About Freedom Debt Relief

By Derek Lakin
HighYa Staff Updated on: Apr 23, 2018

Founded in 2002 by Stanford Business School graduates Andrew Housser and Bradford Stroh, Freedom Debt Relief helps clients settle and resolve their unsecured debts in as little as 24-48 months, instead of declaring bankruptcy. Cumulatively, they’ve helped resolve more than $8 billion in debt for more than 500,000 clients since opening their doors, which is more than any other company in the nation.

The process is straightforward: Talk to a Certified Debt Consultant to make sure Freedom Debt Relief is the right debt solution for you, see what you could save by partnering with them, and then enroll in their program if you choose.

We all want to be debt-free faster. But is Freedom Debt Relief necessarily your best option? Let’s start by taking a look at how their program works.

How Does Freedom Debt Relief Work?

To qualify for Freedom Debt Relief’s program, you’ll need to owe at least $7,500 in unsecured debt (e.g., credit cards, medical bills, etc.) and be struggling to make your minimum monthly payments due to a financial hardship, whether caused by the loss of a job, divorce, medical bills, or the passing of a loved one.

Credit score isn’t an eligibility factor, although the company currently only offers their services to residents of the following 34 states and territories: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, DE, FL, ID, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, NY, NC, OK, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, DC, WI, Guam, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa.

If you meet these core criteria, the company’s debt relief program works over five steps:

  1. A Certified Debt Consultant—each of whom is required to undergo training and meet strict qualifications established by the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA)—will evaluate your debt and advise which options are available. In these instances, the company will be upfront about whether or not their program is the right solution, and if not, refer you to other companies who might be a better fit.
  2. Then, the company will customize your program and give you all the available information about your options, based on your needs. Depending on how much you can afford to pay each month, you’ll be informed of your potential savings and overall program length.
  3. Once your program is in place, you’ll begin putting funds each month into an FDIC insured account, which will be used to repay your debts. You’ll maintain control of the account at all times. In the meantime, you’ll be asked to quit using your credit cards, which will boost FDR’s ability to resolve your debts.
  4. After money accumulates in your account, Freedom will contact your creditors and negotiate settlements for you. According to the company’s website, they’ve been negotiating with creditors for over a decade and resolve an average of 43,891 accounts each month, thereby giving you more leverage.
  5. Finally, after all your debts have been resolved, your program will be complete.

How Much Does Freedom Debt Relief’s Program Cost?

Freedom Debt Relief doesn’t assess their clients any upfront fees until after a debt has been resolved, and there are no monthly fees involved.

However, the company emphasizes that the special purpose bank account they set up for clients can charge a small monthly fee, like most other financial accounts. If this is the case, it will be included in the client’s monthly program deposit amount, which—again—is something they maintain control over at all times.

The length of Freedom’s program varies between clients. Once a settlement is negotiated, though, the final fee can range anywhere between 18 and 25 percent, depending on the client’s state of residence and the debt amount.

For example, if you owe $10,000 on one of your accounts and Freedom Debt Relief negotiates a settlement for $6,000, you could pay between $1,800 and $2,500 in fees, for a total of $7,800-$8,500. In this example, your overall savings could be between $1,500 and $2,300 off your original debt.

For additional details or to undergo a consultation, you can reach a Certified Debt Consultant at 800-230-1553.

What Can We Learn From Freedom Debt Relief Online Customer Reviews?

Since writing our original article, nearly 90 HighYa readers have provided feedback about their experience with Freedom Debt Relief, giving the company an average rating of 3.7 stars.

Common compliments related to effective debt reduction/settlements and helpful Consultants, while complaints frequently revolved around settlements that didn’t meet expectations, as well as steep fees.

We also encountered more than 12,000 customer reviews on Consumer Affairs, where the company had a slightly higher average rating of 4.6 stars. Most of the compliments and complaints mirrored those found here on HighYa.

