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Freedom Debt Relief Reviews (2020 Update)
Free debt evaluation
Easier monthly payments
No upfront fee
Minimum debt amount: $7,500
Freedom Debt Relief Features
- Negotiating skills
- Trained debt professionals
- One low monthly deposit
- Consumers are priority
Debt settlement or forgiveness often seems like a good option – and last straw – for someone deep in debt. It essentially involves convincing the creditor to settle for less than the amount due because the debtor is unable to pay.
While debt settlement is a process that takes time, the most important – and difficult – part is to convince the creditor. Of course, no one wants to settle for less than what is due. This situation usually occurs with unsecured debt, without collateral.
Examples of unsecured debt include credit card debt, medical bills, utility bills, student loans, lines of credit, and personal loans. Since these loans have no collateral, there is nothing that the creditors can seize to raise the amount due. They can only keep hounding the debtors for the payments.
More than the debt itself, the harassment from creditors makes debtors often go for debt settlement. However, settling debt is harmful for the person's credit. When debt is settled, it does considerable damage to credit, and it remains that way for nearly seven years. But if that is the only way out, then debt settlement must be done carefully.
A debt relief company is often hired for the purpose of debt settlement. With the right means and methods, a debt relief company helps the debtor settle the debt, save money, and start to build good credit. They talk to the creditors, negotiate with them, and find a way to settle the debt. This process often takes a few years.
A Brief Background
Freedom Debt Relief is one of the largest debt settlement companies in the US. According to the company itself, Freedom Debt Relief takes a human approach to debt settlement because they are passionate about helping people overcome debt as quickly as possible.
Bankruptcy is often an option when a person deep in debt cannot make payments anymore, but it does even greater harm to the credit. Debt settlement is often considered a safer approach, and the right debt relief company can make all the difference.
Founded in 2002 by Stanford Business School graduates Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh, Freedom Debt Relief has resolved more than $8 billion in debt over the last 16 years and has helped over 500,000 clients. Freedom Debt Relief works with you individually, evaluating your current debt scenario and determining to determine how their services can help you. Depending on your financial situation, this California based company could help settle your debts while helping you avoid bankruptcy.
Freedom Debt Relief at a glance
- Typical debt: $25,000
- Consultation fees: None
- Cancelation fees: None
- Types of debt accepted: Credit cards, personal loans, lines of credit, medical bills, collections and repossessions, business debts and some student loans; most secured debts don’t qualify
- Accreditations: The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC), The American Fair Credit Council (AFCC)
- Fees: 18 to 25 percent of the total enrolled debt
- Free resources or tools: Budget planner worksheet, debt relief calculator
- Customer service: Phone, email, live chat
Freedom Debt Relief has offices in San Mateo, California, and Phoenix, Arizona. The company is part of the Freedom Financial Network, Arizona. Freedom Debt Relief supports organizations like The Family Giving Tree, Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, and Samaritan House.
Debt Relief Process
Before you enroll for any debt relief program, you must understand that debt settlement doesn't work for everyone. Debt relief companies cannot provide you any assurance either, until they start to negotiate with either of your creditors.
Although Freedom Debt Relief has settled billions of dollars of debt, it also maintains that there's no guarantee if the company will be able to reduce your payments, because most creditors are not ready to negotiate with debt settlement companies. Plus, there are fees over and above the settlement amount. Even if you save money from debt, you will lose it in fees.
Your credit score will also take a beating if you choose debt settlement. This will adversely impact your ability to be approved for loans and credit cards. However, a good debt relief company will also help you build your credit score while paying off your debts. You also get to be free from constant creditor calls.
Free Debt Evaluation
Before you enroll in a Freedom Debt Relief program, you get to take a free debt evaluation. This involves a phone call with a representative from the company, where you get to talk to a Certified Debt Consultant, reviewing your debt situation and discussing solutions to determine if the program is the best choice for you.
Once enrolled in the program, you get to jointly design a payment program with the company. The goal of the program is to save money over time even as you make minimum payments on your balances and eliminate debt in a much shorter time.
Like most debt relief programs, Freedom Debt Relief also requires you to open a FDIC account, to which you contribute funds every month. You get to choose the amount that you are comfortable paying. You deposit money to this account instead of making debt repayments.
