Car repos up in 2008

Lawton_Housing foreclosures, job cuts, and bankruptcy are hitting Americans across the country, and car repossessions can now be added to the list.  More people in Lawton had their cars repossessed in 2008 than in the year before.  Most say the recession is to blame.  The repos are stemming from consumers purchasing items they simply cannot realistically afford.

Before you buy that new car, think if you actually can afford it.  It's no longer news that Americans are losing jobs, making it harder for them to pay their bills.  But, local businesses say that isn't the trend around here.  In Texoma, lenders say that borrowers are biting off more than they can chew.  "Delinquency is up across the board period," said Lawton car dealer Antonio Austin.  "With delinquency being up, repos go up as well.  A lot of it is self-induced," he said.  "If you could definitely not bite off more than you could chew, that would help."

Austin's business has seen a slight increase in repossessions monthly compared to last year.  "We typically repo three or four, but it is probably six or seven at this point."  Local auto dealer Tracy Duggan says that if you have fallen behind on payments, call your lender before they call you.  "If a client would work with their lender and actually call, and be truthful, and let them know they are having hard times, the lender would much rather keep the client and the car, and take care of their loan verses getting the collateral or the car back," she said.  "For that matter, they wouldn't find themselves getting repo-ed as much."

Many local businesses agree.  "Communication is what is key here - to get the customer talking with the finance company," said Duggan.  "With communication set, other things can fall into place."

A Lawton company that did not wished to be named also has seen an increase in repossessions.  In the past four months it says it has repossessed 30 cars - the highest it has seen in the last five years.  After a repo happens, most businesses are still trying to work out a plan to keep their customers.