Loans > Freedom Debt Relief Review

Freedom Debt Relief Review

Debt settlement can be risky. Freedom Debt Relief doesn’t necessarily shake up that paradigm, but it is one of the best debt settlement providers around.

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Reviewed by
Updated January 10, 2022

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Why has debt become so common?

Somewhere down the road of industrialization and consumerism, debt became an ubiquitous part of our lives. Although debt can be an effective financial tool if used wisely, you’d be hard-pressed to prove that debt hasn’t, in large part, simply spiraled out of control.

COVID-19 and other large-scale economic factors have only exacerbated the general debt problem tons of people face every day. Indeed, the International Monetary Fund shows that total global debt reached over $188 trillion by the end of 2018. 😮

That’s a number the human brain just can’t comprehend, even if it wanted to. To state that debt has only gotten worse since 2018 would undoubtedly be a wise wager. 

Now that so many people are seeking help with their debt in one form or another, it’s no wonder companies like Freedom Debt Relief have become increasingly popular. But debt settlement is historically risky and is usually not seen as a preferred choice. That doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful, however.

How does Freedom Debt Relief measure up, and do they have the reputation to make their service a worthwhile?

Let’s find out in this deep-dive review.

Freedom Debt Relief offers debt settlement solutions for those who struggle with payments to creditors. With a relatively good reputation and manageable fees, they’re a debt settlement alternative that can help those facing financial hardship.

Fast Facts

  • Minimum Debt for Enrollment: $7500
  • Average Term Until Settlement: 2-5 years
  • Fees: 18-25% of total settled debt

Ratings

  • Effectiveness: 8/10
  • User-friendliness: 7/10
  • Fees: 7/10
  • Overall: 7/10
Visit Freedom Debt Relief on Freedom Debt Relief’s website

What is Freedom Debt Relief?

Freedom Debt Relief provides debt settlement services. In short, they negotiate with creditors on their clients’ behalf in exchange for a fee percentage on the debts settled.

Freedom’s negotiators help you save money in a designated savings account, then use the accumulated cash to talk down your creditors to lower lump-sum payments. This strategy, theoretically, will progressively clear your debt faster than if you paid them off normally.

Overview and Summary

Freedom Debt Relief is best summarized and understood by these five points:

  1. Freedom Debt Relief offers debt settlement services, negotiating with creditors to convince them to write off some or a majority of your debts.
  2. Clients are responsible for pooling money into a savings account designed to build up cash to use as a leveraging sum.
  3. They charge small monthly fees and a percentage of settled debts.
  4. Most of their clients have all debts settled within 3-4 years.
  5. Freedom has a generally good reputation, especially compared to many other debt settlement companies.

Pros

  • Average fees
  • Good reputation for the industry
  • Good average debt settlement time

Cons

  • Debt settlement will initially lower your credit score

Debt Settlement Overview

In a nutshell, debt settlement is a service offered by companies like Freedom Debt Relief where you cease paying your creditors as part of a multistep plan to get them to write off some or most of your debts. With organizations like Freedom, you’ll save money in a dedicated savings account and stop making payments for all debts you enroll with them.

The strategy goes that, after several months of not being paid at all, your creditors will be willing to accept a lower lump-sum and write off the rest of your debt than continue harassing you when it’s clear you don’t have enough income to manage regular payments. This strategy has its advocates and advantages but also comes with several negative side effects.

For starters, you’ll automatically become delinquent on any accounts you stop making payments for.

Furthermore, you’ll begin accruing late fees and/or interest charges, meaning your total debts will rise exponentially. Your credit score will drop, sometimes precipitously, and any delinquent accounts you do accrue remain on your credit report for up to seven years.

Thus, anyone considering Freedom or any other debt settlement organization should only do so carefully.

