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.

Repossessions: Know What to Expect – Before, During and After

A Record 7 Million Behind on Car Loans”, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/13/19

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that, “A record seven million Americans are 90 days or more behind on their auto loan payments.  Despite a strong economy, economists are warning that Americans are struggling. Although a car loan is the first payment people make because a vehicle is critical to getting to work, when car loan delinquencies rise, it is a sign that many American are under duress.”

BEFORE a Repossession:
1) Prepare yourself.
We all know that when a borrower falls behind on payments or breaks the terms of an auto loan agreement, the lender, whether it’s the bank, finance institution or credit union, is entitled to repossess the vehicle.  These terms are stated in the loan agreement, or Retail Installment Sales Contract, that is signed at the time of purchase.

Repossessions can occur at any time of day or night — while at the supermarket, taking the kids to school, at a relative’s home for holiday dinner, or while  asleep.  Even if a borrower anticipates a repossession may occur, it never happens at a good time.  Prepare yourself.

With a little forethought, you may be able to ease the stress caused by a car repossession.  If you’ve fallen behind and believe your car may be up for repossession, make a plan to handle daily chores for you and your family. 

  • Ask for help.  Contact your family, friends and neighbors and find out who may help. Inquire about their work schedules and daily commitments. Let them know you may have an emergency coming up and need their assistance.
  • Organize carpools and babysitters. Develop a network of friends that can step in to cover demands of the household.
  • Arrange for delivery. Call your supermarket or pharmacy to find out if they are able to make deliveries to your home.  Inquire about the cost and delivery schedule.

2) Clean out the car.  
Before your vehicle is taken, gather items from your car and store them in a safe place.  If your car is taken unexpectedly, you may not have a chance to remove all of your personal items.  Often, the repo man may not allow you time to remove everything. And, remember, once out of your possession, these belongings may be lost – forever

Pre-Repossession Check List
_____ Buyer’s Agreement
_____ Loan Agreement
_____ Odometer Statement
_____ Vehicle Registration
_____ Warranty Agreement
_____ Auto Insurance Policy & Card
_____ Auto Insurance Payment Record
_____ Vehicle Service Records
_____ Loan Payment History from Lender
_____ Loan Payment Records
_____ All Correspondence from Lender             

Vehicle Photographs
_____ Car Interior & Exterior   
_____ VIN# from Inside Door
_____ Odometer Reading
                   
 Removal of all Valuables
_____ Wallet/Purse/Cash/Paycheck
_____ Medications/Prescriptions
_____ Work-related items
_____ Laptop computer
_____ Phone
_____ Child Car Seat

DURING a Repossession:

The lender will hire a repossession company to retrieve vehicles scheduled for repossession. The repo-man cannot use physical force, threaten you, or enter your property without permission.  If you believe the repo-man mishandled the repossession, take steps to document the event.

  • Prepare a written statement with date, time, repo company & agent, & events.
  • Photograph the scene.
  • Repo agent’s truck and license plate.
  • Your vehicle, interior, exterior and odometer reading.
  • Damaged property, i.e. garage door, fence, other vehicles, lawn, etc.
  • Obtain witness statements.
  • Request the police come to the scene. Obtain a police report.

Police Involvement:  Keep the Peace or Breach the Peace?

It’s not uncommon for the police to become involved during a car repossession. Sometimes the repo agent or the borrower will ask the police to be there to diffuse a potentially volatile situation. The police may assist in keeping the peace.  

If the police get involved in the repossession of the vehicle, they may have crossed the line from keeping the peace, to breaching the peace.  The police may not threaten arrest, or damage to the vehicle, or command the vehicle or keys be turned over.  If this occurs, the borrower’s Constitutional rights may have been violated and a lawsuit against the police, repo agency and/or lender may be filed.

AFTER a Repossession:

The borrower is entitled to receive notices from the lender after a vehicle is repossessed.  The first letter is a repossession notice called a Notice of Intent to Sell Property, which details terms for the borrower to retrieve the vehicle.  This notice will detail payments required, the time period for payments to be paid to the lender, and the repo lot location for retrieval of the vehicle and any personal property.

If the borrower is unable to get the vehicle back, the lender will arrange to sell the it at an auction or a private sale.  Once sold, a second notice is sent to the borrower confirming the selling price of the vehicle and any remaining balance due on the loan. This notice is called a Deficiency Notice.  

