When a debtor doesn’t pay his or her bills, it is seldom because he or she is being stubborn. It is typically because they just don’t have the funds to pay them. That is why Wisconsin has laws to protect consumers and laws to protect retailers or business owners.

Protecting consumers and informing them of their rights is the subject of this article. Anyone who has been late paying a bill knows that debt collectors can be relentless when it comes to collection actions.

Some common questions consumers ask about their rights:

Can debt collectors contact me any time of day or night?

The quick answer is no. They cannot contact you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. If a debt collector calls you at a time or place that is not convenient, such as work, you should notify them in writing that they are not to call you at that time or place. They are required to stop once notified. Keep a copy of your letter.

What is considered harassment by a debt collector?

If a debt collector threatens you or a member of your family, uses obscene language, threatens violence, impersonates an officer or threatens criminal prosecution, they are violating consumer protection laws. You should notify them in writing to stop calling, log any further calls and contact an attorney. If you have an attorney representing you in your debts, debt collectors must contact your attorney and cannot contact you directly at all.

Can my personal property be repossessed if I fail to make payments on it?

A debt collector must have a court order to repossess any personal property bought on credit that is worth $25,000 or less. They can, however, file a lawsuit against you where you will be required to appear in court.

If the creditor violates the law by repossessing your personal property without a court order, you should seek an attorney. You may be able to get your property back without having to make any future payments or be compensated for the value of the property if it was resold. In addition, you may be entitled to a refund of all previous payments made, as well as your attorney fees.

Source: Your Consumer Rights, “Consumer Law Litigation Clinic University of Wisconsin Law School,” accessed Jan. 19, 2018