No Warning or Notice that My Vehicle Was Out for Repossession
Many consumers wake up one morning to find their vehicle stolen. Their first instinct is that the vehicle was stolen; that some unknown person literally stole the car from their home. They immediately call the police to report the vehicle as stolen. Upon making this call, the Wisconsin consumer is told that the vehicle was stolen, but rather repossessed. These consumers face frustration, fear, anger, and surprise at this news. Is this legal? Can a lender actually repossess a vehicle without notifying the consumer? Read below for more information on your rights as a Wisconsin consumer if you've been the victim of a no-notice repossession. Attorney Nathan DeLadurantey handles cases all over Wisconsin, helping countless consumers protect and enforce their consumer rights.
Wisconsin Law and your Right to Cure
For many loans, you must be in "default" under your financing agreement. Wisconsin law (for loans of $25,000 or less) actually defines what constitutes default under the law. The courts and lenders are required to follow the law on what type of missed payments legally place a loan into "default" and would allow a lender to try and repossess a vehicle. To be in default, your lender must send you written notice of the alleged default and give you a chance to "cure" that default. "Cure" is another way of saying that you have a right to bring the loan current. If you don't bring the loan current your lender must either: 1) sue you and get a court order for the vehicle, 2) send you a specific notice indicating they want to do a "self-help" repossession.
Sometimes lenders fail to send the required "right to cure" and notice of intent to repossess. If they fail to do so, the repossession can be deemed illegal, allowing you to sue and recover damages.
Before doing the repossession, these written notices must contain the following:
1) The name, address, and telephone number of the merchant (aka, the lender), a brief identification of the consumer credit transaction (the documents you signed), and a brief description of the collateral or goods (your vehicle).
2) A statement that, as a result of the customer's default on the consumer credit transaction, the merchant may have the right to take possession of the collateral or goods without further notice or court proceeding.
3) A statement that if the customer is not in default or objects to the merchant's right to take possession of the collateral or goods, the customer may, no later than 15 days after the merchant has given the notice, demand that the merchant proceed in court by notifying the merchant in writing.
4) A statement that if the merchant proceeds in court, the customer may be required to pay court costs and attorney fees.
Many people have their vehicle repossessed and never receive notice. Sometimes the notice is lost in the mail, sent to the wrong address, or simply was never sent. During a free consultation we review the background information on your loan, what additional information may be needed, and if you may have a case. You can schedule a free consultation to discuss all these issues and understand your rights as a consumer.
Lenders are required to send these letters, informing you of important rights you possess under Wisconsin law. The letter must state that you're behind on vehicle payments (and have a right to bring the loan current) and that you have 15 days from the date of the letter to object in writing to them taking your car. If you object in writing the lender then has to sue you. This 15-day window of time is VERY important. If you have received this type of letter, call right away for a free consultation. Even if the 15 days has passed, you have a right to object to the repossession as it happens, which requires the repossession to stop.
Many lenders still break these laws. Some common violations may include: a) The letters don't contain the right language, b) lenders don't wait 15 days before doing the repossession, c) lenders send the letter to the wrong mailing address, d) you object to the self-help repossession and the lender fails to bring their repossession request to a Wisconsin court before proceeding.
Many lenders fail to follow these pre-repossession steps. If your lender fails to follow these steps (or sends you a pre-repossession notice that does not contain the language required by the law), you may have been the victim of a wrongful repossession. If so, we can discuss suing your lender for you. It is important that you act quickly as the law only provides a short amount of time to sue these companies. Schedule your free consult today.
We provide representation in automobile and vehicle repossession cases in Wisconsin, including Racine, Kenosha, Green Bay, Appleton, the Fox Valley, Milwaukee, West Allis, Waukesha, Walworth County, Dane County, Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Superior, Ashland, and anywhere in-between.