Of the 77% of Americans Who Know What a Credit Score Is, 26% Know Difference Between Hard and Soft Credit Inquiry

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A February 2010 survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers revealed that just 19% know the difference between a hard credit inquiry and a soft credit inquiry.

31% of men know the difference between a hard and soft inquiry versus 23% of women.

A February 2010 survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers revealed that just 19% know the difference between a hard credit inquiry and a soft credit inquiry. Also, 26% of the people who claim to know what a credit score is understand the difference between a hard and soft credit inquiry. The results are part of the First Quarter 2010 FreeScore.com Consumer Credit Score Awareness Study*, a January 28–February 2, 2010 online poll of Americans ages 18+.

According to CreditFYI.com, a consumer education site that offers detailed information about credit scores and reports, the definitions of hard inquiry and soft inquiry are as follows:

Hard Inquiry: A request from a lending institution to see a person's credit file when the person applies for a line of credit. Such inquiries can stay on a credit report for two years. A hard inquiry or two shouldn't hurt a credit score, but a lot of inquiries in a short period suggests an urgent need for more money, which can put the borrower in a higher risk category.

Soft Inquiry: An inquiry on a credit report that doesn't affect a credit score. Businesses conduct soft inquiries for reasons other than credit applications. A request to see one's own credit report and an employer who requests a credit report are examples of soft inquiries. Credit bureaus report them, but they don't usually appear on credit reports purchased by consumers or businesses.

The survey results also revealed the following about those who understand what a credit score is:
-31% of men know the difference between a hard and soft inquiry versus 23% of women.
-Those with household incomes above $75,000 per year have greater awareness of the difference between hard and soft credit inquiries:

Income / Percentage of Americans who understand difference between Hard and Soft Inquiries
Less Than $35,000 / 20%
$35,000-$49,999 / 29%
$50,000-$74,999 / 26%
$75,000+ / 35%

-Those who check their scores more frequently claim to understand the difference between soft and hard inquiries on their credit reports (34% vs. 17%).

According to Carrie Coghill Kuntz, Director of Consumer Education for FreeScore.com, "Understanding what can affect your credit score is a necessity. When buying a house, a car, or most big-ticket items, if a company checks your credit, it is most often a hard inquiry. Yet, you can check your credit as often as you like without having it affect any of your credit scores from the three major credit bureaus. Begin to educate yourself about the factors affecting credit scores and reports by going to informative websites like Federal Trade Commissions credit information website.

In addition, you can check your credit report from each major credit bureau once a year at the government site http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com, or you can check your three credit scores and reports as often as you wish at http://www.FreeScore.com. It won't affect your score, and you'll know where you stand."

About FreeScore.com
FreeScore.com is a service that provides consumers with access to their credit scores, reports and monitoring. For more information, go to http://www.FreeScore.com.

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*The data for the First Quarter 2010 FreeScore.com Consumer Credit Score Awareness Study was collected through Survey Sampling International in Shelton, Connecticut. Results have a margin of error +/- 5%.

The articles and information available are for educational and reference purposes only. They do not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal or financial advice. Any legal or financial principles discussed here are for general information purposes only and may differ substantially in individual situations and/or in different states or countries. For specific legal or financial advice, please consult a licensed attorney or a financial professional. FreeScore does not control or guarantee the accuracy of any information provided through external links from the articles on this website to any other website, nor does the FreeScore privacy policy apply to any personal information that may be collected via the external links.

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