Your Rights In Car Repossessions - WSPA.com

Your Rights In Car Repossessions

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Douglas Foster still has all the paperwork on a loan he'd rather forget.

"We were 18 or 19," said Douglas. "We just kind of went in there and did it."

He and his then-girlfriend took out a car title loan for some quick cash to pay off debt several years ago. To make the deal, Douglas had to use his truck as collateral. But he later realized he may lose it.

"I started getting phone calls saying that they were gonna, if we couldn't pay it, they were gonna come get the truck," said Douglas.

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs says car repossessions is one of its top complaints. Attorney Marti Phillips says drivers don't always understand their rights.

"They have to give you ten days after you've missed a payment," said Phillips. "They have to send you notice. And that notice gives you 20 days to catch up your missed payment."

That notice is required by law if you've failed to make a payment. But a notice only has to be sent to you once.

"If it's the first time you've missed a payment and let's say you bring it current, but then maybe six months later you've missed a payment, they don't have to give you a notice that second time," said Phillips.

A notice is not required if you fail to maintain insurance on your car. In that case, the lender can just take it.

Douglas says the lender never ended up taking his truck and that old loan was paid off.

He now has a new car and a new outlook on using his ride for collateral.

"Don't do it," said Douglas. "I mean it was, it was a bad idea, a really bad idea."

While the lender never repoed Douglas's truck, he did have problems getting his title back after the loan was paid off. After we stepped in, the lender resolved the issue and Douglas now has his truck title back so he can sell the truck.

If you've missed a car payment, pay attention to any notice you get because it's probably time sensitive.

If you the lender acted illegally, you can file a complaint with the SC Department of Consumer Affairs or consider hiring an attorney.

For a closer look at repossession laws in SC, click here.

To file an online complaint, click here.

SC Consumer Affairs also has a complete auto guide for consumers.

Tracey Early
Tracey co-anchors the 5:30 and 7 p.m. newscasts and is a general assignment reporter.
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