This review of Freedom Debt Relief will explain how the company can help if you’re struggling with unpaid bills. The firm’s flagship service involves negotiating with creditors to reduce what you owe in exchange for paying off a certain amount as a lump sum.
If you sign up to Freedom Debt Relief’s program, an advisor from the company will:
- Offer you an initial financial evaluation free of charge to discuss options
- Negotiate with your creditors to reach settlements and reduce your total debt
- Help you come up with a 24- to 48-month debt repayment plan tailored to your budget (average)
In keeping with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules, Freedom Debt Relief doesn’t charge upfront fees. Instead, it takes a cut of the final settlement amount it negotiates with your creditors as payment. Moreover, if the total amount of settlement is more than the total amount of debt you enrolled in the program, they'll refund you the difference.
Debt relief can be tricky to navigate alone. At its core, it involves bargaining with highly trained professionals who have a vested interest in persuading you to pay the highest amount possible. So, many people engage the services of a debt relief agency.
TransUnion calculates that paying off $5,000 of credit card debt at the minimum rate costs $10,000 in interest and takes about 30 years — a long time to wait for financial solvency. This is where a debt relief program can help, typically through unsecured debt, meaning debt without a tangible asset, such as a house or car, for collateral.
Although many companies advertise quick and easy solutions to unpaid debts, the truth is that solving these issues takes care and a detailed repayment plan. One of the main benefits of working with a reliable debt relief company is that it can reduce the time you spend dealing with creditors. Freedom Debt Relief is one of the most trustworthy and successful operators in this area.
About Freedom Debt Relief
Freedom Debt Relief is a U.S.-based firm with a 79% excellency rating on TrustPilot. Stanford Business School graduates Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh founded the company, which has around 2,000 employees and more than 500,000 clients. It offers consumer-friendly solutions to debt problems. Although the firm’s main service is debt relief, it also offers a range of debt and money management resources and a scholarship fund for U.S. students.
Here’s what users say about their experience with Freedom Debt Relief:
Help in resolving debt: The original debt consultant will help you get started with the debt relief program and spend quality time explaining the program in depth, answering your questions, and calming your fears. Freedom Debt Relief provides peace of mind, knowing that your debts are being taken care of. It will do everything that it says it will to help you resolve your debts. Freedom Debt Relief is worth recommending to friends and family. — Victoria Ratliff, 5-star review, TrustPilot.
For the most part, it has been great: Freedom Debt Relief primarily works with credit cards. It was not able to help with a purchase money security interest loan for an outdoor wood-burning furnace. The account was six to seven months in arrears. Freedom Debt Relief couldn’t settle that account, and it was necessary to make other payment arrangements with the debt collector. The consultant from Freedom Debt Relief did not make this clear in the initial consultation. However, Freedom Debt Relief helped with an unsecured loan for solar panels with FDR. — Laura Whipple, 4-star review, TrustPilot.
The fees you can expect to pay for Freedom Debt Relief’s services range from 15% to 25%. Before it settles each account, the firm will contact you to authorize the settlement. For example, if you have a $15,000 credit card debt, the fee could range from $2,250 to $3,750, depending on the length and complexity of the negotiation. To work out your potential payment to Freedom Debt Relief, it’s easy to use an online percentage calculator.
What makes Freedom Debt Relief different from other debt relief companies?
- High success rate: As one of the largest companies of its kind in the U.S., Freedom Debt Relief settled more than $15 billion in debt for 850,000 people. Over 60% of their clients get their first settlement in the first 3 months.
- American Fair Credit Council membership (AFCC): The company is a founding member of the AFCC, which promotes and upholds best practices in the credit advocacy industry. It’s also a platinum member of the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA).
- Focus on protecting and helping consumers: In 2010, the company helped to establish FTC rules to ban abusive debt settlement practices and protect consumers. It also participated in an Arizona State University study in which clients reported 21% less stress after enrolling in the Freedom Debt Relief program.
Who is Freedom Debt Relief best for?
