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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    1

    Default Vehicle Charge-Off, No Repo, Now What

    My question involves an auto loan or repossession in the State of Montana.

    But first, let me back up a bit. I purchased the vehicle in the State of Washington in December 1999. I was an Idaho resident at the time. The loan was through Seafirst Bank, which was later purchased by Bank of America. In early 2002 I took a job that required full-time travel. My only address at that time was an Idaho post office box. The vehicle was parked on the corner of my brother's driveway, outdoors. By the third quarter of 2002, I started to fall behind and made payments by phone. Later, I was told I would have to make payments in person, by cash. I was several hundred miles from the nearest BofA branch. I received a call from a Washington repo company and gave them my brother's address in Idaho.

    A few weeks later, on a one-week trip home over Halloween, after seeing that the vehicle had not been moved, I attempted to make a $1000 cash payment at a branch to bring the payments current. The teller pulled up the account and said that it was "paid off." The teller didn't know what to do with my payment. So, naturally, I kept my cash. I went back to work for another year. When I quit the job in 2003 and came home, the vehicle was still there. I eventually moved to Montana at the end of 2003. The van was eventually moved some after that to a different outdoor storage area in Idaho. Last year, my mother registered it in my name in Idaho, and last fall, 2008, I moved it here to Montana.

    A few years ago, a debt collector called wanting money for the vehicle loan. As per his training, he was attempting to collect the balance plus several years' worth of interest, something around $8000 on a vehicle that was worth about half that amount. The conversation went something like this, for several revolutions:
    Him: So, how soon can you pay me $8000?
    Me: Why do I owe YOU $8000?
    Him: For the vehicle.
    Me: Go get the vehicle, if you're entitled to it, it hasn't moved in years.
    Him: I don't want the vehicle, I want the money.
    Me: I can't get you any money. I want the title.
    Him: I will give you the title if you give me the money.
    Me: I don't owe YOU any money, go get the vehicle.
    Him: I don't want the vehicle, I want the money...
    I did an Idaho lienholder search in 2005 that listed "Bancamerica" as the lienholder, with the old Seafirst address in Seattle.

    I hesitated to start a new thread here that is similar to several other resolved threads, but there are a few differences between this case and the others.

    First, I have not been through a bankruptcy. For the last seven or so years, I have been largely judgement-proof. I don't own a house, or any vehicles (except for the vehicle in question, but it hasn't been driven more than 30 miles since January 2002). So the original debt has never been discharged, although my credit reports list it as charged off in October 2002, so it may be near or beyond the statute of limitations (in Idaho? Washington? Montana?).

    Second, the vehicle isn't wrecked or unusable, and I don't want to sell it or get rid of it. In fact, I replaced the battery and had the oil changed last fall when I moved it here, and I started it right up last weekend. I was thinking of getting it registered and insured here in Montana and making use of it, it's got fairly low miles for a vehicle it's age. To register the "foreign" vehicle, I need to submit paperwork, which appears to trigger a process:
    Collateral Security Interests A lending institution files a security interest against a vehicle currently titled in your name through the Title and Registration Bureau. Since Montana is not a title holding state, the Montana title is mailed to the registered owner, and the lending institution receives a Notice of Security Interest/Lien Filing/Lien Release/Repossession form with which it can either release a security interest or apply for a repossession title.
    So the way I read this, is that if I try to register the vehicle, the State of Montana will send me a title, and then invite the lienholder of record the opportunity to release their interest (why would they do that?) or begin the repossession process. I'm fine with either outcome. I'm unsure if they would or could try to get a judgement for the balance of the loan.

    Does anyone have any insight into any possible unintended consequences from trying to register and drive this vehicle? Is there any chance that I could somehow gain a clear title to this rig? Is there any chance that I could go to prison? (Trying to think of opposite outcomes, here). Or will I just be able to register and drive this vehicle without any other changes to the situation?

    Maybe I should wait until Bank of America goes belly up or gets bought out? Seven years ago, I never would have thought they would be the ones staring down insolvency instead of me.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
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    75,932

    Default Re: Vehicle Charge-Off, No Repo, Now What

    From what you have stated, if you apply for the title and they apply for a repossession title, they will likely get it. If they don't, you will get title. If they choose not to exercise their rights under the lien, that's their choice.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    273

    Default Re: Vehicle Charge-Off, No Repo, Now What

    Quote Quoting PastedW
    View Post
    Maybe I should wait until Bank of America goes belly up or gets bought out?
    Seafirst was bought out. That changed nothing.

    Has the SOL expired on the balance?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    28,312

    Default Re: Vehicle Charge-Off, No Repo, Now What

    Quote Quoting Scruit
    View Post
    Seafirst was bought out. That changed nothing.

    Has the SOL expired on the balance?
    the SoL in Washington is 6 years and the SoL on Idaho is either 4 or 5 years so it appear the SoL has run. So now, your point is???

    That does not mean the lien is released. It simply means they cannot receive a judgment in court for the balance, if defended properly.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    273

    Default Re: Vehicle Charge-Off, No Repo, Now What

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    the SoL in Washington is 6 years and the SoL on Idaho is either 4 or 5 years so it appear the SoL has run. So now, your point is???

    That does not mean the lien is released. It simply means they cannot receive a judgment in court for the balance, if defended properly.
    Point is - if the SOL has not yet expired then let sleeping dogs lie until it has. If the SOL has not yet expired and he starts poking around then might he invite renewed collection action?

    That is what my "point is???" If it's expired, then fine. I didn't know the SOLs. That's why I asked.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    28,312

    Default Re: Vehicle Charge-Off, No Repo, Now What

    well, the fact OP does not live in either state that may have been involved originally brings up the question; does the state involved have a tolling statute?

    If it does the SoL could literally run indefinately so waiting until the SoL has run may be a problem. I have not researched that possibility.

    In either case, that does not prevent the lienholder from repossessing the vehicle anytime the lien is still valid. The SoL does not invalidate the lien.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    273

    Default Re: Vehicle Charge-Off, No Repo, Now What

    I realize the lien is still valid. I'm just wondering is sending them a letter asking them to release the car is going to make them suddenly 'remember' his debt. Unless he can confirm the SOL has expired (and not been tolled for any reason) it just seems better to me to let sleeping dogs lie.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    28,312

    Default Re: Vehicle Charge-Off, No Repo, Now What

    well, OP wants to register the vehicle so that would definitely raise a red flag. Since the lien will remain valid until released, even after the SoL has expired, OP still has to deal with asking the lien holder to release the lien.

    The SoL may not allow the creditor to get a judgment but the creditor can still take the car due to the lien and the contractual obligation of the loan.

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