Application Search

What is an Application Search (Hard Search)?

An Application Search (sometimes called a hard search) is carried out on your credit report during a genuine application for credit, as opposed to an Enquiry Search, which is used when you shop around for credit and get a quotation.

Each time an Application Search is carried out on your file, it leaves a Search Footprint, which will remain visible to both you and lenders for 12-24 months (depending on the Agency) from the date of entry.

Contrary to popular belief, these searches do not automatically damage your credit score or your chances of getting credit, but an unusually large amount appearing on your file in a short space of time could trigger a fraud warning, as it looks like someone desperately trying to take out credit in your name.

Most people accumulate around a dozen Application Searches a year on their credit report. Having no trace of any searches on your credit report at all gives rise to suspicion that a person may not be experienced in handling credit – known as being ‘credit inactive’ – and their absence can have an adverse impact on your ability to get credit in some circumstances.

Experian call their searches ‘CAPS’ which stands for Credit Application Previous Search, and this is where the shortened term ‘Application Search’ is derived from.


How do they appear on my credit report?

A: You can see all searches carried out on your credit file by clicking the Searches tab at the top of your checkmyfile credit report. If you haven’t already, you can try checkmyfile free for 30 days and then for just £14.99 a month afterwards, which you can cancel online at any time.

Who can carry out hard searches?

A: Most commonly a hard search will appear on your report as a result of applying for a loan or credit card, but they may also happen when you take out a mobile phone contract or start using a new utility provider. In rare instances using comparison sites can even lead to a searches appearing on your file.

Though it may be hidden in the small print, you will need to give your permission before anyone can carry out a search of your credit file.

Jargon Buster

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