Violating the terms of your contract or falling behind on your car payments could give entitle the creditor to repossess your vehicle. In doing so, they must comply with certain California repossession laws and protocols. Should they fail, that may constitute wrongful repossession, which directly violates your consumer rights.
A California wrongful repossession lawyer with Sue The Collector can fight this injustice. We have secured millions in awards from debt collectors, and now it’s time to help you. Call us today at 877-BAD-REPO for a free consultation. We offer a no-win, no-fee guarantee.
A Closer Look Into Car Repossession
When creditors give loans on a vehicle, they can repossess it whenever you miss a payment. California law does not enforce a grace period. Instead, that’s usually up to the creditor. The creditor may repossess the car if they don’t accept late payments.
On the other hand, if they allow late payments, they must honor the contract and cannot repossess your car. Once the grace period ends and you still haven’t paid, you are in default. Only then will they have grounds to carry out a repossession.
What Wrongful Repossession Looks Like
Sometimes, creditors will try to repossess your car even if you’re on time with all your payments. There could be a glitch in their system or even a miscommunication. Still, you deserve to have your rights protected.
If you are late with your payments, that doesn’t mean your rights go out the window. When the creditor carries out a vehicle repossession, they are bound by certain limitations. For example, it is illegal for the repossession agent to:
- Threaten you or a family member with violence (also known as breach of peace repossession in California)
- Damage property
- Make excessive noise
- Break into your locked garage or home
- Break a lock or a gate
- Enter your home without your consent
- Use physical force against you
- Have police officers come to your home without a warrant
Should they carry out an illegal repossession in California, they may no longer have grounds to repossess your car. In that case, you may be entitled to collect compensation for actual losses like damaged property as well as statutory damages.
What You Can Do to Prevent Repossession in California
Whether you’re currently in default for your vehicle or it looks like you’re heading in that direction, there are a few measures you can take to prevent repossession. They include:
Renegotiating Your Loan
Some creditors might be willing to work with you if you want to adjust your monthly payment plan or request more time to pay your loan installment. Creditors hate losing customers. They may agree to give you a few extra days to pay over selling the vehicle elsewhere, as the former is generally more cost-effective for them.
Selling the Vehicle
It may be in your best interest to sell your car before the creditor repossesses it. We understand that this is not the ideal situation, especially since it’s probably your sole method of transportation. You might get more for it than the repossession company would at any auction, which may enable you to pay off your loan.
Refinance Your Loan
If the creditor doesn’t want to renegotiate your loan and you’re not willing to sell it, another option may be to refinance the vehicle. Here, you could pay off the old loan with a new loan but at a lower monthly payment over a longer period of time. It may be easier for you to keep up with your payments.
File for Bankruptcy
You may have one of two options for bankruptcy:
- Chapter 7, which will keep the creditor from repossessing your vehicle and give you more time to pay
- Chapter 13, which will allow you to keep your car and catch up on your payments for the span of a few years
Our wrongful repossession attorney in California can help you determine which route is most suitable for your situation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Repossession in California
Many clients who have had their cars repossessed come to us with a lot of the same questions. We’ve put together a short list of them here. Being more informed can help you feel more at ease.
Will I Receive a Notice About My Vehicle Repossession?
According to the California Bureau of Security & Investigative Services (BSIS), the repossession company must inform you that they have confiscated your car via a Notice of Seizure within 48 hours. This notice must include the following information:
- The legal owner’s name, contact details, and address
- The repossession agency’s name, contact details, and address
What If My Personal Property Is Damaged During or After the Repossession?
In the Notice of Seizure, the repossession agency must inform you if your car and other belongings sustained damage, if any.
The state cannot force the repossession company to reimburse for any repair or replacement costs. However, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. You can take a case to small claims or civil court for compensation. We also recommend you file a written complaint to the Bureau. The repossession company might face disciplinary action if enough people complain about their actions.
How Do I File a Complaint With the Bureau?
Bureau of Security and Investigative Services
PO Box 980550
West Sacramento, CA 95798-0550
Keep a copy for yourself in case you decide to take further action.
Does the Repossession Have to Send Me a Pre-Repossession Notice?
No, California doesn’t require the repossession company to notify consumers. If they have a security interest or you’re in default for the vehicle, they can lawfully repossess it, but they must not commit a breach of the peace.
Get Help From Sue The Collector After Wrongful Repossession in California
If your vehicle was wrongfully repossessed or if you’re in the midst of it, reach out to Sue The Collector at 877-BAD-REPO. We can provide the protection you deserve after such harassment and abuse.