In the event that you fail to make payments on your car, it’s quite common for your auto lender, bank, or whomever else you owe the money to send repossession agents to find and seize your car.
This is much the same with other debt collection and repossession, and it affects many people both in the US and in other parts of the world.
When this happens it’s quite common for people to attempt to outwit the repo man and hide their property, however, be warned that doing that can be both difficult and risky, and repossession agents have many ways of tracking down you and the property they are trying to seize.
How Repossession Works
If you miss even one payment when paying off a loan on a car you’re technically put into default, which means that you’ve broken the terms of your loan agreement and are subject to the various penalties and consequences of this.
While many car lenders will give owners some amount of leeway to get back on track with their payments or allow for advanced notice of difficult or unexpected financial circumstances, not all lenders can be relied upon to do this which means they will likely immediately attempt to recover their losses or preempt any further missed payments by repossessing your car.
If and when an auto lender hires a repossession agency to recover your car, the company will attempt to locate your car, tow it to a holding location such as a large repo lot, and then hold it in place for various amounts of time, most often around 30 days.
If your car is found and seized you have the right to reclaim any personal belongings from within the vehicle.
Aside from this, you’re not permitted to use the car while it’s being repossessed and must clear all issues, including back payments, repossession fees, or pay off the remaining debt in full.
If this doesn’t happen there’s a chance your car will be sold at auction after a month and after the auction, any remaining money or debt that is owed to the lender will still be held against you in your name and will need to be repaid.
Hiding Your Car
If you know your car is going to be repossessed and try to hide it from the repo man, the repo agency will take various measures to recover the vehicle.
The danger with trying to hide your car is that in the long term this could cost money and make your financial situation even worse, as the costs of repossession can sometimes be transferred onto the debtor.
Another important thing to remember is that repo men have specialized tools at their disposal to be able to retrieve cars from all sorts of places, from very tight parking spots to secluded parking spaces.
Trying to keep hiding the car for the long term is exceedingly difficult and the costs of the search can sometimes be staggering and is the last thing anyone struggling to make payments needs.
However, if you’ve resolved to go through with this, there’s more you should know about how repo men operate and what they’re willing to do to secure the property.
How They Find You
Repo agencies are able to use various methods to recover cars that are being hidden, and often research their owners quite thoroughly to work out potential hiding places.
Even if you’re able to store the car somewhere out of sight, such as a garage, repo agents will often watch the property that the car is hidden within, and when an opportunity arises, try to remove the vehicle as soon as they’re able to.
Repo agents will try to poke around in your life, potentially asking neighbors, friends, and family for your whereabouts, and use social media and other tools to try and piece together some idea of where you and your car may be.
They will check common areas where you’ve been known to go and places where you park around the neighborhood, meaning it’s very difficult to hide your car anywhere near your home or with family or friends as these will be the first places most repo men will look.
What Can You Do?
Well, the best thing is to always try to make your payments, and communicate with your lender to let them know of difficulties and request some more time to make payments or establish an understanding.
However, some lenders aren’t interested in this and aren’t willing to budge on missed payments.
If you made a hefty deposit on the car or have equity in the vehicle, you may be able to sell the car yourself to be able to pay off the remaining debt and squash any threat of repossession before it starts and potentially keep a little money for yourself.
Another option is to surrender the car to the lender, which will of course leave you without a vehicle and responsible for any remaining debt after the car is auctioned, however, you will escape the stress of being repossessed.
While repossession agents have the right to enter your property and seize a car, they may not breach the peace and use force or violence to achieve this.
They may also not remove the vehicle from a closed garage without your explicit permission. If this occurs, you may wish to seek legal advice as you could be eligible for compensation which will help you sort out some of these financial issues.