How to Deal with an Experian Dispute

Credit Report

It’s something that’s drilled into our heads over and over: You must maintain a good credit score.

But sometimes errors can pop up on our credit reports through no fault of our own. When that happens, it’s important to take steps to fix these errors as soon as possible.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to do that using the example of one of the three main credit reporting services, Experian. Here’s how to deal with an Experian dispute.

Continue reading How to Deal with an Experian Dispute

Will My Car Be Repossessed If I Miss One Payment?

Woman making a car payment

It’s a frightening thought: Money has gotten so tight that you weren’t able to make this month’s payment on your car loan.

Now, you’re worried about car repossession, and imagining the day when a tow truck comes to your house and hauls away your only source of transportation.

But can the lender repossess your car after a single missed payment?

Continue reading Will My Car Be Repossessed If I Miss One Payment?

The Lender Sold My Repossessed Car. Why am I being sued?

Car auction car lot

Perhaps the worst thing about having your car repossessed is that even after your vehicle is gone, the lender may not be done with you.

In some cases, lenders hire collectors or file lawsuits against borrowers to recoup what they’re owed. In this blog post, we’ll look at steps lenders may take after repossessing a car. 

Continue reading The Lender Sold My Repossessed Car. Why am I being sued?

What is a Credit Dispute Letter?

Credit Dispute Form or Letter

Your credit report affects many different facets of your life, which is why we work so hard to keep our credit reports accurate.

Yet it’s not uncommon for consumers to find errors on their credit report through no fault of their own. The Federal Trade Commission has conducted studies finding that most consumers who previously reported an unresolved error on one of their credit reports from Transunion, Experian or Equifax, believe that at least one piece of disputed information is still inaccurate. 

Continue reading What is a Credit Dispute Letter?

Car Repossessed, Now Getting Sued by My Auto Lender

Lawsuit with car repossession

Perhaps the worst thing about having your car repossessed is that even after your vehicle is gone, your lender may not be done with you.

In some cases, lenders may file lawsuits against borrowers to recoup what they’re owed. In this blog post, we’ll look at what’s involved with being sued after a  car repossession.

My car was repossessed.  Now what?

Deficiency NoticeAfter the lender repossesses your vehicle, they will most likely sell it at an auction or through a private sale. The borrower will receive a letter from the lender with details about when and where a sale will occur.  This letter may be called a Notice of Intent to Sell Property.

However, after the sale, the proceeds may not cover the amount to satisfy the balance owed on the auto loan. This amount is known as a deficient balance.  The lender is required to send the borrower a second written letter, called a Deficiency Notice, stating the deficient balance owe, plus any additional charges, such as repo and storage fees. Even if you do not have the vehicle, you still have a financial obligation to the lender until the loan has been satisfied.

Collectors are calling for payment of my loan balance.

Unwanted phone calls from collection agencyAfter the sale of a repossessed vehicle, the lender may choose to collect the deficient balance through a collection agency or collection law firm.  The borrower may receive collection calls or letters demanding payment. Collection contact must comply with the federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This law offers protections to consumers from aggressive collection tactics — whether the debt is owed or not.

I’ve received a summons to appear in court.

SubpoenaThe lender may decide to file a lawsuit against the borrower to collect the deficient loan balance. If you receive a summons from the court you must contact the court to let them know of your plan to defend the matter.  You may choose to represent yourself, pro se, or hire an attorney to represent you.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN SUED DO NOT IGNORE THE SUMMONS FROM THE COURT

If you do not show up in court, the case will proceed without you and a default judgment could be entered against you.  This means that a judge has ruled against you in non-criminal court, and you will be required to pay the damages or judgment amount.

A judgment was entered against me.

If a judgment was entered against you, you must address it.  Even if it’s a mistake and the debt doesn’t belong to you, you will need to take action to get it resolved. Just remember, judgments are dangerous. The lender could choose to take steps, such as garnish a bank account, place a lien on the borrower’s personal property, or in some states, garnish wages.

The credit bureaus list the repossession and judgment.

Poor Credit Bureau ReportJust as lenders will report auto loan payment histories to the credit bureaus, repossessions and judgments for deficient balances will be reported as well.  Judgments are considered public records, which  means anyone has access to view those court filings – even prospective auto lenders, existing creditors, or possibly, employers or landlords.

