Repo tow truck driver dodges tragedy as car flips over

Repo tow truck driver dodges tragedy as car flips over

Lenders are required to give customers 10 days notice before repossessing.

By Harry Samler, Atlanta News First

Watch Video Here

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) – On May 5, the owner of a Mercedes SUV pulled into the parking lot of a Conyers title pawn shop. Employees later told police the man wanted to apply for a loan, but it was too late to do so.

Coincidentally, a tow truck pulled into the shop’s parking lot, and its driver would later tell Atlanta News First Investigates he had paperwork to repossess the SUV. While the driver was inside the shop, the tow truck driver blocked him in and lowered the ramp to hook up the car.

Witnesses later said when the driver saw what was happening, he returned to the vehicle, got inside and tried to leave. In a cellphone video released by one of a title pawn employee, the tow truck driver is seen talking to the driver through the passenger window.

The driver told police he was asking for the vehicle’s keys. About a minute later, the driver attempted to back up; by this time, the tow truck driver had opened the door and jumped in the SUV as it went up the tow truck ramp and flipped onto the passenger side.

The tow truck driver was nearly crushed but walked away.

According to a study from Thompson Consumer Law Group, federal statistics show Georgia ranks among the top five states for car loans that default past 90 days. Liz Coyle, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Georgia Watch, said this is because Georgia is one of the nation’s poorest states and that most Georgians rely on their cars.

However, people who finance their cars have rights before and after repossessions. Lenders are required to give customers 10 days notice before repossessing.

After the repossession, owners still have the option to buy the car back, plus interest and fees. Most cars will most likely go to auction, but Coyle said there is a chance an owner in default could have some of their money returned.

Here’s what the Georgia’s Consumer Protection Division, says about vehicle repossessions:

“In some cases, if a car is repossessed on the original loan, on the original financing … the car can be resold to cover the cost of the debt, but (if the car is worth more than they owed), they have to give the consumer what’s called the surplus.

“Regardless of whether the lienholder provides this notice, you usually have the right to get your vehicle back up until it is sold. To do so, you must pay the outstanding loan amount in full plus any associated fees, not just the amount of the overdue loan payments.

“You should also be aware that if, and only if, the lienholder sends you the aforementioned notice and subsequently sells your vehicle for less than the outstanding loan amount, it may seek to collect from you the difference between the loan balance plus any associated fees and the price at which the vehicle was sold. To do this, the lienholder may send your account to collections or even sue you.”

Regarding personal belongings left behind: “Georgia law requires that a repo company notify you within 10 days of the repossession that it has your belongings and intends to dispose of them. You then have 30 days to respond and retrieve your property by collecting it and paying any reasonable storage or notification charges. If you do not respond, a second notice is sent and the company is given another 30 days before it may dispose of your property.”


If you are notified that your vehicle is going to be repossessed:

  • Contact your lienholder to find out why and see what, if anything, you can do to prevent the repossession.
  • If the vehicle has already been repossessed, contact your lender or the repossession company to find out how you can get your vehicle and/or your belongings back.
  • If you cannot get your vehicle back, either because you cannot afford to do so or because the vehicle has already been sold, find out whether you still owe your lender any money.
  • Remember that late or missed loan payments, vehicle repossessions and collection items can all hurt your credit and will generally remain on your credit file for seven years. You can start rebuilding your credit right away by paying your bills on time and paying down your debts.