There are two types of inquiries that creditors and lenders place on your credit: soft inquiries and hard inquiries. A soft inquiry typically won’t affect your credit scores, and can be run for a variety of reasons that relate to a background check, for example, before you get hired at a new job, or when you’re trying to get a new credit card offer. A hard inquiry is different. Typically, with a soft inquiry, you’ve given the lender or provider permission to check your credit. A hard credit run can be done without your permission, for example, when an auto lender or credit card issuer checks your credit to make sure you are a good fit before lending you money.
A hard inquiry can affect your credit score, particularly if you have more than one hard inquiry over the course of a few weeks or months. Multiple credit hits from lenders can appear unreliable and can lower your credit score in the process. Hard inquiries are required at times like credit card applications, student loan applications, mortgage apps, and while you’re trying to secure an apartment, among other cases.
A key part of maintaining your credit health is to keep an eye on how many hard credit inquiries you’re getting. If it’s more than you anticipated, this is probably an error and should be disputed. Sometimes hard inquiries that don’t reflect your situation accurately can pop up on your credit report and lower your score when you weren’t even trying to apply for a credit card or mortgage. Luckily, you can dispute these if they’re inaccurate.