How to Handle a Car Repo

A visit from the repo man won't make your day.
i John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you run into financial difficulty and you can’t make your car payment, the creditor probably won’t extend much grace to you. A long as you owe money on the vehicle, the creditor has the legal right to repossess it if you default on the payments. Although losing your car won’t be pleasant, you can handle a car repo with class and land on your feet again.

Step 1

Allow the creditor to take possession of the vehicle without interfering. The creditor does not need to inform you prior to taking the car and you may not have the opportunity to remove any personal property from the vehicle. You must cooperate with the creditor.

Step 2

Contact the creditor to arrange to receive any personal property that was inside the vehicle. Some states may require the creditor to issue a report about your personal property. Arrange to get your items back from the creditor.

Step 3

Find out what the creditor does with the vehicle. Some states require the creditor to inform the consumer about the outcome of the repossession, including the date of a planned sale, to enable the consumer to attend to bid on the car. If the creditor sells the car, a shortfall between the amount you owed and the selling price of the car results in a “deficiency.” The creditor may sue you to recover this deficiency. If there is a surplus, the creditor must give it to you.

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