Among the most recommended debt settlement companies, Federal Debt Relief is a top choice. The quality of resources and customer service that they offer which includes the client dashboard is quite impressive. But they do not offer personalized service and charge fees on the other side when compared to other debt settlement companies.
Presently, Freedom Debt Relief is one of the largest debt settlement companies in the U.S. They have been in operation since 2002 and are a branch of the Freedom Financial Group, who also offers debt consolidation loans through their FreedomPlus Program.
To succeed in settling all of your debts is quite challenging as many lenders refuse to negotiate. They may even sell the debt to other collection company or debt buyer. Freedom also deals with these buyers or helps the clients in settling with creditors.
List Of Contents
Following is the table containing the topics that will be covered under this article.
- Freedom Debt Relief at a glance
- How does it operate?
- Alternative options to Freedom Debt Relief
- Benefits and Drawbacks
Freedom Debt Relief at a glance
The following is a quick glance on Freedom Debt Relief and its services.
Typical debt - $25,000+Fees 18% to 25% of enrolled debt
Time frame - 2 to 5 years
The average time frame - 3 years, 10 months
Savings estimate - 20% to 35% after fees
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a lawsuit against Freedom in 2017 because they allegedly charged customers fees without actually settling the debts. This is illegal since according to the law, debt settlement companies can not charge their customers upfront.
They also allegedly made customers negotiate settlements themselves and charge fees to some of the customers for negotiating creditors directly. The CFPB claimed that Freedom promised some consumers to negotiate for all their debts regardless of having the knowledge that it would be practically impossible with the strict policies of some big creditors.
Freedom completely denied these allegations.
Despite being rated A- at Better Business Bureau, Freedom received 350+ negative customer reviews within the past couple of years. The reviews include complaints and issues about their services, billing, collection, and more. National Debt Relief, who is a direct competitor of Freedom, under the same time frame only had about 80 complaints.
How does it operate?
Freedom usually works with customers who are struggling with unsecured debt.
Eligibility to Qualify for Debt Settlement
To apply for debt settlement you must qualify for the following situations.
You are required to have a current debt balance totaling over $7,500
Debts must not be of federal student loans or involve any collateral
The process followed by Freedom Debt Relief is very similar to other debt settlement companies and is usually as follows:
1 - Enrollment
You enroll for the debt settlement and immediately stop paying your creditors.
2 - Open a dedicated Savings account
You are required to open a dedicated savings account where you make a deposit every month. Freedom will coordinate with clients and decide the amount to be deposited each month based on the total debt and your financial situation. This will accumulate a certain amount of money for the settlement.
Remember, if you stop your payments to creditors, you will fall under delinquency. This increases the debt amount due to the accumulation of fees and interest.
3 - Negotiation with creditors
Freedom starts negotiating with every creditor on your behalf in an attempt to make a settlement to reduce the amount that you have to pay. The technique is that after several months of non-payment, the creditor will be urged to accept a lower amount instead of risking getting nothing.
4 - Payments
If the creditor accepts the settlement offered, you will pay them from the dedicated account where you have been saving, in installments or as a whole. You will also pay servicing fee to Freedom according to your previous agreements.
Service Fee Charged for Debt Settlement
By law, Freedom is unable to charge an upfront fee for the services it offers. They collect fees after each debt that it settles. The fee usually ranges anywhere between 18-25% of the amount of debt. Although fees may sometimes vary depending on the state where you live.
There is also a one time fee of $9.95 for the purpose of setting up a special account and a monthly fee of the same amount which covers the servicing of the same.
The entire time required for this process is anywhere between 24 - 48 months which is about the same as the industry average. While this might be putting some of you off in the sense that it looks like quite a bit of time, keep in mind that some companies will take anywhere between 5-7 years.
You should also keep a mental note that most companies that promise a quick relief for resolving your debt are ones that you need to be cautious with. It is probably for the best to avoid these companies altogether as those may be scams.
In a simple way -
You make a monthly deposit in a newly opened and insured FDIC deposit account dedicated for this process
Freedom will analyze your debt and structure a negotiation strategy
Once you accumulate sufficient amount, Freedom, on your behalf, starts negotiation with your creditors
The creditors and Freedom will agree upon a settlement which is in your favor
You have an option to accept or reject this settlement
If you approve this, you make payments according to the settlement
The creditor then reports the same to the credit bureaus
Alternative options to Freedom Debt Relief
As we have mentioned before, debt settlement does not guarantee a desirable result. Hence, it would be a wise decision to look at other alternatives before we jump into it. Some of the available alternatives are as follow.
1 - Debt Management Plan
For those with a consistent income pay for credit card debts within 3 to 5 years. It is basically a consolidation of debts on credit cards through third-party companies.
2 - Debt Consolidation
One option to consider is consolidation. In Debt Consolidation, a bigger loan with a lower interest rate is taken to pay for several smaller loans with a higher interest rate.
3 - File for Bankruptcy
When you file for bankruptcy, the government protects you from your creditor for all or parts of your debt. Any further attempts of collection from your creditors will be considered illegal. Your credit will tank, as it is a form of settlement. On a happy note, research states that credit scores tend to go back up after about a year.
