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What Happens If You Hide Your Car From Repossession

What Happens If You Hide Your Car From Repossession

Many borrowers facing financial hardship consider hiding their vehicle to delay or avoid a repo, but what happens if you hide your car from repossession?

Well, this tactic rarely works long-term and can worsen your situation with severe consequences.

The article I created below is a helpful guide to the potential consequences of hiding your car from the repo man.

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What Happens If a Repo Car is Never Picked up

For starters, since your goal is to ultimately keep your car, let’s discuss what happens if the repo man never finds your car.

To be blunt with you, hiding your car will only postpone repossession temporarily.

Once the lender believes there is a chance they might not get the car back they will seek to get a court order to compel you to turn over the car.

This order is called a “Writ of Replevin” which I will discuss in more detail below under the topic of facing jail time.

But in all likelihood, most people reading this will eventually have their cars taken by the repo agent because they are very good and very persistent.

They seem to have a sense for knowing exactly when you’re going to let your guard down, and even if it’s for 30 seconds, they can take it that quickly.

Repo agents leverage tools like:

  • Skip tracing your contacts to uncover clues
  • Checking property records and public locations
  • Tracking devices previously installed in some vehicles

So unless you plan to keep your car locked in a garage indefinitely without driving it, hiding is rarely a foolproof long-term solution.

Can I Go to Jail for Hiding My Car From Repo Man?

Yes, in some states you could possibly end up going to jail for intentionally hiding your car from the repo man.

In these states, the law you would be breaking is “Fraudulently concealing property that is subject to a security interest or lien.”

States With Laws Against Hiding Property From Repossession

The following states have laws against fraudulently concealing property that is subject to a security interest or lien:

  1. Georgia
  2. Texas
  3. California
  4. Alabama
  5. Alaska
  6. Arizona
  7. Arkansas
  8. Nevada
  9. Wyoming
  10. West Virginia

These laws do vary from state to state, so always consult a legal counsel licensed in your state or do the appropriate research where you live.

Replevin Order (Forced Repossession)

Another way you could go to jail for hiding your car from the repo man is if the lender is able to get what’s called a Replevin Order, which is a court order issued by a judge that compels you to surrender the vehicle.

If you violate this order, that would put you in contempt of court which could result in fines and/or Jail Time.

Civil and Criminal Penalties

For those states where it is considered fraud to conceal for car from repossession, you could face potential criminal charges such as:

  • Felony fraudulent concealment
  • Larceny or embezzlement

Beyond criminal fines or jail time, lenders can recover financial losses and legal fees by suing you civilly and getting what’s called a judgment. Some of the things you could be sued for include:

  • Breach of contract
  • Committing deceptive business practices
  • Obstruction of repossession

These court judgments against you get expensive fast and will make just turning over the car a much better idea!

Important Fact: In most states, when your vehicle is repossessed, you are required to turn in or surrender the license plates to the DMV/DMV within a certain timeframe, usually 10-30 days.

Why Did They Never Repo My Car?

If you stopped making payments to the lender of your car and they have decided not to repo it, that’s likely because the lender has calculated that the car’s current value does not justify the cost of getting the car back and then selling it.

What Are the Credit Impacts of Hiding Your Car?

Beyond additional repossession costs, hiding efforts often leave borrowers in worse financial shape long-term by damaging credit. Prior to repossession, lenders report your defaulted loan status to credit bureaus.

Additional credit consequences may include:

  • Further late payments
  • Legal judgments
  • Repossession notation
  • Higher deficiency balance

With an already strained budget, a plummeting credit score makes borrowing money essentials tougher going forward.

What Are the Alternatives to Hiding Your Vehicle?

Instead of hiding your car when struggling to make payments, consider safer alternatives to avoid repossession below:

1. Seek Loan Modifications

Contact your lender to request:

  • Payment extensions
  • Lower interest rates
  • Reduced monthly payments
  • Partial balance forgiveness

Most lenders want to get paid and are surprisingly willing to negotiate repayment plans with proactive borrowers prior to default.

2. Voluntarily Surrender the Vehicle

You can voluntarily return the vehicle to the lender in exchange for reducing or cancelling your remaining deficiency balance after auction sale.

Creditors benefit by saving collection costs, so may agree if you:

  • Get written confirmation of debt relief
  • Return vehicle promptly
  • Provide accurate repossession location

This mutually beneficial option prevents repossession fees and bad credit notations while eliminating further payments owed.

3. File Bankruptcy to Discharge Debt

Declaring Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy halts collections and provides time to restructure finances. Consult a bankruptcy attorney to understand if:

  • Vehicle loans qualify for discharge
  • Certain property exemptions apply
  • Bankruptcy makes sense for your situation

When approved, a court can terminate vehicle loan obligations completely or create easier repayment plans.

Key Takeaways: Consequences of Hiding Your Vehicle

  • Repo agents have tools to eventually locate hidden vehicles
  • Illegally hiding cars risks criminal charges and civil lawsuits
  • Missed payments severely damage credit scores further
  • Better alternatives exist like loan modifications or voluntary surrender

Rather than hiding your car, be proactive in communicating with your lender to negotiate win-win solutions. An experienced attorney can also advise you on utilizing bankruptcy protections as needed during financial hardship. Let us know if you have any other questions by using the comment section below!

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Picture of Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.


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