The purpose of this manual is to serve as a guide for those involved in the repossession industry. Since the majority of repossessions are involuntary. It is incumbent upon each person to better understand their responsibilities and the proper procedures to follow when performing their duties. This manual suggests guidelines for many situations that might arise while carrying out the duties and responsibilities in the recovery of collateral. This manual does not, however, attempt to cover every possibility.
This manual is for general reference only and should not be relied upon as legal authority. Some of the operational policies and procedures are determined by federal or state law which is subject to change at any time. The board of directors of the Allied Finance Adjusters Conference, Inc. Intends to make every effort to keep this manual current. By addition, reductions, correction deletion or update as changes occur. The association assumes no responsibility for any inaccuracies or omissions contained herein, and urges all members to consult with legal counsel or their state laws concerning individual questions and laws.
Each member is advised to copy this Manual in its entirety and paste it on your company letterhead.
Please make the appropriate changes and corrections to meet your state laws and company policies. Table of Contents:
The repossession business Page 2
when has a vehicle been repossessed page 2
Contact with the debtor page 2
Field investigations Page 3
You and the law page 3
repossessors should be familiar with page 4
Responsibility after the repossession page 4
Do's and Don'ts page 4
The "Do Not's" Overview page 5
Agent Policy on Probation and Termination page 6
Agent Policy on Hand Held Devices page 6
Agent Vehicle take home Policy page 7
Agent Policy on Drugs and Alcohol page 7
Agent Harassment and Firearm Policy page 9
Agent Dishonesty Policy page 10
Agent Accident Guidelines & Report Page 10
Agent Signature and receipt of manuel page 12
The repossession business
What is a repossession?
Repossession is the recovery of collateral. The most common reason for repossession is to protect the creditor from sustaining a loss of money loaned to the debtor. When a debtor has defaulted in the performance of a contract, e.g. Failing to make the payments or in some cases failing to provide proof of insurance.
Each repossessor should have an assignment containing the following information:
Recovery agencies company name.
Debtor's Residence and business address.
Any telephone numbers.
Status of the account.
Description of the collateral.
Collateral identification numbers (VIN).
Any special instructions. (Including any notes from previous repossession attempts).
In most states collateral may be repossessed peacefully from the following areas:
Public streets and alleyways.
Public access areas.
Any secured or garaged area with the permission of the person in control of that area at the time of repossession.
In most state collateral may not be repossessed from the following areas:
Fenced and locked property.
Enclosures, including garages.
Debtor’s private property if debtor objects prior to repossession. If the debtor does object prior to the completion of the repossession, you must “back off”. Do not fall prey to an act of violence in order to obtain possession of the collateral. There is always another opportunity. Repossession is not worth personal injury or a lawsuit.
when has a vehicle been repossessed
In most states: “a repossession occurs when the repossessor gains entry to the collateral or when the collateral becomes connected to a recovery vehicle” Contact with the debtor
The preferable way to repossess a vehicle is without contact with the debtor. In the event there is unavoidable contact, we suggest the following:
Be calm, identify yourself and show your identification card.
Identify the debtor, call the debtor by name.
Proceed with the repossession, unless the debtor objects.
Explain the status of the account and your client’s position.
Do not make any promises that cannot be kept.
Be firm in stating your position.
Do not threaten anyone!
Do not advise them of any legal action that may be taken against them.
Allow the debtor to receive personal effects if the situation is calm and they surrender the vehicle keys first.
If the debtor does object prior to the completion of the repossession, you must “back off”. Do not fall prey to an act of violence in order to obtain possession of the collateral. There is always another opportunity. Repossession is not worth personal injury or a lawsuit.
Remember that you represent not only the company with whom you are hired by, but the lending institution as well.
A first impression is important. Whether to the debtor, the debtor’s neighbor, the client or law enforcement. Be neat, well groomed and businesslike. Be professional.
Many times, you will work an assignment where the debtor has moved from the address provided by the client. Thus the need for field investigation or skip tracing. Listed below are some useful guidelines to assist you in your efforts.