[ Learn more about Student Loan Bankruptcy and Loan Discharge ]
4 - Self Management
Another option includes you calling your creditors yourself to negotiate. Successful negotiation could save you a lot of money in the ways of fees and a ton of time which debt settlement companies take to get it done in your favor. It also would save your credit scores from tanking.
Benefits and Drawbacks
Freedom Debt Relief has the advantage of reducing the hassle as they track your progress and update you through an online portal
You get help from knowledgeable customer service
Freedom has helped in setting industry standards
Freedom participated as a member of the founders of the American Fair Credit Council, which is the one that standardizes the industry practices
Freedom also had an impact on establishing the Federal Trade Commission's rules which involve the banning abusive debt settlement practices in the year 2010
Freedom has the biggest disadvantage of putting you at a high risk of being sued. Former customers have been sued by creditors as a result of stopping payments
Strategy planning might take as long as it might be advertised initially. This lengthens the process as a whole
Nothing is guaranteed and there always is a risk that your creditors will decline any form of settlement
Freedom operates in about 33 states and three territories and also Washington, DC where their debt settlement services are permitted
Note - Following are the states in which, if you reside, Freedom cannot operate - Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Freedom Debt Relief is a much-appreciated and reputed company and they value this which is evident from the accreditations that they have taken the effort to attain. The company is accredited by both the IAPDA and the AFCC.
Borrowers in debt should prefer talking to their creditors individually to figure out if they have any plans for your particular case of hardship. If you are being called by collection agencies, you should try to negotiate a reduction in the principal.
If you are not able to handle the negotiations with creditors on your own, you might be better off finding a creditor counselor through the National Foundation for credit counseling, at nfcc.org, or by calling upon Freedom Debt Relief phone number - 800-388-2227.
If none of those work then you might be better off by declaring bankruptcy. Contact the American Bankruptcy Institute (www.abiworld.org) or the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (nacba.org) to find an attorney who will be able to help you.
Clients - 800-655-6303
Non-Clients - 800-230-1553
Free Debt Consultation - firstname.lastname@example.org
Current Client Questions - email@example.com
Employment Opportunities - firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Inquiries - email@example.com
How does freedom debt relief affect your credit?
If you are not able to get rid of your debts by following a strict and aggressive payment timeline, getting your debt consolidated into a single one or by using certain credit counseling services, you will have two principle debt relief options.
Firstly, debt settlement where you stop payments and save up to ask for a lower amount to be taken and the rest forgiven.
Secondly, declare bankruptcy and hopefully have your debt forgotten in a short period of time after. But both of these methods of debt relief will affect your credit score majorly.
What percentage does freedom debt relief charge?
Usually, Freedom will negotiate a reduction of about 45% and proceed to charge you anywhere in the range between 15-25% of the debt that you have totally enrolled in within the first place. It is also very important for you to make a note that these fees or on top of the settlement amount that you eventually pay your creditor.
Can you quit Freedom Debt Relief?
You might be able to negotiate with your creditors on your own or use a debt relief program such as Freedom debt relief to help you settle the debt you owe. During the debt relief process, you usually stop making payments to the creditors and start saving up money in a separate account that you will eventually use to settle your debt.
What's the best debt relief program?
Some of the best debt settlement companies in the year 2019
For Customised debt - DMB Financial
For Different Types of debt settled - National Debt relief
For Lowest fees charged - Pacific Debt Inc
For Flexible Program Length - Freedom Debt Relief
Will debt collectors give me a call?
There exist federal and state laws that are designed just for situations like these called collections harassment, but clients tend to experience at least some of these collections calls. Our goal is to make sure your creditors call freedom debt relief and not you instead.
Should all my credit cards be included in the program?
In case you have a single card that is low on balance that you are able to pay quickly and zero it down, you should hold onto it for emergencies. The program would not usually work if you do not enroll all of your high balance (anything greater then $500) credit accounts. Since open credit accounts will make it difficult to negotiate as the creditors will see you are settling on some accounts but not some others.
Will it be alright to negotiate on my own?
Yes, it is definitely alright. You could also do the taxes and repair involving your car, but most people would rather leave them to professionals. The Freedom Debt Relief team are a group of specialists who resolve an average of $288 million in debt every month. The knowledge and experience of doing this for so many years put them in a strong position to get into talks with the creditors and argue for the best settlement that is possible.
Will I owe taxes on my forgiven debt?
Since the debt that is forgiven is considered as taxable income by the IRS, you will be expected to pay taxes on the amount that is forgiven at the end of the year. IRS form no 982, reduction of tax attributes due to discharge of indebtedness, might be able to get you off the hook on this one. Please get in touch with your tax adviser to discuss this issue further ahead.
How much of a percentage can you settle credit card debt?
Although this number depends on your creditor, how much you owe, where you live, and many such factors. With over 15 years of experience in the debt settlement arena. Freedom Debt relief should be able to settle your debt for as low as 50% of the amount that you owe in many of the cases or sometimes if you are lucky for even less. It is also important for you to understand that this differs from creditor to creditor and the amount that they settle on can vary.
Is it guaranteed that the debt will be settled for a certain percentage?
Not really, since every single case is a negotiation, there is no guarantee as to how those negotiations will go. Furthermore, the success of these negotiations is majorly dependent on your ability to save up as much as you can for the duration of the program every month.