If you are unable to pay a debt you have assumed, you are likely to encounter the repo man. During times of high unemployment, a number of people are unable to make payments on automobiles, motorcycles, furniture or other tangible property used as security for a debt. The dreaded repossession agent, or “repo man,” is one of the most unpopular and unwelcome people in society today. The salary of a repossession or collateral collection agent in Pennsylvania is dependent upon the employer and the experience and expertise of the agent.
Creditors are hesitant to engage the services of a debt collector. It costs the creditor a good deal of money. Creditors would much rather work out a payment arrangement that the debtor can meet. However, the “repo man” serves an essential function in collection of debts the debtor ignores or refuses to pay.
When a creditor is unable to collect a debt, he may engage the services of a law firm or debt collection service to pursue payment. If the lawyer or debt collection service are unable to collect the monies due from the debtor, they may call upon the services of a repossession agency, or “repo man,” to “collect” on the debt. By Pennsylvania state law, tangible property, used as security for a debt, may be seized and sold to collect the monies owed.
Many debt collection agencies that hire independent repossession agents offer incentive bonuses. A “repo man” can increase his income with bonuses received for repossessing the vehicle within 24 hours of receiving the assignment.
The National Association of Debt Collectors reports that in 2011 there are more than 100,000 debt collection jobs available nationwide. Although there are an abundance of jobs available in the debt collection field, it take a special type of individual to be a repossession agent. “Repo agents” should have excellent “people” skills, including being able to handle and calm irate individuals. A clean driving record and no criminal history are normally required for most positions. A drug test is a job prerequisite.
Agents should possess good investigative skills. No one wants to have their possessions repossessed. May debtors are difficult to locate and go to great lengths to hide the property in question. Repo agents should have great organizational and problem-solving skills. Patience and persistence are required. A “repo man” works long hours, nights and weekends.
Many repossession agents are self employed. Income is dependent on locating and repossessing the collateral in question in a timely and cost efficient manner. Out-of-pocket expenses, including fuel, insurance, tools, wrecker services and office expenses, reduce the amount the “repo man” receives for each job.
Many “repo agents” are employed by debt collection companies. They may spent the majority of their time in the office, trying to trace down debtors and make payment arrangements, or work in the field recovering collateral. The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national median hourly wages of account and bill collectors were $14.73 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $12.14 and $18.12 per hour. The lowest 10 percent received less than $10.17 per hour. Bill and account collectors in the highest 10 percent earned more than $22.97 per hour.
Many repossession agents are paid a commission per vehicle they repossess; $75 to $500 is typical compensation for each repossession. Collateral recovery is a hazardous job. “Repo agents” may faced upset, armed owners or vicious dogs. However, agents who are experienced and excel in this challenging occupation can earn a generous income. An article published October 19, 2008, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that as of 2008 there were 177 licensed repossession companies in Pennsylvania. At that time, the article reports that a typical Pittsburgh “repo man” averaged the recovery of three to five cars a shift and earned approximately $5,000 per month.
To work as a “repo man” in Pennsylvania, you must complete the Application for Licensure as a Collector-Repossessor. A license is required in Pennsylvania law under Title 69, Section 601. You may obtain an application from the Pennsylvania Department of Banking. You must also obtain a $5,000 bond and pass a fingerprint and background check.
Although working as a “repo man” can be a lucrative career, new technology installed on modern vehicles is putting the “repo man” out of work. Automobiles equipped with a “smart box” will not start if the payment is not made on time. Dealers are finding that installing a disabling device on the vehicle costs less than the services of the “repo man”.