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Consumer Ed: Car Repossession

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Brought to you by the Georgia Department of Law’s
Consumer Protection Division

Consumer Ed in his car

CAR REPOSSESSION

Dear Consumer Ed:

Once your car is repossessed, how much time are you given to pay the overdue amount before your vehicle is sold? Also, how long does a repo company have to wait before getting rid of any belongings you left in the vehicle?

Consumer Ed says:

Generally, Georgia law requires that the lienholder send you notice within 10 days of the repossession, via registered or certified mail or statutory overnight delivery. The notice should inform you of your rights to redeem your vehicle and to demand a public sale of the vehicle. Regardless of whether the lienholder provides this notice, you usually have the right to get your vehicle back up until it is sold. To do so, you must pay the outstanding loan amount in full plus any associated fees, not just the amount of the overdue loan payments.

You should also be aware that if, and only if, the lienholder sends you the aforementioned notice and subsequently sells your vehicle for less than the outstanding loan amount, it may seek to collect from you the difference between the loan balance plus any associated fees and the price at which the vehicle was sold. To do this, the lienholder may send your account to collections or even sue you.

As to your second question, Georgia law requires that a repo company notify you within 10 days of the repossession that it has your belongings and intends to dispose of them. You then have 30 days to respond and retrieve your property by collecting it and paying any reasonable storage or notification charges. If you do not respond, a second notice is sent and the company is given another 30 days before it may dispose of your property.

If you are notified that your vehicle is going to be repossessed:

  • Contact your lienholder to find out why and see what, if anything, you can do to prevent the repossession.
  • If the vehicle has already been repossessed, contact your lender or the repossession company to find out how you can get your vehicle and/or your belongings back.
  • If you cannot get your vehicle back, either because you cannot afford to do so or because the vehicle has already been sold, find out whether you still owe your lender any money.
  • Remember that late or missed loan payments, vehicle repossessions and collection items can all hurt your credit and will generally remain on your credit file for seven years. You can start rebuilding your credit right away by paying your bills on time and trying to pay down your debts.
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