It is my hope in these trying times that creditors exercise restraint and avoid repossessions altogether. It seems like the right thing to do. Unfortunately, I am afraid that repossessions are still going to occur during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. If you are reading this, you are probably either concerned about your car being repossessed or it already has.
On March 23, 2020, Governor Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-08 directing all Hoosiers to stay at home, effective March 25 until at least April 6. All non-essential businesses and operations must cease and most travel is prohibited except for essential activities. This means two things. First, repossessions are likely prohibited. The Executive Order lists auto repair and related facilities as an essential business, so towing for repair purposes is ok but for repossession purposes is probably not. Transportation providers are also listed as essential businesses, but I don’t believe that would include towing companies or finance companies for that matter. On the other hand, the Governor’s Order also means that most people will be at home and so will their cars. Repo companies will know where most cars they are looking for are located.
If the repo man does come looking for your vehicle, is there anything you can do to prevent a repossession? Yes. One is to store the vehicle in a garage or other building or behind a fence. Repossessors are allowed to come onto private property to repossess, but they cannot (legally) enter a building or open a gate. If they do, they have breached the peace and repossession is illegal. Another possibility is to block the car in with other vehicles if you don’t have a garage. But beware, repossession agents have been known to drag other cars out of the way to take a car (no this isn’t legal, but it happens).
It’s also a breach of the peace for a repossessor to continue over your refusal to give them the car. So you can verbally deny them the right to your vehicle. All you have to do is tell them they can’t take your car. The law requires them to cease and desist. If they ignore you and continue to repossess (which happens, often, unfortunately), it is a breach of the peace and they are breaking the law. (Note, however, that if they have already hooked up to your car before you tell them they can’t take it – it’s too late.) Remember, use your phone to record video of any interaction with a repossession agent. That video will be invaluable if you have a case!
Finally, you are entitled to a Notice of Sale, or predisposition notice, after your car is repossessed and before the car is sold at auction. The Notice of Sale will tell you how to redeem (get back) your vehicle before it is sold.
If your car was repossessed during the Governor’s stay at home directive for the State of Indiana, we are willing to take a look at the circumstances even if it was not otherwise wrongful. Please submit a contact form here. If you believe there was a breach of the peace during your repossession, let us know. Stay safe out there.