This account is much like a regular savings account and completely in your control, but the money deposited here is reserved for the debt relief program. You can track your progress from the Client Dashboard, and also speak to debt advisors in case of any doubt or concerns.
You are told to stop answering creditor calls or making debt repayments. Since debt settlement is done only when the debtor in unable to make the payments, you have to show that you have no money. That is why you have to stop making all debt payments and also stop answering creditor and collector calls.
Even if you receive phone calls or letters, Freedom Debt Relief will advise you to ignore them for at least three to six months. After this period, the accounts should be charged off, and the creditor will count your debt as a tax write off.
Once this happens, Freedom Debt Relief forms a negotiation strategy to make settlement deals with all your creditors. Once your deposit account has the target amount, the team starts to negotiate with the creditors to reach settlements.
Once the creditor agrees to a negotiation, they will also do a background check on your credit history, including your debt to other creditors. Since you haven’t been paying any of your debts, the creditor will assume that you are unable to make the payments. After this, the creditors will offer a settlement opportunity because there is no other option if you cannot make the payments.
No settlement is ever executed without the approval of the client. With each settlement reached, the debt is reported to the credit bureaus as settled, paid by settlement, or settled for less than the full amount. Since each of these phrases have different effects on your credit score, you must make sure that you understand what they mean during the negotiation process.
Freedom Debt Relief holds each creditor accountable to make sure that they correctly report your settlement to the credit bureaus. Clients who stay with the program until the end can have their debts settled in as little as two to three years. Many clients aren't able to complete the program because they are unable to save enough money.
Not everyone is eligible to be a customer at Freedom Debt Relief. There are a few requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for their programs. Since Freedom Debt Relief doesn't deal with small debts, your debt amount has to be higher than $7,500.
This is because any amount below $7,500 is considered insufficient for taking such a big risk like debt settlement. Clients enrolling in Freedom Debt Relief programs typically have a debt of around $15,000. It is recommended that unless your debt amount is significant, you shouldn't choose to settle your debt because it has an adverse impact on your credit score.
The next requirement is that your debt must be unsecured, which means the loan doesn’t have collateral. The debts that don't qualify for a debt settlement plan include mortgages, auto loans (including cars, trucks, vans, and motorcycles), personal loans, federal student loans, and child support.
Any kind of unsecured debt (where there is no collateral) is eligible for the program. Your debt can come from credit cards, department store cards, medical bills, personal loans, credit unions, and collections accounts. In some cases, Freedom Debt Relief may also be able to help settle debts from secured debts or private student loans.
This is completely dependent upon your individual case and if the company considers your debt eligible. In most cases, secured debts are not handled by debt relief companies because there is collateral to fall back on in case of late or missed payments (or no payments at all).
Aside from your debt qualification, there are a few other requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible for the debt settlement program. One of the most important of them is your inability to afford your minimum payments on your credit cards and other accounts.
You should have either already missed many payments or should be on the brink of. Keep in mind that Freedom Debt Relief isn’t going to cheat creditors of their due. You must actually be in serious financial hardship if you are seeking a debt settlement plan.
If you are able to make payments but still want the debt relief company to negotiate with creditors that you don't have the financial means to pay off your debt, the company will not enroll you.
Creditors need proof that you are really unable to afford the payments. Clients who are eligible for debt settlement don’t see any other option for improving their finances and consider debt settlement an alternative to filing for bankruptcy. Financial hardships can be the result of events such as a death in the family, unemployment, divorce, medical expenses, or any kind of loss of income.
If you meet some or all of these requirements, then you are most likely eligible for and may even benefit from Freedom Debt Relief’s services. However, you must understand that this is a serious step that damages your credit and also incurs additional fees and even lawsuits. Debt settlement must be considered only in the most extreme cases.
Debt settlement can also be done without the help of a professional company, but since creditors are much less likely to agree to a settlement in that case, debtors usually prefer a debt relief company to work on their behalf. You should be able and willing to make small deposits each month and set aside anywhere between two and four years for completing the program.
The online application is pretty simple. It begins with a free debt evaluation that can be taken on the Freedom Debt Relief website, to help you determine if Freedom Debt Relief’s services are right for you.
