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Credit Report Bumpage: Knocking Off Hard Inquiries

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Credit Card BumpageBefore I started spending most of my time writing for Bargaineering.com, I spent many of my formative years at Fatwallet (as far back as 2001!). One of the big ideas in the Finance forums was the App-O-Rama, where you applied for a lot of credit cards in a short period of time (on the order of just a few days). The idea was that by applying for many cards over just a few days, you would be approved because the hard inquiries wouldn’t appear in time for the other issues to see them. By the time they showed up, you had a lot of unsecured credit card debt.

The consequence of the App-O-Rama strategy was that your credit score took a heavy beating as all the hard inquiries appeared. I wrote a guest post at Consumerist covering the difference between a hard inquiry and a soft inquiry, if you want the full details. While I never conducted an App-O-Rama, I was intrigued by the strategy and followed all the forum posts by people reporting back on their experiences.

So how does credit report bumpage come into play?

Credit Report Bumpage

Credit report bumpage is the natural sibling to an app-o-rama. For bumpage, you use a credit report/score service to make soft inquiries, or pulls, to try to bump the hard inquiries off the list of inquiries. When the hard inquiries fall off your list of inquiries, they are no longer a factor in your score and you should see an increase.

This doesn’t always work and does come with a little bit of investment risk. The risk known as “choppage.” Choppage is when the bureau goes into your account and “chops” off all the extra soft inquiries. It appears, at least based on the contributors, that Equifax is the most active in choppage. The “investment risk” is that you would have to sign up for these services, which are not free after a short trial, pay for them as you’re making the inquiries, and have nothing to show for it afterwards.

Below, I’ve listed the various services as well as which bureau they report to. All of this information was taken from the numerous postings of Fatwallet users on these two thread (I read through all the pages and tried to find what still works today, but there is no guarantee):

This tactic takes advantage of a loophole that the bureaus know about and are trying to close. Some have responded faster than others, so as they say – your mileage may vary.

Credit Monitoring Services

Legend: EQ stands for Equifax, EX stands for Experian, TU stands for TransUnion. The information in the parenthesis after the service explains where inquiries could appear and then what the service is based out of. (All, TU-based) means it should report to all three bureaus and it is a TransUnion-based service.

  • American Express CreditSecure (All, EX-based) – $11.99 a month after a 30 day trial. 24 hour and 1 minute pull frequency.
  • Chase ID Protection (All, EX-based) – $11.99 a month with a 24 hour and 1 minute pull frequency.
  • CreditKarma (TU, TU-based) – CK is the only free service of the bunch and you can pull every 24 hours plus one minute. The risk is that TransUnion flags your account and stops CK from pulling your score again.
  • TrueCredit from TransUnion (All, TU-based) – $14.95 a month, you can pull your score on a monthly basis.
  • National City Identity Protect (All, TU-based) – $8.95 a month, you can pull every 24 hours and 1 minute and it will report to all three bureaus. Link is to the Fatwallet discussion on how to sign up for the service.
  • Privacy Matters 1-2-3 (All, TU-based) – It’s normally $29.99 a month but if you can after the trial, they’re likely to offer you an annual subscription for the monthly fee. You are able to pull your score on a monthly basis.

You might notice an absence of Equifax anywhere on that list. It’s because it appears that bumpage does not work on an Equifax report. Equifax Gold, their in-house service, will let you pull your score but it will just refresh the date on the pull making it useless for bumpage purposes.

The one strategy I thought might still work and be indefensible would be if you signed up for all of these services and made one inquiry each. You add in a few other services not on the list (they’re unsuitable for this strategy because you can’t make multiple inquiries on a flat monthly fee) like myFICO and you might accelerate the removal of some older hard inquiries. Any tried this?

If you have any updated experience using this tactic or if there’s a service I’ve missed, please leave a comment (you can do so anonymously if you’d like) so we can all learn.

(Photo: fosforix)

{ 21 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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21 Responses to “Credit Report Bumpage: Knocking Off Hard Inquiries”

  1. BrianC says:

    Nice summary. I’ve done some mini-AORs, so I haven’t been that concerned with bumpage. I do use creditkarma, but again, more to see where my score is at as I pay off my CCs than for any other purpose.

  2. zapeta says:

    I’ve read about the AOR a few times but it wasn’t anything I ever considered doing. I didn’t know that you could bump hard inquiries off with the soft ones so that is very interesting.

  3. Jim says:

    The ability to bump is hit or miss, but some have used it successfully and I’m not 100% sure where it stands at the moment. I figured I’d put the info out there and the experts would come and correct or affirm my post. :)

  4. Daniel says:

    What is the normal duration that a credit inquiry will appear on your report without bumpage? Do they expire on their own?

