Having a vehicle or other personal property repossessed can be an incredibly frustrating experience. This frustration is compounded in situations when the repossession is executed wrongfully.
At Matthew R. Osborne, PC, we represent and advise consumers in cases of wrongful repossession, and many of our new clients ask us questions related to filing a lawsuit against a lender or repo company.
We hear these a lot:
“What can I do if my car is repossessed?”
“How can I tell if the repossession was legal or not?”
“If the repossession was unlawful, what actions can I take to get my property back?”
These are all great questions. In this article, we’re going to answer them and give you some food for thought if you’re wondering what to do in a situation wherein you might have been a victim of a wrongful repossession.
Criteria for Wrongful Repossession
The vast majority of vehicle and/or property repossessions are lawful. That is to say, the legal qualifications are met by both the lender and the company that is hired to execute the repossession.
When a lender can take action to repossess property varies according to the terms and conditions of the agreement that is in place between the borrower and the lender. In most cases, a lender can take action and repossess property once the borrower has officially defaulted on their obligations to make payments in full and on-time.
Here’s a little known fact about property repossession: the lender is not legally required to give you notice of the repossession before it takes place. So, just because the bank didn’t notify you that they were going to take your car, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the repossession was wrongful.
What does qualify for wrongful repossession is the following (not a complete list):
- The wrong vehicle was repossessed. Occasionally, lenders or repo agents will mistakenly repossess the wrong vehicle or property. This can be due to administrative errors or mistakes in identifying the vehicle in question. If this happens, the repossession is assuredly wrongful and a lawsuit could be justly filed.
- The vehicle was repossessed even though payments were current. If you’ve been making your payments and the bank still repossesses your vehicle (and you can show proof of payments made), the repossession is wrongful, and legal action can be pursued.
- The repossession agent did not follow Colorado law. There are steps that every repo agent must take before and during a lawful repossession. These include notifying local law enforcement, staying out of fenced or locked areas, and obeying orders to leave private property if instructed to do so.
If and when a repo agent does not obey the law and there is documented evidence of such actions, the repossession can be deemed wrongful.
- Damage was caused to either the vehicle or other property. This is more common than you may think. If a repossession company causes any damages to your property during the repossession, be sure to take plenty of photographs and try to obtain witness accounts if possible.
Also, if and when local law enforcement are brought on-site to oversee the repossession, it is against the law for the police officer(s) to side with either you or the repo agent. For example, it is unlawful for a police officer to command you to hand over your keys to the repo agent under threat of arrest or detainment.
If this does happen, it is a violation of your constitutional rights, and a lawsuit against the police department could be filed.
What to Do If You Believe You Have a Case
If you believe you are a victim of a wrongful repossession, take these steps right away:
- Gather as much documentation together as possible. This includes copies of your borrowing agreement, proof of payment, bank statements, and copies of all correspondence between you and your lender.
- Write down a statement of what happened, starting with the earliest relevant event. Include as much detail as you can.
- Contact the Law Office of Matthew R. Osborne, PC immediately, and schedule a case review.
When banks or other lending institutions commit wrongful repossessions, they should be held accountable. That’s where our team can help.
There’s no reason why you should be forced to deal with the embarrassment and inconvenience of having your property wrongfully repossessed. We specialize in representing consumers in exactly these kinds of circumstances.
Contact our offices today, and we’ll inform you of all of your options and advise you of the best steps to take in your case.