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Should you hide your vehicle from repossession?

Perhaps it is becoming too common an event. You have a large bill coming due this week, such as your mortgage or car payment, and you know you will not have enough money in the bank to cover it. Maybe you are to the point where you are alternating months, paying one debt this month and putting of another for next month. This kind of juggling is evidence of a serious financial crisis, and if you have missed your car payment, matters could get much worse very quickly.

Car loans use your vehicle as collateral. This means if you default on the loan, in some cases missing only one payment, the lender has the right to repossess the vehicle. Because of this, you may think your best course of action is to hide your vehicle from repossessors in hopes that you will be able to catch up on the payments. However, hiding your vehicle may be a bad idea.

How far can repossession go?

Hiding your vehicle from repossession professionals is not easy. These men and women do this for a living, and they know the tricks car owners in default try in order to avoid repossession. In fact, you may think you know the limits to which repossession agents can go, but are you aware that, depending on state laws, an agent may be allowed do any of the following?

  • Watch your home to learn your schedule
  • Learn where you have family or friends who may store the vehicle for you
  • Repossess your vehicle while you are at work, in the grocery store or other public places where you may park
  • Take your vehicle from your driveway or your neighbor's driveway
  • Take your vehicle from your garage, your yard or other private property if they can do so without causing damage or making threats
  • Charge your creditor extra for the excessive time it takes to locate your vehicle, a cost your creditor will pass on to you

Perhaps the most serious potential consequence of hiding your vehicle from repossession is that your creditor may conclude you are attempting to defraud them since it is their lawful right to repossess property you haven't paid for. This could result in criminal or civil penalties that could complicate your already stressful situation.

The safest move to avoid the repossession of your vehicle is to make your payments on time. If this is not possible, communicating with your lender may provide you with a grace period to get back on your feet. Your lender may offer options that will be less painful and embarrassing that having a flatbed carry your car away in front of your neighbors or co-workers. You can also discuss your alternatives for getting out from under your debt by contacting an experienced Wisconsin attorney.

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