Does “No Contact” Mean No Power?

GUEST EDITORIAL

You have just backed your tow truck up to the vehicle to be repossessed when the debtor runs out of his house yelling and cursing and telling you to get the hell away from HIS vehicle, or “Hell no you aren’t taking MY car, or, “Get the hell off my property” or, (while holding a large knife), “Stay the hell away from MY Harley” or, “If you try to take MY car I will shoot you.”

What “power” do you have in such situations?  If you are familiar with the term “Breaching the Peace” you know that once the debtor utters those words or makes those threats you can’t continue the repossession, you can’t call the police to assist you in completing the repossession, you can’t make threats back to the debtor – you “have no power” – or do you?

More and more lenders are going to “no contact” repossession assignments. We know it is inevitable that on some of those assignments unintended contact will happen and when it happens, being prepared through professional training, knowledge and experience is critical.  And, during the entire recovery process, VIGILANCE is the key to staying safe.

I am approved, in both state and federal court, to provide expert opinions and expert testimony in Wrongful Repossession litigation and have been involved in that capacity in over 30 cases.  In the hundreds of depositions I have read, there are two glaring issues in virtually every case: 1) the way the Recovery Agent handled the confrontation, and 2) the Recovery Agent actually created a Breach of the Peace. They generally happen because they have never taken a comprehensive, professional certification course to learn how to avoid or diffuse the situation.

In repossessing defaulted collateral, whether it be voluntary or involuntary you never know when you will face a confrontational situation that could turn violent, or even worse, deadly.  Every repossession situation is different so you must always stay VIGILANT.  When the repossession assignment indicates NO CONTACT, that does not mean that a confrontational situation will not arise so always be prepared for that potential, even from a third party.

As to having “no power,” if you are a trained professional you have one of the most powerful options available to complete your repossession peacefully and successfully.   The power you garner is from your ability to communicate effectively and persuade the customer to release the vehicle to you.

Do communication tactics work every time?  No, nothing does.  However, it works most of the time, and of those times it doesn’t work it has the potential to de-escalate what could quickly become a violent confrontation.

During my 35 years in the collateral recovery industry I have been threatened with just about every weapon you can imagine, all as a result of sudden, unintended confrontations.  I survived, and had a successful career because I learned the value of communicating effectively.  And, I can assure you that the more you practice those skills the sharper your instincts and the better your imagination (which are critical parts of that communications tool) will become.

What about “voluntary” repossessions?  Do you relax your vigilance and just jump in your tow truck thinking there is nothing to do except drive to the location, hook up, and drive back to the office?  Did you just abandon your instincts, or did you use those instincts and communication skills to call the debtor, listen carefully to their responses and make sure this was really a voluntary assignment?

Reading CUCollector or Repoman, and possibly from your personal experiences, you realize how suddenly a “routine” (and I don’t believe in a routine repossession) assignment can become a dangerous confrontation.  It is especially in those situations that using good communication skills and imagination can result in a peaceful repossession or de-escalate a bad situation.  Sometimes, leaving without the collateral makes for a successful conclusion and a good day.  There is an old saying, “one repo won’t make you, but it sure can break you.”

If you understand the state and federal laws you can speak intelligently and accurately without putting you or your employer at risk.  How can you develop a successful and convincing line of communication if you are not knowledgeable of what you can say legally? That is why standardized professional certification through a nationally accepted certification program is so important.  Knowledge is power and will reduce your exposure to risk.

One final old saying from an old guy, “Don’t think training is important?  Try ignorance.”  I’ve seen it many times during my deposition reviews.  Ignorance doesn’t work.

 

Be safe,

Joe Taylor

RISC

 

RISC is an organization dedicated to providing services specific to the collateral recovery industry, including the professional training and certification of collateral recovery specialists through the nationally accepted CARS National Certification Program,  RISC also specializes in the development of Continuing Education, Industry Standards and compliance training, monitoring and reporting.  RISC is an advocate of all professional practitioners within the collateral recovery industry.  Please visit our website, www.RiscUS.com, or contact us at:

Email: services@RiscUS.com  Tele:  1-866-996-7472(RISC)

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