What to Do if You Can’t Make Your Car Payments During the Coronavirus Pandemic

coronavirus pandemic

It’s infiltrated nearly every part of the country, and when it arrives, the Coronavirus pandemic brings with it more than physical symptoms. Pummeling the US economy is a side effect of COVID-19 that biologists and infectious disease experts failed to mention, but massive nationwide business shutdowns have led to extensive job loss. Those who were unprepared for this unforeseen event quickly found themselves unable to make even their regular monthly living expense payments.

Although a $2T stimulus package has been signed into law, many Americans have already been out of work for weeks, and won’t likely see any payments from this legislation for several additional weeks. In that amount of time, any number of mortgage, rent, and car payments will go unpaid. This may, unfortunately, lead to some people losing their vehicles.

If your car has been repossessed, you might be confused about where to turn. But even after your car is hooked to the tow truck, you have options. There are laws in place to protect you from having to file bankruptcy and some things you can do to recover your vehicle. Here are some answers to common questions about car repossession.

1. Why was my car taken?

Late payments aren’t the only reason your car may be taken. It is very possible for cars to get repossessed by accident. If you were not expecting your car to get repossessed, it is worth it to call your lender to find out where your vehicle is and how you can get it back. If your car was taken in error, congratulations! You should be able to get it back relatively easily.

2. Can I get my car back?

On the other hand, if your car was repossessed for failure to pay, your lender legally has to notify you in the event of a repossession. In some cases, the lender will expect the borrower to pay back the car loan in full, plus the cost of repossession and storage, to get the vehicle back. Alternatively, the lender can require the borrower to pay any past due payments to return the vehicle and reinstate the loan. If you cannot meet the terms required to return the car, the lender will (typically) begin the process of selling the car to make up the balance of the loan.

3. What are my rights?

The borrower is entitled to receive notices from the lender. The first indicates the lender’s intent to sell the property and provides information for the borrower to try to get the car back or pick up any personal belongings left in the car. The second notice comes after the car has been sold by the lender. The borrower must receive a notice confirming the sale, how much the car sold for, repossession and storage fees, and the remaining balance—if any—on the loan.

Keep in mind that the repossession agent cannot use physical force, enter a closed garage, or damage any personal property in your car in order to repossess your car. The police are also barred from aiding in the repossession of a vehicle. They can be present to keep the peace but they are not allowed to intervene in any way.

4. Do I still owe money if the lender sells my vehicle?

If the car in question sells for less than what you owe on the loan, you will owe a deficiency balance. It is your responsibility to pay this balance. If you cannot pay the balance, you could face legal action and wind up on a debt collector’s list.

5. How will repossession impact my credit score?

Normally, repossession will remain on your credit report for 7 ½ years. You should expect the repossession to impact your credit score negatively. It could even increase interest rates or decrease your credit allowance on existing accounts.

Veitengruber Law can help, especially if you are struggling because of the current quarantine situation. Our New Jersey credit repair legal team is working throughout the entire Coronavirus pandemic. We are all working from home, but otherwise it is business as usual. You can reach us via any phone number on our website. We will talk with you to determine your best path going forward. You have access to all of the experts on the Veitengruber Law team during this challenging time! Reach out via phone, email, or message us on social media. We are answering messages on every platform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collection Defense vs NJ Bankruptcy

If you have been sued by a collections company or “debt collector,” and the debt truly belongs to you, the most important piece of advice is: Do not ignore the lawsuit.

With that being said, people in your position naturally wonder if they have options. Being sued for a debt that perhaps you thought had been forgiven, or that had reached its statute of limitations, can come as a surprise. Many times we put these things out of our minds because it is easier than focusing on it and worrying about it.

Unfortunately, by putting a large debt that you failed to repay out of your mind, you are now faced with a lawsuit that asks you for the entire lump sum that you owe. This sum may even be larger than you remember due to late fees, attorney fees for the collections agency, and interest.

Is filing for bankruptcy your only option?

While it is impossible to give a blanket answer to this question (as everyone’s case will vary wildly) – the general answer is that no, bankruptcy is not your only option when you are being sued for an unpaid debt.

There are several things your NJ bankruptcy attorney will ask when you meet with him or her. Is this your only significant debt? What is your income? Can you repay this debt if it is broken down into payments?

If you have other debts along with the one in the lawsuit, and your income doesn’t allow you to get ahead on paying them back, it may be that bankruptcy is right for your situation.

Can you negotiate with the debt collector?

On the flip side, if the debt in this lawsuit is literally your only debt (outside of your mortgage and car payment), and your income is steady, you might want to have your bankruptcy/debt resolution attorney negotiate with the collection company.

For example, if your unpaid debt amount is $15,000, you may be able to talk the debt collector down several thousand if you pay in a lump sum. It is also possible to negotiate a payment schedule if you wish to avoid bankruptcy.

Is collection defense an option for you?

Collection defense is only appropriate if the debt in the lawsuit doesn’t belong to you, or if the lawsuit contains errors. So, if you are being sued in error, then collection defense is an option, but the reason many people opt for a different resolution is that collection defense representation can get expensive. Regardless of how much you pay your attorney, you can still end up losing the case, even if the debt collector is in the wrong. This is because NJ law doesn’t require strict proof of signed agreements when it comes to credit cards. Therefore, you may end up owing hefty attorney’s fees and still have to repay the debt in full when all is said and done if you go this route.

The only way to know for sure which direction you should go is to sit down with a NJ bankruptcy lawyer or debt resolution attorney. Often, bankruptcy attorneys also specialize in credit repair and debt resolution strategies other than bankruptcy, so look for an attorney who is well-versed in all areas in which you need assistance.