Last updated July 31, 2018.
According to a recent article in the Washington Post, more than 4% of car loans in the United States were overdue by 90 days or more at the end of 2017. For subprime car loans—loans made to individuals with low credit scores—nearly one in 10 were overdue. The Post reports that as a result of all these late payments, business is booming for repossession agents.
Repossession agents (or “repo men”) are not popular people in Las Vegas—or anywhere else in Nevada or the U.S., for that matter. When facing repossession of essential personal property, like a car, individuals struggling with debt can get desperate, escalating a confrontation to a dangerous level. As a result, repo men are often placed in risky situations—but they don’t need to be.
Rather, debtors in Las Vegas have several perfectly legal and peaceful options available in dealing with the repo man. Learning about these options can help reduce tensions if you fall behind on your car loan or other debt. If you would like to learn more about any of them, you can contact the lawyers of Haines & Krieger for more information.
How to Deal with the Repo Man in Las Vegas
Although it can be difficult to set your emotions aside in the stressful situation that repossession creates, thinking calmly and clearly is the first step to dealing effectively with the repo man. You have better options than getting angry, aggressive, or outright violent, as some debtors tend to do. Keep the following in mind:
1. Repo men are not the police and do not have police powers.
Repo men are private citizens hired by lenders to attempt to recover property based on a civil contract claim. Consequently, they cannot obtain warrants, trespass on your property beyond reasonable measures to repossess your property, destroy your property, break into your home or garage, threaten you with violence, or engage in violence to repossess a vehicle.
In short, repo men must complete their work peacefully. Otherwise, they have breached the peace, and you may be entitled to additional relief against them or your lender. And if they do trespass, injure you or damage your property, or threaten you, they have committed criminal acts and your recourse is to the police.
Learn more: Debt Collectors Must Obey the Law
2. Your garage is your castle.
Because of the repo man’s limited legal authority, keeping your car locked in your garage will make it very, very difficult for anyone to repossess it. Of course, a car locked away in your garage is of little use to you, but that’s the tradeoff for protecting it against the repo man.
While your car is in a public place, such as a parking lot at your apartment complex, workplace, or supermarket, the repo man is within his rights to take possession of it. So, it may be worth your while to keep your vehicle locked in your garage until you work out an arrangement with your lender, as inconvenient as that may be.
3. Filing bankruptcy stops collection efforts and gives you time to strategize.
When you file for bankruptcy, the law imposes an automatic stay on creditors’ collection efforts. That means your lenders must stop calling you and cannot sue you, and the repo man has to stop trying to take your stuff. Although the automatic stay can be lifted in certain circumstances, it can at least give you time to negotiate with your lender without the threat of repossession hanging over you.
Learn more: When Filing Bankruptcy, Can I Keep My Car?
4. Bankruptcy offers other advantages, too.
Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code allows debtors the opportunity to redeem their vehicles from the lender by paying the lender the market price of the vehicle in one lump sum payment—regardless of how much is owed on the loan.
Similarly, Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code allows debtors to “cram down” the value of a vehicle if it’s more than 910 days old. This reduces the loan’s outstanding amount to the car’s current market value and reduces the interest rate as well. In short, “cram downs” can save you a lot of money on your car loan.
Recognize the True Problem
Repossession is unpleasant—there’s no denying that—but the problem isn’t really the repo man. The problem is your debt. An experienced Las Vegas bankruptcy lawyer can help you get a handle on your debt problems before your car is towed.
If you have more questions about how to deal with the repo man or how bankruptcy in Las Vegas can help you, please feel free to contact an experienced Haines & Krieger Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney for a free initial consultation by calling 702-880-5554 today.