When you fail to make your car payments, the creditor can repossess your vehicle at any time. The creditor does not have to give you notice before doing so and most times will not in fear that you will move the car to a different location. Individuals must abide by certain laws when they come to your home to repossess your vehicle.
When the individual comes to your home to repossess your vehicle, he cannot use physical violence or threats of physical violence against you in the process of physically repossessing the vehicle. Doing so would constitute a “breach of peace.” The individual also may not remove your vehicle from a locked garage without permission from you. In some states, this law applies if your car is behind a locked fence or other type of locked barrier structure on your property.
The repossession company hired by your creditor can send an individual out to repossess your car at any time of the day or night. In many states, you do not have to be present at the time of the repossession. Typically, when a company plans to repossess your vehicle, they will notify your local police department. Giving this notification makes local authorities aware of the repossession in case you report your car as stolen.
The individual repossessing your car and your lender do not have a right to keep your personal property inside the vehicle at the time of repossession. If you are present at the time of repossession, the individual repossessing your car may allow you to retrieve your personal items before towing the car away. If this does not occur, the creditor must give you notice of when and where you can retrieve your items.
Many state laws do not require repossession companies to have any identifying signs on the tow trucks they use for repossessing vehicles. However, the person actually repossessing your car must have proof, such as a repossession agent license, of their identity. Some states also require that repossession companies display a state licensing number. Repossession laws vary by state so it is important that you check with your state’s specific repossession laws.
- Federal Trade Commission; Vehicle Repossession: Understanding the Rules of the Road; November 2008
- Carreon and Associates: Your Repossession Rights
- Fair Debt Collection: Repossession
- Federal Trade Commission. "Vehicle Repossession." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "If I Can’t Make My Auto Loan Payments, Will My Vehicle Be Repossessed?" Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "What to Know if Your Car Is Repossessed." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Los Angeles County Consumer & Business Affairs. "Vehicle Repossessions." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Experian. "How Long Does It Take for a Repossession to Come off Your Credit?" Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Association of the Bar of the City of New York. "Repossession." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Experian. "Collection Accounts for Repossessed Car in Credit Report." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "My Car Has Been Repossessed, and I Was Told It Will Be Sold. What Can I Do?" Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Justia. "Vehicle Repossessions and Bankruptcy." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Happens If I Left Some of My Personal Possessions in My Vehicle When It Was Repossessed?" Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Georgia Consumer Protection Division. "Repo Company Charging to Return Belongings Left in Vehicle." Accessed April 7, 2020.
Sue-Lynn Carty has over five years experience as both a freelance writer and editor, and her work has appeared on the websites Work.com and LoveToKnow. Carty holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration, with an emphasis on financial management, from Davenport University.