Most States Have No Laws Against Freelance 'Repos' The auto repossession industry is big business. Two million cars were repossessed last year. A report from the National Consumer Law Center says most of those are done without the involvement of courts or police. These so-called self-help repos have caused at least six deaths in recent years.
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Most States Have No Laws Against Freelance 'Repos'

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Most States Have No Laws Against Freelance 'Repos'

Most States Have No Laws Against Freelance 'Repos'

Most States Have No Laws Against Freelance 'Repos'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124604151/124604128" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The auto repossession industry is big business. Two million cars were repossessed last year. A report from the National Consumer Law Center says most of those are done without the involvement of courts or police. These so-called self-help repos have caused at least six deaths in recent years.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

As Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports, some people lost more than their cars.

TRACY SAMILTON: On January 12th of this year, Isabel Luevano(ph) of San Jose, California, was standing a couple feet from her car when a man jumped in the driver's seat.

MONTAGNE: And my child was in the back seat, and I did not have a moment to yell or scream.

SAMILTON: Luevano called 911 and for the next 30 minutes, she feared she'd never see her son again - until police figured out that the carjacker was actually an unlicensed repo man. She got her son back in about an hour. Luevano was 17 days late on her payment.

MONTAGNE: You can be 50 cents short or one day late, and they can come and get your car. Then - I was just really surprised; there should be a law.

SAMILTON: Thirty-three states have no laws governing car repossession. John Van Alst wrote a report for the National Consumer Law Center. He says since 2006, six people have died during car repossessions gone bad. The center wants states to require advance notice at a minimum, but Van Alst says it would be better for law enforcement to do the repossessing.

MONTAGNE: And I think if we had these repossessions taking place during daylight hours, with an officer that the car owner sort of knew who it was that was taking it, we'd really be able to lower the amount of tension.

SAMILTON: For NPR News, I'm Tracy Samilton in Ann Arbor.

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