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Having a credit score is difficult enough without having to continually check it, make sure it’s high enough, and improve it when it needs a boost. A low score can result in reduced or damaged borrowing power, interest rates, and job prospects.
That situation is why there is credit repair software. It is a tool designed not only to track your score but to catch errors, deal with negative items on your report, and help you make informed financial decisions.
This repair software comes in three main types: cleaning kits, simulators, and trackers. In this article, we’ll cover all three types of personal credit repair software and compare it to the services of credit repair organizations.
What Is Credit Repair?
If bad credit is holding you down, you’re not alone. There are thousands of people who want to buy a home, open a new line of credit, purchase a new car, or something else that requires a high score. However, these people have limited options because their score is too low. As a result, they settle for high-interest rates and sub-par insurance. This situation is not ideal for most people.
Credit repair offers a corrective. This process involves auditing your report, finding errors, disputing those errors, and following up afterwards. Errors on reports are common, but not many people follow through with inspecting the information and disputing those mistakes. Your score could be higher than what it is now, but errors are weighing it down.
There are several kinds of errors that can appear on your report. Some common mistakes include:
- Accounts that don’t belong to you
- Duplicate accounts
- Inaccurate accounts or inquiries
- Missing accounts that might positively reflect on your history
- Incorrect public information
- And much more
Although there are professional agencies that perform these services, you can also do it yourself with the help of credit repair software. Using a big company has its advantages, mainly because the process can be time-consuming and exhausting. However, with some detective work and a little tenacity, you can find various inaccuracies in your report.
Credit Cleaning Kits
You might think of a credit cleaning kit as a toolbox full of items you can use to improve your FICO score. This toolbox typically includes books and software with step-by-step instructions for improving these scores. It may also provide helpful information on how to handle negative items or identity theft.
Finding the best cleaning kit can be difficult, but you can find the best one for you by reading reviews and learning the business’s reputation before investing in their program.
These cleaning kits are best for those who want to take their credit into their own hands, improve, and maintain their high score. This toolkit can provide a balance between using a professional for your credit needs and taking a DIY approach.
- Credit education materials
- Allows you to get all three reports from all three bureaus (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax)
- You pay for the software and own it for future use
- You can update software as regulations for credit change
- You can download updates and new books as they release
- Might cost a lot for not as much professional support
- Most of the legwork is up to you, which can be exhausting
- There is no personalization for improving your score; the program just gives you advice.
- Kits come in varying quality
- Hardcopy books become outdated quickly
Cleaning kits are highly useful for those who want to take a DIY approach to their credit improvement. However, there are setbacks to this type of credit repair software. If you want professional advice and a personalized plan, this might not be the perfect tool for you.
A credit simulator uses your data to simulate the outcomes for specific financial decisions. In these simulators, you can input your information (such as your current score). The software will simulate an event to see how it would affect your score.
Let’s say you would like to open a new credit card. You can download one of these simulators and input your current score, select which card you would like to sign up for, and input any other vital information. Then, the simulator will run the numbers for you and output how the new card will affect your score.
These simulators are an excellent way to stay aware of how potential purchases and choices can affect your credit history.
- Gives you a good idea of what opening or closing lines of credit can do to your score
- Can educate you on the effects of spending and repaying your debts
- Encourages financial literacy
- Provides valuable recommendations for boosting your score
- Doesn’t tell you or handle errors on your report
- Might allow you to miss identity theft risks
- May contain mistakes or inaccuracies
- Doesn’t take into account the whole picture; some simulators can only handle one change at a time
A simulator is helpful when you need to project one factor at a time (for instance, opening or closing a new line of credit). However, it is not a one-size-fits-all for all of your needs. Consider using one or more of the other tools if you decide to avoid going to a professional.
Credit Score Trackers
This type of credit repair software is the most basic for tracking your score. It is a site or program that allows you to monitor your credit continuously, keeping you updated on any changes or inaccuracies. These trackers pull information from the three major bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) so you can see the full picture of your financial health.
