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What is the difference between a 'hard' and 'soft' inquiry on the credit report?

Soft Inquiries: Checking your credit reports or monthly account reviews from your present lenders are all examples of "soft" inquiries. Credit scores are not affected by soft queries. By reviewing your credit reports on a regular basis, you'll be able to keep an eye on your credit accounts, identify faulty or missing information and spot unusual activity that could indicate identity theft.

Hard Inquiries: When organisations or people, such as a lender, analyse your credit report as a result of your application for credit, such as a new loan, credit card, this is known as a "hard" inquiry. Hard inquiries can impact your credit score.