Freedom Debt Relief at a Glance

  • Minimum Debt Required: $7500
  • Typical Debt of Freedom Enrollees: Over $25,000
  • Fees/Costs: 18% to 25% of your enrolled debt
  • Time Until Debt is Settled: 2-5 years on average
  • How Much Will You Likely Save? 20% to 35% on average after fees

How Does Freedom Debt Relief Work?

As a debt relief service, Freedom can help those with lots of unsecured debt from a variety of sources. They take on clients who have a minimum of $7500 in debt, and they can work to tackle your largest bills (like credit cards with over $500 in debt) first and foremost.

Though they’re an attractive debt relief company compared to many other organizations, Freedom’s actual debt settlement process is fairly typical.

You enroll in their service and immediately halt making payments to your creditors. Freedom will then have you open a separate savings account in which you will deposit monthly payments.

Freedom will work with you to develop a payment plan and make sure you pay as much as possible into that savings account. As you accumulate cash, Freedom can advocate on your behalf with creditors and try to convince them to accept less than the total amount you owe.

Certified Debt Consultants negotiate with creditors from a more even position, meaning you don’t have to have any more intimidating conversations with collectors.

If one or more of your creditors accepts a lower payoff amount, you’ll pay the lower amount from the saved cash in that savings account, then also pay Freedom a fee for their services.

According to Freedom, most of their clients resolve all enrolled debt within 2-5 years. But you have to remember that this is all relative and highly dependent on how much you can save and funnel into the savings account every month.

Because Freedom’s strategy relies on you having a lump sum that they can barter with against your creditors, the faster you reach some significant percentage of your debts, the faster they’ll theoretically be able to settle things on your behalf.

How is Your Credit Affected by Freedom Debt Relief?

Freedom and other debt settlement organizations only directly affect your credit by having you open another savings account. This account will be an FDIC-insured Dedicated Account, which the client controls. While this could knock your credit down by a few points initially, the idea is that your credit will be built back up over the long-term.

Keep in mind that the primary factor behind the lowering of a credit score is not paying creditors. Each month you don’t pay, they’ll report this information to the three big credit bureaus and unfortunately, your credit score will drop. Your accounts will be considered “delinquent”, which is always bad for your credit score.

Does it Ruin Your Credit to Use Freedom Debt Relief?

Freedom Debt Relief Homepage

It can, depending on how your credit is when you begin using the service and how long it takes for your debts to be settled. If you started with a generally high credit score (say, above 750) and debt settlement with Freedom only takes 12 months, you might escape with a relatively low amount of credit damage — or no damage at all.

But the longer the debt settlement process takes and the lower your starting credit score, the higher the chance of your credit lowering to some extend, at least initially. Of course, as time goes on, it is expected that debt settlement will help your credit reacher a higher than average score.

Your personal loan options will dwindle – at first, you’ll still have access to the leading loans for fair credit in case you need to buy a car or pay for a medical bill. But as your score keeps dipping, your loan options will decrease as well.

How Long is Your Credit Affected by Freedom Debt Relief?

If you use a debt relief service like the kind offered by Freedom, your creditor accounts will show up as delinquent for seven years. Thus, these items will drag your credit score down until they clear at the end of that seven-year term, making any gains you have less effective. 

Furthermore, you can’t remove these items from your credit report like you can other negative items from time to time. Delinquent accounts are immune to even the most tenacious credit repair service. If you get a delinquent account or several on your report, you’re stuck with them until seven years have passed: period.

What Does Freedom Debt Relief Charge in Terms of Fees/Percentages?

U.S. law prohibits debt settlement companies like Freedom from charging fees up-front for its services. Instead, Freedom only collects a fee for their service after settling any individual debt.

Note that this means they can and often will charge you multiple times over the course of their services if you have multiple creditors that you need to settle with.

Freedom charges a fee between 18% and 25% depending on the amount of total enrolled debt in their services. Basically, if you use Freedom to settle more debt, your fee will be closer to 25% than not.