FREE LEGAL HELP:

Flitter Milz is knowledgeable about the laws governing repossessions of cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and RVs.  If your vehicle has been repossessed, CONTACT US.  We will review the details of your case at no cost to you, and evaluate whether your consumer rights were violated. 

What Can I Do If My Car Was Repossessed by Mistake?

When you default on a car loan, your lender can repossess your vehicle. Most defaults come from someone failing to make their monthly payments. If you’re up to date on your payments and your car was repossessed, then clearly, a wrongful car repossession has occurred.

But even if you have missed payments, lenders and repo agents need to follow the law. If your vehicle has been unlawfully repossessed, you may be able to sue your lender and the repo agent.

Here’s what lenders and repossession companies need to do to stay within the bounds of the law:

  1. Before they repossess your car, the repo company needs to notify your local police. If you wake up to a missing car, call the police and your lender to confirm whether the car was stolen, or simply repossessed.
  2. Repo agents are not allowed to “breach the peace” while doing their job. This means they can’t threaten you or use physical force. Nor can they access locked/fenced-in areas of your property without permission. Finally, repo agents must leave your property when asked.
  3. Repo agents cannot damage your property. If you see this happen, document it and get statements from witnesses.
  4. After your vehicle has been repossessed, you might be asking “Can I get my car back after repossession?” Your lender is required to send you a notice that outlines what you need to do to recover your car. This is what’s known as a “Notice of Intent to Sell Property.”

Did the police obey the law?

It’s not uncommon for the police to become involved during a car repossession. Sometimes the repo agent will ask the police to be there to defuse a potentially volatile situation. Other times the consumer might call the police on the repossession company.

However, there are limits to what the police can do. They aren’t allowed to assist the repo agent by ordering you to hand over your keys or threatening to arrest you.

If the police do any of these things, they may have gone from keeping the peace to breaching the peace and violating your rights. You may be able to bring a suit against the police, along with the repo agency and your lender.

What should I do while my car is being repossessed?

During the repossession, make a record of everything that’s happening. This includes:

  • Date and time of the repossession
  • The name of the car repossession company and agent and the license number of their tow truck
  • The name and badge number of the responding police officers
  • A copy of the police report
  • Names and contact info for witnesses
  • Photos of any property damage and video of the entire event

Make sure you remove your personal property from your car, as well as any documents relating to the sale of the vehicle, including your retail installment sales contract, buyer’s agreement, and registration and insurance information.

Again, your lender is required to send you the notice of intent to sell your car after the repossession to allow you enough time to recover your vehicle before it is auctioned off or sold to a private buyer.

Your car has been taken, and now you’re wondering “Can I get my car back after repossession?” Let the attorneys at Flitter Milz help you figure out where to go from here.

If your lender or the repo agency mishandled your case, our consumer protection attorneys are ready to fight for you. Contact us today so we can review your case. You’ve tried to play by the rules with your car payments. There’s no reason your lender shouldn’t do the same.

How Do You Get Your Car Back After Repossession?

You don’t park your car in front of your house anymore.

It’s been a few months since you were able to make a payment and you’re worried about repo men showing up in the middle of the night.

What you didn’t anticipate is the repossession firm showing up where you work. Suddenly, you have no car, no way to get back home, no way to get anywhere.

This can be a devastating situation, but it’s not a hopeless one. Even though your car has been repossessed, it doesn’t mean you can’t get it back.

Was your vehicle wrongfully repossessed?

Auto lenders can repossess vehicles if the borrower defaults on the loan.  However, consumer laws protect borrowers from tactics used by the lender or repossession agent in the process of taking a vehicle.  While the repossession company must inform local police of an impending repossession, the repo agent can’t:

  • Enter a closed garage or trespass on your property
  • Come into your home unless they’ve been invited
  • Damage your car during repossession
  • Cause physical harm to you
  • Threaten you with violence or arrest
  • Make you pull over while driving
  • Have law enforcement assist

If your vehicle has been taken, contact a qualified a car repossession lawyer for review of the sequence of events.  An evaluation of the consumer protection laws will determine whether the lender wrongfully repossessed your vehicle and if you have a case to pursue against the lender.

How to get your car back?

