Credit inquiries fall into two types: hard and soft. Hard inquiries impact your credit, and occur whenever you make an application for credit. A couple hard inquiries a year presents no problems, but a number of inquiries makes you look like a credit seeker to creditors, which can substantially impact your credit rating. Soft inquiries occur for promotional offers or when you check your own credit, and have no impact on your credit bureau. A trick has been floating around the internet on how to get rid of your hard credit inquiries with TransUnion in the United States, and it seemingly works!
This past summer, there were reports all over credit forums of people looking at their report and having no hard credit inquiries, and shortly thereafter, those inquiries returned to their report. It seems that TransUnion USA, a credit bureau often used by American Express and a number of other creditors, had a technical glitch whereby hard credit inquiries were removed and then put back on a credit bureau.
As always, I am not a lawyer, and you should always consult with licensed counsel regarding any legal questions.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (‘FCRA’) regulates credit bureaus in the United States, including TransUnion. It establishes rules for reporting, and specifically, § 611 5(b) of the FCRA covers a credit bureau’s requirements relating to the reinsertion of previously deleted information on an individual’s credit history. It states that if information was removed pursuant to a consumer dispute, that information cannot be re-added to a credit bureau.
Now, the theory is that when the glitch caused credit inquiries to be removed and then re-inserted, TransUnion was in breach of FCRA § 611 5(b). I don’t totally agree with that interpretation, as the text of the law only bars the re-insertion of information deleted as a result of a consumer dispute. However, as noted below, there are a number of reports of people having their inquiries removed quoting this rule, so perhaps my interpretation is incorrect or TransUnion doesn’t fully understand the law, or wants to air on the side of caution.
There are dozens of reports floating around the internet of people calling TransUnion and referencing the glitch, which is apparently relatively universal, and speaking with the Special Handling Department. When quoting FCRA § 611 5(b), the TransUnion agent manually deletes all or most of the individual’s hard credit inquiries. Further, there are reports of people being told they weren’t affected by the glitch, only to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (‘CFPB’). At the CFPB, there are numerous reports of success. When looking through the publicly accessible CFPB database, a number of claims can be found:
Having all of your TransUnion hard credit inquiries removed is huge for churners. This will dramatically improve some scores, and make it substantially easier to apply for credit cards. If you believe you were impacted by this glitch, which it seems like most people were, you might want to work with TransUnion to get your hard credit inquiries removed.