On a recent Monday afternoon, Michael Bizik Jr. walked out of his Woodbridge, Virginia, townhome to go pick up some takeout food. But when he got to the parking lot, he noticed something missing.
“I walk out here and it reminded of ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’,” Bizik Jr. said.
He walked around his complex, thinking his homeowners association may have towed it to a different spot to do some work near his parking space, but he couldn’t find the car anywhere. He called the HOA and they told him they hadn’t towed any cars.
So Bizik Jr. called Prince William County police, who told him it had been towed the night before, under a repo order from Santander Consumer USA. Bizik Jr. was confused since he had paid for the car in full, with cash, nearly two years before. Also, he has never had an auto loan through Santander Consumer USA.
Bizik Jr. called Santander and requested a copy of the repo order, but they would not release it to him because they had someone else’s name associated with the car.
“They were telling me if I could provide them my title and all this proof that shows that it’s me and that I own the vehicle, then everything should be good and I should have my car back within 24-48 hours after a review,” Bizik Jr. said.
He sent all the paperwork and called to follow up after two days. This time, he was told the review would take seven to 10 business days.
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“The people that I spoke to were all very nice and cordial, but it was one of those unfortunate moments, they can’t do anything about it, they have to go to this department,” Bizik Jr. said.
He finally got his car back eight days later, and it’s still unclear how this happened in the first place.
Bizik Jr.’s father believes someone who owned the car before his son is the one who defaulted on the loan.
“But that lien holder had to happen sometime before, not after. And I think that Santander screwed up,” Michael Bizik Sr. said.
News4 contacted Santander Consumer USA a number of times demanding answers, but never received a response.
“I thought, ‘What the heck?’ When you drive up and see my son’s license plate, you see that it’s registered to him; the repo order has someone else’s name on it. There’s gotta be a double check thing,” Bizik Sr. said.
Bizik Sr. is making it his mission to change the rules on repossessions in Virginia. He’s contacted lawmakers, asking them to draft a bill requiring companies to confirm the title and lien status of a vehicle before repossessing it.
“The law is flawed,” Bizik Sr. said. “We gotta protect, put people first, and if we don’t do that, why do we have elected officials and people enforce the laws?”