It can help a wide range of people suffering from unresolved, unsecured debt. Here are some hypothetical scenarios in which Freedom Debt Relief could step in:
- Belinda, aged 53, doesn’t have valid health insurance and has been trying to pay off an $8,000 bill for an overnight hospital stay after a car accident.
- Nelson, aged 27, took out a private student loan of $10,000 to cover unforeseen college costs after using up his federal loan.
- Mary and Stuart ended up with $14,000 in department store debt after their wedding costs went way over budget.
- Nick, aged 49, divorced his partner and is struggling with repayments on his $30,000 business loan due to the divorce settlement.
- Katie lost her job when the company she worked for shut down, meaning she could no longer afford the fixed monthly repayments on her credit card debt.
National Debt Relief vs. Freedom Debt Relief
|National Debt Relief||Freedom Debt Relief|
|Rates||15 - 25%||15 - 25%|
|Customer Star Rating (TrustPilot)||4.7 out of 5 stars||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|Services Offered||Debt negotiation and settlement, free consultation||Debt negotiation and settlement, free consultation|
|Accreditations||“A+” rating by BBB, team certified with IAPDA and accredited by the AFCC||“A+” rating by BBB, a platinum member of IAPDA, Financial Health Network member, and a founding member and board member of the AFCC|
What to know about the debt solution industry
Debt relief companies are not your only option for dealing with debt. There are several methods you can use:
- Consumer credit counseling: Some agencies offer personalized financial advice. The best of these are nonprofits that don’t charge a fee. Typically, they’ll offer you an appointment to assess your situation and suggest a debt management plan. This is always a good first step before turning to a debt relief company. The counselor may offer to negotiate with creditors on your behalf, although it can take up to five years for this process to reach a settlement.
- Debt consolidation programs: This is an option for people who have several debts with different creditors. A debt consolidation program combines everything you owe into one account and gives you a single monthly repayment amount. One way to do this is to take out a bank loan to pay off all your debts and shift the debt to the bank. You may need an asset, such as a house, to take this approach, which can put the asset at risk if you can’t keep up with repayments.
- Bankruptcy: If you have no other recourse, bankruptcy is the ultimate solution to debt. However, it can have a devastating impact on your credit rating, and you’ll need to prove that you have no possible way to pay off what you owe. It will also stop you from taking out any new credit for at least two to three years.
Are debt relief companies legitimate?
Not all debt relief companies have a solid and proven reputation. Up until a few years ago, you could easily stumble across firms with too-good-to-be-true offers, such as “100% financial freedom guaranteed” or “Bad credit ratings erased overnight.” The situation improved with the FTC crackdown, but there are still some dishonest companies out there. Always look out for these signs of potential scams:
- Asking for upfront fees: Reliable debt resolution agencies charge only at the end of negotiated settlements.
- Telling you to stop communicating with creditors: Although debt relief companies will begin negotiating on your behalf, they shouldn’t block you from speaking with creditors.
- Guaranteeing they can resolve your debt: Debt resolution can result in complications. Most reputable companies will have a cancellation policy that allows you to pull out if you find the service unsatisfactory.
- Not explaining your legal rights: All good companies should have a solid grounding in consumer law and advise you on your rights if you ask.
- Pressuring you to make voluntary contributions: This is just another name for fees.
- Speaking about a new “government program” to bail out people with debt: Unless you find information on this from another reputable source, don’t fall for it.
- Enrolling you in a debt management plan without reviewing your financial situation: The first step should always be a free advisory session to look at your debt and the possible pathways out.
- Promising to protect you from any legal action: In reality, there’s always a risk that someone will sue you when you are pursuing a debt relief program.
Contact your local consumer protection agency to check for negative reports about the company you’re considering.
Update: This article has been updated to reflect Freedom Debt Relief's current number of clients and its BBB rating.
Disclaimer: This story was originally published on January 20, 2022, on BetterCreditBlog.org. To find the most relevant information concerning Freedom Debt Relief, please visit their website: https://www.freedomdebtrelief.com/