Question: A recent solicitor ran my credit without my permission (hard inquiry), I only gave them the last 4 digits of my social and don’t know how they managed to run my credit without the whole number.
I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT GIVE THEM PERMISSION. I’m trying to refinance my home and working on my credit score, so I know what a hard inquiry can affect it. What can I do? I’ve already contacted them without results.
Answer: First, companies do not need your entire social security number in order to run your credit report. There are several identifiable pieces of information in your credit files that are simply matched. It is quite possible to obtain a credit report with just your name, address and a few other identifiable pieces of information such as your date of birth.
Typically when you view your credit report you will notice companies you are not aware of may have requested your credit report. The promotional and the soft inquiries do not affect your credit score. The only inquiries that count toward your credit score are the ones resulting from your applications for new credit.
Second, if you are in the market for a refinance, the FICO credit scoring model will take into account a consumer “rate shopping” for the best interest rates. Credit inquiries done for the purpose of a mortgage loan or refinance, will have less impact on your credit scores.
According to the myfico.com website, “the FICO score ignores inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won’t affect your score while you’re rate shopping. In addition, the score looks on your credit report for rate-shopping inquiries older than 30 days. If it finds some, it counts those inquiries that fall in a typical shopping period as just one inquiry when determining your score. For FICO scores calculated from older versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 14 day span. For FICO scores calculated from the newest versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 45 day span. Each lender chooses which version of the FICO scoring formula it wants the credit reporting agency to use to calculate your FICO score.”
Therefore, if you are “rate shopping” several hard credit inquiries done over a particular time-frame should only count as one hard inquiry on your credit report.
Disputing Credit Inquiries
The Fair Credit Reporting Act says only authorized credit inquiries can appear on your credit report. In order to dispute a credit inquiry you must challenge whether the company running your credit had the proper authorization and permission. Unfortunately you may have inadvertently given your permission by simply giving the last four digits of your social security number.
Send a letter to the company which ran your credit disputing the credit inquiry and request they provide documentation a credit inquiry was authorized by you. Under the Fact Act, you can dispute directly with the furnisher of information. They have 30 days to respond, just like the credit bureaus, or the item must be removed.
If they provide the documentation review it for any uncertainty. Challenge the inquiry if the company did not make it clear they would be pulling your credit report. Should your challenge be ignored and unanswered, send your documentation to the credit bureaus demanding they delete the inquiry based upon the fact the company did not respond within 30 days to your dispute.
Keep track of all correspondence and the timelines. Be sure to send the dispute letter to the company, certified, return receipt.
Once you have disputed the credit inquiry directly with the furnisher of information and the credit bureau, if you still are unable to get the credit inquiry removed, it is time to make complaints with your State’s Attorney General, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the FTC and the Better Business Bureau. Sometimes, if you continue making complaints, the company will delete an item just to get rid of you. Use all your resources.
If all of the above do not work, your only recourse may be to sue for a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You can pursue legal action in small claims court, State or Federal Court. Good luck to you.