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Do credit report inquiries affect my credit score?

Published: August 12, 2013 11:45 AM

I've been told that every time someone checks your credit score—a potential lender, an employer, an insurance company—it lowers the score. How much lower does it go for every check, and does it go down less if, say, a potential employer checks it vs. a potential lender?—Name and address not disclosed

Most credit scores are not affected when you shop for a car, mortgage, student loan, or even an apartment within a short time period—say, 45 days—says Anthony Sprauve, director of public relations for FICO, the company that invented credit scoring. Typically, it's treated as a single inquiry. Checks by potential employers or by lenders interested in sending you marketing materials also don't affect your score. But applications for new credit or for an increase in your credit limit will ding your score. The average amount it will drop is usually fewer than 100 points. But it will rebound within a few months.

Should you buy credit scores? Your FICO score isn't what car dealers, mortgage lenders, and others use, so don't get fooled into buying useless credit scores. Plus watch our video about credit score gotchas to be wary of. 

—Consumer Reports

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