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:
I did an Idaho lienholder search in 2005 that listed "Bancamerica" as the lienholder, with the old Seafirst address in Seattle.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 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:
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.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.
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.