Talk with apartment manager or owner of the property. (CFPB - Do not divulge debtor personal information)
Talk with neighbors. (CFPB - Do not divulge debtor personal information)
Checking contents of trash cans will often produce clues.
Check power meters for name changes and dates.
Try to obtain:
Names of relatives, their address and telephone numbers.
Where the debtor is or was employed.
Names of friends, their address and telephone numbers.
What area the debtor may have moved to.
Description of other vehicles driven by the debtor.
When and how the debtor moved. Rental trailer, moving company (get name) private vehicle etc…
Information as to who “baby sat” the children.
If any creditors are also looking for the debtor aside from your client.
If debtor is known by any other name such as a nick-name or a different last name.
Do not be afraid to be aggressive, but be polite, do not volunteer any information, especially information about the debtor that may be considered slanderous!
Do not refer to the debtor by any other name but the debtor’s given name.
Remember to be accurate in your verbal or written reports. The information you provide may be forwarded to the client.
Although it is a crime for a debtor to conceal a motor vehicle with the intent to defraud the creditor, you should refrain for stating or referring that the debtor may have committed this crime, unless you have the authorization from the client.
The field agent must be familiar with the fair debt collection practices act on federal and state levels when attempting to collect a payment from customer. Generally these laws do not apply to repossessors except when attempting to collect money, but it is best to work within the parameters of the FDCPA.
You and the law
There are going to be times when you will be confronted by a law enforcement officer. His attitude, most often, will depend upon how you conduct yourself in the field. Imagine yourself in the following situation: it is midnight and you have just repossessed a vehicle in a residential area. You have driven a few blocks when you notice a police vehicle behind you. Suddenly, the red and blue lights go on indicating the officer wants you to stop. Remember the police officer may have received a call of a possible grand theft auto or even a prowler. How are you going to handle the situation?
We suggest the following guidelines to protect yourself and make the officer feel more at ease:
Park the vehicle and turn off the engine.
Turn on the interior lights.
Do not get out of your vehicle, remain seated.
Keep your hands visible, preferably on the dashboard or on top of the steering wheel, in plain sight.
Do not make any sudden moves.
Be calm and cooperative.
Obey all instructions. Remember the situation, at this point you are considered a suspect involved in a possible crime.
Do not argue !
Be prepared to show your identification card and repossession order.
Remember the police officer, like you, has a job to do. Do not hinder his procedure. Once the officer has determined that you are a repossessor conducting lawful business you will likely be allowed to continue on your way, “after you get up off the ground and the hand cuffs are removed”.
If during or after a repossession you are confronted by a law enforcement officer whom you believe to be erring in judgment, politely request that his supervisor be advised of the situation and asked that the supervisor respond to your location.
All repossessors should be familiar with, but not limited to:
Your states vehicle code.
Repossession state laws.
Responsibility after the repossession
Once a vehicle has been repossessed, in some states a verbal report must be given to the local law enforcement agency governing the area from which the vehicle was recovered. This is to be done by the most expeditious means available. If by state law a written report must be sent to the same police agency within (24) (twenty-four) hours, it will be completed by our office staff. Havening completed your verbal report, obtain either the report number or the officer’s name and / or badge number, and refer this in your repossession report to the office.
A vehicle condition report, which includes the odometer reading and personal effects inventory, must be completed. Both of the reports must be accurate and true. Since the inventory of personal effects should be described in detail, you are reminded that deadly weapons and dangerous drugs must be noted and in some states turned over to local law enforcement. These items are to be listed upon your inventory. With the notation that they were given to the law enforcement agency. A case number, if any, issued by the law enforcement agency shall also appear on the inventory by the listed item. Obtain a receipt for our files.
It cannot be stressed strongly enough how important it is that all reports you provide to the office or the client be factual, thorough and accurate. Do not inflate or falsify any report or information.
Do's and Don'ts
Listed below are some of the “do’s and don’ts” after the repossession:
Do secure the vehicle in a safe manner.
Do complete an accurate and detailed condition report.
Do complete a detailed personal effects inventory.
Do store the personal effects in a marked container or bag.
