In this review of Freedom Debt Relief, we’ll 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 a free financial evaluation as the first step
- 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
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. This is why 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. It also takes about 30 years—a long time to wait for financial solvency. This is where a debt relief program can help, typically with unsecured debt, meaning debt not associated with a tangible asset like a house or car. 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.
Read on to find out more about Freedom Debt Relief, one of the most trustworthy and successful operators in this area.
About Freedom Debt Relief
Freedom Debt Relief is a US-based firm with a 79% excellency rating on TrustPilot. The company, which has around 2,000 employees and 600,000 clients, was founded by Stanford Business School graduates Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh. It offers consumer-friendly solutions to debt problems.
Here’s what users say about their experience with Freedom Debt Relief:
“Help in resolving debt
The original debt consultant I spoke with in the beginning, who helped me get started with this debt relief program, literally spent quality time with me explaining the program to me in depth, answering all my questions, and calming my fears. It has been such a relief, and peace of mind knowing that our debts are being taken care of. Freedom Debt Relief has done everything that they said they would in helping us resolve our debts. I have and will continue to recommend them to friends and family.” – Victoria Ratliff, 5-star review, TrustPilot.
“For the most part they have been great
The only problem came when after not paying on an account for 6–7 months, I came to find out that Freedom Debt Relief couldn’t settle this particular account. It was for a PMSI loan for an outdoor wood burning furnace. I had to make my own payment arrangements with the debt collector so that we could keep our furnace. I came to learn that FDR mainly only works with credit cards. I was not told that by my consultant. I also have solar panels with FDR; fortunately for me that is an unsecured loan, so they can help with that one.” – Laura Whipple, 4-star review, TrustPilot.
The fees you can expect to pay for Freedom Debt Relief’s services range from 15–25%. Before each account is settled, 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?
- A high success rate
As one of the largest companies of its kind in the US, Freedom Debt Relief has settled more than $10 billion in debt for 650,000 people. It resolves around 50,000 accounts each month.
- American Fair Credit Council membership
The company is a founding member of the AFCC, which is dedicated to promoting and upholding best practices in the credit advocacy industry. It’s also a platinum member of the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators.
- Focused on protecting and helping consumers
In 2010, the company helped to establish Federal Trade Commission rules to ban abusive debt settlement practices and protect consumers. It was also recently involved in an Arizona State University study that showed clients reported 21% less stress after enrolling in the Freedom Debt Relief Program.
Who Is Freedom Debt Relief Best For?
The company 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 escalated beyond their budget.
- Nick, aged 49, got divorced 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 can no longer afford the fixed monthly repayments on her credit card debt.
National Debt Relief vs. Freedom Debt Relief
Table with Lines full width
|National Debt Relief||Freedom Debt Relief|
|Customer Star Rating (TrustPilot)||4.7 out of 5 stars||4.6 out of 5 stars|
|Services Offered||Debt negotiation and settlement, free consultation||Debt negotiation and settlement, free consultation|
|Accreditations||“A” rating by BBB (the Better Business Bureau), team certified with IAPDA and accredited by the AFCC||“A-” rating by BBB, a platinum member of IAPDA and a founding member of the AFCC|
What to Know About the Debt Solution Industry
Debt relief companies are not your only option for dealing with debt. You can use several methods:
- Consumer credit counseling
Certain agencies can offer you 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 consolidation program puts together everything you owe into one account and gives you a single monthly amount for repayment. One way to do this would be to take out a bank loan to pay off all the debts and shift the debt amount to the bank. However, you may need an asset like a house to take this approach, which can put your home at risk if you can’t keep up with repayments.
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 possibility whatsoever of paying off what you owe. You’ll also be unable to take out any new credit for at least two or three years.
Are Debt Relief Companies Legit?
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 has improved since the Federal Trade Commission (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 is extremely complicated. Most reputable companies will have a cancellation policy that allows you to pull out if you’re unsatisfied with the service.
- 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 (DMP) 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, being sued is always a risk of pursuing a debt relief program.
Contact your local consumer protection agency to check for negative reports about the company you’re considering.
The Bottom Line
Using Freedom Debt Relief’s Services:
- You might be able to reduce your monthly outgoings by having an advisor negotiate a lower repayment rate.
- You can easily and methodically track your progress online with your Freedom Debt Relief account.
- You could substantially reduce your overall debts by reaching settlement agreements with creditors.
- You'll have the benefit of a professional advisor with experience in managing the financial hardship you're currently suffering. Sometimes, just talking through your situation with a knowledgeable person can ease your stress.
- Using a debt relief company can negatively impact your credit rating. As Jennifer White, consumer education specialist at Experian, says, "In some cases, a debt settlement company may advise you to let current accounts become delinquent so they can negotiate a settlement with your lenders. Any late payments made on an account will remain on your credit report for seven years and will negatively impact your credit scores as well."
- As the debt relief process involves voluntarily stopping repayments to creditors, you may find yourself in legal trouble if a company decides to sue you for non-repayment.
- It won't release you from tax. Even if your debt is forgiven by the creditor, it can still count as taxable income. Bear this in mind when making your plan for financial resolution.