What is a soft inquiry?

A soft inquiry is an informal classification of a credit check. It includes any type of consumer credit pull in which the score is exempt from penalty. This is the opposite of a hard inquiry, in which the consumer would normally be penalized for the credit check.
Soft inquiries are automatically recorded whenever a consumer’s credit record is reviewed absent of an attempt to obtain debt. In other words, there is no attempt to open a credit account.

For example, if you pull your own credit reports, this is recorded as a soft inquiry. It has no effect on your credit scores. This is true whether you utilize the free Annual Credit Report service or purchase your credit reports from either the credit bureaus or a third party.

A credit check by a potential employer is recorded as a soft inquiry. Here you are not trying to open an account. Instead, you are trying to increase your income. Still, this is recorded since you have a right to know who is checking your credit.

Landlords also normally check an applicant’s credit as a condition of renting a house or apartment. Insurance companies may check your credit either to screen out high risk candidates or to determine your rate classification. Both types are soft inquiries.

Soft inquiries remain on your credit report for 2 years, at which time they will be deleted automatically. This is also the same length of time for hard inquiries to remain posted.

There are also 2 instances in which creditors may check your credit and it is still classified as a soft inquiry. The first is an account review inquiry, in which one of your active creditor accounts periodically checks your credit report for changes in your financial situation. The second is a promotional inquiry, in which a prospective lender buys a marketing list of consumers from the credit bureau for the purposes of sending you a credit solicitation. Both of these are classified as soft inquiries, since neither represents an attempt to open a new credit account. Of course, a promotional inquiry would be followed by a hard inquiry if you responded to a solicitation by applying for a new account.

Kenneth Long
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Kenneth Long

President at Debtors Unite
Kenneth Long is President of Debtors Unite, Inc. as well as President and Vice Chairman for Vision Credit Education, Inc. He served as a regional coordinator for the North Carolina Saves campaign. Long co-founded the Wake EITC Coalition along with Family Resource Center of Raleigh.

Long is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Industrial Relations. He subsequently received his Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. His Certificate in Financial Planning was issued by Florida State University.

Long has achieved the Accredited Credit Counselor and Accredited Financial Counselor certifications through the Association for Financial Counseling, Planning and Education. Long originally achieved the Certified Credit Counselor designation through the National Institute for Financial Education.

In addition to years of nonprofit leadership, Long has been an innovator in the field of volunteer tax return preparation programs. He assists volunteer associations and nonprofit organizations who seek to integrate credit counseling and asset-building programs with free personal income tax preparation. His approach to using free credit reports as both an incentive and a screening tool for placement into asset-building programs has been shared with members of the National Community Tax Coalition, the EITC-Carolinas Initiative of MDC, Inc. and nonprofit groups across the Carolinas.

Long assists members of our armed forces in the Carolinas, Iowa, Rhode Island, Georgia and Germany with financial readiness. Please support our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors!

Favorite quote:

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."

Thomas Jefferson
Kenneth Long
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