Do record any key numbers for future use.
Do keep accurate notes concerning the repossession.
Do deliver the vehicle directly to our storage lot or to the auction listed on your assignment form.
Do not use the vehicle for personal use.
Do not use any of the personal effects.
Do password protect all your electronic communication devices.
This is to advise and remind you of the money that you and the company may lose when you forget to follow the basic rules of repossession. It is realized that more often than not, you are going to be pressed for time to accomplish the chasing of all those repossession assignments that are scattered in all four directions and must be checked tonight! If you wish to be ranked as that species known as the professional, just develop the following good habits and you’ll get there:
Adhere to traffic laws.
Don’t run red lights.
Don’t make unlawful left turns and “u” turns.
Don’t exceed the speed limit.
Don’t drive on the sidewalk.
Don’t drive while exhausted.
Don’t forget about stopping distance, especially when towing.
Don’t forget to put your “drag lights” on the towed vehicle.
Safety chains on the towed vehicle.
Tie down and secure the steering wheel of the towed vehicle.
Always be aware of the combined length of your vehicle and the vehicle your are towing.
Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs ever!
Don’t carry a weapon.
Don’t be careless with the repossessed vehicle.
Don’t use the repossessed vehicle to chase other accounts or for personal use.
As soon as possible, check the oil, water, tires and the brake lights, if driving the repossessed vehicle to our storage lot or auction.
Always exercise caution and care when handling the personal effects.
Don't use offensive language ever!
Don't leave your electronic communication devices unattended.
The repossession professional takes pride in the idea that every year they improve themselves, their businesses and the industry. There is no room for the unprofessional any longer
The "Do Not's" Overview
Do not knowingly make any false report to the company or client for whom information is being obtained.
Do not use an alias in connection with the official activities of the company.
Do not use repossessed collateral or personal effects for personal benefit.
Do not fail to remit moneys collected in lieu of repossession to the company as soon s possible.
Do not drive a repossessed unit for personal benefit.
Do not enter any secured building or area without the consent of the owner or person in legal possession thereof at the time of repossession.
Do not fail to report a violent act which occurs while you are involved in repossession.
Do not commit assault or battery on another person.
Do not aid and / or abet an unlicensed repossessor.
Do not falsify any inventory of personal effects.
Do not use any misrepresentation during the course of repossession or falsely represent or imply that the debt will lead to a lawsuit or imprisonment.
Do not threaten to take any action that cannot be legally taken or that is not intended to be taken.
Do not falsely state that the debtor has committed any crime or say anything else that might disgrace the debtor.
Do not use or distribute any written communication which simulates or is falsely represented to be a document authorized, issued or approved by any court, official or agency of the united states of any state or which would create a false impression as to its source, authorization or approval.
Do not falsely represent or imply that documents are legal process.
Do not use any company name other than the true name of the repossession agency you work for.
Do not use any deceptive forms.
Do not submit a written or verbal report to the client without the authorization of the company.
Agent Policy on Probation and Termination
All agents shall be subject to the following company policies. These policies will govern the disciplinary procedures for the offenses listed. If a situation arises that is not covered by these policies, it shall be dealt with in the manner deemed most appropriate by the company management. The term “employment” shall fall within the definition of employment and shall include company agents, and agents provided by owner operators.
The following offenses shall result in immediate termination of employment.
Operation of company equipment while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Conviction of any drug related offense.
Conviction for DWI, DUI, reckless driving or leaving the scene of an accident,
Conviction of a felony during the term of employment with the company
Acts of dishonesty
Theft of company equipment, fuel, or supplies
Acts of violence against any company employee, customer, or any other person while in the scope of employment
Two preventable collisions within any 3 year period
More than 4 moving violations within any 3 year period
Vandalism of company property
Providing false information on employment application
The following offenses shall result in disciplinary actions up to and including termination.
Refusal of dispatch
Unexcused late recovery
Excessive moving violations (Less than 4)
Running out of route
Failure to complete or turn in paperwork
Failure to maintain or inspect vehicle resulting in out of service write-ups during roadside inspections
Coming on company property while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Any issues not specifically covered by this policy shall be reviewed on an individual basis and dealt with in the manner deemed appropriate by management.
