Potentially resolve your debts in as little as two years with monthly payments you can afford.
Companies like Freedom Debt Relief are designed to help you climb out your debt hole after you’ve exhausted most other options. We take a look at what it has to offer to help you decide if it could be the right move for you.
- Product name: Freedom Debt Relief
- Services offered: Debt settlement with direct negotiation
- Free consultation: Get a free quote or by phone in minutes
- Costs: Monthly payment based on enrolled debt, no upfront fees
- Types of debt accepted: Unsecured debt, including credit card debt, personal loans and medical bills
- Minimum debt considered: $15,000 in unsecured debt (average debt is $24,000)
- Typical turnaround: 24 – 48 months, but it can take longer
- Accreditations: Better Business Bureau, American Fair Credit Council; platinum International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators member
- Ratings: A+ BBB rating, 9.0 Trustpilot rating
- Service limitations: Not available in Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia or Wyoming.
- Free resources or tools: Estimated savings calculator, options beyond debt settlement, customer dashboard.
- Customer service: Phone, email
What exactly is Freedom Debt Relief?
Freedom Debt Relief is a debt settlement company that works to help people with unmanageable, unsecured debt get back on their feet. It was founded in 2002 by two Stanford Business School alumni to offer better options for consumers struggling with debt.
Today, it’s an industry heavyweight with a hand in setting the standards for the debt settlement industry.
How does it work?
Like other debt settlement companies, Freedom Debt Relief negotiates with your lenders to reduce how much you owe. It asks you to pay a percentage of the debt you want settled — known as “enrolled debt” — in exchange for its services.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of Freedom Debt Relief?
- It’s easy to track your progress. Check on your progress through your online dashboard.
- Helpful customer service. Customers praise support with questions and the debt relief process.
- It’s set industry standards. Freedom Debt Relief is a founding member of the American Fair Credit Council, which standardizes industry practices, and had a hand in establishing the Federal Trade Commission’s rules banning abusive debt settlement practices in 2010.
- Not available in all 50 states. Freedom Debt Relief operates in 32 states, 3 territories and Washington, DC — where debt settlement services are permitted.
- Program could take longer than expected. This is a main customer complaint, which means you might need to prepare for the long haul. On average the program takes 24-48 months.
- Debt settlement not guaranteed. There’s always the risk that your creditors will refuse to allow you to settle your debt.
Does Freedom Debt Relief offer services in my state?
Debt settlement services are regulated by state law. If you live in one of the following states, you won’t be able to sign up for Freedom Debt Relief’s services:
- Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia or Wyoming.
How much does it cost?
Freedom Debt Relief doesn’t ask for payment up front. Instead, customers make monthly payments into an account to save up for the cost of settlement and fees.
You’ll pay a monthly deposit over the course of the program that depends on how much the client can afford and total debt. A typical program runs between 24 and 48 months. Customers typically save between 15% and 35% from the debts they enroll in the program.
Compare more debt relief companies
How much could I save with Freedom Debt Relief?
Customers typically save between 15% and 35% of their enrolled debt after paying fees. But how much you’ll save depends on your unique financial situation and where you live, among other factors.
Freedom Debt Relief’s calculator estimates that a Colorado resident making minimum payments on $60,000 of credit card debt at an interest rate of 16.99% could save around $166,920 with debt relief. To complete the program, they would could have to make monthly deposits of around $927 into the program over 46 months.
What does the Internet have to say about Freedom Debt Relief?
Customer reviews of Freedom Debt Relief are mostly positive, but they aren’t without a few caveats.
The Better Business Bureau gives it an A+ rating based on nearly 550 customer reviews, most of which are positive. It’s worth noting that Freedom Debt Relief’s customer service team responds to comments on the BBB website, a clear and public indicator that it takes the time to rectify customer complaints.
It does similarly well on Trustpilot, where more than 5,000 reviewers result in a collective 9 out of 10 rating. Only 74% rated it as “Excellent,” but only 3% called it “Bad.” Customers mainly report a helpful service and relief at no longer having to deal with their creditors. A top complaint is that the program took longer than expected — or may not have worked at all.
It’s not an encouraging sign, however, that one of Google’s autocompletes for Freedom Debt Relief is “Freedom Debt Relief lies.” Online forums speculate that a competitor debt relief company ran a smear campaign against Freedom Debt Relief, but that claim is difficult to verify.
Is it safe to use Freedom Debt Relief?
Generally, yes — by debt settlement standards. You can opt out of having your personal financial information shared with affiliates.
Freedom Debt Relief is a founding member of the American Fair Credit Council, a trade association that sets industry standards, and the Better Business Bureau, which governs business transparency practices.
It’s made some unsettling headlines over the past decade, however. In 2009, it settled a suit brought on by a California district attorney accusing the company of failing to contact its customers’ creditors despite charging them to do so.
Many trusting customers stopped making repayments on their debt after signing on with Freedom Debt Relief, only to find their accounts sent to collection agencies. Some were even being sued by their creditors.
The company made headlines again in November 2017, when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a suit accusing Freedom of “coaching” consumers instead of dealing with the creditors directly. In some cases, the company still charged its fee when consumers had to negotiate themselves or even when a creditor simply stopped collections without a settlement. And lastly, Freedom did not clearly tell their consumers that they had the right to their own account funds after they withdrew from Freedom’s program.
Stay up to date on your state’s laws and investigate anything that sounds off to you. Read your contract carefully to make sure you’re aware of all disclosures.
How do I get started?
Before you sign up, consider a risk-free debt relief consultation to see if the service is right for you.
To do this, go to the site and click Get Your Free Evaluation. Follow the directions to enter information about your debt and how you can be contacted.
The whole process can take less than a minute. If you qualify, a Certified Debt Consultant will help you design a payment program that is affordable but also allows you to settle your debt as soon as possible.
I’ve signed up. What happens next?
- Save up for your settlement with monthly deposits. To cover the cost of the settlement and Freedom Debt Relief’s fees, your deposits go into an FDIC-insured account that you can easily monitor online. At this point, some people stop making payments to their creditors.
- Freedom Debt Relief negotiates with your creditors. Once you have enough funds in your account, Freedom Debt Relief contacts your creditors to discuss a settlement arrangement. This process is delicate, tricky and can take longer than expected. It’s not uncommon for it to take several attempts before your debt is settled.
- Pay your debt settlement. Freedom Debt Relief contacts you each time they reach an agreement with a creditor, asking you to authorize them to pay the settlement through your account.
- Start rebuilding your credit. Debt settlement can cause your credit score to tank temporarily, though your score starts to rebuild after settlements are made.
Make debt settlement a smart financial move
Follow these tips to make the most of Freedom Debt Relief while you’re in the program:
- Stick to a budget. A budget not only ensures that you complete the program on time, but it also helps you develop healthier spending habits.
- Don’t take on additional debt. If you’re in a debt settlement program, it’s likely your only options are subprime loans, which are particularly difficult to repay. Settlement isn’t much use if you get sucked into another vicious debt cycle.
- Make all of your monthly deposits. The longer it takes for you to make your deposits, the more your debt balloons, thanks to interest. This is especially important if you stop making repayments to your creditors.
Debt settlement isn’t a good option for everyone, and Freedom Debt Relief does nothing to hide that. The company is happy to point its customers in other directions if they might benefit from other services.
Consider debt settlement among your last resorts, and understand what could go wrong before you sign up. Before you sign a contract, learn more about your options for getting out of debt.