Judgments can remain on a consumer credit file for 7 ½ years from the filing date.  Once a judgment has been paid, a “Satisfaction of Judgment” will be filed with the court and your credit report updated to show that the judgment is no longer owed.

Get Help from a Qualified Consumer Protection Law Firm

Flitter Milz is a consumer protection law firm experienced in representing consumers who have suffered from vehicle repossession, abusive collection contact, judgments from auto loan deficiencies and credit reporting errors listed by auto lenders.  Contact us for a free consultation and to find out how we can help you.

Car Repossesion 101

What Are the Laws Governing Motorcycle Repossession?

Motorcycle on the road

When banks record an increase in credit losses and delinquencies, often there is an uptick in repossessions.  These indicators not only reflect repossessions of cars and trucks, but also pleasure vehicles, such as RVs, boats and motorcycles.

Fortunately for consumers, the laws that protect victims of car and truck repossessions, also apply to motorcycles, RVs and boats.

If you’ve fallen behind on your loan payments and are worried that your motorcycle, or other vehicle, is in danger of repossession, here’s what you need to know.

Motorcycle Repossession after Default

It’s understood that when you take out a loan to finance a motorcycle, you must abide by the terms of that contract.  If a borrower defaults on those terms, the lender has the right to take back, or repossess, the bike.  The finance contract will define what counts as a default.  Typically, missed or incomplete payments, or a lack of insurance, constitute a default.  Once the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender may come at any time to repossess it.

Having your motorcycle repossessed can feel like a major defeat, especially when you suspect your rights as a consumer have been violated in the process.

Consumer Protection after Default

Once a motorcycle has been repossessed there are laws that protect a borrower from a lender’s wrongful repossession tactics.

1. The Lender must provide Repossession Notices

After a motorcycle repossession, the lender must provide specific written communications to the borrower. First, a letter that states terms to retrieve the bike, and second, if it is sold, a letter informing the borrower of the motorcycle’s selling price and any remaining balance owed on the loan. Whether the lender has repossessed a motorcycle or another vehicle, they must provide these letters to the borrower.

Notice of Intent to Sell Property.

The repossession notice, or Notice of Intent to Sell Property, is sent to the borrower after the motorcycle has been repossessed.  The letter will list terms that will allow the borrower to recover his or her motorcycle such as, the payments required, the time period to act, the location of the motorcycle and the date of the private sale or auction.  Sometimes, the lender will allow the borrower to get their vehicle back by paying past-due payments to reinstate the loan.  Other times, payment of the full loan may be required, plus the costs for repossession and storage fees.

Notice of Deficiency

If the borrower is not able to meet the terms stated in the repossession notice, the lender will arrange to sell the motorcycle at an auction or private sale.  Once the bike has been sold,  the lender must send a second notice to the borrower called a Notice of Deficiency.  This letter will confirm the sale price, fees for storage and repossession and notify the borrower of any remaining balance owed on the loan. If you fail to pay back the Deficient Balance, the lender may assign the collection to a law firm or debt collection agency, which could subject you to a potential legal action by the lender and a black mark on your credit report.

2. Repo Agents can not threaten you

Motorcycle repossession are frequently volatile.  However, the repo agent, who is a third-party hired by the lender to tow the bike, must follow the law too. They are not allowed to use physical force or threaten harm, and they are not permitted to enter someone’s property without permission.  If the repo agent damages your property, or removes your motorcycle from a closed garage without your consent, your consumer rights may have been violated.

3. Police may not Breach the Peace

Motorcycle being towedMany times the police are contacted by the repo agent or the borrower during a motorcycle repossession.  The role of the police is to aid in keeping the peace, and make sure that no one is harmed or property damaged.  They are not to assist with the repossession by threatening arrest or demanding the car or keys be released to the repo agent.  Once the police become involved in aiding the repossession, they may have crossed the line from keeping the peace to breaching the peace. At this point the borrower’s constitutional rights may have been violated.

Victim of Motorcycle Repossession? Seek Legal Help from a Qualified Consumer Lawyer

The attorneys at Flitter Milz can help set things right. Our lawyers are experts in motorcycle repossession laws, with a proven record of taking action against banks, credit unions and other financial institutions for improper repossession tactics. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Car Repossesion 101

What Notices Must My Lender Have to Provide After Repossession?

