New sight in credit union parking lots: repossessed autos

WICHITA, Kan. — There's a rise in the number of cars and trucks for sale in the parking lots of credit unions.

It's a sign, credit union executives say, of a growing number of people unable to make their monthly payments as savings accounts deplete and unemployment benefits run out.

And some don't expect to see a reversal in the auto repossession trend for some time to come.

"I kind of expect it to continue, maybe even go up this year," said Jim Holt, president of Mid American Credit Union.

Holt said auto repossessions at Mid American have been trending up since the fall.

It's the same at Cessna Employees Credit Union, said president Larry Damm, where he said repossessions in 2009 were three times as many as in previous years.

"It's huge," Damm said. "The difference here is voluntary repossessions. Folks just drove in and gave us the keys."

"And we believe we're going to be there for another year."

Repossessions can happen in two ways, executives said. Voluntary repossessions are typically when the borrower is late on payments and turns the vehicle in. Involuntary is where the borrower is behind on payments and the credit union has to seize the vehicle for which the loan was made.

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