Wisconsin Debt Collection Laws
In addition to being regulated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Wisconsin collection agencies are also regulated by Wisconsin debt collection laws. Discover: Wisconsin collection requirements, bad check laws (NSF), statutes of limitations for both debts and judgments, garnishments plus Wisconsin collection agency license and bonding information.
Summary of the Wisconsin fair debt collection practices laws:
WISCONSIN INTEREST RATE
WISCONSIN STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS |in years|
Open Accounts: 6
Written Contract: 6
Domestic Judgment: 20
Foreign Judgment: 20
WISCONSIN BAD CHECK LAWS |NSF|
Amount of check plus actual damages + exemplary damages up to three times value of check. Limited to $300.
WISCONSIN WAGE GARNISHMENT EXEMPTIONS
80% of net pay.
WISCONSIN COLLECTION AGENCY BONDING and LICENSING REQUIREMENTS
Bond: $15,000 min.
$1000 – Investigation
$200 – Annual
Exemption for out-of-state collectors: Out-of-state agencies do not need to be licensed if  collecting by interstate means |phone, fax, mail|; and  collecting for an out-of-state client.
Below is the Wisconsin debt collection statute:
Chapter 427. Consumer Transactions Debt Collection
427.101 Short title. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as Wisconsin consumer act debt collection.
427.102 Scope. This chapter applies to conduct and practices in connection with the collection of obligations arising from consumer transactions, including transactions that are primarily for an agricultural purpose.
427.103 Definitions: “claim”; “debt collection”; “debt collector”.
(1) “Claim” means any obligation or alleged obligation arising from a consumer transaction, including a transaction that is primarily for an agricultural purpose.
(2) “Debt collection” means any action, conduct or practice of soliciting claims for collection or in the collection of claims owed or due or alleged to be owed or due a merchant by a customer.
(3) “Debt collector” means any person engaging, directly or indirectly, in debt collection, and includes any person who sells, or offers to sell, forms represented to be a collection system, device or scheme, intended or calculated to be used to collect claims. The term does not include a printing company engaging in the printing and sale of forms.
427.104 Prohibited practices.
(1) In attempting to collect an alleged debt arising from a consumer credit transaction or other consumer transaction, including a transaction primarily for an agricultural purpose, where there is an agreement to defer payment, a debt collector may not:
(a) Use or threaten force or violence to cause physical harm to the customer or the customer’s dependents or property;
(b) Threaten criminal prosecution;
(c) Disclose or threaten to disclose information adversely affecting the customer’s reputation for credit worthiness with knowledge or reason to know that the information is false;
(d) Initiate or threaten to initiate communication with the customer’s employer prior to obtaining final judgment against the customer, except as permitted by statute including specifically s. 422.404, but this paragraph does not prohibit a debt collector from communicating with the customer’s employer solely to verify employment status or earnings or where an employer has an established debt counseling service or procedure;
(e) Disclose or threaten to disclose to a person other than the customer or the customer’s spouse information affecting the customer’s reputation, whether or not for credit worthiness, with knowledge or reason to know that the other person does not have a legitimate business need for the information, but this paragraph does not prohibit the disclosure to another person of information permitted to be disclosed to that person by statute;
(f) Disclose or threaten to disclose 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;
(g) Communicate with the customer or a person related to the customer with such frequency or at such unusual hours or in such a manner as can reasonably be expected to threaten or harass the customer;
(h) Engage in other conduct which can reasonably be expected to threaten or harass the customer or a person related to the customer;
(i) Use obscene or threatening language in communicating with the customer or a person related to the customer;
(j) Claim, or attempt or threaten to enforce a right with knowledge or reason to know that the right does not exist;
(k) Use a 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;
(l) Threaten action against the customer unless like action is taken in regular course or is intended with respect to the particular debt; or
(m) Engage in conduct in violation of a rule adopted by the administrator after like conduct has been restrained or enjoined by a court in a civil action by the administrator against any person pursuant to the provisions on injunctions against false, misleading, deceptive or unconscionable agreements or conduct (ss. 426.109 and 426.110).
(2) If a debt collector is not otherwise in violation of sub. (1) (j) with respect to a consumer credit transaction with a debtor, it is not a violation of this section to send a billing statement or other notice of account to, or to collect the amount due on the account from, the spouse of that debtor, if notice to the debtor’s spouse is provided under s. 766.56.
(1) A person injured by violation of this chapter may recover actual damages and the penalty provided in s. 425.304; but notwithstanding any other law actual damages shall include damages caused by emotional distress or mental anguish with or without accompanying physical injury proximately caused by a violation of this chapter.
(2) If a customer establishes that the customer was induced to surrender collateral (s. 425.202) by conduct of the merchant which violates this chapter, the customer shall be entitled to a determination of the right to possession of the collateral pursuant to s. 425.205 (1) (e) in any action brought under this subchapter, and if the customer prevails on such issue, in addition to any other damages under this subchapter, the customer shall be entitled to recover possession of the collateral if still in the merchant’s possession, together with actual damages for the customer’s loss of use of the collateral.
Wisconsin Debt Collection LawsKnowing and abiding to the proper Wisconsin debt collection laws is important for both creditors and collection agencies alike. There are debtor’s rights attorneys who are just waiting for creditors or collection agencies to slip up. If you mistakenly violate the Wisconsin debt collection laws, you could create a liability for your business and even open yourself up to a expensive lawsuit.
Please note: Wisconsin debt collection laws can change over time, and you need to consult with an attorney before you use this information.
Wisconsin Debt Collection Laws