Authored by Lee Wright in Careers and Employment
Published on 10-13-2009
If you are interested in becoming repo man or recovery agent there are several factors to consider. Repossessing vehicles can be dangerous job with odd hours and physical confrontations. It is important to consider whether you are suited to a job that is essentially “stealing” or repossessing a car from an owner who doesn’t want to lose his investment. It requires some training, tools of the trade, stealth and skill, and may require special licensing in some states.
The first step to becoming a repo man is finding out the licensing requirements for your state. In some states like Florida, California, and Pennsylvania you are required to have a state license to repossess vehicles. In other states, you are simply required to notify the police after you have repossessed a vehicle, so that they are not looking for a vehicle the owner may report as stolen. At a minimum in most states, you will need a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) to operate a tow truck. Vehicles and boats are the most commonly repossessed items, so access to or ownership of a tow truck and the ability to drive and operate it are essential. You may also wish to contact a local repo firm and ask to go on a few ride-alongs to see what the job involves before you commit to licensing and acquiring a tow truck.
Once you have researched the licensing requirements, succeeded in getting a CDL license, arranged access to a tow truck, and established that this is a good job fit for you, you can begin your career as a repo man. In some larger markets, you may be able to find a course to teach the basics. You can also apply for a job at a local repo firm or you can approach the job as an independent contractor. If you plan to work as independent contractor you will need to promote yourself and your business to debt collection agencies. Have some flyers and business cards printed and consider an ad in the yellow pages. Your first jobs may have to be done at discount rates or at odd hours until to you prove yourself capable of the job.
Once you have gotten a few contracts, you need the tools to do the job. The proper tools include a slim jim, auto jiggler keys, a go jack, and a towing hitch. These tools will help you take a vehicle or boat quietly, hopefully without the former owner even being aware of it. In most jurisdictions you are required to inform the police either before or after the repossession. In some jurisdictions the police have to check the paperwork before you can legally perform a repossession, in other places they simply need to know that a car has been repossessed rather than stolen. Failure to work with the police can lead to license problems or possibly land you in jail for grand theft auto. Do not neglect to find out the proper procedure in your area.
A couple of other points to keep in mind, repossession can be a dangerous and inconsistent job. People do not like having their items repossessed and some turn violent during confrontations. A contract can pay anywhere from $200 to $500 per repossession but the amount of work can be inconsistent. Some nights you may recover three or four cars or you may go several days without a recovery. Many people moonlight as repo men rather depending on it as their sole source of income, particularly when they first start out. The best time to repossess vehicles is frequently the middle of the night while people are asleep or the middle of the day when people are at work so the hours can be difficult.
With some careful research and preparation you can launch a successful career as a repo man. The most important factors to remember are local licensing and police reporting requirements. Once you have settled those issues, it’s just a matter of finding and successfully completing a few jobs. With a few positive outcomes you can gain a reputation as a successful repo man and possibly turn it into a lucrative full time job.