Creditor has no obligation to repossess your car

Q. I have stopped paying my car note. The debt has been turned over to a collection agency. The collection agency is now threatening to sue me for the full amount I owe. I told them to come and get the car, but they refused. Do they have to take the car back when I don’t pay?

A. A creditor or debt collector is not required to repossess a car if you do not pay. The collector may have the “right” to repossess but no obligation to take the car, even if you offer to return it. For example, if the cost of the repossession is greater than the value of the car, the lender usually will not take the car. As a general rule, a party will repossess the car only when repossessing the car will have some economic benefit. I also should point out that even if the car is returned, you still might owe a substantial amount of money. After the car is repossessed, it will be sold and the proceeds will be applied to the debt. If the car is not sold for enough to cover the debt, you owe the balance. It might be that you should be glad they do not take your car.

Q. I have a debt collector calling me at work. I have told him that my employer prohibits such calls and I could lose my job. His answer was, “then you better pay me because I am not going to stop calling you.” How can I stop these calls?

A. Under a federal law, called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it is unlawful for a debt collector to call you at work once he knows your employer prohibits such calls. If the debt collector continues to call, you would have a claim for damages and penalties. I suggest you let the debt collector know that you know about this law, and if he doesn’t stop you will immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission and a private attorney. My guess is that will end the calls.

Q. I buy lottery tickets every week. If I win the lottery, does my spouse have any interest in the money I win?

A. Assuming you purchased the ticket with money you earned while you were married, the lottery winnings would be considered community property, jointly owned by you and your spouse. The only exception would be if you have a premarital agreement saying otherwise.

Q. If a guardian is appointed for an incapacitated person, what is the authority of a second person holding a durable power of attorney. Is the power of attorney automatically revoked? If not, can the new guardian revoke the power of attorney?

A. The appointment of a guardian automatically terminates any grant of authority given under a power of attorney.

Q. I applied for an apartment and was turned down because of a 20 year old DUI. Is this legal? How long can the DUI count against me?

A. The DUI will continue to show up if someone conducts a background check. It does not disappear after some period of time. Assuming you have not had similar problems since the conviction, most people will not pay much attention to a 20 year-old DUI. There is no law, however, preventing a person from choosing not to deal with you because of a very old DUI. All I can suggest is that you speak with the landlord and fully explain your situation.

Q. Is it legal for a person to have a dog riding in the bed of a pickup truck? It seems very dangerous.

A. In my opinion, it is not a good idea to let a dog ride untethered in the bed of a pickup, but it is not illegal.

Want to know more about your legal rights? Pick up a copy of the 8th edition of my book “Know Your Rights!,” available at bookstores or www.peopleslawyer.net.

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