Lawmaker says repo industry needs regulations

(WMC-TV) - A Tennessee state representative said the lack of auto repossession industry regulations is not only a threat to public safety, but consumers' wallets are also taking a hit.

Earlier this month, the dangers of the auto repo industry played out publicly when Memphis police said Amanda Vaughn shot the man who was trying to repossess her car.

American Locators and Recovery president Ray Crocker said repo incidents are common across Tennessee.

"In Marshall County, a debtor was dragged down a driveway and part of his face was torn away," said Crocker.

Public safety aside, State Representative GA Hardaway said the absence of repo industry regulations also impacts people's pocketbooks.

"It's even more of a critical issue for consumers, for those employees, than we even know," said Hardaway.  "There are incidents that go unreported."

With metropolitan Memphis at the top of the US poverty list for, Hardaway said the city is an auto repo hotbed.

Crocker said new and inexperienced repo men are now flooding an already unregulated industry, and Hardaway said when repos go wrong, everyone eventually pays the price in higher fees and interest rates.

"It needs to be regulated," said Hardaway.

Hardaway is drafting a bill that would require repo men to obtain Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance licenses.

"With the licensing comes the oversight and the monitoring," said Hardaway.

The permit would require background checks, training and permit fees to perform repos.  Hardaway will meet with fellow lawmakers to finalize the language of the bill.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to put something together that will keep the consumer protected and allow the employees of these companies to still do their jobs," said Hardaway.

It is unclear when the bill would actually hit the floor of the General Assembly.

To read the repo rights for Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, click here.

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