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I Accidentally Applied for Credit I Didn’t Want. Now What?

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Mistakenly applying for credit is pretty difficult to do. First of all, you need to provide a lot of personal information during the application process, which you should never do carelessly.

“The required disclosures would make it very hard to accidentally apply for a credit card,” said Nessa Feddis, senior vice president at the American Bankers Association. She cited examples like the Schumer Box — an easy-to-read table (aka box) of important information like the card’s rates, fees and other terms and conditions you accept upon entering the credit card agreement. When you’re looking at that sort of information while also being asked to provide your Social Security number, date of birth and income, you’re not just window-shopping anymore.

Say you went through all that and still ended up with something you didn’t expect. Perhaps you really weren’t sure what you were doing and didn’t mean to open up a new credit account. Perhaps you thought you were applying for one product when you really wanted something else. No matter how you ended up in this situation, you may be wondering: Can I get out?

If you completed an application you perhaps should have read more carefully, chances are you’re bound the the agreement you signed. Still, you never know. A Credit.com reader recently found himself in a situation where he thought he applied for a credit card with one of his current creditors, but in fact the offer came from a bank with a similar name and logo. He called to stop the application and asked to have the hard inquiry removed from his credit report, and the issuer obliged.

You may not be able to undo the damage, but it might be short-lived. You probably have a hard inquiry on your credit report from the application, which will slightly ding your credit score, but hard inquiries only negatively affect your credit for a short period of time. If you opened a new credit card, you could keep it open and not use it. The new credit limit will increase your available credit and potentially help you lower your credit utilization rate, which has a significant impact on your credit score. However, if the card has an annual fee, or you just don’t want to deal with it, you may just want to close it, wait for the hard inquiry to age and move on from the mishap.

If you feel you were misled in applying for the account, you may want to take your issue to a consumer law attorney. As always, it’s important to regularly review your credit scores for signs that a new account has been opened in your name, as well as keep tabs on how your credit scores change over time. You can see how hard inquiries affect your credit scores by getting your free credit report summary every 30 days on Credit.com.

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