August 15, 2016
You’ve fallen behind on your car payments, or you couldn’t afford to pay the rent-to-own place this month for your television payment. The creditors are calling. They say they’re going to repossess. Can they do that? Do you have any protection? Are there steps the creditor has to take before repossessing?
Repossession of assets can include vehicles, machinery, electronics, and more. Anything that has been used as collateral or rented/leased through a financial institution could be subject to repossession. And your rights vary, depending on the situation.
Likely, you signed a contract when you entered the deal—an agreement between you and the institution helping you get that car or computer. You may have some legal protection there. If the contract doesn’t give the creditor the right to repossess, they can’t come take your car or your computer. But most of the time, the contract is going to protect the creditor more than it protects the consumer.
West Virginia law does provide some protections for the consumer. The creditor cannot repossess until after it has sent you a “Ten Day Notice” and given you time to catch up the payments. The creditor cannot commit a “breach of the peace” by using physical force—or entering your house or garage without your permission. Additionally, repossession workers cannot impersonate an officer of the law, and making threats of harm and not leaving your property when asked are illegal.
Learn more about your rights and how the repossession procedure works in this article on the Legal Aid web site.
You also have rights when it comes to debt collection. Profanity and threats are illegal, and creditors are not permitted by law to call constantly or call before 8 a.m. or 9 p.m. If you feel you are being harassed by creditors, visit our self-help piece to understand your rights and how handle the situation.
TINY DISCLAIMER: This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.