If you feel like you’re drowning in debt, you’re not alone. Americans carried a collective $4.12 trillion in non-housing debt as of the second quarter of 2020. Although there are strategies you can use to get out of debt on your own, there’s no shame in asking for help if you’re in over your head and missing monthly payments.
Before you resort to bankruptcy, consider getting help from Freedom Debt Relief. To find out what you should expect from the nation’s largest debt relief services, continue reading our Freedom Debt Relief review.
What is Freedom Debt Relief?
Freedom Debt Relief was founded by Stanford Business School graduates Brad Stroh and Andrew Housser in 2002. The company’s goal was to provide a consumer-friendly approach to debt relief. Since then, it has become a leader in the debt settlement industry, helping more than 600,000 people resolve their debts. Freedom Debt Relief is also committed to giving back to local community organizations through employee volunteering and donations.
Most debt settlement companies charge upfront fees that can be costly for consumers, and for that reason, the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau caution consumers against using these services. But Freedom Debt Relief is different. You won’t have to pay a cent until the company has negotiated a debt settlement for you. In fact, Freedom Debt Relief had a hand in developing FTC rules that prohibit abusive debt settlement practices. The company is also a founding member of the American Fair Credit Council.
How does Freedom Debt Relief work?
The Freedom Debt Relief program starts with a free debt evaluation. You’ll answer some questions by phone and work with a debt consultant to determine whether you qualify before setting up a customized plan. The following types of debt qualify for debt settlement through Freedom Debt Relief:
- Credit card debt
- Medical bills
- Personal loan debt
- Department store credit debt
- Certain types of private student loan debt
While Freedom Debt Relief offers assistance with unsecured debts, it can’t help you with secured loans, such as your mortgage or auto loan, or federal student loan debt.
Once you’ve enrolled in the program, you stop paying your bills and instead make monthly deposits into an FDIC-insured savings account. When you’ve been in default long enough to save sufficient funds in that bank account, Freedom Debt Relief will negotiate settlements with your creditors. Once they’ve agreed to consider your debt paid for less than you owe, Freedom Debt Relief will use the money in your account to pay your creditors and settle your debts.
Keep in mind, this process will negatively impact your credit, and you may receive calls from debt collectors. It’s even possible that your creditor could take legal action against you. That’s because you’ll essentially be delinquent on your payments for four to six months. But this is often what it takes for creditors to be willing to settle your debt.
You should also know that Freedom Debt Relief takes 15% to 25% of your enrolled debt amount as a fee, depending on the state in which you live. This could still be less expensive than bankruptcy, which can cost $2,000 or more. And bankruptcy will also tank your credit, so it's typically viewed as a last resort.
What we like about Freedom Debt Relief
- No upfront costs: Although many other debt settlement companies charge you a fee right off the bat, you won’t pay a cent until Freedom Debt Relief finishes negotiating your debt settlement.
- Track your progress with the Client Dashboard: As a Freedom Debt Relief customer, you can easily view the progress of your debt settlement in your online account. You’ll also be able to access educational content to help you stay out of debt in the future.
- Excellent customer service: You can reach a certified debt consultant or customer service representative any day of the week by phone or email. Furthermore, Freedom Debt Relief has excellent customer reviews through the Better Business Bureau.
What Freedom Debt Relief could improve
- No guarantees: Freedom Debt Relief doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee, nor does it promise to forgive a certain percentage of your debt. Each settlement is a negotiation, and results can vary.
- High fees. Freedom Debt Relief takes 15% to 25% of your enrolled debt amount as a settlement fee. They have the experience to settle your debts for 50% of what you owe, but there’s no guarantee. If they’re only able to settle your debts for 75% of what you owe, there’s a chance you won’t save money and may damage your credit in the process.
What Freedom Debt Relief customers are saying
More than 3,000 customer reviewers rated Freedom Debt Relief an average of 4.59 out of 5 stars through the Better Business Bureau. Many customers cited the ease of the process. One customer mentioned that Freedom Debt Relief helped her handle civil cases brought against her. And many reviewers said the customer service is friendly and helpful. Freedom Debt Relief also has a 4.6 out of 5-star rating with Trustpilot and Consumer Affairs.
Additionally, a recent survey of Freedom Debt Relief program graduates offers some insight into how working with the service impacted their overall debt burden and credit. According to the survey, the median debt burden of Freedom Debt Relief graduates decreased from $28,000 at the time of program enrollment to $3,800 45 months after enrollment. Surveyed customers' median FICO scores also continued to improve more than two years after using the companies' services.
Freedom Debt Relief customer service
You can contact Freedom Debt Relief via phone or email.
- Non-clients: 800-230-1553 or email@example.com
- Current clients: 800-655-6303 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Certified debt consultants are available:
- Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET
- Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET
Customer service representatives are available:
- Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET
- Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
- Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
FAQs about Freedom Debt Relief
Is Freedom Debt Relief legit?
Yes. Freedom Debt Relief is committed to fair business practices. In fact, it is one of the founding members of the American Fair Credit Council and is a platinum member of the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators. The company has been around for 18 years and has helped thousands of customers get out of debt.
How does Freedom Debt Relief impact your credit?
Debt settlement programs, including Freedom Debt Relief, typically have a negative impact on credit score. That’s because these programs require you to become delinquent on your payments until your creditors will accept a lump sum that is less than you owe as payment for your debts. In addition, settled debts stay on your credit report for seven years. However, healthy credit habits can help you improve your credit score again once you pay off your debt.
How much does Freedom Debt Relief cost?
Freedom Debt Relief takes between 15% and 25% of your total enrolled debt amount, depending on your state of residency. For example, if you have $10,000 in debt and Freedom Debt Relief settles your debt for $5,000, you would owe between $1,500 and $2,500 of the settlement amount to the company for its negotiation work. Also, keep in mind that you will likely need to pay taxes on the amount of debt forgiven.
Is debt settlement a good idea?
If you’re in over your head, debt settlement could be a better option than bankruptcy. Just be sure to do your research and choose a debt settlement service, like Freedom Debt Relief, that is committed to integrity. However, be aware that there’s a risk you won’t come out ahead after paying taxes and fees on your settled debt. It’s best to try other debt resolution strategies first, like negotiating with your creditors on your own, trying a debt repayment strategy such as the debt avalanche method, or using debt consolidation.
The bottom line
Generally speaking, if you're experiencing financial hardship, you should consider debt settlement only if other strategies won’t work for you. Before you decide to work with a debt settlement company, you might try:
- Working with a nonprofit credit counseling agency on a debt management plan
- Negotiating with creditors on your own
- Applying for one of the best balance transfer cards to reduce your interest rate
- Using a personal loan to consolidate your debt
- Trying a debt-repayment strategy
- Using a debt-repayment app
If the amount is too high or these options prove ineffective, debt settlement can sometimes be a better option than bankruptcy, though it depends on your financial situation. You should calculate the cost of both choices, along with the effort required, when making your decision. If you do decide to go the route of debt negotiation, we think Freedom Debt Relief is one of the safest debt relief companies around, evidenced by thousands of happy customers.