[ Freedom Debt Relief ] Deceives Consumers About Its Negotiating Power, the Reach of Its Services, Its Fees, and Consumers’ Rights to Their Own Funds
—Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
Last week on November 08, 2017, the CFPB filied a lawsuit against the nations largest debt settlement company, Freedom Debt Relief, claiming that their deceiving practices violate the Dodd-Frank Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rules.
The CFPB has accused Freedom Debt Relief of charging fees to consumers without delivering their debt settlement promises, lacks transparency of fees and actual capabilities, and that it doesn’t disclose to consumers the right to their funds they deposited with the company.
CFPB Claims that Freedom Debt Relief is in Violation of Laws
The current Complaint, however, is not a finding or ruling that Freedom Debt Relief has violated the law. Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFPB has the authority to take action against companies and individuals that engage in unfair or deceptive practices violating consumer financial protection laws.
The CFTC is targeting both the company and co-founder Andrew Housser, because he still has authority to approve Freedom Debt Relief practices and policies. In a press release, the CFPB said that Housser knows well that certain creditors will not negotiate with the company, yet it continues to make claims that creditors are willing to negotiate with them. Housser is also aware that Freedom Debt Relief charges consumers regardless of negotiation success, according to the press release.
Housser’s name and signature appear on all Debt Resolution
Agreements with consumers…Housser approved Freedom’s practice of coaching consumers when creditors would not negotiate with Freedom and approved charging consumers if they later settled their debts with creditors.
When creditors refuse to negotiate with them, the company instead makes consumers deal with the creditors themselves. The complaint claims that the company instructs consumer to deceive their creditors,
If they ask you if you are enrolled into our program, let them know that you are looking to resolve it on your own.
The CFPB alleges that Freedom charges full fees even when consumers negotiate settlements on their own.
Freedom Debt Relief Responds to CFPB Accusations
We are not aware of any complaints to the CFPB from our customers over this (or any other) issue – zero complaints.
—Freedom Debt Relief
Co-founders and Co-CEOs Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh promptly release a response to the CFPB the following day stating that their business practices are legally compliant. After all, of over 900,000 complaints in the CFPB database, not a single costumer has filed a complaint against Freedom Debt Relief. They also shed light into their debt settlement proceedings including the “coaching,”
It’s surprising, and very unfortunate, that the CFPB chose to act without taking the time to focus either on the facts or the utility and purpose of “coached settlements,” both of which were thoroughly and completely disclosed to consumers at various points in their debt settlement programs. . .clients who received our coaching services gave us an NPS [Net Promoter Score] score of 76 (on a scale from -100 to +100), among the highest consumer satisfaction scores of any company in any industry.
Freedom makes it clear that they focus on helping people in difficult financial situations and that their business is compliant and highly ethical. According to the company, their clients have the highest satisfaction with their services and that they agree with each and every single fee they charge, and if they don’t they don’t charge them. The Co-founders congratulated their “Freedom Family” staff of up to 900 employees for helping thousands of consumers settle millions in debt and that they are proud of all the work they do and that they would “vigorously contest this complaint.”
We firmly believe that the CFPB fundamentally misunderstands how debt settlement works and has acted without proper regard for the consumers it is charged with protecting. We want to set the record straight and share our perspective.
Lastly, Freedom Debt Relief shared that the CFPB has failed to accept their invitations to communicate with them,
We’ve asked to sit down on a number of occasions with the CFPB, to no avail, so we are disappointed that they’ve rushed to judgment, seemingly putting the interests of a few of the largest creditors ahead of the interests of consumers who need help and support.
The CEOs offered their contact info in their Press Release:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau U.S District Court of the Northen District of California Plaintiff Complaint