The evaluation requires your basic information, like name, phone number, email address, and total debt amount. With this information, Freedom Debt Relief gives you a free debt evaluation and also tells you about the services available to help you.
Before you enroll, it's recommended that you talk to an independent debt counselor for an unbiased opinion on your financial situation. If Freedom Debt Relief's services suit you and you can agree on a monthly deposit amount then you should enroll in the program.
During the Process
You will be asked to stop making debt payments or communicating with creditors. Typically, you are asked to enroll all credit cards with more than $500 in debt in the program. You are also asked to keep all records of your communication with creditors.
These include emails, letters, bills, and statements. Phone conversations should either be recorded or their and dates and details noted down. Creditors must also be instructed to do the same. Freedom Debt Relief advises clients to include all the creditors in the settlement process. Also, remember there are not any fees charged until the completion of the program.
Freedom Debt Relief has a good reputation among people. Not only is the company known for settling over 8 million in debt over the last 16 years, but it is also known for having a caring and compassionate team that understands the pain of debt-ridden people and works to help them reach a solution.
Some of the features of Freedom Debt Relief that make them stand out from others are:
It is well known that creditors never agree to a settlement at first. That is why you need a debt relief company capable of negotiating with creditors and making them agree to a settlement. Freedom Debt Relief has that ability.
Creditors take them seriously because they have been in business for the last 16 years, resolving around 43,891 accounts a month. Freedom Debt Relief uses their experience and influence to not only settle the deal but also to help you save more money.
Trained debt professionals
Freedom Debt Relief has a team of highly trained debt experts who work with you in settling your debt. Even if you decide to not enroll in the program, you get a free debt evaluation and advice on what's best for your situation.
One low monthly deposit
You get to choose the amount and frequency of the deposits into your FDIC-insured account. There are no fees charged until you see results.
Consumers are priority
As a founding member of the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC), Freedom Debt Relief promotes legislation designed to tighten industry regulations and provide consumers with more transparency into debt relief options.
Since 2010, Freedom Debt Relief has been involved in establishing Federal Trade Commission rules that prohibit abusive debt settlement practices.
The company is also a platinum member of the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators, with the goal of ensuring that people have all the information to make a wise and informed decision about their debt problems, even if that means choosing a company other than Freedom Debt Relief.
How Does Freedom Debt Relief Affect Your Credit?
It depends on what specifically Freedom Debt Relief does for you. Generally, anything that causes your lender or creditor to lose money will lower your credit score. Debt management plans won’t affect your credit score but will prevent you from getting new loans or credit while it’s active. Some options, like debt consolidation, will boost your score over the long-term but cause a slight dip in the short term.
Consumer Affairs Reviews
On Consumer Affairs, the company has a fairly good score, with over 7,000 5-star ratings and positive reviews. Almost every reviewer praised the excellent service and helpful team, with many of them mentioning how the company helps debt-ridden people make savings.
Keep in mind that most reviews are written after the person signed up for the program, and not after the debt was settled. We don’t know if the reviewers completed the program.
Better Business Bureau Reviews
Freedom Debt Relief is not BBB accredited and has an A- rating on the site. The reason given for the poor rating is the government action taken against the debt settlement company a number of times. The first was in 2015 by the State of New Hampshire, and the second one was by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In the first instance, the State of New Hampshire charged Freedom Debt Relief LLC with allegations that the business conducted debt adjuster activity without being licensed as a New Hampshire Debt Adjuster and New Hampshire consumers didn’t receive the money they made in debt savings.
Freedom Debt Relief agreed to pay for the restitution and penalties. In the second instance, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau brought charges that the business is in violation of Consumer Financial Protection Act and Telemarketing Sales Rule. The matter is pending.
There are currently 2,279 consumer reviews on BBB, with a score of 4.2 out of 5 and over 2,000 positive reviews. The positive reviews commend the helpful customer service and caring team, and some even talk about the short time their debt was resolved. The negative reviews claim the company cheated them of their deposits and some even say they breached the contract.
After Debt Settlement
Once your Freedom Debt Relief program is complete, most of your unsecured debt will be taken care of. This is an opportunity to start handling your finances more wisely. In order to start afresh, there are three major steps you need to take to be able to see positive results. They are:
Repair your credit: As discussed earlier, both debt and debt settlement are damaging to your credit. When you work with a reputable debt relief company like Freedom Debt Relief, it takes care of your debt but doesn't do much about fixing your credit.
