I drive an older car that I always knew would break down some day in a bad place and need towed. I figured I could always easily look up the number of a towing company using my phone's internet service if I ever needed to. Recently, my car started making an alarming sound that led to me pulling off the road while driving down the highway. It then wouldn't start back up. I grabbed my cell phone and went to do a web search to find a local towing company, and I realized I had used up all of my data plan for the month! It was late at night, so I had to call and awaken friends until someone answered who could help. I created this blog to help others avoid the same embarrassment as me. Always keep the number of a tow truck company in your car.
If you make payments on a car, you know that if you miss any, you risk having your car repossessed, depending on the terms and conditions of your contract. But if someone shows up to take your car -- especially if you've been making payments on time -- how can you tell if the person is really trying to repossess your car, albeit mistakenly, or if they're a car thief? Fortunately, there are some state laws and procedures you can follow to protect yourself.
License and Registration, Please
Depending on your state laws, the person might have to show you a license or special identification card that verifies they are from a repossession company.
For example, in California, the Department of Consumer Affairs says repo workers are supposed to be registered with the department's Bureau of Security and Investigative Services and carry a specific ID card. You can call the Bureau to verify the person's license. A legitimate repossessor should give you enough identifying information so that you can call and verify his or her license.
You've Got the Wrong Car, Mister
Now, this all might sound strange and unnecessary. After all, if you've been paying your car payments, no one should be taking your car. Anyone trying to is a thief, right?
Not necessarily. A loan company can screw up their records. You don't want to do anything like attempt to physically restrain a repossessor who was given incorrect information because he or she is just doing a job. Try to resolve the issue another way.
I'm Calling the Cops
Police departments have picked up on this dilemma, and more of them are requesting that repossession companies alert them to which cars are being repossessed either before or just after the fact.
Police don't want to be bothered with filling out stolen-car reports only to find out that the car was repossessed instead. However, that also means that if someone shows up and claims to be repossessing your car, you can call the police and see if a report has been filed.
If the police say no, even if you're in a state where the repo company tells the police about the repo after it's been done, have a police officer come out. Get pictures of the person taking the car, along with his or her license plate numbers and company name.
Keep all of your car payment paperwork and receipts in a place that's easy for you to access quickly. You can use these to verify your payments. If the police officer gets there before the repo worker takes off, the police officer might be able to stop the repossession until you can straighten things out with the loan company.
Good repo workers have a job to do, and they rely on the information they get from the loan company. They are not trying to cause you hardship. However, they do understand that you want to protect your investment and ensure that they aren't thieves masquerading as car repo workers. Be polite but insistent and get the licensing information or call the police if you find your car being unexpectedly repossessed. For more information, contact a professional such as Tri City Towing And Recovery.