The American love affair with the automobile is strongly linked to quality of life. Owning a vehicle increases options for employment opportunity and eases the daily routine (doctor appointments, school, grocery shopping… just to name a few). But car repossession can bring your quality of life to a screaming halt.
Get protection from hardship.
A vehicle is a primary means of supporting one’s existence. Which is one of the reasons we handle auto cases – your livelihood is literally depending on it. Many times, public transportation simply doesn’t serve the need: routes are lengthy and irregularly scheduled, travel options may or may not offer reasonable access for those with disabilities, and public transit can sometimes pose threats to personal safety.
When auto loans go bad.
A bank, lender or other financial institution can take away or ‘repossess’ your vehicle when loan payments are missed or stopped altogether. Repossession policies for default differ from lender to lender. Most banks allow borrowers to miss two or more payments before they take this drastic measure. But if the bank starts the repo process, be aware of your rights and take immediate action accordingly. The clock is ticking, and inaction is not in your favor. After repossession, the finance company is allowed to sell the car at the end of 15 days from sending you notice that your car has been repossessed. Then they may sue you for any deficiency balance.
The repossessor is relentless.
As long as you keep paying on your car by the due date, the bank is happy. But if you don’t, and a repossession process begins, your loan officer or bank teller isn’t going to show up in a business suit to take your car. Banks contract with companies or ‘repossessors’ that do nothing but repossess vehicles or other equipment. Without warning, as long as the repo agent can find it and get to it – your driveway, your employee-of-the-month parking spot at work – they can take your car. Patient and persistent, they watch for days to determine the best way to repo your car. Why are they so bulldogged? Because it’s in their best interest! If the repossessor tries to get your car, but comes up empty handed, the payout for their efforts is much less. For this reason, repossession companies will do just about anything to take your car.
Repo drama is illegal.
Car repossessions can easily become volatile. Pennsylvania has strict repossession laws that lenders and the repossession companies must follow. When broken, these laws can give us leverage in negotiating on your behalf. One such law in Pennsylvania states that repossession companies may not disturb the peace in the process. “Disturbing the peace” or Breach of Peace (BOP) can mean a lot of things:
- Ignoring your objections
- Provoking or creating a risk of violence
- Breaking and entering or destroying property
- Misrepresenting the purpose of taking the car
- Threatening a use of force
- Disorderly or disruptive conduct (such as yelling, or physical contact)
In a civilized repossession, the repo agent comes to your house, calmly and politely explains who they are and why they are there, requests the car keys, gives you time to remove your personal items from the car, and drives the vehicle away. But all too often this is not the case.
Look at the low-down on auto repossession.
An experienced lawyer must evaluate the totality of the specific facts and circumstances around repossession – each case is unique. Example points to consider include, but are not limited to:
Court orders. If you tell a repo agent they may not take your car, and request they leave your property, the repossessor is required by law to leave immediately and return with a court order.
Notice of repossession. Once repossessed, the bank must send you a notice that discloses the car’s location, gives you a chance to retrieve your belongings, and quotes a fee to get your car back and reinstate the loan.
Voluntary repossession. If you voluntarily give your vehicle back to the bank, you cannot sue for a bad repo. This will appear on your credit report, making it difficult to receive another car loan in the future.
Our work puts money back where it belongs – in your pocket.
You may not know that the repossession violated the law until you talk with our expert auto fraud attorneys. If your car has been repossessed recently, or if you feel your vehicle is in threat of a potential repo, give us a call. We are often able to handle your case with little to no money from you. Often, we are paid only once we win.
Don’t let the bank or the repo agent bully you. Give us a call today for a free, no obligation consultation.