.
  2. Follow up on unfamiliar enquiries. If you have identified an enquiry you don't remember approving, then 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 consent to receiving credit limit increase offers on your credit card, and then accept an offer, it could lead to a new enquiry on your credit file.
  3. 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, you can submit a request to the credit reporting body to have it removed. Make sure your request is to the CRB who provided you with your credit file, as 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.
  4. Wait for an outcome. The CRB will then review your request and the details, before providing you with an outcome. If you are unsuccessful, the listing will remain for the allocated time (eg. five years from when an enquiry was made), and if you are successful it will be removed.

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, but it's important to note that they won't be able to help remove any legitimate credit enquiries or details on your file.

What should I consider when trying to improve my credit file?

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 cards, loans or utilities 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, so always aim to make repayments by the due date on your statements.
  • Settle outstanding debts. If there are debts you can afford to pay off now, doing so could help show lenders you are responsible with money.
  • Close old accounts. Go through your credit file and check to see whether there are any accounts that are still open that you don't currently 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 file.

What can I do if a provider declines my application?

Credit repair takes time, so if you have followed the steps and 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.

In the meantime, 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.

Learn more about credit card repair

Removing incorrect details and enquiries from your credit file can have a positive effect on your creditworthiness, but it is not a solution for any legitimate details recorded on your file. Make sure you consider this fact before seeking the services of a credit repair company, and consider your other options for improving your credit file so that you can increase the chances of approval in the future.

Frequently asked questions

Credit enquiries stay on your credit file for five years. Mentions of defaults also stay on your file for five years.

You cannot get a lender to remove a default listing until you pay the arrears. Once you pay what’s due, the same finds a mention on your credit file, but mention of the default stays on file for five years.

If credit repair companies have declined to offer assistance in your case, you should start by trying to get your finances on track. If you have existing credit cards and/or loans, try to repay them in a timely manner or speak to the creditors and try to work on alternate payment plans. Try to save some money in a savings account every month or term deposit account to help build up your assets. These steps would have a positive bearing on your financial health in the future.

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Sally McMullen

Sally McMullen is a journalist at finder.com.au who is a credit cards, frequent flyer and travel money expert by day and music maven by night.

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54 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    October 3, 2017

    Hi I hope you can answer this. I recently found out I have a default on my file, the actual default was in 2009 and was the fault of my ex wife. In the divorce settlement she was supposed to make a payment to the credit card company when we sold the house but did not. I never received any notification from the CC company that there were amounts owing. The bank subsequently sold the debt in 2010 to a recovery agent (i assume for say 30c in the dollar). When I look at the report the debt is listed as 2016.

    I would have thought that the original debt is 2010 + 5 years is 2015 which is when it should have been removed. So I am confused.

    Kindest

    Richard

    • Staff
      DanielleOctober 4, 2017Staff

      Hi Richard,

      Thank you for contacting finder. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      You may refer to this page for instructions on how you can request for the incorrect listing to be fixed on your own or with the help of credit repair specialists.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

  2. Default Gravatar
    HelenAugust 29, 2017

    Does reducing your credit card limit affect your credit rating?

    • Staff
      LiezlAugust 30, 2017Staff

      Hi Helen,

      Thanks for your question. While reducing your credit limit might not directly affect your credit rating, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t completely limit your spending power or causes you to max out your credit card. Maxing out your limit increases your credit utilisation which negatively affects your credit file and borrowing power. You may find our articles on credit limit here and on this page helpful.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

  3. Default Gravatar
    SunnyJuly 5, 2017

    I am migrant and don’t know much about how credit file work I have Full time job so I applied to 10 credit card in 10 days I got approved for 5 and 5 got rejected now my credit score is low when I applied for loan and they rejected so how to request quick change or when my credit score can change again ? Is there any way I can correct my score quickly ?

    • Staff
      DanielleJuly 5, 2017Staff

      Hi Sunny,

      Thank you for contacting finder. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      You may refer to this page for a guide on how you can improve your credit score. You may also seek the advice of a credit specialist, or consult credit repair companies for assistance.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

  4. Default Gravatar
    Davidson​June 9, 2017

    Hi, I’m a pensioner looking for a soft loan. I’m about two weeks behind I like to buy V8 Supercars and I just wanted to have some funds for my back pocket. Thank you

    • Staff
      RenchJune 10, 2017Staff

      Hi Davidson,

      Thanks for reaching out to us.

