When you apply for credit the creditor or lender checks your credit report to verify that you qualify for the credit or loan you are applying for. The "inquiry" is then reported to the credit bureaus and shows up on your credit report.
Does this affect your credit rating or score?
Yes, it does. Although only a few points are deducted from your score for each inquiry, having multiple inquiries may drop your score to a lower bracket, forcing a higher interest rate. You may not even qualify for the loan or line of credit at all.
Will requesting your credit report generate an inquiry?
This is a common misconception and is totally false. You should view your report at least once a month. Doing so will not generate any inquiries.
What if you did not authorize an inquiry, can you dispute it?
Yes. If you did not authorize any of the inquiries on your credit report you can and should dispute them. To dispute inquiries obtain your credit report, then make a copy of your credit report, highlighting the inquiries in dispute. Finally, send the copy of your highlighted inquiries along with a letter demanding the inquiries be deleted from your credit report to the credit bureau.
Is it worth it?
The next time you are out shopping and the salesperson asks you, "Would you like to apply for our credit line and receive 15% off your purchase?" Ask yourself, "Is it worth it?"