Some of us depend on a vehicle to support our daily activities, such as going to school, work, or running errands. Not all of us can afford to buy one in cash, hence financing or leasing becomes an option. This means you need to make your car loan payments a top priority. However, you may have some financial difficulties, and you can’t make the payments. When you fail to pay your loan, your creditor or lender has the right to take your car back or repossess your vehicle. Some states allow the creditor to repossess your car without sending you a notification or even obtaining permission from the court. Usually, the lenders or creditors pay the third-party, such as towing service, to repossess the car. Keep reading if you want to know more about repossession, what causes it, and how to stop repo man from taking your car.
The Reason of Repossession
A car loan is a secured loan on personal property. Repossession is claiming ownership of something that has not been paid off, but it’s still worth money. Your car can be repossessed if you fail to pay your loan. Every state has different laws about repossession. Some states allow creditors or lenders to repossess the vehicle after 30 days of lateness. Some others after you miss three or more payments in a row.
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What Do You Need to Know About Repossession
When you fail to make your car loan payment, the lender or creditor may repossess your car. And when your car is repossessed, chances are you won’t be able to get it back. And that’s not the only problem you need to worry about. Repossessions can affect your financial history and gives you bad credit. It will make it difficult to get any financing in the future.
Your bad credit will stick with you for seven years. It can only be cleared up seven years after your first overdue payment. The creditor also might turn your account to a debt collection agency, go to court, and pursue you to pay all the costs anyway. These include your balance loan and repossession fees.
Repossession Laws and Regulations
Laws and regulations on car repossessions vary in each state. Most states, a repo company can’t breach and enter a private garage to take a car back. In some cases, they’re allowed to repossess a car from a driveway.
In some other cases, a repossession company has a court order and can bring an officer or sheriff along for the repossession. But, the officer or sheriff is not allowed to help the repo company. They only help to keep the peace and intervene if a repo man breaks the law, or if debtors threaten or attack a repo man. If you’re looking for a way how to stop repo man from taking your car, make sure you don’t break the law and won’t make you end up with more debt.
What to Do to Stop Repo Man from Taking Your Car
Mostly, lenders or creditors don’t send you any notification that you’re late on payments. They usually take action to repossess your car immediately through a third party without notice. When a repo company comes and tries to repossess your vehicle, you’ll probably lose your car. However, you still have several options to keep your car or delay and avoid the repossession. Here are several tips to prevent a repo company takes your car.
Contact and Inform Your Creditor or Lender
If you have some financial problems, you can contact and inform your creditor about the situation. You can ask them if there are any options to prevent repossession. These options may include payment reschedule before your payment is overdue. Or you can ask them for payment deferral and inform them when you will make the next payment.
If you have a good credit history and never fail to pay your car loan, your creditor would likely give you a concession when you have hard times. And they may allow you for a reschedule of payment, although it’s not a guarantee. Yet, contacting your creditor before your due date gives you time. So, you can keep your account current and avoid the repossession immediately.
Offer Partial Payment
Mostly, creditors would prefer some type of payment arrangement than repossess your car. You can offer your creditor a partial payment. In some states, it can give you more time, depending on the amount you’ll pay. Your creditor may contact you before repossession if this is your first late payment. So, this is your best chance to ask for a payment option before a repo man taking your car.
Keep your car in a private residence
The safest place to keep your car is in your private garage or a fenced-in area. However, you need to be aware that your repossession agent will follow you wherever you go. And they will try to repossess it in a public area. Or even take your car from your driveway or a side street. Even though there are ways to hide your car from repossession, it’s no longer an effective deterrent when a repo man comes with a court order and brings along a local authority.
You need to keep in mind that hiding your car is not the best option to keep a repo man taking your car. It can be considered a crime in some states. If you keep avoiding repo agents or companies, they will charge their cost to your creditor. And your creditor will add all the repossession costs into your debt until they can repossess your car. It makes you owe more money.
Make Up Your Late Payments
When you’re late on a payment, it doesn’t mean you’re in default. You can read and check your contract that states the default period time. Your contract may state you’re in default within one day late or within 30 days late or more. If you make up your late payments, make sure you include all applicable fees. Excluding the fees and charges will make you default of not making the payments in the correct and entire amount.
Seek For another Loan
Next on how to stop repo man from taking your car is to try to seek for another loan. Find a loan at a lower interest rate than you’re currently paying for your car or even a 36 to 48-month loan. Or you can ask your family member or friend to give you a personal loan. You should put the payment on top of your priority.
Don’t Confront Your Repo Man
When a repo company tries to repossess a car, many debtors are being confrontational. A repo man may leave you for a while, but they can and will come back later and try to repossess your car. They may even come with a court order and an officer.
Some states, like Wisconsin, prohibit a repo company “breach of the peace” in repossessions. You’re allowed to tell your repo man to stop by simply saying ‘Don’t take the car’, ‘I object you taking my car’, or ‘I don’t want you to take my car’. If you say this, a repo man must stop trying to repossess your car. Of course, you’re not allowed to do this if a repo man comes with court order or police.
Reinstate the Loan
In some states, customers have the right to reinstate the loan. You can get your car back by paying up all of the past due payments. Plus, paying up fees, late charges, and repossession costs if the car was already repossessed. If you only overdue the payments, it can avoid the repossessions. You can check your state laws and your loan agreements. However, you may no longer have the option of reinstating the loan if you fail to make the payments in the future.
