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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 38910
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Can a creditor use the personal belongings in a vehicle they

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Can a creditor use the personal belongings in a vehicle they repossed as ransom to get you to pay them?

How much is the personal property worth (approximately)?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Okay, thanks. Here is the deal. There is no legal obligation for the creditor to return your belongings, unless the police or sheriff is willing to enforce the law. This may seem like a stupid question, but the reality is that in these situations, law enforcement will back off and say, "It's a civil matter. If you want your stuff, sue the creditor and the tow service." Keeping your property is theft, but without law enforcement assistance, you can't get it back.

So, this leaves you with a lawsuit as your only recourse, unless you can pay off the loan and associated fees. You would have to sue for the return of your property, and not for its value -- and you would have to show that the property has some unique/special value that is not merely economic -- otherwise, the creditor can claim something called "equitable setoff," and require that you pay the fair market value of the property up to the amount of the unpaid loan balance.

In other words, it would be better if the property had little economic value, but a lot of memorabilia value (e.g., photos, etc.).

Anyway, botXXXXX XXXXXne, you can sue in justice court, and ask for the return of the property, and you can ask the sheriff/police to help, but in my experience they always decline to assist.

Note: I realize that the above may not be very comforting -- however, I'm just telling you how it is. If I had a means of forcing the return of the property, I would be telling you, because there's no advantage for me to give you bad news.

I would ask you to please understand that if you rate me poorly for my answer, it damages my reputation in this online community, so please consider the fact that I can't change the law to make things easier or less costly for you.

Hope this helps.
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