Hard inquiriesare generally from some creditor or institution that is checking your credit for some reason. Some examples are banks, credit card companies, car dealers, apartments, employer credit checks, or retail stores.
Think of any institution that asks for your social security number MIGHT pull your credit, so it's very important not to give out so much. Remember, you must authorize the company that you give out your Social Security Number to permission to pull your credit. Also when they ask for your SIN, and they ask you to sign something MOST LIKELY you are going to get your credit pulled. (JUST RUN AWAY!) Just kidding, just be careful as you can run up inquiries.
A great example is car dealerships which are known for not caring and pulling your credit a million times to make sure they get you into that vehicle, so they get the sale. Hard inquiries can remain on your credit report for up to 2 years, after 2 years they generally fall off.
Soft inquiries are generally when a person or company pulls your credit but are from the following: a background check company, a prequalification (a credit card company that sends you those tempting preapprovals in the mail), and when "you check your credit." (This is like a site such as Equifax or TransUnion)
Remember, the law is you have the right to check your credit without getting a hard inquiry. You also have the right to 1 free credit report at Equifax.ca.
Here's a quick chart that can tell you generally where you might get hard inquiries and soft inquiries pulled.
Usually Applying for an auto loan, student loan, business loan or personal loan Applying for a credit card Applying for a mortgage Sometimes Applying to rent an apartment Verification of identity by a financial institution, such as a credit union or stock brokerage Renting a car Getting a cable or Internet account Opening a checking, savings or money market account Requesting a credit limit increase Getting a cell phone contract
Soft Inquiries Usually
Checking your own credit score Pre-approved credit card and loan offers
Background check, such as those done by employers Sometimes Applying to rent an apartment Verification of identity by a financial institution, such as a credit union or stock brokerage Renting a car Getting a cable or Internet account Opening a checking, savings or money market account
Remember, if you are unsure if an institution is going to pull your credit, simply ask them.
Tell them you do not want your credit pulled and if you are still unsure, simply have them write down their name, company name, with the following statement "I, employee name, will not run client's name's credit report. Have the employee sign and date it.
It may sound like overkill, but you have proof that they won't and if they do, this will be sufficient proof to take off the inquiry if they do. Customers have used this in the past and have taken off inquiries. Hope these tips helped and provide some clarification on the differences
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