Bankruptcy Towing and Storage Scam
New Bankruptcy Towing and Storage Scam
Don sent me today a letter offering him a $1000 for the car he’s giving up as part of his bankruptcy. (He owes way more than the car is worth.)
An outfit calling itself Towing and Storage offers to give him $1000 to avoid “the hassle” of dealing with his car after he filed bankruptcy. Wow! What a deal!
Don thinks this might be too good to be true. (Here’s a copy of that letter.)
I don’t know about the specific company that contacted Don. But I do know how a towing and storage scam could, legally, “steal” the car. Saying yes to a scam offer, could get Don’s entire bankruptcy disapproved. If what Towing and Store is suggesting is legal for them, it may not be NOT legal for Don, or for you.
A towing and storage scam might use what’s called a garageman’s lien. Any company that works on a car, or just tows and stores it, has the right to be paid. And if they are not paid on time, they can sell the car. Sell the car WITHOUT having to pay off the debt to the car finance people. Using the garageman’s lien, a towing and storage scam can transform your upside down financed car into a valuable paid for car! And keep all the money for themselves.
Meanwhile, the car finance people are waiting to get permission from the bankruptcy court to pick up your car–and of course they expect to pick it up from you. By the time everyone has figured out what’s going on, the towing and storage scam has legally sold the car. That would be one way a towing and storage scam can afford to give Don the $1000.
Do you care?
The bankruptcy code requires you “surrender” property to the bankruptcy trustee. That does NOT mean you want to ship your furniture to the bankruptcy court, or drop off the car in the courthouse parking lot. If there’s still a payment on the car, the bankruptcy trustee does not want it. But you are required to keep the property safe until told otherwise. (Usually, at your hearing, your meeting of creditors, the bankruptcy trustee “abandons” your car, meaning gives it back to you.)
But your discharge can still be denied, meaning you still have to pay everybody, if you “transferred, removed, destroyed…” property you are supposed to keep safe. In other words, letting a towing and storage scam pick up your car could make your whole bankruptcy pointless. That might not come up at your bankruptcy meeting of creditors hearing. But when the car finance people look for the car, and don’t find it, they can raise a stink.
Maybe it’s not a scam
Let’s look again at the letter Don got. It says “We will contact your lien holder immediately and arrange for the return of your vehicle.” Maybe they do arrange for the return of the vehicle. Then Don’s ahead by $1000. And I guess everybody is happy. But if it’s a towing and storage scam, the car finance people have been cheated out of their rights to the car. And they could make Don’s bankruptcy end badly.