      You can have a look on these pages about loans for pensioners:
      Pensioner Loans
      Retired Loans
      You can get useful information and tips from there.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Rench

  5. Default Gravatar
    MartiMay 10, 2017

    Hi there, i recently applied for credit for a purchase of a car which was subject to an inspection and road worthy. This was through a dealer and it turned out the car was unable to be sold. Is this a hard enquiry and can it be removed due to the car not be able to be sold?

    • Staff
      AnndyMay 11, 2017Staff

      Hi Marti,

      Thanks for your question.

      Lenders usually perform a “hard” enquiry whenever you apply for a credit or loan. Unfortunately, you can’t remove a legitimate enquiry from your credit file. In most cases, you will simply have to wait until five years has passed and they are taken off your history.

      If you are interested to know for sure, you may request a free credit report on this page to see the details of your credit history. To get a free credit report, do click on the ‘Go to Equifax’s website’ button on that page.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  6. Default Gravatar
    May 10, 2017

    Hello finder.com.au

    I just spoke to my lender, with who I am paying off a loan. A balance of nearly 5K is remaining.

    There is an entry in my credit card file for this lender when the loan was processed. The lender says if I pay this remaining 5K and close the loan account, he still can’t remove the credit entry that is in my credit file.

    I know the entry will automatically drop off after a 5 year period. But wondering if the account is paid off, why does an entry by lender still need to remain in my credit file!

    Why is this so?

    • Staff
      HaroldMay 11, 2017Staff

      Hi Harry,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      If you have bad credit it’s important to continue to manage and improve your finances to give yourself the best chance of being approved for a loan. If you’re considering of enlisting the services of a credit repair agency, the guide below will take you through everything you need to know. You may want to consider to read the guide on this page on how to fix your credit history.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  7. Default Gravatar
    JenniferMarch 30, 2017

    Sallie Mae has ran my credit multiple times when they have made me reapply for loans instead of reinstating an already approved loan. Now they have cancelled my loan stating it expired, after I had already accepted the terms , started school and was awaiting for them to disperse the money. They have made me once again reapply to which I told them that it would cause me to need a co-signer due to their repulling my credit multiple times in the year. That is what happened. My current credit score is 793. I do not have any debt. Can someone tell me if there are any steps that I can take against them for denial?

    • Staff
      MayMarch 31, 2017Staff

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Basically, each lender has their own set of criteria and rules/terms and conditions when it comes to approving their applicants. So the possible reasons for your declined application could be around not meeting their requirements or as you mentioned, there was an expiration for the application. It may not be possible to go against the lender especially if their actions were based on their T&Cs and you have accepted it. It’s best that you contact again your lender and resolve this issue with them.

      Furthermore, about credit enquiries, it may not be possible to remove any legitimate credit file enquiry (with proper authorisation from you) and the only way you can remove incorrect or erroneous enquiries is through credit repair and you need to contact the lender so they can remove that enquiry.

      Cheers,
      May

  8. Default Gravatar
    TraceyNovember 7, 2016

    HI,

    Can I have enquiries’ removed if we did not proceed with a application

    • Staff
      AnndyNovember 7, 2016Staff

      Hi Tracey,

      Thanks for your question.

      When you apply for a particular credit product, an enquiry is recorded on your credit file. The enquiry is recorded on your file regardless of whether your application was approved or rejected. Unfortunately, you can’t remove a legitimate enquiry from your credit file. In most cases, you will simply have to wait until five years has passed and they are taken off from your history.

      Generally, you can only remove incorrect or erroneous details from your credit file.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  9. Default Gravatar
    September 21, 2016

    Is an enquiry on a credit report a bad thing?

    • Staff
      MaySeptember 22, 2016Staff

      Hi Nic,

      Thank you for your question.

      If you will have too many enquiries on your file, that would negatively affect your chances of approval for credit.

      An enquiry will appear on your credit file every time you submit an application for any form of credit such as credit card, home loan, personal loan, car loan, etc. These will all be mentioned in your file. So as soon as the creditor reviews your file, that will be recorded.

      Cheers,
      May

  10. Default Gravatar
    September 21, 2016

    Hello,
    I have just opened my credit report and I have 1 credit card that’s paid off but still on there as well as another GE money card that I was approved for but cancelled as I didn’t require it. Is there any reason they would both still be on there?

    • Staff
      MaySeptember 22, 2016Staff

      Hi Nic,

      Thanks for your question.

      Information is kept on file for a number of years. For instance, credit applications, enquiries and overdue accounts are held on your file for 5 years. If you want to have a good understanding of your credit file, you may like to read this page for your guide.

      Cheers,
      May

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