It might seem like one of those questions that you should just know the answer to, but the truth is most Americans don't know what their FICO credit score is, and they don’t know that every credit inquiry they have contributes to this final number. Simply put, a credit inquiry is a request for information about your credit by a legitimate business which will either appear on your credit bureau, or won't. What determines whether or not an inquiry will appear is the type of inquiry it is, soft or hard.
A soft credit inquiry in a credit check that won’t affect your credit score and includes: you checking your own credit, a company determining your eligibility for a credit product before offering it you (such as a pre-approved credit card) or an inquiry from a business that you deal with regularly and have a current credit account with.
A hard credit inquiry will impact your credit score, and happens when a business reviews your bureau to extend you more credit. This could include a credit check for a mortgage, a car, or a new credit card. Each time your credit is checked for a different product, another credit inquiry is added to your bureau, changing your overall score.
Hard inquires are recorded to help future lenders determine your overall credit stability and whether or not you are a credit seeker (someone who seeks credit wherever they can). The more hard inquiries you have, the more it appears that you are desperate for credit and could potentially represent a lending risk when it comes to collecting. Because of this, you may need to remove inquiries to increase your reputability with a lender and in this situation, you can attempt to remove inquiries by calling, emailing or snail-mailing the lender responsible, but more often than not you will want to contact a company such as Inquiry Busters that specializes in this type of credit repair as they will be able remove inquiries quickly, providing the most benefit to those seeking credit in the near future.