Dealing with a Repossession

A repossession is a legal action where a creditor (usually a bank) takes property that was part of a loan agreement.

Follow the links below for more information:

What to do if you are behind on payments.

Repossession, on and off the Reservation.

Going to Court for Repossession.

Acceleration Notices

If you want to surrender the vehicle.

Late Payments

If you are behind on payments take action early to prevent a repossession action against you!
Here are some things you can do:

  • Call your Creditor! Call the bank or lender that is in charge of your loan and ask about payment plans, more time to pay, or any options to help you avoid repossession.
  • Ask for help! Family, friends, or a personal loan from the Navajo Nation may be able to help you repay.
  • Refinance! You can go to your bank or credit union and ask them to refinance your auto loan.

If you are behind on payments:

  • Do NOT take your vehicle to the dealer if you go to talk about a payment arrangement.
  • Do NOT give your keys to a repo agent or dealer representative.
  • Do NOT sign any documents from the repo agent without carefully looking them over and seeking legal advice.

Understanding Repossession On & Off the Reservation

If you are in the Navajo Nation no one can force you to give up your property,
EXCEPT a court order.


  1. No one can force you to give up your property, EXCEPT a court order from a Navajo Court.
  2. A property owner has to agree to a repossession before a creditor can take the property.
  3. A creditor MUST get your written permission to take your property, before they can repossess your vehicle.
  4. If a creditor does not have your written permission, they can only take your property if they have a Navajo Court order.

Repossession of consumer goods, found in



If you have stopped making payments and do not return the vehicle, you may face felony charges!
You may be committing a felony if:

  1. Your original contract warned you it was illegal to keep property you stopped paying on.
  2. You did not make a payment for more than 90 days.
  3. You fail to bring the loan current (make all late payments and pay all fees) within 30 days.
  4. Knowing all this, you don’t return the vehicle to the creditor or let the creditor take the vehicle.

Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1813

IF YOU PURCHASED IN ARIZONA or NEW MEXICO: A Creditor or Repo Agent CANNOT threaten, harass, or intimidate you to try to get your car.

Even though a creditor does not have to tell you they are going to repossess your car when you are off reservation (which means they can take your car if they are physically able to), they cannot “breach the peace” when they try to take your car.

You can peacefully request that repo agent stop the repossession, if you see the repo agent trying to take the car.

If you think you have

Going to Court for a Repossession

If you do not pay the loan back as promised, the creditor has the right to take the property.

Navajo Code  § 9-503
Arizona Revised Statutes  § 47-9609
New Mexico Statutes  § 55-9-609

What to Expect if a Creditor Takes You to Court

This information is for NAVAJO COURTS.

  1. You will get a notice that the creditor has filed a legal action against you in court, and a hearing date will be scheduled at the Court.
  2. You will attend the hearing, with a Navajo Judge, where you can speak in Navajo.
  3. Explain to the Judge why you fell behind on payments, and why you didn’t pay back the loan as promised.
  4. The Navajo Court Judge will make a decision on the repossession based on the hearing.

For information on Arizona and New Mexico Repossession, click below!

Acceleration Notices

BEWARE: The creditor might require you to pay off the loan, in full, if you fall behind on payments!

If you receive an Acceleration Notice for your loan, the creditor is speeding up the loan and demanding the full amount owed because you have fallen behind on payments.

If you don’t do what the Acceleration Notice asks by the due date, you might be facing a repossession action in court.

If You Want to Return/Surrender the Vehicle

Take some steps to protect yourself, and make sure you understand what you are agreeing to!

  1. Contact the lender BEFORE you return the vehicle to the dealer or a repo agent.
  2. Ask them to waive any deficiencies in exchange for your voluntary surrender of the car.
    See below for more information on deficiencies.
  3. If the lender agrees to your surrender, make sure you get an agreement IN WRITING.
  4. Make sure you have a signed copy of the agreement before you surrender the car.

Deficiency after Repossession:

When a lender repossesses your property, they have the right to sell it to get the money you owe.

A deficiency is what you owe when the money from the sale of the repossessed property doesn’t cover the balance of your loan and the costs the creditor paid to repossess the car (like paying a repo agent, or for a tow truck).

Deficiency laws are different based on where you bought the car. Seek legal advice if you are facing a deficiency action after a repossession.