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'Help us keep our cars': Broomfield man asks for stay on auto repossessions

Consumer advocates predict surge in repos in 2021
Posted at 5:22 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 20:43:00-05

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — The safeguards intended to prevent mass evictions in Colorado have not been extended to auto loans. But a Broomfield man is hoping that will change.

"I love this car. It only has 59,000 miles on it," said Clinton Stephens, who feels like Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong) was written about the last year of his life. "I never expected something like the pandemic to affect me so greatly. "

The Broomfield engineer is now driving for DoorDash and GrubHub to make ends meet after struggling with unemployment during the pandemic, a car accident and a hospitalization for COVID-19.

"I almost died. I went to the hospital. I 'code blued' in the hospital," he said. "It was a nightmare."

Behind on bills, he recently learned his car is up for repossession.

"They call me and they say, 'you have two days to pay $1,600 or you lose your vehicle,'" he said, saying he could not afford that payment. "I am already on the verge of losing my house as it is. If I lose my car, you know, that's everything."

He is one of many struggling to keep their cars. The National Consumer Law Center reports that auto repossessions are expected to surge in 2021.

Stephens wrote to Gov. Jared Polis to ask for a stay on car repossessions during the pandemic, similar to the eviction moratorium and similar to what other states have already enacted.

"About nine states already have measures in place. My question is: why haven't we?" asked Stephens. "I want to put a stay on repossessions so that people have access to their vehicle to work and so people don't lose assets that are vital to them in this time."

Contact Denver7 reached out to the Governor's Office, and we are still waiting for a response.

The FTC gives tips for what to do if you can't afford your car payments, including talking to your lender about possible refinancing options or deferred payments.

Margaret Mellott, a spokeswoman for Ford Credit, which services Stephens' loan said she cannot comment on specific circumstances to respect customer privacy.

"But I can say that repossession is an absolute last resort," said Mellot. "Our goal is to always help customers stay in their vehicles."

Stephens said he has already had deferred payments and has run out of options.

"The only way I've been able to keep this car is to store it in the garage. "Every time I leave my house go to work, Door Dash or something, that's a moment that they could come and just grab your car and go."

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