Freedom Debt Relief
|Industry||Financial Services, Debt settlement|
|Headquarters||San Mateo, California, USA|
|Key people||Brad Stroh and Andrew Housser, Co-Founders and CEOs|
Freedom Debt Relief is a US debt and settlement company. It is currently based in San Mateo, California and is a subsidiary of Freedom Financial Network a financial service company headquartered in San Mateo, California. The company states that it has more than 600 employees.
The company negotiates on behalf of indebted consumers who are experiencing a financial hardship with the goal of avoiding bankruptcy (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13) by settling their unsecured debt at a discount to what is actually owed. The company primarily serves consumers where debt consolidation or home refinancing is undesirable or an unavailable option. They also serve those who cannot afford either their credit card minimum payments or the payments required in credit counseling.
With the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act and the financial crisis of 2007-2009, debt relief options for consumers significantly decreased for both bankruptcy and mortgage refinance, increasing the demand for debt settlement.
On November 4, 2009 Andrew Housser and Robert Linderman, general counsel, participated as panelists at the Federal Trade Commission's public forum on "Debt Relief Amendments to the Telemarketing Sales Rule." The forum discussed proposed fee regulation and rules to eliminate deceptive and abusive telemarketing of debt relief services. In a letter to the FTC Linderman stated in the first nine months of 2009 alone Freedom Debt Relief successfully settled approximately 40,000 accounts aggregating more than $206 million of unsecured debt with savings to consumers in excess of $120 million. On November 11, 2009, the company announced it had settled more than $500 million in consumer debt since its founding.
Working with nearly 100,000 clients since 2002, the company reached the $1 billion mark of savings for their customers in December 2010. They did this by negotiating settlements on 188,000 individual creditor accounts for its clients becoming the first debt resolution company in the country to reach $1 billion in cumulative debt it has resolved for clients. Housser was quoted saying “The achievement of obtaining $1 billion in settled debt – not just offers, but completed settlements – for consumers is positive proof of FDR’s ability to assist individuals who are in serious debt. From truly humble beginnings, FDR has maintained its singular commitment to save as much money as possible for each client who turns to the company for debt relief.”
Regulatory Issues & Legal History
Freedom Debt Relief has played a prominent role in promoting consumer protection legislation and regulation. In 2009 Freedom Debt Relief contributed to and supported the passing of federal regulatory measures that brought additional consumer protections to the industry*. During the drafting the of the new regulations, the Federal Trade Commission received testimony from Freedom Debt Relief clients from around the country including California, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Colorado.
At the state level not all states require licensing, but Freedom Debt Relief has supported efforts to create licensing requirements in Delaware, Iowa, and Minnesota and became the first to company to be awarded licenses for settlement services in those states. In addition to Delaware, Iowa and Minnesota, Freedom Debt Relief is also currently licensed to do business in the following states: Maine, Kentucky, Utah and Colorado.
Since the creation of the current regulations there have been a number of legal disagreements between regulators and the debt settlement industry. The legacy of the non-regulated debt settlement industry set-off several legal battles between Freedom Debt Relief and several states. To bring closure to these legal stand-offs, Freedom Debt Relief agreed to settle with the states that had filed complaints during the pre-regulation timeframe. In every case, the complaints were settled with Freedom Debt Relief being found free of any wrongdoing or liability. As part of some of the settlements, the company did offer reimbursement funds to the states (New York for example) and a limited number of qualifying individuals involved in the complaints.
- Accredited member of The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC)
- Accredited member of The American Fair Credit Council (AFCC)
- Winners of 2008 Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs of the Year for the Northern California region.
- Recognized as one of the Best Places to work in 2008 by both the San Francisco Business Times and the Phoenix Business Journal
- Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh, named to the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal's "40 Under 40" list.
- Rigoglioso, Marguerite (November 2007). "Renegotiating Debt: One Consumer at a Time". Stanford Business Magazine. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
- Duxbury, Sarah (2004-05-28). "Freedom Debt Relief: Pitching the last inning of client debt". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- Stroh, Bradford et al (2008-07-10). Surviving the Great Recession: Debt Relief Options (videotape). San Francisco: Commonwealth Club. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
- Linderman, Robert (2009-10-08), Telemarketing Sales Rule - Debt Relief Amendments, R411001, retrieved 2010-01-06
- "Freedom Debt Relief Settles $1 Billion in Consumer Debt", Yahoo News, 2010-12-14, retrieved 2010-12-14
- "FTC Debt Settlement California Client Testimony". FTC Debt Settlement California Client Testimony. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
- "FTC Debt Settlement Oregon Client Testimony". FTC Debt Settlement Oregon Client Testimony. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
- "FTC Debt Settlement Texas Client Testimony". FTC Debt Settlement Texas Client Testimony. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
- "FTC Debt Settlement Wisconsin Client Testimony". FTC Debt Settlement Wisconsin Client Testimony. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
- "FTC Debt Settlement Michigan Client Testimony". FTC Debt Settlement Michigan Client Testimony. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
- "FTC Debt Settlement Ohio Client Testimony". FTC Debt Settlement Ohio Client Testimony. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
- "FTC Debt Settlement Colorado Client Testimony". FTC Debt Settlement Colorado Client Testimony. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
- "Delaware Licensed Debt Settlement Providers Brochure". Delaware Licensed Debt Settlement Providers Brochure. Delaware Attorney General. Retrieved 8 April 2009.
- "Minnesota Licensed Debt Settlement Companies". Minnesota Licensed Debt Settlement Companies. Minnesota Commerce Website. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
- "Freedom Debt Relief Becomes First in Industry to Obtain Debt Settlement Licenses in Delaware, Iowa, Minnesota". Freedom Debt Relief Becomes First in Industry to Obtain Debt Settlement Licenses in Delaware, Iowa, Minnesota. PRWeb. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
- "Freedom Debt Relief Announces Successful Resolution of California Lawsuit". Freedom Debt Relief Announces Successful Resolution of California Lawsuit. PRWeb. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- "Freedom Debt Relief Announces Resolution for New York State". Freedom Debt Relief Announces Resolution for New York State. PRWeb. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- "TASC Freedom Debt Relief status". TASC list of accredited companies. The Association of Settlement Companies. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
- "AFCC Freedom Debt Relief status". AFCC list of accredited companies. The American Fair Credit Council. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
- "Award recipients for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2008 Award in Northern California announced" (Press release). Ernst & Young LLP. 2008-06-23. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
- "Phoenix Metro's Best Medium Workplaces". Phoenix Business Journal. 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- "Dynamic Duo". Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal. 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2009-12-11.