Agent Policy on Hand Held Devices
(Your Company Name) has implemented a strict policy that prohibits the use of hand held communications devices while driving. In response to this policy, our company is implementing the following company policies:
Cell phone use while operating a company vehicle is expressly prohibited.
This prohibition includes the use of the following:
Qualcomm, Nextel 2 way or similar devices.
If you are required to make or receive a call, find a safe location (not the shoulder of the highway) and park your vehicle before using a communication device.
If you receive an incoming call while driving, allow it go to voice mail and, if necessary, respond after finding a safe place to stop your vehicle.
Although not prohibited by federal regulation, the company believes that blue-tooth devices can create a distraction for the agent. Our policy is that you use extreme caution using blue-tooth devices while driving.
If making an emergency call to 911 or other authorities, find a safe location to park your vehicle prior to using the phone.
Our company is dedicated to both compliance with state and federal laws and is committed to operating safely. Distracted driving represents an unacceptable risk to the public. Agents who violate the rules governing hand-held communication devices shall be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Agent Vehicle take home Policy
Unless otherwise specified, company vehicles may only be taken home when the agent is on call. At all other times, the truck must be parked at the facility.
If a agent is authorized to take a truck home, the unit may not be used for any purpose other than to run recovery orders for the company. No personal use of the truck is permitted.
No passengers are allowed in the truck other than authorized persons who may be required to ride in the truck.
No work is to be performed for anyone other than the company.
Towing or using the vehicle in any other way for the benefit of anyone other than the company is expressly forbidden.
Family members of the agent are forbidden to be in or on the vehicle at any time.
Trucks that are taken home must be parked off the street if possible. If street parking is necessary, the vehicle should be parked in a location that is legally designated for parking, and well lit. Avoid parking the vehicle in any area where it is likely that it will be sideswiped or struck from the rear.
All equipment including chargers, chains, snatch blocks, tools, and fire extinguishers, dollies, go jacks, must be secured against theft. The truck should be locked at all times when not in use. The agent is responsible for any equipment that is lost or stolen from the truck while it is in his care.
No one other than the designated company agent may drive or operate the vehicle.
Failure to comply with these rules will result in termination.
Company Policy on Drugs and Alcohol
The purpose of this manual is to provide all agents with basic information on the company policy controlling drug and alcohol use in the repossession industry. Agents with additional questions may contact their manager for clarification. Additionally, information is contained herein regarding where a agent with a drug or alcohol problem can go for assistance.
The company shall provide educational materials that explain the requirements of this policy and the employer's policies and procedures with respect to meeting these requirements.
Pre-hire drug testing:
Before using a agent to operate a company vehicle, the company may obtain a pre-hire drug test.
We have in place a random testing program for drugs and alcohol. When you are notified for a random test, you must report for the drug test immediately upon notification. Notification that a agent has been selected for a drug test can be done at any time.
Reasonable suspicion Testing:
If anyone from the company has reason to believe that a agent is exhibiting the signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol usage, he must require the agent to submit to the appropriate testing. This suspicion must be based on the agent’s appearance, actions, or on the odor of alcohol, marijuana, or other controlled substances.
Post accident testing:
Any agent who is involved in a qualifying accident may be drug tested within 24 hours and alcohol test within 2 hours. If for some reason the alcohol test cannot be administered within the required time, the agent shall continue to attempt to obtain an alcohol test for another 6 hours. If at the end of 8 hours the agent still has not achieved an alcohol test, efforts to do so shall cease. The company will document why the test was not administered at each 2 hour interval during the 8 hours that the attempt is made.
This testing is required under the following conditions:
Fatal: Any agent who is involved in a fatal accident shall comply with the post-accident drug and alcohol testing requirements regardless of fault or any other circumstances. The tests shall be conducted in the time spans outlined above.
