A soft enquiry could take place when businesses such as lenders or credit card companies want to get an overall idea of your financial status before pre-approving you for a product, or when you request a credit report.
A hard enquiry occurs when you’ve applied for credit such as loans, credit cards or mortgages.
This type of enquiry will have an impact on your score, so whenever prospective lenders look at your credit report, they can see you applied for credit.
Hard enquiries stay on your report for 5 years, however, over time their impact on your credit lessens.
If a company has carried out a hard enquiry in error or without your permission, you can ask the company to remove this from your report.