Freedom Debt Relief Debt Amount

An example: you owe $7500 in debt across multiple credit cards. Freedom manages to settle $3000 of debt so you only have to pay $4500. Thus, you’ll owe Freedom between $810 and $1125.

As you can imagine, these ancillary fees on top of existing financial struggles may be tough for many to handle. Others, though, might think that a $10 fee every month is far more manageable than bills worth many hundreds of dollars.

How Do You Know if Freedom Debt Relief is Right for You?

The question is, honestly, less whether Freedom is right for you and more about whether the overall strategy of debt settlement is appropriate for your financial burdens.

There’s no denying that the very concept of halting payments and forcing your creditors to accept lower sums for outrageous debts sounds attractive. Debt settlement companies like Freedom and others will make it seem as though their negotiators have very high success rates.

Plus, lots of people don’t like talking to their creditors – they feel at a disadvantage or intimidated, particularly when they are constantly harassed by them or their agents via email, phone, and more.

However, debt settlement is always risky in the long term because of the damage it does to your credit score. Simply stopping your payments to any outstanding debts you have will utterly tank your score, at least if you have enough debt and enough open accounts such that they each knock your score down a few points every 30 days.

Furthermore, the damage done to your credit report is not easily erased. You’ll have to spend at least several years rebuilding your credit score after getting your debts settled.

Lastly, there’s no guarantee that Freedom will be able to actually settle your debts for you. While they do have trained negotiators who specialize in this kind of stuff, the decision ultimately comes down to your creditors: are they willing to accept a lower lump-sum than what you owe them now, or do they want to keep bugging you until you pay up in full?

There’s never any way to tell for certain. Still, Freedom Debt Relief has a (relatively) good reputation and a history of success for its enrollees. They’re a good choice if and only if you feel that debt settlement is your only option compared to the process of debt consolidation or other tactics.

Is it Better to Settle a Debt or Pay it in Full?

Debt management

As with any financial decision, the best course of action can be hard to determine, particularly as an outsider. But generally speaking, it’s better to pay your debts in full if possible.

However, settling your debt could be the way to go if you’re facing ancillary issues because of low income and incessant bills. If your choice, for instance, is between being able to make your rent payment or pay your debts, the former is obviously more important.

In summary: debt settlement can be a great strategy for some people, depending on their circumstances, to help get out of debt in the quickest way possible.

Is Debt Settlement Worth it in the End?

Debt settlement can be worth it in the end, particularly if you have ways to boost your income and can rebuild your credit score progressively over time.

Seven years is a long time for your debt settlement to follow you around like a financial specter, but it’s not forever. Even the algorithmic wounds inflicted on your credit score from debt settlement will fade in time.

If it allowed you to keep a roof over your head or otherwise kept you afloat, then most would say (and we’d agree) that it was worthwhile eventually.

Freedom Debt Relief: Reputation and Lawsuits

Many debt relief or debt settlement organizations have bad reputations and are known to prey on people without any other options. However, Freedom stands apart from many other companies in that they have a generally good reputation.

But this doesn’t mean that they are squeaky clean. Anyone looking to enroll in their debt settlement services should know that they were sued by the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).

CFPB LOGO

Specifically, Freedom allegedly charged people without settling debts as they promised, along with a host of other abuses, like misleading customers about fees and forcing customers to negotiate their settlements with their creditors.

This lawsuit was settled in 2019 when Freedom agreed to pay $20 million in restitution to all affected customers, plus an additional $5 million penalty.

Still, one bad incident does not necessarily make a company a predator. It’s always a good idea to look at the general reputation for any company that might affect your credit score.

The Better Business Bureau is one such ideal resource. They rate Freedom on their letter-grade system as a “B” company – not the best, but generally good.

Over the last three years, only 389 total complaints have been filed – this may sound like a lot, but considering that Freedom has likely helped at least hundreds of thousands of people, it’s not a terrible number. Additionally, 157 complaints were closed, meaning that the customers withdrew those complaints after dealing with a customer service representative.

