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What is an enquiry?

We have a look at what it means to have an “enquiry” on your credit report, and we consider the distinction between when a lender views your credit profile and when you do.

27 October 2021Isabelle Coetzee 3 min read
Guy looking at his credit score

See your enquiries

Check your report to see if you have any enquiries on your profile.

View my enquiries

When you apply for credit, your chosen lender will run a credit check. This means that they will get in touch with one of the credit bureaus, such as Experian or TransUnion, and request your credit report.

This will tell them everything they need to know about your credit behaviour. Among other things, they will be able to see your credit score, whether you have missed payments to other lenders, and how much debt you currently have. Overall, this will tell them whether you’re a high- or low-risk borrower.

To use a specific example, imagine you’re applying for a personal loan. After receiving your application, your lender will assess your affordability and run a credit check on you. Based on their findings, they will either accept or reject your application.

However, this interaction will leave a mark – or an “enquiry” – on your credit report, regardless of the outcome of your application. Every time a lender requests your credit report, a note will be made of this on your report, and your credit score will decline slightly.

This is nothing to be alarmed about, since everybody’s scores constantly fluctuate. It only becomes a problem if you have multiple enquiries over a short period of time.

For example, if one lender rejects your loans application and you apply to three more, then there will be four enquiries on your report altogether during the same month. This will alarm any future lenders, since it appears as though you are desperate for money but you’re unable to pass the affordability test.

It’s important to be mindful of this when you apply for credit so that you can protect your credit score and report from taking an unnecessarily large dip.

If you have a look at your own credit report, you will be able to see the different enquiries from lenders that are currently there.

Considering the impact an enquiry from a lender has on your credit report, you may be wondering whether the same applies when you request your own report. Such as when you login to ClearScore to check your free score and report. Luckily, this doesn’t count as an enquiry, and it will have absolutely no impact on your credit report or score.

It’s your right to have access to your credit profile, and there shouldn’t be any barriers in place to prevent you from keeping track of your credit score.

As a result, you’re allowed to look at your own credit report as often as you’d like – without it being noted on your report or forcing your credit score down.

By signing up with ClearScore, you will have immediate access to your credit report and you will be able to log in and visit it as often as you’d like.

Similarly, if a party isn’t affiliated with a financial institution, such as a prospective employer or landlord, and they look at your credit report, it will not count as an enquiry. It will only be noted if the party looking at your credit report is doing so as part of an assessment to extend credit to you.

Besides allowing you to keep tabs on the growth of your credit score, there are several other benefits to regularly checking your credit report. These are some of the most important benefits:

  • Get ahead of fraud & identity theft: If your credit card details have been used by fraudsters to make large purchases or your personal details have been stolen to take out large loans, you will be able to see this on your credit report. You will notice that your debt utilisation has unusually increased, and you will find suspicious enquiries from lenders you’re unfamiliar with.
  • Notice mistakes on your report: Both lenders and credit bureaus are fallible, and they occasionally make mistakes. It’s possible that they mix up your personal details with another borrower, and place their credit behaviour on your report. This could have a negative impact on your credit score, and the sooner you bring this to their attention, the sooner it can be resolved.
  • Keep track of your accounts: There’s a lot of useful information that you’ll find on your credit report, including a list of your open accounts. Here, you will see the current balance of each account, as well as each one’s credit limit. It will also show you your credit utilisation, which you should keep below 30%.

You will be able to reap all of these benefits by joining ClearScore. Sign up today to start taking control of your credit profile.

Isabelle Coetzee Image

Written by Isabelle Coetzee

Freelance Copywriter

Isabelle is a freelance finance writer and journalist in Cape Town. She helps make managing your personal finances calm, clear and easy to understand.