Sometimes, car repossession can be against the law. The creditor or repossession agent, often called the repo man, must follow the rules when taking your car.
Below are some examples of illegal repossession:
- The car was not collateral for the loan. The creditor cannot repossess your car if it wasn't listed as collateral for the loan or lease. Read the details of your contract to find out if your car was used as collateral. The contract must list the car and you as the owner to be repossessed properly.
- The repo agent was violent or destroyed your property. The repo agent cannot take your car if you object in person at the time of repo. The repo agent cannot use violence or threats, and they cannot break into a locked garage or destroy your personal property to take the car.
- You were not in default at the time of repossession. You may not be in default if the creditor regularly accepted your late payments without objection. The creditor must give you fair warning that payments must be made on time before the car can be repossessed for late payment.
- You didn't get proper notice. You have the right to buy your car back after repossession. Sometimes repossession is unlawful if the creditor doesn't give you enough notice. For example, the creditor must give you at least 21 days to buy back, or redeem, your car after repossession.
- The police helped repossess your car. Unless there is a court order, the police may never assist creditors or agents in taking your car.
You should speak with a lawyer if you believe that the creditor broke the law when taking your car.
Updated: June 2017