Lenders use credit checks to screen applicants for creditworthiness before offering services like credit cards, mortgages, automobiles, personal loans and other types of credit. While every credit inquiry shows up on your credit report, some don't affect your score. For instance, inquiries that aren’t related to an application for credit won’t hurt you.
When someone checks your credit it creates what’s called a hard hit. It occurs whenever you apply for credit and is made specifically for the purpose of extending credit. Though hard hits can affect your overall score, one or two don’t make much difference, according to credit evaluator FICO. More than six hard hits may indicate problems and cause lenders to shy away.
Your credit report also shows soft hits, inquiries made for non-credit reasons -- even requesting a copy of your own report. Credit checks, criminal background checks and checks by companies targeting consumer groups are also soft hits. These inquiries don't affect your score because they aren’t connected to attempts to get more credit.