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Wisconsin residents have rights during vehicle repossession

Most Wisconsin residents know that if an individual defaults on his or her car loan, the bank or finance company has the right to repossess the car. However, many states, in the interest of protecting consumers, have enacted laws to limit these repossession rights.

In Wisconsin, the creditor or leasing agent does not have the right enter a debtor's property to repossess a vehicle without any prior notice. The creditor or agent cannot commit a "breach of peace." If a creditor commits a breach of peace while seizing the car, he or she will be liable to pay a penalty and compensate the debtor for damage caused.

In fact, a merchant cannot seize a vehicle without giving written notice to the consumer via mail. A repossession notice must include the merchant's name, telephone number and address - in addition to a description of the vehicle and description of the credit transaction of the consumer. After the notice has been issued, a merchant may have the right to repossess a vehicle.

If a consumer does not wish to have their vehicle repossessed, he or she has 15 days to notify the merchant and request that the matter be handled in court. However, if the matter is handled in court, the consumer may be subject to court fees.

Wisconsin residents who find themselves in a situation exposing them to the possibility of vehicle repossession should understand that there are options available. Speaking with a bankruptcy attorney can help people better understand their rights, and what filing for bankruptcy can do for them.

Source: Consumer.FTC.gov, "Vehicle Repossession," accessed on Feb. 14, 2015

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