Unfortunately, fixing your debt doesn’t automatically fix your credit. Therefore, once your debt is settled, order all three copies of your credit report. There will be a lot of late payments, but make sure that each settlement is listed correctly. If you find any problem with the reports, you can file a dispute directly with the credit bureau. This is why it is essential to keep all records during the debt settlement process.
Create a financial plan: If it wasn't because of a personal crisis like death or divorce, most debts are usually caused by the lack of financial planning. The debt settlement process usually takes two to three years, so use that time to create a financial plan to fix your income and expenditure. If the reason was simply living beyond your means, you must make sure to stop overspending and focus more on saving.
Be consistent with payments: During the settlement program you will not be making credit card payments, but there are other things you can do to prevent more damage to your credit score. This includes paying your other bills on time, such as phone and utility bills, and other secured loan payments.
If you have a low balance credit card still open, make sure to pay it off quickly and consider avoiding new charges on that card. You must build these financial habits early so that by the time you complete the settlement program, you can start building a better financial future.
Remember that consistency is key in preventing debt and building solid credit. Making a few simple changes, and taking the help of the right debt settlement program can get you in good stead for a bright financial future. Freedom Debt Relief can be reached Monday to Thursday 8 am to 9 pm EST, Friday 8 am to 8 pm EST, and Saturday to Sunday 10 am to 8 pm EST.
Freedom Debt Relief Questions
If you have some questions on the types of services, fees, or any other lingering inquiries about Freedom Debt Relief, read this section. It offers information on the company’s location as well a few of other details that you find helpful. Be sure to also read our National Debt Relief reviews to compare the two companies and make the best choice.
Is Freedom Debt Relief a debt settlement company?
What percentage does Freedom Debt Relief charge?
Does Freedom Debt Relief help with student loans?
Freedom Debt Relief helps with a variety of loans but there are limitations. Federal student loans are not deemed eligible for the services offered by this organization. Only unsecured loans of $7,500 and above are accepted. So if you're looking for private student loan debt relief then they may be able to help.
Where is Freedom Debt Relief located?
How much does Freedom Debt Relief cost?
What is the phone number for Freedom Debt Relief?
How does Freedom Debt Relief work?
Freedom debt relief offers a free consultation to debtors. Once, they have a complete understanding of the debtor’s financial situation, and they are enrolled in the program, a payment program is designed to eliminate debt and negotiation strategies are implemented. Be sure to ask if they offer tax debt services too if that's something you're in need of.
How does Freedom Debt Relief affect your credit?
How to get out of Freedom Debt Relief?
Freedom Debt Relief can be beneficial for some but others do find it difficult to maintain their obligations with the company. When this occurs, many individuals refrain from continuing with the settlement process. For more ways on how to get out of debt read here.
Can I withdraw money from my Freedom Debt Relief account?
Is Freedom Debt Relief a good idea?
Is Freedom Debt Relief reliable?
Is Freedom Debt Relief non-profit?
Is Freedom Debt Relief reputable?
Is Freedom Debt Relief safe?
Does Freedom Debt Relief offer loans?
No, Freedom debt relief does not offer loans. Instead, they implement a service that encourages individuals to open an additional account where their own money is saved and assigned to paying off their debt. Some people opt to get a personal loan to pay off credit card debt though.
How is Freedom Debt Relief paid?
Is century Negotiations Inc. part of Freedom Debt Relief?
What bank does Freedom debt relief use?
What is the settlement fee with Freedom Debt Relief?
How can I pull money from Freedom Debt Relief?
Does Freedom Debt Relief help with payday loans?
How to terminate agreement with Freedom Debt Relief?
Did Freedom Debt Relief lose its lawsuit?
Debt settlement involves negotiating with creditors to accept a lump sum payment that is lower than the overall debt. This can be advantageous, but there are some disadvantages to using this type of service. More information is offered below.
Is Debt Settlement really worth it?
Debt settlement is worth it, as negotiators work with creditors to reach a settled amount that is less than what is being asked by the creditors.
How long does a debt settlement stay on your credit report?
Settling a debt versus paying it off in full will stay on your credit report for 7 years as long as the account continues to be reported.