The majority of the complaints on the BBB focused on problems with products or services or with billing and collections (ironically). A quick scan through the complaints showcases a variety of issues, from customers being rushed through signing several documents, to slow responses from Freedom’s agents concerning payments, to customers not being refunded money when creditors did not accept lower sums.

You can also look at resources like Trustpilot: another site that collects user feedback to form a general picture of a company’s reputation. Here, things are a lot better for Freedom, as they have a 78% “Excellent” rating out of five possible tiers.

All in all, it’s clear that Freedom benefits from a generally high reputation and is known for getting consistent results for those who enroll in its program. There’s always a risk when it comes to debt settlement for the debtor, but if you do decide to use this strategy, Freedom is one of the better companies to trust. 

What We Like About Freedom Debt Relief

Freedom Debt Relief’s biggest draw by far is its reputation. It’s very easy for companies to put on a veneer of helpfulness and selflessness, only to draw in vulnerable people and take advantage of them. That they’ve apparently been helping people for several years without (many) huge issues is a big plus.

We also think that their average success rate term (of between 2-5 years) is fairly reasonable considering the tasks they undertake. Such a timeframe is likely often shorter than the one indebted people would face if they tried to pay off their debts traditionally.

While they do charge fees for their services, these are not exorbitant, at least compared to the fees charged by other debt settlement companies.

Where Freedom Debt Relief Could Improve

Freedom Debt Relief does a decent job with its primary service. It’s also part of FFN, meaning individuals can see the best option for their situation, be it a loan, debt settlement, HELOC, or something else.

However, we feel as though the service would be stronger with a few additional perks. For example, they don’t offer credit counseling or any other ancillary services.

Credit monitoring, in particular, would be a perfect service to pair with Freedom’s debt settlement programs so you could keep an eye on your credit and prevent future mishaps.

Plus, while their reputation is generally good, they have experienced some complaints via the BBB. 

Alternatives to Freedom Debt Relief

Debt Consolidation

A Debt Management Plan

The most basic alternative is a debt management plan. These services are offered by nonprofit agencies that will help to consolidate your debts into one monthly payment for the sake of organization.

This is distinct from a debt consolidation or personal loan and it’s ideal if you have a consistent income and can repay your debts within 3-5 years. A debt management agency can sometimes consolidate your debts so that you pay a lower overall interest rate.

Debt Consolidation Loan

A debt consolidation loan is a loan you take out from another company to repay your existing unsecured debts. After repaying all of those debts, you now only have a single debt to pay: that of the debt consolidation loan.

These loans are often helpful since they (normally) result in lower interest rates and are easier to manage. Paying one bill each month is much smoother than juggling a dozen.

These loans can help you pay off your debts faster due to the single lower interest rate compared to many separate interest rates.

Debt/Bankruptcy Counseling

You can alternatively find a debt or credit counseling service. These are soft solutions that can help you develop financial planning skills or help you budget.

If you’re out of options, you can also file for bankruptcy, which will allow you to sell assets or otherwise repay debts and get out of the specter of your creditors. A counseling service can also help with this to ensure you file correctly and can recover after the fact.

Summary

In the end, Freedom Debt Relief is a good example of a reputable debt settlement organization. For some individuals, Freedom Debt Relief is the best option to eliminate debt, raise your credit score, and return to a normal financial life again.

For others, better options exist. It really depends on your own personal situation. To get a better idea if Freedom Debt Relief is right for you, we recommend contacting them, explaining your situation, and learning which path they feel is right for you.

Freedom Debt Relief FAQs

  • Will credit card companies ever forgive your debt?

    Sometimes. Besides debt settlement companies, it’s possible (though unlikely) that credit card companies might forgive your debt if you ask or approach them yourself for the same kind of negotiation tactic.

    For instance, it’s not unheard of for credit card companies to forgive debt if one of their debtors were to approach them with 50 or 60% of their total sum, citing a life crisis or something else that prevents them from otherwise paying everything back in full.

