Automobile Repossessions – How To Get Your Car Back

You wake up in the morning, get ready for the day, and start heading toward your car… only to find that it’s not there. You call the police, only to be told it’s been repossessed. What do you do? You don’t have the money to get your car back, but you rely on it every day. Under such circumstances, the easiest solution and wisest decision would be to hire an experienced Chicago car repossession attorney. An attorney will be able to help you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy to reschedule your debt payment and thereby save your assets.

What a Car Repossession Attorney in Chicago, IL Can Do for You

Man driving a car in the city with the sunset in the background

In accordance with the law, your repossessed vehicle will have to be returned to you once you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and an experienced Chicago car repossession attorney can guide you through this process. In addition to preserving your assets, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will allow you to pay back the balance owed over the course of five years. This article provides a review of the basic rules regarding automobile repossession and the process of Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

General Repossession Laws in Illinois

Finance companies can repossess your car if you default on the loan—even if you only missed one single payment. Even worse, they do not have to give notice or warning of an impending repossession. There are; however, some rules by which a finance or repossession company must abide. For example, repossessions can only occur on public property, which means it would be illegal for them to enter your garage or private driveway in order to repossess your vehicle. Unfortunately, this law is often broken by repossession companies.

The finance company also has an obligation to inform you of the full amount of money necessary in order to get your car back, which will include the cost of the repossession itself and the storage charges. In most cases, these costs amount to at least $500 over the amount owed on the vehicle prior to the repossession. Prior to paying the fees requested by a repossession company, contact a car repossession attorney in Chicago, IL to ensure that the fees are reasonable.

Consumer Protection Laws Associated With Automobile Repossession

  1. Assuming you paid 30 percent of the total amount due for your vehicle (including the down payment), your vehicle should be returned to you if you can pay the back payment and costs within 15 days. However, this is true only for the first repossession.
  2. Assuming you paid more than 60 percent of the deferred price and you are willing to surrender the car, the finance company has two options: keep the car as full payment, or return the car and sue for the balance of the loan.
  3. In order to surrender a vehicle, you must complete a form and send it by certified mail within 21 days. In order to obtain the title of the vehicle, the finance company must file with the court.
  4. The repossession company is required to take an inventory of all personal property in the repossessed vehicle and return it to you.

What if I Can’t Pay and They Sell My Car?

If you are unable to pay the necessary costs to get your car back and the repossession company decides to sell it, they must do so in a commercially reasonable manner. In most cases, a repossessed vehicle will be sold at an auction. You have the right to bid at the auction in an attempt to get your car back, but this will require you to have cash. After the sale of the vehicle, the finance company can sue you for any deficiency, which is usually a large sum of money and can lead to a lawsuit and garnishment of your wages. It is highly advised that you consult with a car repossession attorney in Chicago, IL.

The Hope Offered by Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: A Lower Interest Rate, and Potentially a Lower Loan Balance

If you don’t have the money on hand to get your vehicle back after it’s been repossessed (most people don’t) and you want to avoid a deficiency judgment, then you can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, if it is your goal to get your car back, then you should follow the proven method of doing so, which is to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy with the assistance of a Chicago car repossession attorney.

In order to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must have insurance and a regular source of income sufficient to pay your bills and make a suitable payment to the Chapter 13 trustee. Currently, the interest rate for cars in Chapter 13 is 8 percent, which is lower than many other interest rates. In most cases, you will have between three and five years to pay the full balance on the vehicle in addition to interest. However, there is an exception. If you have owned the car for more than two and a half years, you can “cram the car down.” This means you can pay only the value of the vehicle rather than the total balance, assuming the latter is greater than the former. This exception applies to the title loan as well. As far as your other bills are concerned, most Chapter 13 bankruptcies will pay only a small dividend to unsecured bills such as credit card or medical bills.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If your car has been repossessed and you do not want to try to get it back or you have otherwise determined that a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not your best option, then you might consider a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

After the sale of your repossessed car, there will be a deficiency, which is the amount owed on the vehicle in addition to a number of fees associated with the repossession of the vehicle. Interest accrual will not cease once the vehicle has been repossessed, and the repossession will appear on your credit report. The finance or repossession company can sue for the deficiency and obtain a judgment to collect the amount owed through wage garnishment.

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will allow you to discharge your debt and get a fresh start. Contact an Illinois car repossession attorney today to discuss your options.

Under What Circumstances Might My Car Be Repossessed in Illinois?

It is standard for car purchase agreements to include a provision stating that the car itself will be collateral for the amount of the purchase. If you do not make your car payments on time, the seller has the option of repossessing your car. In Illinois, this means that the seller is permitted to seize your car without a court order and without giving you any form of warning.

The seller is allowed to break into the car or send another person to break into it. They are not, however, permitted to break into your garage or take the vehicle over your objection, as doing so would create a breach of the peace. If your car has been repossessed, it would be extremely wise to contact a car repossession attorney in Chicago, IL as soon as possible.

Can I Get My Car Back After Repossession in Illinois?

In Illinois, if you have paid more than 30 percent of your car loan before your car is repossessed, then the seller is required to send you notice that he or she has repossessed your car within three days of doing so. At that point, you would have 21 days to redeem your vehicle. You will be required to pay the default amount owed, all late fees, and all repossession fees prior to getting your car back.

If you have not paid 30 percent or more of your car loan before the car is repossessed, then you may get the car back only by paying the entire amount owed on the loan before the seller resells the vehicle. If your car has been repossessed in Chicago, a car repossession lawyer can explain all of your rights and help ensure that they are exercised.

Can I Go to Jail for Hiding My Car from A Repossession Company?

A seller cannot repossess your car if you keep it secured in your private garage. However, as soon as you venture into a public parking lot, repossession can occur. It makes little sense to keep a car hidden to avoid repossession in order to keep it, when the effect will be that you will still become unable to drive the car. While you may not go to jail for keeping your car hidden from repossession, it is possible that you will cause the seller to obtain a court order against you. If you are concerned that your car may be repossessed in Chicago, IL, speak with a car repossession attorney before you attempt to hide your car from repossession.

How Much Money Does a Repossession Agent Make per Car?

It is not uncommon for a repossession agent to be paid up to $400 per repossessed vehicle. Many agents set their own hours and earn up to $80,000 per year. This results in agents who are quite motivated to get the job done when they have been assigned to repossess your vehicle. If you have encountered a repossession agent who you believe violated the law in repossessing your vehicle in Chicago, be sure to contact a qualified car repossession attorney right away to review your case.


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