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

How to Report a Robocall

You’re at home relaxing after work when your phone rings.

You don’t recognize the number on the caller ID, but your smartphone tells you that it’s someone from your town.

Maybe a neighbor, you think. Or someone from work. It might be important.

Only it’s not a neighbor, it’s someone calling from hundreds – if not thousands – of miles away. And it’s not important, at least not to you. The caller is trying to sell you a product you neither want or need.

Plus, you don’t always get the satisfaction of telling someone “Stop calling me,” because many of these calls are pre-recorded messages, sent out to millions of other phone numbers using auto-dialer technology.

Robo Call Center

Welcome to the world of robocalls.

These calls are a nuisance, so much so that the FCC considers them the agency’s chief priority when it comes to consumer protection.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to stop these unwanted calls. It may not be as easy as pushing a “Report Robocall” button on your phone, but it’s still fairly simple.

How to report robocalls

Nearly all automated calls to mobile phones are illegal in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but that hasn’t stopped telemarketers and debt collection companies from using auto-dialers to reach consumers.

In some cases, the caller will deliberately falsify the information sent to your caller ID to mask their identity, a practice known as spoofing.

Caller ID Block

The FCC has taken a variety of actions against these companies, including:

  • Issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in fines
  • Allowing phone companies to block certain kinds of calls that are likely to be illegal before they can get to consumers
  • Giving customers the ability to use call blocking or labeling services
  • Working with phone companies on caller ID authentication

If you believe you’re received and illegal call or text, you can file a report robocall complaint with the FCC here. The commission also offers these tips to stop unwanted robocalls and protect yourself from phone scams:

Unknown Caller
  • Try not to answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize. If you do answer, hang up right away.
  • It may not be obvious right away that the call is spoofed. Remember that a caller ID displaying a local number doesn’t always mean that you’re getting a local call.
  • If you pick up the phone and the voice on the other end – either a person or a recording – tells you to hit a certain button to end the calls, just hang up. Remember, there’s no magic “report robocall” button. Having you press a button during your call is something scammers do to identify future targets.
  • Never give out personal information – your Social Security number, passwords, bank account numbers, etc. – to an unexpected caller (or if you’re just uneasy with the call).
  • If you get a call from someone claiming to represent a company or government agency, hang up and look up a phone number on their website or one of your bills to verify the phone number. Your bank or an organization like the IRS will typically contact you in writing before calling.
  • Set a password for your voicemail. Some voicemail services are set up to let users access their messages by calling their own number. A hacker could spoof your number and get into your voicemail if you haven’t created a password.
  • Be wary of callers who immediately ask for information.
  • Talk to your phone company about their available call block technology. You can download mobile apps that can block unwanted calls.
  • Register your number for the Do Not Call List. Reputable telemarketing companies will review the numbers on this list and take care to avoid them.

And if these steps still haven’t stopped unwanted calls, it might be time to take legal action. The consumer protection attorneys at Flitter Milz are experts on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and have helped several New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents who have been victims of unethical telemarketing practices. Contact us today to find out how we can help you fight for your rights.

Help! A Solar Company Forged My Signature on a Contract

“Abuse.” “Dishonest.” “Fraud.” “Racketeering. These are the type of words you’d expect to see used to describe an organized crime family, not a company claiming to provide clean, renewable energy.

Nevertheless, this was the language New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas used last year in filing a civil complaint against Vivint Solar, accusing the company of deceptive business practices.

We’d like to tell you this is an isolated incident. But sadly, there are a growing number of scams coming out of the world of solar. Forged signatures, unlawful access to credit reports may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to solar scams.

How solar scams play out

You’re at home one day when a salesman knocks on your door. But he claims that what he’s selling – solar panels – won’t actually cost you any money.

Solar panels, he says, will pay for themselves. In fact, you might even make money. All you have to do is sign his tablet. And while it may not seem like it, you’ve become the target of a solar panel scam.

It might be that he’s signed you up for a contract you don’t need or want or added a neighbor or relative’s name to the contract.

And with your forged signature, solar companies will sometimes pull your credit report without your consent, a violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The rise of solar energy scams

Solar Panel Installation

In the New Mexico case, the state accused Vivint of using deceptive business practices by tying them into 20-year contracts that force them to buy the electricity produced by the panels at exorbitant rates.

The attorney general says the company’s sale model allows its workers to overstate how much consumers could save by going solar. Some people were told they could see their energy bills cut in half by going with Vivint.

And it’s not just Vivint. According to USA Today, the Better Business Bureau processed dozens of complaints in New Jersey alone over the past few years. They came from customers who say they were misled by solar companies about things like their ability to cancel contracts and the amount of money they could save.

You’re the victim of a forged signature. Solar companies should have to answer for their fraud.

Before you sign up for a solar contract, it’s a good idea to ask the following:

  • What if I want to sell my house?
  • How can I get out of my contract?
  • What will it cost to get out of my contract?
  • Will my monthly rate per kilowatt hour or monthly leasing charge for the solar panels automatically go up each year?

You should also consult with an attorney, especially if you think you’ve already become a victim of a solar panel scam.

If you discover that a solar company has pulled your credit report without your permission, the law firm of Flitter Milz can help.

We’ve heard complaints about unscrupulous solar companies from consumers around the country. Our lawyers can work with you to determine if your rights have been violated.

Whether a solar company forged your signature or wasn’t upfront about its contract, we can make sure your rights are protected. Contact us today to learn more.