Does checking your credit score lower it? Will checking my credit score hurt my credit?… These are some of the most common questions people who are just trying to establish credit for the first time, often ask.
Unfortunately, there are lots of credit related myths out there. A common misconception among these folks, as well as those who have a long credit history, is that checking your credit score will in one way or another, damage it. Nothing is further from the truth.
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Others assume that whenever your credit report is viewed, there will be a temporary lowering of the score. This is not always the case. This is because, of the two types of inquiries made; soft inquiries and hard inquiries; one ultimately can have this undesired effect on your credit score.
An inquiry referring to the action made by an individual to review the status of his or her credit report or score is called a soft inquiry. This has no negative effect on the credit score, thus should be encouraged.
In some cases, a lender, credit card provider or insurance company may routinely monitor your credit situation as they create a pool of consumers to be targeted with “pre-approved” offers. In other cases, an employer may be required to make an inquiry as they make a credit check on an applicant. These types of checks are considered as soft inquiries.
As stated earlier, soft inquiries do not impact negatively on your credit score. They are only visible on your version of the credit report, thus are not visible to lenders, employers or any other business entities that may be pulling out your report, with or without your prior knowledge.
Every time you apply for credit and the lender pulls out your credit report, then the outcome will be a reduction in your credit score. This is the hard inquiry. It is initiated by you when you apply for credit, (whether for a credit card, education loans, mortgages or retail store cards) but culminates when a lender actually pulls out your report for verification.
The reason why a hard inquiry has a negative impact is that whenever a creditor makes an inquiry with the aim of giving you a loan, what this signifies is that you are in need of additional financing or you are facing financial challenges and are unable to make ends meet. This portrays you in bad light, especially in relation to other lenders and to the credit system.
In the case of someone applying for a mortgage or car loan, the system gives you a period of up to 45 days within which to find an appropriate lender. Therefore all inquiries you may make will appear as one inquiry on your credit score. For those who may think that playing truant with making payments on your credit will not cost you anything, consider yourselves warned, as any inquiry made from a collection agency during skip tracing automatically becomes a hard inquiry.
The impact of a hard inquiry is quite taxing on your credit score. It will remain visible on your credit report over a period of 24 months and be calculated within your score for the first 12 months. In case you would like to find out exactly how many hard inquiries you may be carrying around in your credit report, visit AnnualCreditReport.com and register to get your FREE credit report.
Making monthly inquiries on the status of your credit report is a prudent financial practice that you are encouraged to take up. As there are no penalties incurred when you do make an inquiry, consistent checking will keep you aware of what is going on with your financial credit. It will also come in handy in spotting inconsistencies in your report, especially in cases of identity fraud, where someone may have used your information to unlawfully access credit.
Checking your own credit score regularly can also be a great motivating factor for those working on paying down their debts and improving their credit. But simply checking your credit score will not hurt your credit.