How to Become a Repossession Agent: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Repossession agents contract with individuals or businesses to recover property when a purchaser fails to pay. Recovery agents may repossess cars, boats, furniture and other property for the legal owner. The requirements vary for each state for becoming a repossession agent.

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Step 1: Complete a Training Course

Training for repossession agents varies for each state, and those interested in the field should check with their state licensing department for requirements. One possible training option may include taking a collections agent training course, which teaches repossession laws, telephone techniques and computer skills. Students also learn skip-tracing methods so they can use databases and public information to locate individuals holding the sought-after property.

Another option may include completing the Certified Asset Recovery Specialist (CARS) national certification program. In the program, students learn about state and federal laws, the recovery and post-recovery process, contract law, skip-tracing, personal and property crimes, defensive driving, ethics and insurance.

Step 2: Gain Professional Experience

Some states require repossession agents to have qualified experience before obtaining licensure to work as an independent contractor. Entry-level repossession agents can gain hands-on experience by working under the supervision of licensed repossession agents or agencies; internships or apprenticeships are offered at some recovery agencies.

Although not the same as repossession, bill and account collection also deals with overdue payments and might be included in the process leading up to merchandise repossession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bill and account collectors can expect to see a 15% increase in job opportunities from 2012 to 2022. In May 2012, these professionals earned an average of $34,320, annually (www.bls.gov).

Step 3: Buy a Surety Bond

State licensing boards may require repossession agents to purchase insurance in the form of surety bonds; the state typically sets a minimum coverage amount. Surety bonds protect repossession agents and their clients from the cost of any damages during the retrieval process.

Step 4: Obtain State Licensure

All states regulate the repossession process and typically require repossession agents to register or obtain licensure. While requirements differ for each state, they usually include being of a minimum age, passing a criminal background check, having a valid driver's license and completing an approved training course. Some states mandate that applicants have prior recovery experience or pass an examination. A processing fee is usually due when submitting the application and renewal of the license or registration is generally required.

Step 5: Acquire a Tow Truck Operator License

Some repossession agents recover vehicles, which compels them to operate tow trucks. These professionals must adhere to state regulations and obtain the appropriate driver's license for operating a tow truck. Additional requirements are sometimes necessary to receive the license, such as having sufficient insurance coverage or registering with the consumer affairs department.

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