San Mateo, CA-based Freedom Debt Relief is accredited with the Better Business Bureau and has more than 1,300 customer reviews (89 percent of which were positive) and 320+ closed complaints, as of 4/17/18. Details were available for very few complaints, although a company representative responded in each instance with a resolution.

Debt Relief vs. Credit Counseling: How Can You Choose the Right Solution?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, reputable credit counseling organizations—and their certified counselors—can “advise you on managing your money and debts, help you develop a budget, and offer free educational materials and workshops.”

In other words, while they often don’t always offer settlement services with creditors, they can help you develop a financial plan that helps you pay them off in a timely manner and get back on track. They’re typically non-profit organizations as well, so their assistance might cost you little-to-no money.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to gain access to many of these same services and potentially reduce the amount you owe to creditors, a for-profit debt relief company like Freedom Debt Relief might fit the bill. Obviously, the downside is that you’ll pay a not-insubstantial fee for their services.

Before signing up for one, though, the FTC recommends:

  • Making sure that you can afford to regularly deposit money into the savings account. After all, if there’s no money available, the company can’t bargain with creditors on your behalf.
  • Keeping in mind that not all accounts are settled. You could end up owing just as much as you do currently, although this could certainly help you save on interest and late payments.
  • Remembering that if you decide to stop making payments on your debt, this could negatively impact your credit score.

Another important consideration is that you’re allowed to contact your creditors directly and negotiate settlements on your debt, which obviously won’t cost you anything other than time. Granted, you won’t have the leveraging power of a company like Freedom (regardless of whether or not you have a savings account in place), but it’s certainly something to keep in mind, depending on your circumstances.

Let’s go ahead and bring everything together so you can make a decision about Freedom Debt Relief.

Our Final Thoughts About Freedom Debt Relief

The bottom line is that if you meet their qualification criteria and have carefully considered the potential pros and cons of using a for-profit company discussed above, Freedom Debt Relief has been in business for more than 15 years and comes with an overwhelmingly positive online customer reputation.

As such, this could be a good indication of what you might experience after becoming a client. And if not, you might not have much more to lose than a few minutes of your time by reaching out to a Certified Debt Consultant and seeing whether or not they’re a good fit for you.

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328 Consumer Reviews for Freedom Debt Relief

Average Consumer Rating: 4.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 245 4 star: 35 3 star: 15 2 star: 6 1 star:  27
Bottom Line: 89% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 328
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  • Editor’s Note: It is our understanding that this company has been asking its customers to leave feedback on HighYa. We assure you that each of these reviews has still been subjected to the same verification & vetting process that all submitted reviews go through. Learn More Here
  • 36 out 36 people found this review helpful

    Not out for the client they are out for themselves.

    • Massachusetts,
    • Apr 15, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    First off, most of the people get into a program like this because they are already in a bunch of debt. I was in the program and not very long due a decision my attorney and I made. At this time, they had come to a settlement agreement with one of my accounts. One payment was made and their fees were taken out when they made that payment. Days later when I called to cancel, I was told the my remaining balance would be back into my account within 7 to 10 business days.

    Well of course after a week, I never saw the money so I called. At that point I was told that I was not getting any money back because it was part of their settlement fees. Talk about livid, I am trying to make my mortgage payment and the one account they settled which they wrote to me and said was now "NULL & VOID" is costing me the balance of my funds because it was their settling fee.

    This place is nothing but highway robbery. That is totally ridiculous. Don't waste your time! Work with the creditors yourself or contact your own attorney. This place is a JOKE and will cost you more than getting it resolved yourself. I am not done with them yet, my attorney will be getting in touch with them. It might not be a lot of money to them but for someone barely surviving in this economy, I couldn't afford to lose all that money. I am pissed of.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Dec 19, 2016

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      I'm with the Executive Services team with Freedom Debt Relief and wanted to arrange a time to speak with you over the phone to further discuss your review and see if there is anything that can be done to find a resolution to your concern.

      Is there typically a good time that we could reach out to you to discuss further?