Personal Injury: In the event of an accident that results in personal injury to any party, the agent must comply with the drug and alcohol testing requirements if he receives a citation as a result of the accident and the injured person requires treatment away from the scene of the accident. Both provisions must be present before the drug/alcohol testing is required. If either provision is not present, the agent does not have to drug/alcohol test. If testing is required, the time requirements are the same as they are for fatal accidents.
Property Damage: If property damage that requires any vehicle to be towed for reasons other than tires, the agent must drug/alcohol test if he receives a citation as a result of the accident. Again, if the vehicles do not need to be towed, or if the agent does not receive a citation, drug testing is not required. Both provisions must be met before drug testing is required. Time limitations for the required testing are the same as those listed for fatal accidents.
Return to duty testing: If a agent is found to have violated the drug/alcohol regulations, that agent must submit to another drug test before returning to work. The drug test must specifically target the drug that the agent tested positive for on the previous test.
Follow-up testing: If a agent has tested positive for drugs/alcohol and has been through rehabilitation, the employing company must drug/alcohol test the agent at least 6 times during the first 12 months of employment. These tests must be conducted while the agent is in a safety sensitive position and must be unannounced.
Protection for Agents: In order to protect the rights of the agents being tested, and to insure that a agent is not adversely affected by a false positive test, the following protective procedures are required:
Split sample: All urine samples are required to be split into two samples. In the event that one sample tests positive and the agent feels that the positive test is in error, he may request that a second evaluation be made. At this time, the 2nd sample is sent to another lab and another drug screen is performed. If this screen shows that the sample is negative, the results of the first test are cancelled.
Alcohol Concentration: No agent may report for duty or perform any safety sensitive functions with a blood alcohol level of .02 or greater. We do not allow a agent who has a blood alcohol level of .02 or greater to engage in any safety sensitive function.
On-duty use: No agent may use alcohol while performing safety sensitive functions
Pre-duty use: No agent shall use alcohol within 8 hours of performing a safety sensitive function. We do not allow a agent to perform a safety sensitive function if we know that he or she has used alcoholic or substances within the previous 8 hours.
Post-accident use: No agent shall use alcohol for 8 hours after an accident or until he has submitted to an alcohol test, whichever comes first.
Controlled substance use: No agent may perform any safety sensitive functions if he uses controlled substances unless such substances were prescribed by his physician and do not affect his ability to safely operate a vehicle.
Refusal to submit to required alcohol or controlled substance testing: No agent may refuse to submit to any of the required controlled substance or alcohol testing that is part of this company policy. Our company will not use a agent who has refused to submit to such testing.
Medical release form: All agents must provide the company with a medical release form that allows them to make enquiries to all past employers that the agent has had in the past 2 years. Such enquiries shall be limited to any information regarding positive drug or alcohol tests that the agent may have had during that time.
Positive tests: Agents who test positive for controlled substances or alcohol are immediately disqualified from performing any safety sensitive functions and may not be used in any such position by any employer until such time as they can show proof that they have been successfully treated by a qualified rehabilitation service. Certification by a drug rehabilitation expert that the positive test was a unique situation and that the agent does not need to enter a rehab program is also acceptable.
Agents who have tested positive for drugs or alcohol must also take another test that specifically looks for the drug that they were positive for on the previous test. The second test must be negative before they can be certified to perform any safety sensitive functions. Once employed, they must submit to a minimum of 6 random tests for the same substance during the first 12 months of employment.
The following information is provided for any agent who has a drug or alcohol problem:
Name and address of local drug/rehab center:
Agent Harassment and Firearm Policy
By the nature of our business, performing repossessions for our financial clients, we are routinely dealing with members of the general public during stressful times. The loss of their vehicle can be traumatic events that have people upset or on edge. It is our expectation that our employees recognize that this is a stressful time for such individuals and therefore conduct themselves in a courteous, professional manner that minimizes the possibility of confrontation. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment.
Improper actions that will lead to such disciplinary actions include:
Any abusive behavior towards a customer or anyone else at the scene.
Obscene language, gestures or actions.
Sexually suggestive or offensive actions or language.
Inappropriate or offensive comments or actions that are directed towards any person’s race, sex, nationality, or religion.
Threats made to any other person while on duty.
