Howard Lee Schiff Debt Collection Firm Transferred My Debt
Went to court (Mass.) to defend (citi) debt collection suit by Howard Lee Schiff. We were able to agree to settle 5,000 over 14 monthly payments. Settlement was stated in open court but was not entered as a Judgement. Paperwork was filed dismissing suit and payments were sent timely with tracking info every time. Payment #13 (June 2015 )was not cashed timely and Schiff sent a letter (June 1st) saying my account was closed with them and future payments should be sent to Law office of Lustig, Glaser and Wilson.
I received a letter (June 8th) from Lustig, Glaser and Wilson stating they were now handling collections for Citi and the balance owed 4,995. They wanted me to contact them to discuss. They acknowledge prior handling by Schiff yet provide no details other than creditor name and balance owed. Payment #13 was cashed June 9th and electronic scan of the endorsement showed that Lustig cashed it.
I know I have all paperwork regarding settlement agreement and proof of compliance to payment agreement. I was hoping to make the last payment in a couple of weeks and get a letter saying paid and closed from Schiff. Now I'm sensing something "Unfair and Deceptive" starting to unfold.
Do I have start the whole cease and decist and debt validation process over and should I talk to the other sleazy law firm and send them the final payment even though I have no written arrangement with them?
Howard Lee Schiff collects debt in the normal course of business. They do sue in order to collect from people. How common is it for the firm to transfer a paying account to another law firm? It is not common for debt collectors to transfer a paying collection file, and less so if you are a debt collection law firm like Schiff. Having said that, it is not unheard of.
I am glad you were able to come to an agreement to settle with the attorney collecting for the Schiff firm, and it sounds like you will not have to try to negotiate anything different than what was already outlined in court.
Now that your collection account is with Lustig, Glaser and Wilson.
The Howard Schiff firm may have transferred your account to Lustig Glaser and Wilson for a few reasons. It could have occurred because of Schiff proactively moving files in certain geographic areas, or some other form of work load and file management. Citibank may have wanted to move collection accounts (debt buyers do this too). There are other reasons for your debt being transferred.
What to do now, and should you request the debt be validated by Lustig, Glaser & Wilson?
You have the letter inviting you to call Lustig Glaser and talk about the transfer. You could start with that. If you are not confident that you are paying the correct debt collector, you can send a validation request in writing, or request that from them on the phone too (I prefer debt validation request be in writing).
You can call the Howard Lee Schiff firm and speak to them about the transfer. Even though they wrote to you and stated as much, some of us just feel better talking to someone about stuff like this.
You can call the account owner, which may or may not be Citibank at this point (even judgment debts get sold), and confirm that Howard Schiff legitimately transferred your collection account to Lustig Glaser.
Unfair and Deceptive Collection account transfer.
Nothing you have shared with me suggests anything unfair or deceptive from either collection firm. Both of the firms wrote to you to let you know what is going on. It would have been nice to get the transfer letter directly from the owner of the account, whether Citibank or a debt buyer, but there is often no requirement for that in this type of thing, at least not yet (I hope there will be this time next year).
I would call Lustig Glaser and Wilson and ask what their policy is for sending a confirmation letter that the debt is paid after they process your final payment. That letter is not always going to be sent out. If it is not their policy to send them, there is nothing deceptive about that. You can request one from them. Let me know what they say in the comments below.
It appears as though you want to pay off the debt earlier than scheduled. I would bring that up with them on the phone as well. I would want to make sure there is a note in my file at the firm. Of course, this is after you confirm that every thing is legit, and that Howard Lee Schiff indeed transferred the collection account to their collection firm, and that the amounts Lustig says is owed is consistent with your settlement agreement with Schiff, etc.
Anyone with question about Howard Lee Schiff collecting a debt, or Lustig Glaser and Wilson for that matter, or even how collection accounts you are paying on can be transferred or sold, is welcome to post in the comment below for feedback.