Look at your loan agreement

Your signed loan agreement, or Retail Installment Sales Contract, states terms if your vehicle is repossessed. Some loan agreements allow the borrower to reinstate the loan by paying past due payments, while others demand a full payoff of the loan.  Check your agreement to see the terms that were agreed upon for your loan.

Review documents sent by the lender

After your vehicle has been repossessed, the lender, bank, or credit union is required to provide you with a letter which confirms the repossession and states terms for you to get it back.  This notice, frequently called a Notice of Intent to Sell Property, explains how much money is owed, where your car is, and how much time you have to meet the terms before the car will be sold at a private sale or auction.

After the vehicle is sold, the lender will send a Deficiency Letter to the borrower confirming the selling price of the car and any remaining balance owed on the loan, or surplus due the borrower.

Retrieve your personal belongings

The repo company or lender don’t have any claim to your personal belongings left in the car at the time of the repossession.  You have 30 days to retrieve your belongings from the repo lot. After this period, the repo agent will dispose of these items.

Gather these documents for a legal review

1. Loan Agreement or Retail Installment Sales Contract

If you financed your car through an auto dealer, your loan agreement, or Retail Installment Sales Contract (RISC), details what will happen if you default on your loan. Keep this and other car purchase documents in a safe place (in other words, not in your car).

But if you have left your loan agreement in the car, you can either contact your lender or the car dealership to retrieve this paperwork or visit the repo lot to get back the agreement and any other personal items you left in your vehicle.

2. Repossession Notice or Notice of Intent to Sell Property

Under the law, your lender doesn’t have to notify you in advance of the repossession. But they do need to send you a repossession notice once the vehicle has been taken.  This notice contains the most important piece of information about your car repossession: how to get it back.

The letter will tell you how much you’ll need to pay to get your car back. This amount might be the full balance of your loan, or just the past due payments.  You should receive this letter within enough time to make arrangements to recover the car before it’s sold or auctioned off.

3. Deficiency Notice

After the car has been sold, the lender will send you a letter known as a Deficiency Notice which lets you know the sale price, any repossession and storage fees, and  the calculation of the remaining balance owed on the loan.  As well, if there’s a surplus from the sale, the letter will tell you the amount owed to you by the lender if the sale price was more than the full loan balance.

If your rights have been violated during repossession, or if your bank or the repossession agent overlooked the laws protecting borrowers, you may be able to take legal action.

Seek Legal Assistance

The attorneys at Flitter Milz can help. Our consumer protection lawyers will review your case and determine whether the finance company and/or repossession agent acted within the bounds of the law and if you can take legal action.

If your car – or truck, boat, motorcycle or recreational vehicle – has been repossessed, contact us today for a free consultation.

What do Auto Lenders check on your Credit Report?

When you apply for an auto loan, lenders will perform a credit check on you. Your credit affects whether or not you’ll be approved for the loan, and the interest rate for the loan. The interest rate and terms of the loan have a major impact on how much you will end up paying overall, so it’s important that you know where your credit stands BEFORE you apply for an auto loan. When you apply, lenders will look at the following components of your credit file.

Payment History

Before you are approved for a loan, lenders want to be sure that you have a history of making payments in full and on time. This is a reflection of whether or not you’ll make timely payments on the loan. If you have a history of late payments, it may be more difficult for you to get approved for a loan.

Status of Accounts

Your credit report lists the status of each of your open accounts. If one or more of your accounts is late or in default, it can signal to a lender that you may be experiencing financial hardship and won’t be able to make timely payments on a new line of credit.

Credit Utilization

Many people don’t realize that the amount of credit they use on a monthly basis has a significant impact on their credit. Not only should you avoid maxing out your credit, you should strive to only use 30 percent of your credit limit. This means that if your credit limit is $1,000, you shouldn’t spend more than $300 each month. Credit utilization is an indicator of how responsible you are with your credit.

New Credit

Lenders will also look at any new accounts you’ve opened. Multiple new lines of credit may be a red flag to a lender. It’s also worth noting that each time a lender pulls your credit, it’s considered a hard inquiry, which temporarily lowers your credit score.

Length of Credit History

Lenders will also look at the length of your credit history. If you don’t have a well established credit history, it may make it more difficult for you to get approved for a loan, or you may be approved at a higher interest rate.