    • Jim says:

      It’s generally believed that a hard inquiry’s impact on your score significantly decreases after six months and has no effect after twelve. They can remain on the report for as long as two years.

      • saladdin says:

        That’s the real issue. No one knows because the formula is so top secret squirrel secure. What a crock that the one 3 digit code that decides your auto rates, housing insurance rates, home loans, car loans blah blah is decided in a more mysterious way then the hunt for a virgin in Las Vegas.

        saladdin

  5. Anonymous says:

    Experian does not bump off ever, never mentioned in your article, and why did you not mention Credit Check Total which allows for daily pulls?

  6. eric says:

    I’ve long heard of the app-o-rama but didn’t know about the bumpage hack. Interesting…

  7. mikestreb says:

    I am also very curious of this. What is the magic number of inquiries before they start deleting the oldest?? I use CreditKarma and the credit monitoring from Discover Card. I used to use Prosper every month, but since they stopped letting people from Ohio do anything, they cut off the credit checking (all you do is act like you are putting up a loan listing and somewhere along the line, they do a soft inquiry and tell you what your credit looks like and where you should start your listing at – at least that is how they did it ‘back in the day’).

    Anyone have any good solid info on this. I like the idea, but not a fan of the guessing game..

    • mikestreb says:

      This is the single most frustrating part about credit scores. No one knows anything. The bureaus and Fair Issac (company that does the FICO score) have this so secretive, that know one really knows much of anything. Something that determines if you are able to buy a house/car/appliances should be much more transparent.

  8. Chris says:

    I use the credit score tracking tool at CreditKarma.com. It is supposed to be a soft inquiry. However when I was having prequalification done for a mortgage the letter from the bank said that I had too many inquiries. I have not applied for anything in quite a while so are lenders against these types of inquiries? Time to pull my credit report again.

    • Daniel says:

      Are you saying CreditKarma reports are hard inquiries?

      I noticed a hard inquiry on there after using it for the first time yesterday. I don’t remember one on my credit report I pulled a month or so ago and don’t know of anything else that would have caused it.

      • Sara says:

        They are not hard inquiries. I just got a home loan in May and I was using Credit Karma for 5 months before my loan was finalized and no one ever asked about it. When I pulled my own credit it was listed under the “soft” inquires.

  9. Soccer9040 says:

    I also use CreditKarma. Its free, it works, the ads are actually decent. Although I havnt tried any of them, they atleast appeal to me.

    I just bought a house and compared my CreditKarma score to the score my bank ran. They were atleast in the ballpark, but there still is just too much left to chance on credit scores.

    I had an error on mine once and I had to jump through so many hoops to get it fixed. And this was with the bank that caused the error helping to fix the problem. They wrote letters, submitted forms, did a conference call, and it still took forever.

    If the credit agencies depend on the banks for credit info, then they should move just as fast to correct an error when the bank says ‘we made an error, now correct it’

    I guess all you can do it keep paying the bills and being responsible and your score will stay high…maybe…

  10. dixon bowie says:

    Jim-
    Credit report bumpage on equifax and transunion is still present. You just have to find the correctly coded soft enquiry. The best credit monitoring product at present for bumpage is identitysecure.com. It can be used daily- but only with a secure credit card number from citibank or bank of america. $1 day gets you a soft for B* on equifax and transunion from first advantage credco.

  11. Wizard says:

    Dixon Bowie, would it not work with signing up with Amex?

  12. Pat says:

    the only thing really hurting my credit rating-and we’re trying very hard to get a house(we don’t have much time before it goes off the market)IS the hard inquires. We went to Quicken Loans to see about a mortgage. Big mistake.they told us it would not be a hard inquiry. It was and then it wasn’t worth it-they turned us down.If i can get these hard inquiries off we stand a good chance of a mortage through a local agency.I don’t dare do anything that’s risky or we’ll never get approved. HELP!! Pls keep it simple.A lot of us don’t get the jargon.BTW. Credit Karma is excellent. Kudos to the ppl who started that one!!I have never had a hard inquiry from their site ever. Not sure how that could happen.NOT saying it couldn’t but so far,so good. :) Anyway,we desperately need help as quickly as possible.We have to move. There’s no choice. Our rent is through the roof but we’ve managed(just no savings left at all.). We keep rent,bills paid.About it. Next yr he’s going to raise it.No can do. A mortgage would be cheaper.We were quoted.

  13. Dianne says:

    I have 72 unauthorized hard pulls on my report. I purchased a car in Sept with the understanding that my credit would be pulled 2 times. How can I get this off my report… Please help me!

  14. Is credit bumpage still working? Any ideas for Equifax?


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