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Can they really take my stuff?: How repossession works

Financial troubles can lead to various complications, including leaving a person unable to meet his or her financial obligations. When bills go unpaid, creditors start calling, notices of foreclosure start arriving in the mail and threats of repossession may begin. The thought of losing personal property is not only overwhelming, it is embarrassing and a threat to your way of life.

Repossession often happens when a person is so far behind on payments that creditors take steps to confiscate the financed object. Often, this is a vehicle, but that is not always the case. While it may seem surreal that a company could simply take your property, it can be useful to know how repossession works and what you can do to make it stop.

How does the repossession process work?

A California creditor can begin the repossession process almost immediately after an account goes into delinquency. Often, the terms and conditions of the creditor's right to repossess a piece of your property are in your contract, even if you do not realize it. While they may have the right to move to take possession of an asset, such as a car, there are limits to these rights. For example, they cannot break laws or illegally enter your private property to do so.

For a creditor, starting the repossession process does not require a court order. This means that they can begin to take action as soon as they determine it is appropriate to do so. Generally, the creditor will hire a third party -- a repossession company -- to do the actual work. Often associated with vehicles, repossession can actually pertain to other types of personal property, including the following:

  • Jewelry
  • Rent-to-own furniture
  • Real estate
  • Electronics bought on credit
  • Artwork
  • Tangible assets

Threats of repossession are frightening, but there is a way you can make it stop. By filing for bankruptcy, you will enact the automatic stay. This halts all collection efforts underway, including repossession efforts.

Why bankruptcy could be the right step 

People are often hesitant to file for bankruptcy, but it may actually be a beneficial and prudent step for you. Not only will it shield you from the efforts of creditors to repossess your stuff, it may help you effectively confront debt and secure a strong financial future. When you are hopelessly behind on your payments and feel like there is no way to get ahead, you would be wise to consider the benefits of bankruptcy.

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