I assume that the collection company is not asking you to repay the loan. As far as title is concerned, there are hoops you will need to jump through, but you can probably get a duplicate title for the car if the Secretary of State is convinced that the true owner cannot be found. That is the real question, namely, is the true owner going to show up some day and demand the car? I do not think either a mechanic's lien or a storage lien are applicable, but if the idea is that you were going to find a way to assert a formal ownership interest, I give you high marks for creative thinking. I think you are going to have to go the distance on this, or forget about and hope the original owner does, too.
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First thing, you need to demonstrate that you are the current owner, obtain a duplicate title. Question - how have you registered the vehicle and insured the vehicle up until this time without the title in your possession?
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If you have had it for 14 months, how did you get new plates?
Do you know who owns the car? If you do, you could contact them, perhaps through an attorney to shield your identity, if they will turn over the title for some nominal fee. If the guy who did this to you has no money, then suing him is worthless. If you can't get the title, maybe you should just get a new car and chalk this up as a lesson learned. IF someone "lost" their title, before you buy their car (or boat or trailer or anything with a title), have them get a new one from the title bureau. It isn't that expensive and then you know what you bought.
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You should go to the Secretary of State with all documentation pertaining to the transaction, including from the lienholder, especially if the lienholder is releasing its claim. The Secretary of State would then be able to assist you in determining what you would have to do to perfect the title in your name.
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