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What are the Different Types of Repo Jobs?

By Dale Marshall
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Repossession jobs, more commonly called “repo jobs,” are assignments to recover property from people who have breached contractual obligations they've entered into, where the property has been pledged as collateral. In the United States, most purchases of houses, automobiles, boats, furniture and other property are financed with loans from banks and other lenders. Virtually all the contracts establishing the loans provide for the lender to repossess the property if the borrower breaches the terms of the contract, such breach nearly always being non-payment.

In the United States, repossession of property is a specialized business, and companies that lend money generally aren't equipped to recover the property for which the money is loaned. Thus, in the US, lenders will turn to third party contractors when they've reached the decision to recover property. While some of these third parties are small operations with only one or two people, in most cases they're fairly sizable small businesses, operating a number of vehicles, such as vans, straight trucks, and tow trucks. These companies may hire employees on an hourly basis to perform the actual repo jobs, or they may hire independent contractors, paying them a commission for each piece of property recovered. Some of these independent contractors have their own tow trucks.

Although car repo jobs are the most commonly performed in the US, they're by no means the only type. Boats, for example, are often the target of repossession, and the proliferation of companies renting furniture, appliances and electronics has generated a number of repo jobs to recover those items when the renting parties are unable to pay the rental due. There's even a branch of the repossession industry dedicated to evicting people from their residences when they've defaulted on their mortgage or rental agreement and haven't voluntarily vacated the premises.

Repo jobs can be dangerous. It's not at all uncommon for a repo agent to encounter vociferous and even violent objections during the repossession process, especially when the item being repossessed is an automobile. Thus, repo agents are trained to be tactful and polite when dealing with the people whose property is being repossessed, but also to be able to defend themselves if necessary. Despite this, very few states in the US regulate repo agents; instead, the regulatory burden effectively falls on the insurance companies that insure the repo companies and bond their agents. Those companies set the standards for training and qualification of repo agents. For instance, every American repo agent must have a commercial driver's license and a clean driving and criminal record. The hours are long and non-traditional, but the compensation, especially for productive repo agents, can be rewarding.

Some of the skills repo agents must possess aren't learned in training, but by experience. For example, in the case of cars, repo agents must be able to locate the car before they can repossess it, and an owner who is aware that a repo agent is trying to recover the car can be quite creative in evading the repo agent. Locating these cars is a skill that a repo agent acquires only through experience, because it requires not only intelligence, but also motivation, determination, and discretion. In fact, in some cases, a repo agent will have to be a good detective, doing things such as following a car to find out where it's being kept.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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