How to Check Your Credit Report

Determine how your credit stacks up by checking your report regularly. When you’re familiar with the information on your credit report, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you apply for an auto loan.

You can request a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax , every 12 months.

Shop Around

Before you sign on a loan, take time to shop around for loan terms and interest rates that suit your budget. Certain lenders may offer lower interest rates, which can mean paying less in the long run.

Seek Legal Advice

Flitter Milz is a consumer protection law firm that pursues matters against lenders, debt collectors and the credit bureaus. If you have issues on your credit report that are keeping you of getting approved for a car loan, Contact Us.  There is no cost for the legal evaluation.

Tips on Purchasing a Car

The decision to purchase a new vehicle is exciting. Whether it’s your first car purchase or not, the freedom of mobility and independence is invaluable. You can go anywhere, whenever you like.

But cars are expensive. Buying a vehicle that suits your needs and your budget can be a challenge. Often, the vehicle that you would like to drive may not be the one that you can afford. Become an educated buyer.

Buying a car is a two step process

1) Shop around for your new car.

You may want to attend a local auto show, purchase car magazines, speak to car owners, or research online. Once you’ve determined the type of vehicle you’d like to buy, visit dealership websites. Find the year, make, model, and color you’d like. Ask about the cost and availability.

2) Shop for your financing.

Once you know the cost of the vehicle, decide how you plan to pay for it.  Figure out the best way for you to finance your vehicle. You may have saved some money, have a vehicle to trade, or see that a dealer is offering rebates. Review your budget and determine the amount that you can afford on a new car.  At last, check your credit reports for errors.  If you need to dispute inaccurate listings on your report, do so in advance of applying for new credit.  The errors  could make the difference between you being approved or denied for the loan.

Research your Lending Options

Many times the dealer will assist in securing financing for your auto loan. However, you may be able to get better terms through another bank, credit union, or financial institution. Different lenders offer different terms. You may be able to secure a loan on your own with a lower interest rate, monthly payment amount, and shorter loan period.

Only enter into a loan that you can afford. Do not sign a loan agreement until you’ve made sure the financing terms are right for you.

Down payment, trade-in, or both?

Often when someone plans to purchase a new car money has been saved to make a down payment.  Any funds paid towards the cost of the new car will lower the amount financed.

Also, new car buyers may have a car to trade. The dealer will evaluate the condition of the car and offer an amount that the buyer could apply towards the cost of the new car.

After deducting the down payment and/or trade, the balance of the car cost is the amount that a buyer would finance.

Is Money Still Owed on my Trade?

Before going to a car dealership, contact your lender to find out the balance owed on your car loan.  Request a payoff figure so that you know the total amount to satisfy the loan.

The dealer may offer to add any balance owed on your trade to the new car loan.  Whether you apply money toward the new purchase with a down payment, or have the value of your traded vehicle applied towards the purchase, the cost of the new car will be reduced and this will decrease the amount you need to finance.

Owning a car is a responsibility

Auto loans may make the purchase of a vehicle more affordable, allowing the borrower to make monthly payments over a specified period of time. The loan agreement, or Retail Installment Sales Contract, signed at the time of purchase states the monthly payment amount and the date the payment is due. Payments must be made in full and on time. If the buyer defaults on the terms of the auto loan, the lender has the right to repossess the vehicle.

Check your credit report

If you’re in good financial standing and have a good credit score, you should be approved for an auto loan. Good credit shows financial responsibility and that you have a history of making payments on time. Check your credit report and score before you discuss options with a potential lender so you know where you stand. You can get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting bureaus.

Consider a co-signer

If you can’t secure a loan on your own, consider asking a family member or friend with good credit to co-sign for you. A co-signer guarantees that the loan will be paid if the primary borrower falls behind on payments or defaults. It is a significant financial responsibility, so make sure that the person you ask to co-sign is aware of the financial obligation.

Wait and save

If purchasing a new vehicle doesn’t fit your budget right now, consider waiting a bit longer. It may be worth it in the long run. If you’re in a stronger financial position, you may be able to make a larger down payment, get a loan with a lower interest rate and shorter payoff period.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a consumer protection law firm that represents people that have had a vehicle repossessed – whether payments were missed or notContact Us to discuss issues related to your vehicle.