My Car was Repossessed: Can I Get it Back?

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Just as your mortgage lender can take back your house if you fail to make the monthly payments (via foreclosure), your auto loan lender can take back your vehicle for the same reason. When this happens, it is called repossession, and lenders are not required to give defaulted vehicle owners any kind of warning before “repo-ing” the automobile in question.

If you are even a few days late on your car payment, you may be at risk for having your car repossessed if you have a sketchy credit history and low credit score. “Repo” men are professionals who are contracted by lenders to bring cars back that aren’t being paid for. Repossession can occur anytime and anywhere, as long as you’re not in the car at the time. If you’re not making your payments, you should be aware that your car can disappear at any moment.

My Car is Gone; Can I Get it Back?

If you’ve already experienced having your car repossessed, you may wonder if you can get it back, especially if you need the vehicle for work or other transportation. The first thing you should do if your car has been repossessed and you want to get it back is to hire an attorney. Your attorney will be able to ensure that you follow the important (and complicated) timelines in the repossession process. Failure to do so will indefinitely result in permanent loss of your vehicle.

Working with a credit repair or bankruptcy attorney, you’ll have several options available to you, which your attorney will be able to explain in detail. He will also help you determine which decision is best for your specific situation.

  • Reinstatement: If you missed a payment (or several) because of unusual or unforeseen circumstances that are unlikely to occur again, you may want to have your loan reinstated. Your attorney can talk to your lender about reinstatement, which essentially means giving you back your car in exchange for any late payments and most likely the cost of the repossession. Repossession professionals typically charge several hundred dollars per vehicle, depending on how difficult it was for them to take possession of the car.
  • Filing for bankruptcy: As long as your lender has yet to re-sell your car, your attorney can help you file for chapter 13 bankruptcy. You must show that you need the vehicle in order to remain financially stable. Notice of your chapter 13 bankruptcy will force your lender to return your car, and your loan will be reorganized per the terms of your bankruptcy case. You can also file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, which will prohibit your lender from taking your vehicle via repossession. However, in many cases, bankruptcy judges will grant special permission for lenders to repossess vehicles during chapter 7 cases.

If you cannot afford the payments on your current vehicle, filing for bankruptcy may be right for you. Do you have trouble making other payments in your life? Talk to your bankruptcy attorney about filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13. Your best best will be determined by your lawyer, who has your best interests in mind at all times.

Image credit: Ryan Vaarsi
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