Car repossession

As we’ve written before, consumers dealing with car repossession still have certain rights, regardless of how behind they might be on their payments.

For example, you have the right to be kept safe from an aggressive or abusive repo agent. They can’t break into your garage, damage your property or vehicle, or threaten you with physical harm.

Continue reading What Notices Must My Lender Have to Provide After Repossession?

5 Things to Do After Your Car Has Been Repossessed

Car being towed repossessed

Your car is hooked up to the tow truck. You’d been struggling for months to make payments, and now the thing you feared most has come true: repossession.

And you think to yourself:  What do I do now?  Where is my car?  Is there some sort of car repossession look-up service that can track it down?

Continue reading 5 Things to Do After Your Car Has Been Repossessed

My Car Was Repossessed. Can I Get It Back?

Car being towed, repossessed

One of the worst things about car repossession is that it seems so final.

You’d fallen behind on your payments, and now that the repossession has happened, it seems like you’ll never see your car again.

But in the back of your mind, you wonder: “If my car is repossessed, can I get it back?”

You can. But it’s also important to make sure your rights are protected even if you can’t. Here are three things you can do if you’re dealing with a repossession.

1. Protect yourself 

You might owe money to your lender – the bank, credit union or financial institution – but that doesn’t mean you’ve given up your rights. Under the law, the repossession company cannot:

Garage door
  • Take any personal property found inside your vehicle. Be sure to remove your belongings before the repossession, especially documents related to the purchase and financing of the vehicle.
  • Use physical force – or threaten to do so – in taking back your car
  • Enter your closed garage to access your car
  • Damage the car or your property during repossession

If you think your lender or the repo agent has violated your rights, it’s a good idea to contact a qualified consumer protection attorney to evaluate whether your rights have been violated – even if you had fallen behind on payments or not.

2. If my car gets repossessed, can I get it back?

This brings us to our initial question: If my car gets repossessed, can I get it back?

Writing a check for cr payment

Your first step should be to call the lender. If you were caught off guard by the repossession, you might be able to have the loan reinstated, or get your car back, if you can pay off the balance and any fees that resulted from the repossession, such as towing or storage charges.

Reinstatement means that rather than paying off the balance of your loan, you’d pay enough to make your loan current (plus additional fees associated with the repossession.) In that situation, you’d need to adhere to the lender’s terms and conditions of reinstatement to recover your car.

If you think you’re still going to have trouble making the loan payments – plus all the other costs associated with owning a car – you might not want to contact a consumer lawyer to discuss your options.

Can I buy back my car?

Car auction

Most lenders will sell the repossessed vehicle at an auction or private sale. After the sale, those funds are applied towards the total balance owed on the loan. The lender will provide the borrower with a letter that confirms the selling price and calculate any remaining balance owed to satisfy the loan.

You could always try to buy back your car at the sale or auction, although you will need to pay whatever asking price the auction sets, as well as car repossession fees and storage charges.

Keep in mind that if your car hasn’t been repossessed yet, you should get in touch with your lender as soon as possible and let them know your intent to keep your account up-to-date. If you make an agreement with the lender, be sure to get the terms in writing.

You might discover that the lender offers a hardship program, which can prevent you from having to deal with the repercussions of a repossession – from the loss of your vehicle to negative credit reporting.

3. Find ways to boost your credit

Credit report

A car repossession may leave a black mark on your credit report, which is why it’s important to review your credit report regularly for accuracy. Every twelve months, consumers may request a free report from each Transunion, Experian and Equifax. After checking your report, you may need to send a written dispute to the credit bureaus to request the errors be corrected. Always provide documentation that supports your dispute.

I think the repo agent broke the rules. What now?

If you think the lender or repo agent mishandled your car repossession, the consumer protection firm of Flitter Milz can help. Our attorneys have a long track record of protecting borrowers that face improper repossession practices from auto loans. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.

How Debt Collection Laws Help Pennsylvanians

Past due bills debt

When you owe money to a debt collection agency, its employees have the right to contact you and try to recoup that debt.

But those rights only go so far. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act regulates what debt collectors, or law firms acting as collectors, can do when contacting Pennsylvania consumers, and bars them from engaging in deception while trying to recover money that is owed.

Continue reading How Debt Collection Laws Help Pennsylvanians