Buying Back Your Car
If your car was already repossessed, some states allow debtors to buy back your vehicle. You can pay the full remaining debts, past-due payments, and additional expenses. You can also try to bid your car at the repossession sale.
Offer the Creditor to Sell the Car Yourself
Ask your creditor if you can sell the car by yourself and pay the difference amount to them. They may refuse your offer and opt to sell your car at the private dealer sale or public auction. However, some creditors and lenders may agree with this offer to avoid any cost, such as repossession, garage, and resale costs. Especially when you can get a buyer that willing to pay more than what the creditor gets at a repossession sale. Of course, it may take your time to find a buyer, and you need a buyer with cash or financing ready.
Ask Your Car to Be Sold
When your car has been repossessed, most creditors will resell your vehicle in a public auction or private sale. In some states, your creditors must let you know the time and place of the auction. You’re required to attend and allowed to buy your vehicle back over the bid. If you can’t afford the car and your car is sold for more than your outstanding debt, the excess money can go to you if you’ve already made payments on the car. And if your creditor sells your car in private, you still have the right to know the date of the sale.
Voluntary Giving Back Your Car to Creditor
If you’re overdue in payments, regularly late on loan payments, or you want to get out from the car loan, you can consider to voluntarily giving your car back to the creditor. Usually, your creditor will agree to reduce or even waive the deficiency balance on your loan. And your creditor doesn’t need to repossess your car. It’s considered to be efficient and save the creditor of time and money. You should get a written agreement that settles the deficiency and amount of the money you still need to pay to your creditor. Otherwise, they may still pursue you for the entire deficiency balance.
Proceed in Court
Your creditor or lender may have to send you a notice before repossessing your vehicle if you borrowed less than 25,000 USD. With this notification, you can ask your creditor to get a court order. If you do this, your creditor can’t repossess your car before they get a court order. And you could still have time to find other options available or ask for a loan to your family or friends.
File for bankruptcy
Filing for bankruptcy can be your last option on how to stop repo man from taking your car. Each state has different bankruptcy laws, but there are two types of bankruptcy for consumers. You can file bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. These two chapters will temporarily stop the repossession and collection of the deficiency balance.
Chapter 7 allows you to cancel your debt while your car will be repossessed to pay your remaining loan balance. Chapter 13 lets you keep your car as long as you agree to and maintain a payment plan on your loan. Filing for either chapter is complicated and takes time. So, you must find help from professional counsel before filing bankruptcy.
What a Repo Man Must Do & Can’t Do
You need to know that some of the creditors and repo companies have some rules to follow to keep the peace and protect you. Here are things they must do and can’t do when they’re trying to take your car.
Can’t break into a private and closed property
When creditors ask a repo company to take your car, they’re not allowed to break into your closed property. It includes a closed garage or a locked-fence. They can’t use force, such as breaking the garage doors or fence to take your vehicle. Keeping your car in the locked-fence or garage is a temporary solution. But, you have time to find alternatives to stop the repossession.
Can’t force you out of the car or threaten you physically
Law requires repo companies or agents not to force you out of a car. They are also not allowed to touch you or threaten you physically unless they do that for self-defense. If they break the rules, you must report it to the police. And you may be able to fill a lawsuit against the repo company and creditor.
A repo man must report their activity
You probably have received a notice before your car being repossessed. Plus, your creditor must let the police know when and if they repossess your car. It’s to confirm that’s not a theft.
Can’t prevent you from collecting your items in the car
If repossession has taken place, you may still have children’s car seats, laptops, bags, work, or school paper in the car. You have the right to take your personal items from the car before they take your car. Some states require creditors to inform their customers about the personal items found in the car. And they must info on how to retrieve them. You can take legal action against them if they’re not allowed you to collect your items.
Can’t send you to jail
A repo man may threaten to have you arrested or sent to prison by trying to stop the repossession. If you only stop the repossession peacefully and not hurting anyone, it’s not a criminal act. You won’t go to jail for these reasons.
What you should know more
If the worst happens and you can’t avoid your car being repossessed, you need to know what you should do during and after repossession.
During a repossession
Most creditors or lenders will hire a repossession company to take your car. If a repo man breaches the peace or mishandles the repossession process, you can report it and takes some steps to document the event. You can prepare a written statement (complete with the date, time, and repo agent/company name). Take some photos of the scene and damage property, such as the garage door, plus the repo agent’s truck and license plate for your proof. You also need to obtain a witness statement or request the police to come to the scene.
After a repossession
After your car was repossessed, you’re entitled to receive notice from the creditors. It includes a Notice of Intent to Sell Property with the details of payments required and payments time. Plus, the repossession location for you to retrieve your car. If you can’t take your car back, the creditors will arrange to sell your car on an auction or private sell.
After it is sold, you’ll get a Deficiency Notice, which requires you to confirm the selling price and your remaining loan balance. If the selling price is not enough to cover all the costs, your creditor can file a lawsuit against you trying to get this deficiency.
No one wants their car to be repossessed. However, things happen and you may overdue the payment. It can lead to your creditor repossessing the car. If you know that you’re going to be late with your car loan payment or having some financial issues for making payment on your car loan, you should contact your creditor. Ask them some options available to delay or avoid the repossessions. You can ask a reschedule of payment, reinstate the loan, or offer partial payment. You can also return your car back voluntarily and let the creditor sell it to pay off the loan. If you have no other options, you can fill in the bankruptcy. Either way, when you choose the right step on how to stop repo man from taking your car, you can maintain your good credit history for your future financing.