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CTLawyer, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  over 15 years business and real estate law experience
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I purchased a car from Kia in September. I traded in a car

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I purchased a car from Kia in September. I traded in a car that was not paid off. The dealer was to pay it off. I just found out from the finance company that it was never paid off and they knew nothing of me not having the car any longer. I read in the paper that the dealership has closed (San Bernardino). (All dealers in that complex closed). Now, the finance company tells me that I am responsible and to get a lawyer. I tried to call the dealership and there is no answer. I called Kia company and they too tell me that I am responsible. Kia has the car.. I have no idea where it is. I cannot afford a lawyer. What do I do? And what might happen? Timmie Hyland

This sounds like fraud by the dealership. I would contact the Attorney General in CA as well as the CA DMV to lodge a complaint about the dealership and see if they know anything else that might be able to help you. By not paying off your existing car they have at this point stolen that money from you as far as I can tell. They are also not going to be able to sell that car since it has a lien on it. You might also check the CA DMV website to see the registration status of that vehicle. Have monthly payment been made on your old loan or is it in default for nonpayment?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
No, we just were informed that we are behind in payments. No payment since Sept. was made. We assumed all was taken care of. We were making payments on our new car. Now, the finance company tells us we are responsible and to get an attorney as they will be I assume sueing us.
This is a very unfortunate situation for you and as I said above it is fraud and there may even be criminal charges since to me it sounds like theft. In addition to what I said above you could try the local Police Department to see if they will take a complaint - although they may say it is a civil matter. Even if the business is closed I am sure it still exists so you could see what information the CA secretary of State which maintains business records has on the business such as address or management - call the Secretary of State for CA or check online.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Can you tell me what might happen at this point? Do I NEED to hire an attorney?
Hard to say, but what it sounds like is that instead of paying off your loan they kept the money. If they have gone out of business, it is going to be hard to get that back. It MAY be possible for you to get the car you traded in back somehow, do you know how much the car was worth as compared to the loan balance? You might well need an attorney, I would try the other things I suggested above first.
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