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  • 28 out 29 people found this review helpful

    Don't use

    • Aug 8, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Do not use Freedom Debt Relief financial services unless you want to be sued! I had 8 accounts listed with those swindlers. I was sued on 5 of them, and I actually had to negotiate for myself the settlement on the remaining accounts. This company should be shut down immediately.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Dec 13, 2016

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      I'm with the Executive Services team with Freedom Debt Relief and wanted to arrange a time to speak with you over the phone to further discuss your review and see if there is anything that can be done to find a resolution to your concern.

      Is there typically a good time that we could reach out to you to discuss further?

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  • 23 out 26 people found this review helpful

    Sucker

    • Grand Rapids, MI,
    • Aug 9, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I would keep away from this place, they will tell you one thing and then do the complete opposite. Stop payments for 3 months saying you are done with the program, then start again, and say "sorry" you should have been told that. They are the most apologetic company I have ever seen. Do yourself a favor and go with another company.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Dec 19, 2016

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      I'm with the Executive Services team with Freedom Debt Relief and wanted to arrange a time to speak with you over the phone to further discuss your review and see if there is anything that can be done to find a resolution to your concern.

      Is there typically a good time that we could reach out to you to discuss further?

    • Aug 7, 2018

      Jay R.

      Worst company ever! I have been in the program for over 18 months and arranged to "graduate" early. I gave them the funds they and said it would take to pay off debt. It has been over a month, and the money has not been released. I have called customer service and get a different answer each time. Apparently, I had to call after the funds were transferred to "authorize" the release of payment. Then was told it would take two weeks. I called back three weeks later and still hasn't been released. I was told that it would take 30 days now to get the creditor to agree to a lump sum the payment. I am no business major, but I guarantee if I asked you if you wanted $1000 now or $50 a month for 20 months you would say $1000. The last person I talked to extended the deadline to 30 business days and then they said they would talk to corporate to expedite the payoff. In the meantime, I am racking up fees that they say are not affiliated with them. They talk a good game, but cannot back it up. The customer service is the worst I have ever experienced. I would strongly recommend that no one enrolls in this "service" unless you feel like giving someone else your money to do what they want with it.

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  • 19 out 19 people found this review helpful

    Went with FDR & was served Saturday morning

    • Los Angeles, CA,
    • Nov 2, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I knew all of the online reviews seemed a tad too good to be true, but I consolidated with FDR in Dec 2015 (as they seemed to be the most reputable). I've made every bi-weekly payment on time. Well, I was served papers at my apartment Saturday. The best part is that I thought the sweet-looking lady was Amazon. Oh no, not Amazon.

    "Good morning, are you X?" Me: "yes." Her: "sorry to wake you up, you are being sued by Bank of America." Me: "wait, what?" Too late, the lady was gone.

    In my panic, I found out FDR has a different number and "department" to handle when X is being sued. I'm guessing I'm not alone. And I hate everything. To make matters worse, as I was choking and confused, talking to the FDR lawsuit expert operator about my getting served, I asked about another debt.

    The house of cards was crumbling! I had a different letter where a collection agency offered to cut a $10,000 debt to $2,500. I thought FDR was negotiating for me. (This is my fault, why didn't I do it?) FDR operator, "wow, that's a really good deal. Did you say the debt was sold to a new collection agency?" Me: "YES!" (sobbing). I've known several people who have successfully consolidated bigger debts and ain't NOBODY been sued. Like, actually served civil court papers at their home. FDR STINKS.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Dec 19, 2016

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      I'm with the Executive Services team with Freedom Debt Relief and wanted to arrange a time to speak with you over the phone to further discuss your review and see if there is anything that can be done to find a resolution to your concern.

      Is there typically a good time that we could reach out to you to discuss further?

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  • 4 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Car Payment

    I joined Freedom Debt relief in July of 2015, I needed them to help me resolve some debt I had incurred. They were taking $175 out of my account each paycheck, almost immediately it was games and scams with this company.

