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Credit Report Bumpage: Knocking Off Hard Inquiries

Before I started spending most of my time writing for Bargaineering.com, I spent many of my formative years at Fatwallet [3] (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 [4], 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.

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 [11], 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 [12] 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 [13])