Can I Be Charged With Theft for Being Late on My Car Payment?

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I am buying a car from a place here, and we have never ever been late, and as of now I am barely a month late and he has been harassing me with phone calls and has even had a repo guy call me and has told me he is going to turn to the sheriff regarding my being late. I was told he cannot report the car stolen and have me arrested. I’ve had a good track record with my payments and he’s also saying he won’t accept anymore payments.  Can he do this?

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

There are a couple of things happening here.  First, your financing papers will tell you when you are in default. Technically, if you are one day late with a payment, you are in default. Agreements usually offer a grace period, but these are usually just a few days. It sounds like you are in default. Once you are in default, the creditor (the car dealer), has the right to repossess the car. You cannot be charged with theft merely because you are late on your car payments. Your state may have specific procedures for repossession, and that’s why the repo guy referred to the sheriff.

The other issue you’re having is a little more concerning. Generally, a debtor in a secured transaction (like a car loan), always has a right to redeem a default. To redeem, you have to pay all of the payments you are behind on, plus interest and other fees. This will make you current again. If you are offering to do that, and the car dealer is refusing to accept it, the dealer may be operating outside of your financing agreement and possibly outside of the laws of your state. Your best option is to contact an attorney who specializes in consumer affairs. You may also want to contact a consumer rights organization, such as the Better Business Bureau, or the agency in your state that regulates consumer affairs.  An attorney may provide you with faster relief and information specific to your situation, but the organizations or state agency will not charge you anything.


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Can I Be Charged With Theft for Being Late on My Car Payment?
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Can I Be Charged With Theft for Being Late on My Car Payment?
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I am barely a month late on my payments and am being told the sheriff is going to be contacted. Can I be charged with theft? The dealer is saying he won't accept any more payments. Can he do this?

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Author: Attorney Alicia