If you havea large amount of debt you are struggling to pay, you may be considering using a debt relief company. A debt relief company is a company that will try to help you negotiate with your creditors to lower your debt. They are sometimes called debt settlement companies or debt adjusting companies, as well.
Freedom Debt Relief is one of the largest debt relief companies in the nation. As of September 2020 they had helped 750,000 clients settle more than $12 billion dollars in debt. Like any debt settlement company, they can’t guarantee that all your debts will be lowered and settled through their program, but they do promise to attempt negotiating lower dues for any unsecured debt you have.
Working with Freedom Debt Relief has been helpful for many consumers in debt, according to customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. But, the company has charged unwanted fees to others and even faced a lawsuit from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Using the Freedom Debt Relief program may be right for you if you are unable to pay your debts and face extenuating financial circumstances. Read on to learn more about the company and their program.
Freedom Debt Relief Review
|APR||Typically 15 to 25%, fees may vary depending on state of residenc|
|Minimum debt required||$7,500|
|Time frame||Typically 24 – 48 months, but total time varies by individual|
|Savings estimate||Up to 50% of your current debts|
|Best for||Individuals with high unsecured debt and a pre-existing poor credit score|
|Not recommended for||Individuals with good credit and individuals who can work to negotiate their own debt|
Freedom Debt Relief Debt Settlement Pros and Cons
|Their debt consultants can negotiate lower debt for you||Settlement fees can be high|
|No upfront settlement fees||They can’t guarantee that your debts will be lowered|
|Graduates of their program will be free of their unsecured debts||Your credit may be negatively affected|
Freedom Debt Relief Review
Freedom Debt Relief is not for everyone. They have seen significant success in helping their customers settle debt, and they have an A- review from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). However, they were sued by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau in 2018 for charging customers without settling their debts as promised.
If you want to work with Freedom Debt Relief, make sure you know the terms and conditions you sign up for. You should also consider all of your options before deciding to work with them, as there may be better options available for your situation.
If you decided you would like to work with Freedom Debt Relief, they have a five-step process to help customers through their debt relief program:
- Assessment: During this step, one of the company’s debt consultants will help you to complete a financial assessment and determine your eligibility for the program. This step is free and is designed to determine if you are the right fit for their program.
- Deposit: If you qualify and decide to enroll in the Freedom Debt Relief program, you will begin making monthly deposits into an FDIC-insured account that you are in charge of. During this step, you will also be instructed to stop making payments to your creditors. Once you have saved a significant amount in your account, the negotiation process will begin.
- Negotiation: Throughout the negotiation process the team at Freedom Debt Relief will work to lower your debts. The length of this process varies depending on how many debts you have to settle and how long the creditors try to negotiate.
- Settlement: When a settlement is reached, the payments are made to your creditor. Your payment to Freedom Debt Relief will also be processed at this point.
- Graduate: Once all debts are settled you are considered a graduate of the debt relief program. It’s important to note that not all program members reach this step since debt settlement can’t be guaranteed.
Only unsecured debt qualifies for the Freedom Debt Relief Program. This means debt like credit cards, unsecured personal loans and medical bills. Debt that is secured such as a mortgage or an auto loan does not qualify. To qualify for the program, you should have at least $7,500 of unsecured debt.
The estimated time frame for the Freedom Debt Relief Program is 24-48 months. However, every individual is different and the process can be shorter or longer than this timeframe. Freedom Debt Relief works with each customer to design a timeline that works for their budget and financial goals, so the timeline can be flexible depending on what you need.
Who Freedom Debt Relief is for
Many companies offer debt settlement. How do you know if Freedom Debt Relief is for you? Consider all of your options before signing up for any debt relief program, but Freedom Debt Relief could be for you if you face the following circumstances:
- You have over $7,500 in unsecured debt
- You have extenuating circumstances that make it difficult or impossible to pay off your debt
- Your credit score is already low
Freedom Debt Relief is probably not for you if you:
- Unable to save enough money to pay off partial amounts of your debit
- Have less than $7,500 in unsecured debt
- Have a good credit score that you would like to maintain
- Able to settle debts through other alternatives
What to watch out for
As with any company you work with, you should know all the factors before you sign up for a Freedom Debt Relief Program. Just like any debt settlement company, Freedom Debt Relief cannot guarantee that they will get your debt lowered.
The company has an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars from customer reviews through the BBB. Many of the negative comments cite high settlement fees as a disappointment. But, many other reviews mention that the company has genuinely helped with debt settlement and they are happy with the company.
Prospective customers should also be aware that the company was sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2018. The lawsuit alleged that Freedom Debt Relief charged fees to customers before their debt was settled and misled consumers about their fees. The lawsuit was settled in June of 2019 and the company had to pay $20 million in restitution to affected consumers.
Freedom Debt Relief fees and terms
According to federal law, no debt relief company can charge any upfront fees. Freedom Debt Relief follows this law in its terms. Once charged, their fees can vary depending on the state, but generally, they will be between 15 and 25 percent.
Enrolling in the program could also impact your credit score negatively for the short term. Their debt settlement program asks you to stop making payments during the negotiation phase so missed payments could mean a hurt credit score.
Participating in the Freedom Debt Relief program also means you could potentially be sued by a credito. While Freedom Debt Relief does work with a legal team to help you if this happens, it is still possible to be sued.
Freedom Debt Relief should outline all of its terms and fees for you before you sign up for the program. If you are considering enrollment, be sure to read through all the details so you know what you are getting into.
Other debt relief services
When considering Freedom Debt Relief as an option, know that it is not your only choice. There are other ways to find debt relief, so consider these in your decision, too.
- Working with other debt settlement companies. Freedom Debt Relief is not the only debt relief company. When considering them, you should also research other debt settlement companies to make sure you are getting the best service.
- Negotiating the debt yourself. It is possible to negotiate your debts down yourself. While it takes time and persistence, you can save yourself the fees of a debt settlement company if you are willing to do the work on your own.
- Declaring bankruptcy. Filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy will remove your liability for discharged debts. To see if you qualify for this, you may want to consult a lawyer.
- Budgeting. If you are able, consider reworking your budget to pay off your debts. Could you trade in your car for something cheaper? Do you have any unneeded monthly expenses? Pinching pennies temporarily could be worth it if you can pay off the debt on your own and avoid extra fees and the possibility of a poor credit score.
Freedom Debt Relief is a reputable company that has helped many customers. They may be able to help you, too. However, using their service does not come without costs and risks. Know all the terms and conditions before you sign on for their debt relief program. You should also consider all options before enrolling in a debt relief program.
How Bankrate rates Freedom Debt Relief
|Services||Services were assessed based on minimum debt eligibility, types of eligible debt and whether or not the company provides free credit counseling.|
|Affordability||Affordability was assessed based on associated fees and whether or not the company specifies money-back guarantee terms.|
|Customer experience||Customer experience was assessed based on website usability and features, as well as app availability. Customer satisfaction and company reputation were assessed based on Better Business Bureau accreditation and reviews, as well as TrustPilot reviews.|
|Stability||Stability was assessed based on how long the company has been in business and whether or not they maintain membership with a professional trade association.|