Assault of any type.
Obscene or harassing messages on any clothing.
Carrying or brandishing a firearm or any other weapon.
Any other action not expressly covered in the above that may be construed as harassing or threatening by the average person.
Regardless of the attitude of the customer, please maintain a courteous manner and refrain from engaging in arguments.
When engaging in a financial recovery, exercise special care to avoid confrontation. Should a customer threaten violence or attempt to forcibly prevent the recovery, immediately terminate your recovery attempts, vacate the premise and call the company for assistance.
If police presence is required, meet with the responding officer at a neutral location and explain the circumstances. Do not attempt to continue with the recovery until the officer has secured the location and you can do so without danger to yourself or others.
If the vehicle is on private property and you are ordered to leave, do so and call the company. Continued efforts to recover the vehicle after being ordered off the property can result in legal action against you and the company.
The carrying or possession of firearms while in the scope of employment is expressly prohibited. This ban includes the possession of a firearm on any company property including all company owned or leased vehicles and applies regardless of possession of legal permits to carry such firearms*.
This policy is designed for the protection of you, the public, and the company. Any person caught with a firearm in violation of this policy will be subject to immediate dismissal.
The company ban on firearms possession only applies to the presence of firearms on company property or vehicles and should in no way be construed as a violation of employee rights under state or federal laws.
Active or reserve law enforcement officers who are required to carry their weapon at all times may, upon notification of company management, carry their duty weapon. However, unless such an officer is wearing his duty uniform, his weapon shall be concealed from public view. At no time shall such a weapon be used for any reason other than in the course of emergency police activities.
Keep in mind that while on duty, you represent our company and the client. Your conduct not only reflects on your professionalism, but it also affects public image. We know that your job can be stressful, but we expect you to act as a professional at all times. Thank you for your cooperation.
Agent Dishonesty Policy
Any agent who commits an act of dishonesty while in the scope of employment shall, without recourse, be immediately terminated, and shall not be eligible for rehire.
Acts of dishonesty shall be construed to be any of the following:
Theft of company equipment.
Criminal conversion of company property.
Operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of any non-prescribed drug or controlled substance, or use of any prescribed drug or controlled substance that might affect the safe operation of a commercial motor vehicle.
Operation of a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Possession of a controlled substance or alcohol on company property or while operating a company motor vehicle.
Reporting for any company related duty including driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Making false statements or statements that are materially incorrect with the intent of misleading the company regarding any action that might jeopardize the wellbeing of the company.
Any act of violence against an employee, customer, or any member of the general public while acting as a representative of this company.
Any act of a malicious or destructive nature that affects the well-being of the company or its employees.
Conviction of a felony while in the scope of employment.
Any other intentional act that adversely affects the safety or well-being of the company or the motoring public or that places the property of the company or any other person at risk.
The above rules shall apply to all employees, independent contractors, and representatives of this company.
By my signature, I acknowledge receipt of the above policy on drugs, alcohol and dishonesty and agree to all of the terms and conditions set therein.
Agent Accident Guidelines & Report Accident Guidelines - When involved in a accident:
Stop. Turn on emergency flashers. Only move your vehicle if directed to do so by an officer.
Shut down your vehicle. Remain calm. Only exit when it is safe to do so. Keep yourself protected.
Quickly survey the area and check for imminent hazards (other traffic, fuel spill, fire, electrical, etc)
Secure the scene; set out reflective triangles, flares or other emergency equipment.
Check for injuries; never move injured parties; only offer assistance (blanket, water, pillow, etc)
Notify police via cell phone. If these are unavailable, ask witness or passerby to call for you.
Document the scene. This is critical - material facts could change once scene is cleaned up. Include all details.
Use your cell phone or camera to document the accident scene in great detail. (do not photo the injured)
Ask witnesses to document what they have witnessed. Collect their information, name, phone number, type of car, license plate number, description, etc)
Ask to video statements made by all parties and witnesses.
If other party admits fault and is willing to do so, have speak to the police officer.
Accident Report: If you are involved in a accident please try to obtain all the information you possibly can.