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    Ever wondered what hard inquiries are and what soft inquiries are and how they affect your credit score? Hopefully after reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of this complex issue. Credit inquiries are nothing to cry over. But let’s first establish what they are, the different types of them, and whether they affect your credit score or not. A credit inquiry aka credit pull is when someone requests to have your credit report reviewed. Think of it as an audit- every number is looked at and questioned. There are two types of credit inquiries- hard inquiries and soft inquiries. Think of hard inquiries as a basketball that slams into your head during a heated game. Do you fall? Probably. Painful? Don’t ask!. Do you want to beat up the guy that threw that? Don’t answer that one for your own sake. But chances are that you’ll be able to get up after a couple of minutes, with none the worse for wear. A hard inquiry will usually be done when you request a loan from a lender. That can happen when you apply for a loan, credit card, mortgage, or car loan. The lender wants to protect themself from a negligent borrower. By looking at your credit report, they see if you’re on top of paying your credit card bills, utility bills and the like. A question that comes up often is, does a hard inquiry affect my credit score? The short answer is yes and no. (I know, I know- please don’t throw that basketball at me. I hate that answer too.) A hard inquiry will affect your credit score in the short term. It may cause your number to drop slightly, right after the hard inquiry is done. The good news is that it won’t remain like that forever. (Phew!) By twelve months after the inquiry, your score won’t be affected anymore. In addition to that, by two years your hard inquiry should be off your credit report altogether. The more hard inquiries done, the more your credit score will be affected, though. That’s why you should reconsider applying for a few credit cards at at time, as this results in multiple hard inquiries done at one time. Best is that there shouldn’t be more than 5 hard inquiries in 12 months. Now, what happens if you applied for a few credit cards, knowing you probably won’t be approved for all? Will the credit inquiry still be on your credit report if you get declined? The answer is that yes, the hard inquiry will still be on your credit report. You’re best off applying for cards that you have a fair chance of getting approved for. Now, let’s talk about soft inquiries. A soft inquiry will feel like that soft, deflated ball that a 2 year old loves to play with. You wouldn’t even know if it was that or a raindrop that dropped on your head. Soft inquiries are not done in relation to loans. They’ll usually be done by landlords, potential employers, insurance companies, utility companies or for pre-qualified offers.Those pre-qualified credit card offers you get in your mailbox aren’t numbers that are pulled out of a hat. They’re usually based on your score. A soft inquiry won’t affect your credit score, and they can’t be viewed by anybody but yourself. This is a good thing, since soft inquiries are constantly being made. There are three credit bureauscredit-reporting agencies- TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Generally, banks will only pull a credit report from one agency when you apply for a credit card. As for mortgages, car loans, or other loans, a credit inquiry will be done by all three bureaus. Banks won’t do credit inquiries by the same credit bureaus all the time. It differs based on the state and the time period. At HelpMeBuildCredit.com we built an awesome page where people report what credit bureaus their credit was pulled from- check it out. When applying for a card, you can search for someone from your state that applied to the same bank within the last few months. Generally, your credit inquiry will be done by the same agency as that person. In a study done by the Federal Trade Commission, it was found that one in five Americans have found an error on their credit report. What happens if you get your credit report, and you notice a few inquiries that you weren’t aware about, or that you don’t recognize? This may very well be that someone is misusing your credit report. If you notice something amiss on your credit report, call the bank that conducted the inquiry, find out some more information about it, and dispute it if it’s inaccurate. If you fear that your personal information was stolen and someone is opening false accounts in your name, then your best option may be to freeze your credit reports. When you freeze your report, no one can view your credit report unless you unfreeze it. If you apply for a mortgage, loan or credit card, you’ll need to unfreeze your reports in order to allow the lender to review your credit history. With all that covered, here’s to wishing you much luck with your credit score, reports and history!