An overview of what happens before and during a repossession.
Did you borrow money to buy or lease your car or truck? The business or bank that loaned you the money is called the "lender." You probably signed a contract about the loan with the lender. Most loan contracts for cars and trucks say that if the borrower "defaults" the lender can "repossess" the car or truck. "Default" means missing payments. Most vehicle loan contracts say you default even if you only miss one payment. Did you default? The lender can take your car or truck back without going to court. The lender doesn't have to tell you ahead of time that it's going to take back your car or truck. "Repossession" is when your lender takes back your car or truck.
You should avoid repossession if you can. If your lender repossesses your vehicle, it will probably sell it for a very low price. If your lender sells your car for less than it's worth, it will still try to make you pay the loan. You could lose your vehicle and still have to pay for it.
- Get your payments up to date. Most people can't do this right away.
- Keep your vehicle in a locked garage. Your lender can't "breach the peace" to repossess a vehicle. What does "breach the peace" mean? Your lender can't break into a locked garage to repossess the vehicle.
- Keep your vehicle in an unusual place where your lender can't find it.
Do you want to hide or lock up your vehicle to avoid repossession? Hiding or locking up your vehicle can give you time to catch up on your payments. What if you don't catch up and your lender can't repossess your car for a long time? The lender will probably go to court to ask a judge to order you to hand over your vehicle.
Are you behind on your payments? Has your lender asked to "voluntarily repossess" your vehicle? "Voluntary repossession" is the same as regular repossession. "Voluntary repossession" means you give the lender your vehicle instead of the lender taking it. The only advantage to "voluntary repossession" is your lender won't charge you a repossession fee. You will probably still owe the lender money. You will still have the repossession on your credit report. Is the lender saying you won't owe it money? Is the lender saying the repossession won't be on your credit report? Get these promises in writing before you give the lender your car or truck.
Do you want to know more about what the lender or debt collector can and can't do to make you pay? Read more on our Debt Collection page.
Do you have a low income? Are you a victim of abuse? Do you have a disability? Are you 60 years old or older? You may be able to get free legal help. Call Vermont Legal Aid at (800) 889-2047.
If you don't qualify for free legal help, you can locate an attorney through the Vermont Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service.
Any consumer can contact:
Consumer Assistance Program
Burlington, Vermont 05405
(800) 649-2424 or
(802) 656-0862 (Chittenden County)
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