Depending on which score tracker you use, you can do any combination of the following:
- Track your score
- Track your purchases and spending habits
- See an overview of your debts and how it’s affecting your credit
- Address marks on your report
- Flag anything that seems out of the ordinary
- Get feedback and suggestions for improving your score
These trackers are wonderful for those who want to maintain their score and stay aware of any sudden changes or mistakes.
- Receive up-to-date reports on your score, purchases, and spending habits
- See the whole picture of items affecting your score
- Receive in-depth security alerts
- Free score trackers available online or for download
- The service reports errors and inconsistencies but doesn’t give assistance to fix them.
- Might still be expensive with everything you want
- You might not have protection in case of a security breach
Score trackers might not be enough for those who want to improve their credit history or clean it up. These credit score monitors only do that: monitor and report. Some of them might offer suggestions for improving your score, but it might come with a hefty price tag.
Using a Combination of Credit Repair Software
Interestingly enough, each of these options has drawbacks covered in the benefits of another. For instance, monitoring software might only monitor your score and not help you boost it, but the cleaning kits cover that aspect and can offer suggestions to improve it.
It is generally advisable to use whichever software you need at the moment and save the others for later. The exception is the credit monitoring software, which you may want to use at all times.
If you have a great score, you probably don’t need to use a repair kit, and you can continue using your monitoring software. However, if at some point your credit goes down, you can look into using a repair kit. If your repair kit suggests opening a new line of credit to boost your score, you might want to use simulation software to see how that could affect your score based on the card you choose.
By using a combination of credit repair software, you can track and clean up your score, identify errors or discrepancies on your report, and get projections of what activities might impact your account.
Using a Credit Repair Organization
Sometimes, your score can seem irredeemable. Other times, you might not have the time or energy to work on your score yourself. In those situations, you will likely turn to a professional credit repair organization.
Credit repair companies and services take the responsibility of communicating on your behalf with the bureaus or companies that report your information to these bureaus. They do this with the intent of having these reporting companies delete or modify your credit information so that it is more favorable. In other words, you pay these credit repair organizations to talk the bureaus into fixing your score.
This approach might not sound like something you’d want to pay a company to do. However, it is the approach that works best. Credit repair companies have a reputation for sending repetitive and often annoying letters to bureaus or lenders, forcing them into action. If they take no action, the bureau risks violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This act states that the credit bureau, lender, or debt collector must process the dispute within 30 days. If they do and find that your report has inaccuracies, they may delete the marks.
Finding the best credit repair organization might be a struggle, but it’s worth it to find the most competent people to handle your financial future. If you don’t trust anyone but yourself with it, it’s best to take the DIY approach.
Free Credit Repair Software
When you don’t want (or don’t have the means) to pay a professional organization for repair services, you’ll want to take a DIY approach and download some software for the process. Some online or downloadable repair software, however, can get pricey. Several of these options can run you upwards of $500 as a one-time purchase or $200 per month for a subscription.
Luckily, there’s free credit repair software. There are plenty of free alternatives to the paid services. The free options will monitor your credit, simulate financial decisions that can affect it, and even offer solutions to clean up and fix your score. Some of these software options will be free to start but become paid services once your usage reaches a specific scope or time frame.
To start, you can get copies of your credit reports for free from all three bureaus once a year. Once you’ve received that information, you can use the free software (for as long as it remains free) to monitor your credit, track changes, and clean it up as you need. Even with the limited free software, you can take control of your finances and future.
Credit repair isn’t nearly as complicated as some people make it out to be, but it does take a lot of time and effort if you decide to take the DIY approach. Even if you have decided on becoming the detective for your report, consider the advantages of hiring a professional. This matter is especially important if you suspect there may be several issues in your account or if you don’t have a firm grasp of credit improvement.
Ultimately, there is nothing a repair company can do for you that you can’t do yourself with credit repair software. You can contact the bureaus, audit your spending and debt, and find and dispute inaccuracies. It’s free if you find the right programs. Also, remember that the bureaus will remove any accurate negative information from your report once it is 7-10 years old. Using a credit repair agency can save you time and effort though.
With better credit, you can have a brighter financial future. You can qualify for better loans, buy more of what you want, and take control of the money in your wallet. Don’t settle for high-interest rates—take responsibility for your money. You’ll be glad you did.