How long does it take to recover from a settlement on your credit?
Recovering from a settlement and returning to a positive rating requires consistent on time payments. With a clean track record, debtors can expect to recuperate from this financial resolution.
How bad does a debt settlement hurt your credit?
Debt settlement can have an impact you credit as much as bankruptcy because settling a debt rather than paying it off in full is usually not considered satisfactory by creditors.
Are debt settlement companies a good option?
Trying first to settle a debt on your own with your creditor should always be the initial option. However, if after trying to negotiate them you are ineffective, then a debt settlement company can be considered.
How much do debt settlement companies charge?
Some debt settlement companies charge consultation fees and a sequence of others. Most companies typically charge their fees in a percentage amount based on the settled amount or initial debt amount upon enrollment.
Negotiating Debt Independently
Although there are services and programs available to assist consumers, these are alternative options. Individuals can still contact their creditors independently to resolve their debt. This section offers some information on how individuals can advocate on their own behalf.
How do you negotiate with credit card debt?
Negotiating a credit card debt can be complicated. However, debtors can speak directly to the creditor to reach a total sum or a payment arrangement. If this proves unsuccessful, seeking a debt management program or credit card debt relief programs can be alternative options.
How can I settle my debt?
You can settle your debt by speaking directly with your creditors. As an alternative, you can seek the expertise of a debt settlement company.
How do you negotiate with creditors?
Creditors often prefer receiving a lump sum payment to pay off your credit. In an effort to negotiate with them, discuss your willingness to settle for a lower aggregated sum. By showing your readiness to close off your debt, creditors will work with you to reach a final resolution.
Can you negotiate a lower payoff amount on a credit card?
Creditors want to retrieve the money they loaned you. However, if you are unable to pay this amount, you can discuss with them, the amount owned on the card. Consider making your offer attractive and be willing to pay off the requested amount in full. Yet another option is working with credit card consolidation companies to at least make your payments more mangeable.
What is a hardship payment plan?
Hardship payment plan is a credit card payment plan that is offered by a credit card company. It reduces monthly financial strain and is often their last resort in acquiring money from their debtors.
Debt Relief Programs
For people with significant debt, debt relief programs can be beneficial. Be mindful though that they only deal with unsecured loans. Continue reading below to acquire more information.
Do debt relief programs affect your credit score?
Debt relief programs are intended to improve your financial situation. Many chose this option because it has a very little effect on the debtor’s credit score in comparison to other options.
Who is the best debt relief company?
There are a variety of debt relief companies in the industry. However, when it comes to choosing the best one, consumers must consider the transparency of the company, their drive to help their consumers, and their ability to detail a timeline and how you will benefit from their program. Using a get out of debt calculator may also help you make this choice.
What are the best debt relief programs?
The best debt relief program is dependent on your individual needs and the type of debt you have accumulated. For example, there are programs available for people with outstanding student loans. Finding one that is conducive to your financial needs will determine whether it is best.
What is the best debt consolidation company?
There are a number of top debt consolidation companies out there. Choosing the right one is dependent on their strategies, willingness to help clients get out of debt, and their track record in the industry.
Do debt consolidation loans hurt your credit?
Debt consolidation loans can have an effect on your credit but this is dependent on the option chosen. However, with one monthly payment on a debt loan versus multiple payments on outstanding debt, your score and eventually your credit can improve. Use a debt consolidation loan calculator to see if you like the payments.
Do the debt relief programs work?
Yes, debt relief programs work. However, working with the right organization that truly determined to settle your debt is one of the most important aspects. Learn more: Do debt relief programs really work?
What are the disadvantages of consolidation?
Debt consolidation has its advantages and can be ideal for the right person. However, there are disadvantages. Potentially losing collateral, committing to paying one large sum monthly and being disciplined enough not to pile on more debt during the process are the challenges some may face. Also you need a good credit score to qualify typically unless you can find a no credit check debt consolidation loan.
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Elizabeth is an expert on Debt Consolidation as she provides helpful advice to people who are dealing with debt problems. She graduated college with a BS in Finance. After college, she took a job working at a non-profit debt counseling program. It was at this position where Elizabeth honed her expertise for helping people understand how different financial products work and finding ways to help people pay off their debts.