Stopping the Repo Man

If you’ve ever lost your job or fell behind on your bills, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  At first it’s a choice between the utility bill, groceries, and your car payment.  You choose to pay the car payment and the groceries hoping that you’ll get some overtime or find a new job next month to catch up.  But then the overtime doesn’t come or you don’t get that job.  Next month you are faced with the same choice: utility bills, groceries, or car payment?  A person’s got to eat.  You need your car to get to work but you need electricity to run everything from the refrigerator to the air conditioner.  This isn’t really a choice so you make the best decision you can with what you have.  Since the electric company is threatening to cut off your electricity, you pay the utility bill and the groceries which means the car payment slides.  Then the calls start coming.


It doesn’t take long before the bill collectors are blowing up  your phone.  You try to stay on top of it, but instead of catching up you fall further behind.  As you slide further behind, the calls increase with both intensity and frequency.  They are calling more than ever before.  The stress starts to take a toll.  Instead of excitement, you begin to dread the phone ringing.  If the caller ID says “Unknown” or it’s a number you don’t recognize, you just don’t answer the phone because you know it’s a bill collector.  You don’t think it can get any worse when it does.  The Repo Man comes.
You see him driving around your neighborhood.  You know it’s the repo man because the tow truck seems older and unmarked.  But repudiatable towing companies get into the business too, so you don’t just assume that because the tow truck says “Lincoln Towing” that it means he’s not the repo man.  He may well be.  You use your common sense.
So what are your options if you find yourself in this situation?  Here’s some immediate tips on keeping your car, short of bankruptcy:

Tips to Save Your Car from the Repo Man.

1. Keep the car in the garage at home. Just because the car is on your property, it does not mean that they won’t take your car.  They will.  They will even check to see if the car is in the backyard and if they can take it from the backyard, they will do that too.  They’ll also follow you to the grocery store and take it there or follow you to work and take the car at work. If your work provides a parking garage that doesn’t let unregistered vehicles into the garage, park your car in that garage.  Most people don’t work at a place where this is an option, but if it is for you, use it.  It might be the only thing saving your car. 

2. Call the bank.  Talk to them.  Even if you’ve been dodging their calls, they might be willing to give you some more time if you call them. 

3. If the repo man is coming, get in the car.  I’ve had mixed reports of success here.  But if they can’t tow the vehicle with you in, they’ll be forced to let you go unless the police tell you otherwise. 

If none of the above options will work for you, then it’s time to see if bankruptcy can help.


How Bankruptcy Can Help You Save Your Car.

If you are behind on your car payments and you can’t immediately catch up, usually the only option for you is to consider filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy works to save your car in two ways.  First, it saves your car through the mechanism known as the automatic stay.  What this means is that the government steps in and issues an order (known as the automatic stay) that tells the repo man to back off.  He can’t repossess your car.  He can’t even call you.  The bank can’t call you either.  Your phone will go silent.   That means you don’t have to worry about him coming in and taking your car at home in front of your house or at the grocery store.  You can drive your car free from fear.   The automatic stay acts as an immediate fix to your situation.  It is designed to give you some time to work out a plan to keep your car long term.
The second way it helps is by restructuring your loan which provides a means for you to catch up on the late payments.  In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll make payments on the car and the late payments through the Chapter 13 plan.  But, Chapter 13 doesn’t just provide a way for you to make up your late payments.  It can can also lower your monthly car payments by cutting your interest rate down to 5.5%.  In many cases, it can stretch out the period of time you must pay on the car which can also lower your monthly payment.  In some cases, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can even reduce what you owe on the car itself.   In other words, bankruptcy can force the lender to take $10,000 for a car in which you still owe $20,000.   Bankruptcy even works on Title loans too. Does that sound helpful to you?  It does to thousands of other people throughout our country which is why so many people file Chapter 13 to save their car.  You can too.


Of course, there are some qualifiers and limits to filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy which are fact specific and beyond the scope of this post.  But you should know have a good idea what bankruptcy can and can’t do.  If you want to find out if bankruptcy can do all of that for you for your particular situation, give us a call to setup an appointment by calling us at 214-396-6099. You’ll be glad you did.

Eric Engel

by Eric Engel

Eric Engel is a Dallas divorce attorney for clients in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. He is the president of Engel Law Firm. For more information on Mr. Engel please visit his bio page or contact our firm at (214) 377-0166.

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