    I had a $18,000 car payment that I had fell behind on, the finance company reached me and offered to settle the amount for $5500. I called freedom Debt Relief and spoke to a lady by the name of Cynthia Brittenum, to see if I had enough funds to cover the amount. She told me that I did, and to email her the settlement letter and on November 10, 2016, to call in and make my last payment to them of $105 to bring my account balance to $5500.

    I called in and tried to make my payment and they informed me that I would have to pay $4000 for their service charge and I do not have enough to make the payment. This was after I had made an arrangement with the finance company.

    The finance company informed me that they were going to rescind the settlement, and charge me fully for the vehicle because of this. I canceled out of the program because they are not honest and will play with your money and their customer service agents know nothing. I would not use them unless your bill is somewhere between the $200 - $1000 range anything above that they will get you, and act like they did nothing wrong

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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    • Dec 8, 2016

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      I'm with the Executive Services team with Freedom Debt Relief and wanted to arrange a time to speak with you over the phone to further discuss your review and see if there is anything that can be done to find a resolution to your concern.

      Is there typically a good time that we could reach out to you to discuss this further?

    • Dec 12, 2016

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      We apologize you were not satisfied with the results of the program and would like to speak with you to see if we can assist and improve based your experience.

      Is there typically a good time that we could reach out to you to discuss further?

    • Dec 14, 2016

      Sean McLaurin

      I can be reached anytime after 4:00pm EST.

    • Dec 15, 2016

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      Great we will reach out to you today to assist.

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  • 8 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Scam, liars!

    • Clemmons, NC,
    • Jan 23, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    This a scam. If I can pay their $9,000 fee, I can pay the creditors!

    I emailed my cancellation the day after I started this process and six days later they still took out $647 out of my checking account. I am having a tremendous time getting my money back. They claim that they require you to call to cancel, but the CONTRACT says you can do this by email, mail or delivery. When I questioned them (call center), they didn't care what the contract said.

    RUN, this is a scam!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Jan 24, 2017

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      Dear Mr. Jones,

      We are sorry to hear about the trouble you have had with the program. As a nationally accredited company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, we would like to work with you to resolve your concerns. Please let us know the best time someone may reach out to you.

      Thank you.

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  • 10 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Freedom Debt Relief

    We used Freedom Debt Relief for 18 months and then decided it wasn't worth all the fees they were charging. It turned out to be too expensive, so we decided to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

    After terminating my account, they continued to text me with settlement requests and also took money out of my bank account three week's after I terminated my account. I spoke with three different supervisors and each time was assured the account was closed, and no money would be taken out. They lie, or they do not communicate with their own bank (Crossroads Financial). I had to call my bank and pay $30 for a stop payment against them, as well as file a claim to get back the money they withdrew from my account.

    BEWARE! My bankruptcy lawyer says they are a scam, so use them at your own risk. They are very friendly until you want to close your account.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Feb 17, 2017

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      Dear Ms. Goss,

      We are sorry to hear about the difficulties you experienced while closing your account. If there is anything that we can do to further assist you and resolve your concerns, we would like the opportunity. Please let us know the best way to reach out to you if you would like further assistance.

      Thank you.

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  • 9 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Don't do it.

    • Frostburg, Maryland ,
    • Feb 16, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    If you're thinking of trying this, don't do it.

    You are paying this company to negotiate a lower rate or pay-off, and for what you pay them, you may as well negotiate it yourself. It will be half the price.

    It was two years ago that I pulled from Freedom Debt Relief. One of my credit cards was down to one payment, and they didn't pay it. When I inquired as to why, they said they didn't have enough money in my account. At the beginning, they told me what monthly payment I would need, and I didn't miss a payment. They didn't even bother to call me and tell me that it was not paid.

    Now, two years later, I again am being bothered by a debt collection agency for a debt that should have been taken care of two years ago. For $250, that should have been paid by Freedom Debt Relief.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Feb 17, 2017

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      Dear Mona,

      We apologize for any confusion regarding your account and settlement payments. While we understand you are no longer enrolled, we would still like to resolve your concerns. Please let us know the best way to contact you so that we may discuss resolution.

