Whether you are behind on payments or not, the lender must follow a number of rules before and after a car is repossessed. These rules detail how and when they can initiate car repossession, what kind of notices must be given, and how any auction or private sale must be handled.
If any rules were overlooked during or after the repossession of your vehicle, you may be able to take legal action against the lender or car repossessor, even if you were behind on payments. If your car or motorcycle was recently repossessed, do the following.
Confirm the Repossession
Call the lender or local police department to confirm that the vehicle was repossessed and not stolen. Ask for details, such as which repossession company called the police and when.
Gather Repo Documents
Gather all purchase, loan, and repossession documents. These include your car purchase agreement, retail installment sales contract, notice of intent to sell property, deficiency notice, loan payment history, and any collection letters claiming a deficient balance is owed.
You should receive a Notice of Intent to Sell Property from the lender after your vehicle is repossessed. This notice explains how you can retrieve the vehicle, how much you must pay, the location of the vehicle, and the time and location of a private sale or auction. You should receive this notice before the vehicle is sold at private sale or auction with enough time for you to get the car back.
The lender must also provide a notice that confirms the sale price after a vehicle is sold, called a Deficiency Notice. If the sale price does not pay off the balance that is owed on the loan, you will owe the remaining balance, even if the vehicle was voluntarily given back.
Don’t Sign a Waiver
Do not sign any waiver or release agreement to get your vehicle back. Signing a waiver could negate any legal claim for wrongful actions by the lender. The law does not require you to sign documents to retrieve your vehicle, even if the repo agent or storage yard asks for one.
Get Legal Help
If you believe your repossession was handled unlawfully, gather all of your documents and contact a wrongful car repossession lawyer for an evaluation of your case.