When you buy a car, your creditor can repossess it without going to court and first obtaining an order allowing for repossession. It’s called “self-help” rights.
Contrast the substantial self-help rights of a creditor with the utter lack of rights of consumers to act without a court order. The protections afforded to consumers with respect to repossessions of cars for the most part arise after the fact…even if you are not behind on your loan at the time of repossession, and even if the repossessor uses fraudulent or violent means to take your car. You now need to go through the court system to vindicate your rights, something the creditor did not have to do before taking (and likely selling) your car. Self-help repossession is one-sided and unfair, and in a lot of instances, it has led to severe physical and emotional injuries.
I give much credit to the National Consumer Law Center for all of its work over the years to protect consumers from abuse. It now has issued a comprehensive report on violent self-help repossessions and a proposal for change. It’s a somewhat long report, but a good read for many of us troubled by the industry. Click here to view the report. It’s in PDF, so it may take a bit to load.
Let’s all hope that the NCLC report is an impetus of change.
My firm deals with a lot of unlawful repossessions. Contact us if you would like to discuss your issue.