      Thank you.

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  • 6 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Terrible

    They have terrible customer service. I've already called three times to get a simple email, but they can't seem to do it.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Feb 17, 2017

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      Dear Mr. Calhoun,

      We are sorry to hear about the difficulty with receiving a specific email. We would be more than happy to assist you with your correspondence request. What is the preferred way for us to contact you so that we may resolve your concern?

      Thank you.

    • Feb 26, 2017

      Travis Calhoun

      I'm tired of calling, next time I do, it will unenroll from the program. I can be reached at racey5417 [at] yahoo.com.

    • Feb 26, 2017

      Travis Calhoun

      I've sent my email several times. Next time I call, it will be to unenroll.

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  • 13 out 16 people found this review helpful

    Scam!

    Upon entering the program, I had a customer service person who really took great care of me. After I actually signed up with the program, everything has been crashing down.

    What they DON'T tell you is that you will MOST LIKELY get sued by the creditors! I have experienced four so far and a lien on my property. Oh, and also, you WILL be getting forms (after the settlements on accounts) that show the DIFFERENCE (saved amount) and you will have to report this amount as income on your taxes when you file them!

    And, though the attorneys representing FDR through NLLG are legit, they are only limited to a certain amount as well, and the fees that pay them (from your account) on a monthly basis, are CRAZY. Now, I realize people need to get paid, however, I was CRAZY trying to keep my head above water BEFORE entering into the FDR program.

    Now, well, my advice is: DON'T do it! Try and handle things yourself in any way possible. I have been on the phone for three days STRAIGHT trying to get a litigation settlement payment from my account straightened out, and all I have gotten is, "I will handle it," but NOTHING has been done.

    They keep raising my payment amount and auto withdrawal when there is a settlement. I started at $300, to $486, and to now $526$! Really? Not to mention my credit score it bottomed out. If you want a real person's advice, stay away!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Mar 1, 2017

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      Dear Ms. Vetter,

      We are sorry to hear about the concerns you have and the frustrations you are experiencing. We would like the opportunity to go over things with you and assist you however we can to resolve your concerns. Please let us know the best time that we may reach out to you!

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  • 10 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Not a happy customer

    • New York, NY,
    • Mar 8, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    In the beginning, I was happy with the representative. I thought all the creditors were informed. Then I get a summons that I am being sued by a creditor. I tell Freedom Debt Relief and am told they cannot handle it because I did not sign up initially with their legal department. Now I have to handle it on my own and get an outside lawyer.

    I also informed them about my payment amount and for them not to increase it. I called several times and sent an email. Of course, no one listened, and they increased my payments, causing me to stress ion getting the extra funds back into my account.

    One account was reduced by Freedom Debt Relief, but the rest of my accounts are in worse condition since joining this group, and now I am more stressed than before. I need to check out another group to help me.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Mar 16, 2017

      Terry O Bultman

      No no no no. We tried this once and they take forever to pay debtors and you will get sued. We asked for our money back and thank god we got it and filed Chapter 7. Within 1 year, our score started going up and loan offers started coming in. Debt Relief not a good ideal.

    • Mar 21, 2017

      Customer Support, Customer Support

      We are sorry to hear about your experience but we would like the opportunity to arrange a time to speak with you over the phone to further discuss your review and see if there is anything that can be done to find a resolution to your concern.

      Is there typically a good time that we could reach out to you to discuss this further?

    • Mar 23, 2017

      Valerie

      Sally what happened? Did you ever get a loan to settle AL accounts? I'm almost in the same boat. I can get a loan but the monthly amount goes up like 100 dollars. Just wondering what you are doing now.

    • Mar 23, 2017

      Valerie

      What happened with your debt Sally? I'm in a similar situation.

    • Apr 2, 2017

      sally

      I spoke to a creditor directly and made payment arrangements with a lower amount. Also, negotiate a settlement amount. You can do it too. Do not use Freedom Debt Relief. Good luck!

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