Car Repossessions

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Thousands of Pennsylvania residents get their cars repossessed each year. Pennsylvania law requires banks, finance companies, and repo agents to follow specific rules when repossessing cars. If they don’t follow the rules, you’re likely have a claim for significant damages.

If your car recently got repossessed in Pennsylvania, contact BCJ Law for help. To get a free case review from a Pennsylvania debt attorney, fill out our contact form or call us at 1-800-997-5561. 

When can my car get repossessed?

Banks and finance companies can repossess cars when you begin missing payments on your loan. Theoretically, they can repossess cars after one missed payment. In practice, however, banks and finance companies usually wait until two or three missed payments enact a car repossession.

What can I do if my car is about to get repo'd?

If your car is about to get repossessed, there are a few things you should and shouldn’t do:

  • Don't try to hide your car to stop repossession.
  • Remove all personal property from your car.
  • Remove all loan documents, purchase contracts, or work/repair orders.
  • Take pictures of the odometer milage, and the interior and exterior of your car.

Do I need to get notice of a car repossession?

Your lender is not required to notify you before repossessing your car. That said, your lender is required to provide the following notices following repossession:

  • Notice After Repo: following repossession your finance company must provide notice of the repossession to you and the police.
  • Notice of Sale: if your finance company will sell your car, it must provide notice of sale within a certain time period before the sale.
  • Notice of Deficiency: if your finance company sold your car, and the sale price was less than what you owed on your loan, your finance company must notify you of this deficiency.

In addition to providing these notices, your finance company must have specific language in these notices to appraise you of your rights. If your finance company doesn’t provide these notices, or if it doesn’t adequately disclose your rights, you could have a claim for money damages.

When is a car repossession unlawful?

Your car can’t get repossessed over your objection. If you object to a repo agent, then your finance company needs a court order to repossess your car. Repo agents also can’t use force or threats to repossess your car. Take these steps if a repo agent repossessed your car over your objections or through violence or unlawful threats:

  • Written Statements: to ensure you accurately recall the incident, consider making a written statement detailing the repo agents actions.
  • Gather Evidence: to preserve evidence relating to the incident, you can take pictures of damaged property or obtain witness statements from other people who observed the incident.
  • Get the Repo Agent's Info: if you can, take pictures of the repo agent and their truck and license plate.
  • Call the Police: file a police report documenting the incident.

If you believe your car was repossessed unlawfully, either over your objections, through threats or violence, or for some other reasons, you may have a claim for damages.

Can I get sued after a car repossession?

Yes, finance companies can sue you following a repossession. This usually happens when you car is sold after repossession and the sale proceeds aren’t enough to cover when you owe on your loan. To learn more about finance companies suing consumers after repossession, read this post: Can I Get Sued After a Repo? To learn how you can win a repo lawsuit, read this page: Repossession Lawsuits

Even if your finance company doesn’t sue you after it sells your car, it may try to collect any deficiency balance from you. Finance companies usually employ debt collection agencies to collect repossession deficiencies. If a debt collection agency harasses you or uses deceptive or unconscionable collection practices, you may have a claim for damages. Learn more about your debt collection rights here: Debt Collection Harassment.

What happens if my rights are violated?

The Pennsylvania Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) and various other laws give you significant remedies when finance companies and repo agents don’t follow the rules. For instance, if finance companies don’t follow the requirements of the UCC, you may be entitled to statutory damages equal to the total finance charge on your loan and 10% of your loan principal. Finance companies that violate the UCC also may be prohibited from suing you for a deficiency.

Hire BCJ Law to help!

If your car was repossessed in Pennsylvania, please contact BCJ Law for help. You may be entitled to damages, attorneys’ fees and costs. To get a free case review from a Pennsylvania debt attorney, fill out our free case review form or call us at 1-800-997-5561.

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