What is a Soft Pull?
In general, soft pulls are classified into two standard terms. Prescreen and Prequalification. Both do not affect your consumer credit report because they are not an application for credit.
A prequalification soft pull is a request to be prequalified to apply for credit. A prescreen soft pull is a non-consumer initiated offer of credit typically sent without your knowledge. Both do not affect your credit score and do not show other credit providers or lenders you have been shopping for credit.
A soft pull or soft inquiry is used when a lender or finance source requires access to a consumer credit file to decide to extend credit. A consumer credit file consists of a consumer’s financial data collected over time and stored by one or more of the three major credit reporting agencies. In the United States, those are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Your data can be accessed when you apply for a form of credit from a bank, auto dealer, or other lending sources—the same way one would use a traditional hard pull or hard inquiry. The difference is, a hard pull or hard inquiry is used when an applicant is applying for a line or form of credit, whereas a soft pull is not an application for credit but an application to apply for credit.
Your consumer credit file is used by lenders to determine a consumer’s creditworthiness or credit risk and is typically accompanied by a credit score. Your credit score is calculated by factors such as previous repayment history of financial loan obligations or debt. Those accounts and debt can consist of everything from your mortgage loan, car loans, revolving charge cards, etc. A stable repayment history shows creditworthiness, whereas a poor repayment history shows credit risk. Your credit score is like a summary of your credit history. There are many different types of credit scores determined by the kind of credit a consumer is requesting.
Your credit file can be requested by an authorized business or institution subscribed to one or more of the credit reporting agencies mentioned above. These subscribers consist of industries such as banks, car dealers, and credit card companies. Many different industries may request access to your credit file. They can include solar contractors, funding sources, equipment dealers, medical and dental services, debt consolidation, orthodontics, student loans, hearing aide financing, home improvement, security systems, payday loans, and many others.
So what do you need to know about Prescreen soft pulls?
Some soft pull processes do not require consumer consent and are a set of criteria requested by a subscriber and submitted to the credit bureau or bureaus of choice. This type of soft pull criteria is typically called a prescreen. It can consist of your ability to repay debt, how much debt you hold vs. how much money you earn, have available, or if you have had outstanding debt from the past, how long ago it was, and so on. This and more can be used to set up a match by the subscriber requesting information.
For example, when you receive a pre-approved or prequalified offer of credit in the mail, a business with a permissible purpose to access your credit file paid to receive a list of names that matched their criteria. They then create a campaign to send the offer to those meeting the submitted criteria. These campaigns don’t have to be done by mail, even though that is still the most common way to distribute offers to millions and millions of US consumers every year. It may also be done by phone, in person, or online as well. Continue Reading on MySoftPull.com