If you’re facing repossession, you may be wondering how the recovery company’s repo man is going to find your car. Here’s what you need to know about the repossession process, how to stop it, and ways to get into another vehicle if you can't.
How Does the Repo Man Know Where My Car Is?
Every car made has a unique number, called the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). When a lender hires a recovery company to take your car, they get the VIN, make and model, and your personal information to locate the vehicle and make sure it’s the right one.
When you apply for an auto loan, you give the lender your personal information – including your home address. If you default on the loan, they can pass your address onto the repo man that they hire to repossess your car.
If your W-2 income is how you’re paying for the vehicle, you also provided the lender with employment information to prove you have the ability to repay the loan. They could also pass this onto the recovery company, and they could repossess your car at your workplace.
Additionally, repo men are used to most tricks or ways that borrowers try to hide their vehicles. If you try to conceal your car, say a few blocks away from your home address, experienced recovery companies know to scan your neighborhood for the vehicle. Some may even visit local businesses or grocery stores in your area.
Your dealership may have installed a tracking device on your car too. They may have the ability to find your vehicle via GPS, and come and pick it up.
Rules Surrounding a Vehicle Repossession
A hired recovery company has the right to repossess your car from your driveway, off the street, while you're working, while you’re getting gas, or even from the parking lot of a grocery store while you’re shopping. If your vehicle is out in the open, it can be repossessed.
One of the biggest rules a recovery company must follow is not breaking into your house, or breaching the peace. This means they can’t bust your lock on your garage door to get to it. What is considered “breaching the peace” can vary by state; however, breaking into your garage to take your car isn’t allowed.
If you just lock away your vehicle in your garage in an attempt to hide it, the lender can (and may) take you to court, and, if they win, simply get a court order to repossess it. They may even get approval to garnish your wages for the auto loan balance if it gets to that point.
Another rule a recovery company must follow is not taking the car while you’re in it. Again, if you notice the repo man hooking up your vehicle and you hop inside, it’s a means to an end. The lender can take you to court to recover the car.
The recovery company may look for your vehicle for a while, at least until the lender stops paying them. If a lender stops paying for the service, it usually means they’re preparing to take you to court.
Delaying a repossession could be viewed as a waste of time – pushing back the inevitable. If you started missing payments and defaulted on the loan, the lender can take you to court and probably win.
If you believe your car is being repossessed unlawfully, then you need to provide proof that you’ve been making your payments or proof that you didn’t break the loan agreement. For situations such as this, we recommend talking to a lawyer.
How Can I Stop the Repo Man?
If you want to prevent the repo man from taking your vehicle, the best way is to avoid the repossession process altogether. This means making sure you always have full coverage auto insurance on your car while it’s been financed, making all of your payments on time, and staying in communication with your lender if you’re in tough times.
Believe it or not, the lender likely wants to avoid moving forward with a repossession, just like you. For a lender, the repo process is taxing, time-consuming, and represents a loss of money. Default is usually the reason for a repo, meaning you broke your loan contract, such as having too many missed payments. If you’re about to miss a payment, contact your lender right away.
Some lenders allow deferment plans, which usually add one or more payments to the back end of your loan, giving you some breathing room to get back on track. These plans were very common at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the states when many borrowers were unemployed during stay-at-home orders.
If you’re having financial hardships, such as a job loss or medical emergency, you may be able to qualify for a deferment plan with your auto lender. Act fast, though – if you’re already behind on payments, you’re not likely to qualify for these plans.
If you don’t qualify for a deferment, you may be able to talk to your lender about refinancing or changing some terms of your loan. It can be as simple as moving your payment due date, or completely refinancing and lowering your car payment by extending your loan. Again, often lenders won’t extend this help if you’re already behind on payments, so act quickly.
Getting Another Car After a Repossession
If your vehicle has already been repossessed, or it’s about to happen, you may be wondering what you’re going to do about your method of transportation. If this is you, you could qualify for auto financing with a buy here pay here (BHPH) dealership immediately after a repo.
BHPH dealers use in-house financing, and they’re known to skip the credit check. A repossession can mean getting turned down for a car loan for at least one year by traditional and even bad credit lenders. But if you apply with a dealership that doesn’t review your credit reports, your recent repossession isn't an issue.
Finding a Dealership After a Repo
Bad credit borrowers can sometimes struggle to find the right dealership for their credit. However, we want to help make it a little easier by looking for a dealer in your local area that has the ability to assist borrowers with tarnished credit histories.
To get matched to a dealership, fill out our free auto loan request form. Here at Auto Credit Express, we’ve been adding dealers to our nationwide network for over 20 years, so begin with us and get back on the road again!