While you have a right to attempt to collect a legitimate debt owed you, Wisconsin law provides that there are certain things you cannot do in attempting to collect that debt arising from a consumer credit transaction or other consumer transaction where there is an agreement to defer payment. Though it may be tempting to "cross the line" in attempting to collect a debt rightfully owed to you, be aware that the following actions are illegal and may result in severe penalties. The exact language setting forth prohibited practices can be found in Wis. Stat. Ch. 427.
Below is just a summary of these provisions intended only as a general guide. This summary is not to be relied upon as complete. The following resources will provide you with guidance to Wisconsin and Federal prohibited debt collection practices:
Generally, Debt Collectors (including first-party collectors) may not:
Threaten the consumer with any of the following:
Any action not taken in the regular course or intended to be taken against this consumer;
Otherwise, threaten or harass the consumer or others.
Threaten the consumer with or commit any of the following:
Violence against persons or property;
Disclosure of false information about the consumer's reputation for creditworthiness;
Contacting the consumer's employer, except in certain limited circumstances as outlined at Wis. Stat. s. 427.104(1)(d);
Disclosure of information affecting the customer's reputation with reason to know that the other person does not have a legitimate business need for the information except as otherwise expressly permitted by statute;
Disclosure of information concerning the existence of a debt known to be reasonably disputed by the customer without disclosing the fact that the customer disputes the debt;
Enforcement of a right with knowledge or reason to know that the right does not exist.
With the consumer or others with harassing frequency or at odd hours (before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Central Time);
Using obscene or threatening language;
Through the use of any communication which simulates legal or judicial process, or which gives the appearance of being authorized, issued or approved by a government, governmental agency or attorney-at-law when it is not.
Penalties for Violation of WCA Debt Collection Laws
If you violate Wisconsin’s law relating to Debt Collection Practices, there are several remedies available to the consumer.
Wisconsin Statute s. 427.105 provides that the consumer may file suit to recover:
Actual damages, including any incidental and consequential damages sustained by the consumer because of the violation;
Twice the amount of the finance charge in connection with the transaction, up to $1000;
Damages for emotional distress or mental anguish (does not require physical injury);
The right to recover any collateral the consumer was induced to surrender by conduct of the merchant that violates Wisconsin’s Debt Collection Law.
Phone: (608) 264-7969
Toll-Free: (800) 452-3328 (in Wisconsin)
Fax: (608) 264-7968