Repossession Question

beanwabrApril 17, 2011

Hi, I'm hoping someone can help me here. In November 2010 our van was repo'd with a balance of nearly $12,000. It was a 2004 Town & Country, purchased used in Dec '07. At the time I had a temporary job, then the economy happened and my hubby's business slowed to a crawl; it's taken us this long to see any kind of improvement, just to get back to not being 2 months behind on our bills. I haven't been able to land a job.

The company has sent us letters, called us, not understanding or caring that at one point I had less than a dollar cash on hand and under $10 in my account. Things were so bad, that I thought we were going to be foreclosed the mortgage or pay for a van we no longer have.

We've been turned over to collections; we got the letter and the number on it shows up on our caller ID but they never leave a message. When I return the call and leave a message, they always call when I'm out.

What will happen now? The vehicle was in my name, home in hubby's name. Someone told me we need to file bankruptcy; so would that be both of us that would need to? Our home right now is under the making home affordable program, so if we did this, would it mess anything up? Also, we're getting a small tax refund; can they take that to apply towards it? How long will this nightmare continue? Thanks for any help - I'm scared of what the future holds.

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Either contact a legal person, and yes there are some lawyers that will give a single session and go from there or contact your state attorney general as the collection agency apprears not to contact you and they still be be adding charges. Have all the information ready, and ask for the rules on collection agencies. There are rules about contacting clients.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 9:55PM
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Good heavens, don't file bankruptcy over $12,000. Take a deep breath. Now another. Now another.

With a repo, they'll sell the van at auction and come after you for the difference between what you owed and what they sell it for. You can likely settle for something less than 100% of that. If you're still making your payment, stop. Start setting that money aside to save up to settle for the repo deficit.

Collectors don't care about your personal financial situation. Their job is to get you going emotionally so you get scared and pay them instead of feed your family. Just be calm, tell them you don't have the money now, and hang up. Don't let them harrass you.

Take a few more deep breaths. You can get through this.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 9:53PM
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Thank you for the information! We had not made any payments since it was taken and my dh says that he will NOT be making any more because it is ridiculous to pay for something that we no longer own. I've heard that if you don't pay you can have a judgment put against you and/or be sued ... what is involved with that? Both dh and I have told them that we don't have the money now and of course they want to know how we're paying our bills (playing catch up because of the economy is no fun at all-I wonder how long it will take to get us back on track).

I ended up speaking with a manager who has worked it out for $100/mth for 6 months then see if a settlement can be offered. DH doesn't want to do this; I'm tempted to get HIM to call them back to tell them no. Because what'll happen if I don't/can't do this? I still don't have a job and it's few and far between with his work. Is there any way to get by with not being liable for this? 'No' according to collections because of my signed contract; this is something that MUST be paid.

My dh knows several people who never paid a dime on their repo's and nothing has happened to them. But they're coming after me relentlessly. What can I do? If I were to contact a lawyer (but no $$ for that either), could they do anything to help me? I'm clueless here. Thank you for any help!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 6:14PM
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Slightly off topic but what area do you live in and what kind of work do you do? Can you not find any kind of job to bring in a little income to help alleviate your overall crisis? Where I live there are jobs - may not pay a lot but it would seem that in your case something would be better than nothing. Can DH get some kind of job on the side while waiting for business to pick up

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 1:24PM
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You made the right decision to pay your mortgage first. The only people that can take your home is the mortgage company for non payment or the IRS for non payment of taxes.

I don't think the car company can do anything to you except ruin your credit. The law prohibits the collector from harassing you. I think calling you or knocking on your door once or twice is okay. They can not threaten you or talk to your neighbors. You need to counsel with a lawyer, I have done that before about renters and the first visit was always free.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 4:09PM
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I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV so don't take this as legal advice. What you do need is real legal advice. If you can't afford a lawyer, some with give a little free advice or contact you state's bar association for the names of lawyers or organizations that do pro bono work.

When a vehicle is repossessed and the owner can't come up with the money to get it back, it's sold at auction. Auction (or wholesale) value is far less than retail and on top of that the finance company (or bank) will add repossession fees and storage fees with can add up to several thousand dollars. I'd be hard pressed to believe that the wholesale value of a '04 Town and Country would be anywhere near $12,000.

Have they told you what you owe? Frankly, the $100 per month payment sounds like a way to squeeze a little more money out of you, praying on your good nature and desperation to make this go away. I have to imagine you owe them many thousands of dollars.

The reality is that you already have a delinquent account and repossession on your credit report. If you settle with the finance company, it will still show up as "legally settled for less than the full amount." All of this means, your next auto loan will be much harder to get and if you do get one it will likely be at an exorbitant interest rate and with added fees of $500 to $2000+.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 8:02AM
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Yes, the company can sue you at anytime and will win, because you legitimately owe the money. When they win, they get a judgement against you and they can use that to put a lien on any other assets you have (house), clean out your bank accounts, or garnish your wages. You do want to settle with them before the court date, because after they've got a judgement you no longer have any leverage. But they usually take a while to get around to suing you, opting for collections agents harassing you first.

Next time you talk to them, ask them what the deficit is (the difference between the $12K you owe and what they sold it for at auction). That's what they can sue you for and win. So there's the deficit balance, and then there are all sorts of "garbage" fees that they will have added on.

Don't make baby payments at this point, as they'll just get swallowed up in the extra fees they keep adding, and it could be never ending. What you want to work out is a settlement where it's defined in time and amount. The best way to do this is as a lump sum. You save up 25-30% of the amount they say you owe, and offer it to them as settlement in full for the debt. Don't give them anything until you have it in writing that they'll take that amount as settlement in full. And don't give them a bank account number, as they'll electronically clean it out. Mail them a cashier's check or money order after you have the written settlement agreement.

Until you have the money saved up to settle, don't have long conversations with them. Tell them "I don't have any money, I'll call you when I do" and hang up. But don't stick your head in the sand. It won't make it go away.

You don't need a lawyer, you can do this yourself. And in the meantime, until you have a full time job, go make some income on your own. Clean houses, mow lawns, deliver pizza.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 7:53PM
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