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Repo Letter

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I received this letter from a reader and want to ask you knowledgeable people about it - what do you think. I'd like to archive it.

Chase Manhattan Automotive Finance Corporation

Executive Complaint

900 Stewart Avenue

Garden City, New York 11530

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to you regarding your illegal repossession of my vehicle and your offer to settle (see copy of the letter attached).

In early January, your agent Joanna at 800-321-8754 at extension 4323 had arranged an alternative payment arrangement with me which allowed me to pay 2 months payments per month (approx. $600) starting in the latter half of January (when a parent loan for my daughter was coming through) and then for two months thereafter (February and March) which would have brought me current on my car payments.

She had agreed to that and furthermore, an agent I had spoken to before her had reassured me, without me even asking, that they would not be coming to pick up my car.

On Friday January 23rd, 2004 I received the loan I was expecting and immediately put it into my bank account. When I called Joanna the following Monday to make the payment over the phone, as we had agreed, she was not taking calls so I left a detailed voice message saying I was ready to make a payment. She did not call me back. The next morning I placed a similar call and left a similar message. I called again soon after and this time tracked down a live human being, who upon reviewing my account, said it was too late and suggested I check to see if the car was in my driveway. At that point I discovered it was gone. Joanna never did call me back. I guess she thought she would get more money out of me by picking up my car instead of taking my payment as she had agreed.

Chase broke its agreement with me to accept an alternate form of payment and its promise to me that they would not come to pick up the car. Therefore I was not in default. Furthermore, Chase did not advise me of when and where the car would be up for sale, thus not meeting another of its obligations to me according to Article UCC9-506 of the Uniform Commercial Code.

Additionally, I was never able to get the contents of my car. I called the number given to me several times and the only response I could get was that they couldn’t find the car and therefore they couldn’t find the contents. The fellow promised on a few occasions to find out more and call me back but he failed to do so. I had some items valuable to me in the car and I do not feel hopeful that I will receive them back. (Please look into this and find out where my belongings are.)

My advisors believe that in a court of law, that I would win a lawsuit for damages based on all of these facts and they are encouraging me to sue Chase. It has been a financial and emotional hardship to have my car taken away. Futhermore, my credit rating is severely affected by Chase’s mistake. I doubt that I need to articulate for you the costs involved to Chase if we were to go to court and I were to win. And they are urging me to contact the State Banking Department who would be interested in knowing about these violations.

Despite the advise of my advisors to sue Chase for damages, I have indicated to your agent, Bob Gaines, that I would be willing to settle for the amount that he has suggested of $1,630.11. However, it would not make sense to me to do so without Chase agreeing to correct my credit report. My car was illegally repossessed by Chase and therefore my credit report should not reflect that repossession. Furthermore, the bad mark on my credit would prevent me from receiving future parent loans, thus requiring me to hold on to every dollar I have to cover my daughter’s tuition. I would not be free to send you the $1600 anyway.

Therefore, in order to make the funds available for Chase, taking into consideration that Chase illegally repossessed my car and subsequently damaged my credit report, it is essential that Chase agree to remove all derogatory remarks about my accounts with them registered with all credit reporting agencies, including but not limited to “repossession,” “charged off account,” “collection,” “account charged to profit and loss,” etceteras, immediately upon receipt of the amount agreed upon. In addition, Chase would have to agree to list with all agencies that this account was “paid as agreed.”

Upon receipt of a signed agreement from Chase to this effect, I will stop all legal actions I would be pursuing and proceed to procure the funds I will need to settle with you for the suggested amount. You can fax me the agreement at <your phone number> and/or mail it to me. I expect that I would be able to send you a money order within one week of receipt of the settlement agreement.

As a single mother who is mother and father, nurse, and the only provider of 2 daughters, one of whom has had expensive and stressful serious health problems including open heart surgery, it is probably no surprise to you that I have very limited funds and must be extremely careful to put those funds to the best use possible given the circumstances. Not only that, the promise of a settlement that my advisors are making if I were to sue Chase is tempting under the circumstances.

However, before going that route, I am willing to settle with Chase assuming they are willing to correct the reporting on my Credit Report. If I have not heard from you on this topic within 2 weeks, I will assume that Chase is not interested in rectifying its error, and will proceed accordingly. I thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Thank you,

Yours truly,

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Hopefully, there is a record of that conversation and agreement somewhere in her account files. Without that information, it's going to be an uphill battle to prove such attempts to get caught up with the payments ever happened.

Further, there's nothing to say that "Joanna" was even authorized to enter into such an agreement, in which case the remedy would be made internally since she "represented" Chase when she made the agreement.

As far as the belongings are concerned, they are supposed to supply you with detailed documentation showing the repo process: who took the car, how they obtained it, where they took it, and where it is now. Personal belongings and the plates on the vehicle are to be returned to the owner. No exceptions.

Section 9-503 of the UCC authorizes creditors to repossess by self help upon default by the creditor. However, this must be done without committing a "breach of the peace". This is important because the creditors are now being held liable for the actions of their contractors (ie: repo men). However, the breach of peace must be incident to the reposession.

Now, seeing as how personal belongings are "missing" and presumed "lost" (stolen) by the employees of the repo company, could it be argued that Chase is liable for the duress and trauma caused by their contracted agents? A new precedent perhaps?

At the very least, a police report should be filed for the "missing" personal belongings.

Here's some cases were the creditors have been held liable for the actions of their contracted repo agents:

Hollibush v. Ford Motor Credit Co. 179 Wis. 2d 799, 508 N.W.2d 449 (Wis. App. 1993)

General Finance Corp. v. Smith 505 So. 2d 1045 (Ala. 1987)

MBank El Paso N.A. v. Sanchez 836 S.W.2d 151 (Tex. 1992)

Williamson v. Folwer Toyota, Inc. 956 P.2d 858 (Okla. 1998)

Nichols v. Metropolitan Bank 435 N.W.2d 637 (Minn. App. 1989)

Sammons v. Broward Bank 599 So.2d 1018 (Fla. App. 1992)

Nixon v. Halpin 620 So.2d 796 (Fla. App. 1993)

Robinson v. Citicorp National Services, Inc. 921 S.W.2d 52 (Mo. App. 1996)

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I'd say the repo guys and Chase are VERY lucky they didn't "reposess" the child's medication or other life-sustaining medical equipment in the process. Still, the writer should take a look at what pennlawyer.com has to say about repossessions...especially how a lender does not own the car (car is titled in the borrower's name so it is the borrower's property, not the lender's), only that they have a lien against it. One small mis-step and a repossession becomes theft.

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Still, the writer should take a look at what pennlawyer.com has to say about repossessions...especially how a lender does not own the car (car is titled in the borrower's name so it is the borrower's property, not the lender's), only that they have a lien against it. One small mis-step and a repossession becomes theft.

Good point. I went back and saved that page.

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You also need to look into the state laws for the state that the writer of the letter is from

Indiana provides monetary penalties for EVERY little section they violate in a repo proceeding.

There are like 9 steps that have to be taken care of.. the damages start at 500 and go up to 1500 per section

ie Violating Section 611 is a 1500 fine where as section 602 is 500

You also have the FDCPA ramifications.

Check your credit reports and see if the repo company pulled your credit... thats one to catch them on.

Those are just some of the ideas off the top of my head. If Chase ever agreed there was a payment arrangement made then they could be liable for Fraud as well.

Hope that helped.

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