What should I know about vehicle repossession?

On Behalf of | Jan 1, 2020 | Consumer Protection |

When you finance a vehicle, the creditor may have the option of repossessing it for non-payment on your loan. It is important to understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to repossession in Wisconsin, as well as being aware of the obligations of creditors in the state. That way you can take proper action to address a violation of your rights when it comes to an unlawful repossession. 

All states provide creditors the right to seize a vehicle if payments stop being made. However, there are rules in place regarding how actions should be taken and when they can be taken. In Wisconsin, you must be given notice of default, as well as an opportunity to get current on the loan and prevent the repossession. After that, you will be given 15 days to make payments as specified by your creditor. If you do not respond and the repossession goes into motion, the manner in which vehicles are taken must adhere to certain rules. 

The person or company organizing the repossession is not permitted to “breach the peace” in order to do so. For example, peace might be breached if the person taking back the vehicle makes threats of force against the driver. it is also not permitted to remove a vehicle from a locked garage, as this can be considered theft. Physical force used to win back the vehicle is also not permissible in most cases. 

In the event a company or individual is accused of breaching the peace, you may be able to get the deficiency judgment thrown out. The deficiency is the difference between what you still owe on the car and what it was sold for. In some cases, you would be liable for paying back the difference, but with breach of peace, the court might decide to forgo this cost.