    Still, this is rare, even though many people are struggling with debt under COVID-19. You probably have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning. Relying on other debt management strategies is always a better idea. 

  • How does Freedom Debt Relief make a profit?

    They make a profit from the fees they charge for their services. Higher enrolled debt results in a larger fee for them once they settle it with your creditors.

  • Does Freedom Debt Relief’s BBB page indicate that they can’t be trusted?

    Not at all. While complaints are important to pay attention to, you have to remember that most of the time, people only complain when they have huge issues with a company.

    In addition, Freedom likely helps thousands of customers each year. A few hundred complaints are not necessarily indicative of widespread malpractice.

  • Is Freedom Debt Relief a scam organization or a good company?

    As far as their reputation says, they seem to be a good company. In our eyes, they do what they say they do, and relatively well at that.

  • Can you quit Freedom Debt Relief’s services?

    Yes. You can call Freedom anytime and remove one or all of your accounts. However, you may still be charged a fee if some of your debts have already been settled.

  • What happens if you decide to stop paying Freedom Debt Relief?

    You can resume paying your creditors or try another strategy to handle your debts. Freedom doesn’t force you to keep using their debt settlement services after you enroll in their program.

  • Does it really take 7 years for your credit to clear?

    Yes, at least for accounts and delinquency. Negative items don’t always take seven years to disappear, but big shocks to your credit score – like failing to make a payment on a credit card multiple months in a row – certainly do.

    A bad credit score can, in the meantime, impact your economic opportunities. For example, if you need to borrow funds, you’ll likely have to pay high interest rates. Luckily, there are a number of bad credit loans that guarantee approval.

  • How long after debt settlement does it take to rebuild your credit?

    This is dependent on how quickly you can open new accounts that you can then make payments towards those accounts responsibly and consistently. In many cases, it takes individuals between 3-5 years to rebuild their credit score toward its earlier maximum after debt settlement.

    Rebuilding your credit is a long and often arduous process. Many people employ the top credit monitoring services or credit counselors to help keep track of their score and get their credit back on track.

    All of these steps are more things to keep in mind before you go with debt settlement – you should remember that your journey to financial stability doesn’t fully end when your debts are settled this way.

  • How does debt settlement affect your taxes?

    The IRS actually considers any forgiven debt (i.e. any debt written off by your creditors) to be taxable income. This means you may still need to pay taxes on debt you technically don’t have to pay your creditors since it’s income you “brought in” by not needing to pay it any longer.

    The only exception to this is if you are “insolvent”: a condition where your total debt exceeds the total value of your combined assets. It may be wise to meet with a tax professional before proceeding with debt relief to see whether taxes are something you need to consider.

  • Freedom Debt Relief Phone Number

    Freedom Debt Relief’s phone number is 1-800-230-1553 if you’re not yet a client or 1-800-655- 6303 if you are already a client. Alternatively, you can visit their website.

Freedom Debt Relief Disclaimer:
* Our estimates are based on prior results, which will vary depending on your specific enrolled creditors and your individual program terms. Not all clients are able to complete their program for various reasons, including their ability to save sufficient funds. We do not guarantee that your debts will be resolved for a specific amount or percentage or within a specific period of time. We do not assume your debts, make monthly payments to creditors or provide tax, bankruptcy, accounting or legal advice or credit repair services. Our service is not available in all states and our fees may vary from state to state. Please contact a tax professional to discuss potential tax consequences of less than full balance debt resolution. Read and understand all program materials prior to enrollment. The use of debt settlement services will likely adversely affect your creditworthiness, may result in you being subject to collections or being sued by creditors or collectors and may increase the outstanding balances of your enrolled accounts due to the accrual of fees and interest. However, negotiated settlements we obtain on your behalf resolve the entire account, including all accrued fees and interest. C.P.D. Reg. No. T.S.12-03825. 

All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on tokenist.com. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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