In this article we’re going to focus mainly on point #2: problems with the process itself.
As you may be well aware, there are many aspects of the credit system that are tricky and error prone. There are also many companies that are sloppy and careless, and even worse there are companies who use unethical and illegal methods and tactics in the regular course of business.
So dealing with a repossession often involves diving into state laws, as well as the paperwork and processes involved in the repossession, and looking for problems related to sloppy, careless, unethical, or illegal actions on the part of the companies and individuals involved that could neutralize the repossession.
Here are some key points to consider when reviewing the many details of a repossession:
1. Did the company who repossessed the vehicle have a license to do so? You can get a copy of the police report that was filed after your vehicle was seized and check. If they didn’t, they could be in legal trouble and this could be used as leverage to get the repossession removed.
2. Depending on the laws in your state, the lien holder is probably required to send you certain notices prior to selling the car at auction, and possibly even notices about their intention to seize the property. If they have failed to send these notices, this could be used to your advantage.
3. Many times, the credit reporting associated with the repossession will be inaccurate. Always review the repossession documents and your own records, and compare everything to make sure it all matches up. It many cases it won’t, and this can be beneficial to your efforts.
4. The remaining balance that the lender calculates after the sale of the property at auction may not be correct or make sense. Make sure you check and double check all the numbers to make sure things add up.
5. The remaining balance is often referred to a collection agency. You should follow procedures for dealing with a collection on your credit report, and remember that you could still end up with a judgment on your credit report if you aren’t careful. Also remember that any serious problems with the repossession process could mean the debt is legally uncollectable.
6. Don’t forget to check the dates: dates on letters and notices; dates on forms and legal paperwork; dates on which events are claimed to have happened. These dates have a strange habit of getting tweaked here and there in the creditor’s, collector’s, and/or repossession company’s favor.
7. It is best to do everything in writing when dealing with the repossession company, the creditor, or the collector (or anyone else tied to the repossession).
8. If you must talk to people on the phone regarding your repossession, you should record the call if possible (check the laws in your state on recording phone calls first!) Legal violations are common, especially on the phone, and if and when they happen, you will want to have a record of them.
9. Keep track of every single violation or potential violation that takes place with regards to the collection of the remaining balance. At $1000 a piece, these can whittle down the balance owed rather quickly!
10. Throughout the entire process, ask questions and investigate every claim. Don’t just take their word for it!
11. Remember that complex legal situations are usually better if NOT handled on your own. Always seek the help and advice of an attorney regarding situations that could have serious legal and financial consequences. State laws on repossessions will vary, so it is important to talk to an attorney in your own state who is familiar with laws affecting repossessions.
The bottom line with a repossession is that it’s a complex process with a lot of paperwork and red tape. It is highly likely that somewhere in the process, something has gone wrong… and that "something" could be the key you need to removing the repossession and any associated collection from your credit report, and settling (or even wiping out) any remaining debts.