Q. What is a "repossession agency" as defined by the State of California?

A. A repossession agency means and includes any person who, for any consideration whatsoever, engages in the repossession business or accepts employments to locate or recover personal property, including but not limited to personal property registered under provisions of the Motor Vehicle Code, which is subject to a security agreement [B&P 7500.2]

Q. Who may legally undertake repossession assignments?

A. Unless exempted pursuant to B&P 7500.3, only persons holding a valid repossession agency license or registration, issued by the State of California, may engage in the activities of a repossession agency. [B&P 7500.3]

Q. How may it be determined whether or not a person or agency holds a valid repossessor's license?

A. Any person may contact the Bureau of Security & Investigative Services at 400 S Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, (916) 322-4000 to determine whether or not a particular person or agency is licensed.

Q. May a financial institution be penalized for using an unlicensed repossession agency or person?

A. Yes! Any person who knowingly engages an unlicensed repossession agency or person to repossess personal property is guilty of a misdemeanor which is punishable by a fine of $5,000.00 or by imprisonment in he county jail for not more than one year, or by both. [B&P 7502.2]

Q. At what point has a motor vehicle been legally repossessed?

A. "With regard to collateral subject to registration under the Vehicle Code, a repossession occurs when the repossessor gains entry to the collateral or when the collateral becomes connected to a tow truck," [B&P 7507.12]

Q. May a repossessor lawfully enter any area for purposes of repossession?

A. Yes, with the exception of a private building which means and includes any dwelling, outbuilding, other enclosed structure or any secured area which means and includes any fenced and locked area. Entry into these areas with the consent of the owner or person in legal possession is permissible. [B&P 7500.1(s)]

Q. When may a vehicle secured by a contractual agreement be repossessed?

A. Normally, only when the buyer has defaulted in the performance of any obligation under the contract. Ordinarily default occurs when an installment payment is delinquent. However, if the consumer is required by the contract to maintain insurance, a failur to do so may constitute a default, as allowing the collateral to be jeopardized. [Civil Code 2983.3]

Q. Is a police report required on all repossessions?

A. YES. Whenever possession is taken of any vehicle by or on behalf of any legal owner thereof under the terms of a security agreement or lease agreement, the person taking possession shall (a) notify, whithin one hour after taking possession of the vehicle, and by the most expeditious means available, the city police department where the taking of possession occured, if within an incorporated city, or the sheriff's department of the county where the taking of possession occurred, if outside and incorporated city, or the police department of a campus of the University of California or the California State University, if the taking of possession occurred on that campus, and shall within one business day forward a written notice to the city police or sheriff's department. (b) Any person failing to notify the city police department, sheriff's department, or campus police department as required by this section is guilty of an infraction and shall be fined a minimum of three hundred dollars ($300), and up to five hundred dollars ($500). The disctrict attorney, city attorney, or city prosecutor shall promptly notify the Bureau of Security and Investigative Serices of any conviction resulting from a violation of this section. [VC 28]

Q. What is done with personal effects or other personal property?

A. Personal property shall be removed and a complete and accurate inventory shall be made. Said items shall be securely stored for a minimum of 60 days. It is required that the repossession agency notify the consumer of this inventory by written notice or by personal service within time limits prescribed by law.

Q. May a Repossession Agency charge a fee for storing personal effects?

A. Yes. A licensee may charge the debtor for storing personal effects since B&P 7507.9 and 9(d) states in part, "The inventory shall include...and itemization of all personal effects and storage charges that will be made by the repossession agency." A licensee may not charge a legal owner for storage of peronal effects unless specifically agreed to at the time of the assignment or at a subsequent time.

Q. What is the maximum amount a repair garage may charge on a repair or storage to a legal owner?

A. On work or services performed, up to $750.00 is allowed and the garage must have permission from the legal owner to exceed that amount [Civil Code 3068©] Storage is allowed up to $400.00 for a vehicle under $4,000.00 in value and $500.00 if the vehicle is valued over $4,000.00. [Civil Code 3068©]; There is also a requirement to notify the legal owner by the 16th day of possession if storage fees are charged and if legal owner is not notified, storage is limited to 15 days. [ VC 10652.5 and Civil Code 3071 & 3072]

Q. May a law enforcement officer force a repossessor to give up possession collateral?

A. Peace officers may not advance or hinder repossessions. Because they are acting under "color of state law," they may no more force a debtor to surrender a card than they may, after a car has been repossessed, force the repossessor to return it. Without a court order, both things violate the "due process" requirements of the 14th Amendment of the United States constitution and Article 1, sections 13 and 15 of the California Constitution

Q. Must a debtor pay a fee to a police department before redeeming his vehicle?

A. Yes, pursuant to Government Code Sections 26751 and 41612. this fee is not the obligation of the lienholder or repossessor.

Q. Does the mandatory 30 day vehicle impoundment for driving with a suspended, revoked or invalid license apply to the legal owner?

A. No. A legal owner or its agent may obtain a release from impoundment prior to the 30 days if they meet three conditions: 1) They are legally operating in this state; 2) They pay all towing & storage fees related to the seizure of theis vehicle; 3) provide foreclosure document of affidavit of repossession. [VC 14602.6 (f)(3)]

Q May local law enforcement collect and administrative fee from a legal owner or their agent to release impounded collateral?

A. No! Effective 1/1/2000 any such fee shall be collected by the applicable local or state authority ONLY from the registered owner or an agent of said registered owner. [VC22850.5(b)(2)]