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Wisconsin Laws

The State of Wisconsin has a number of laws designed to protect consumer rights, including the Wisconsin Consumer Act, Lemon Law, the Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act and some aspects of Landlord/Tenant rights.

The Wisconsin Consumer Act

The Wisconsin Consumer Act governs the conduct of merchants and lenders in Wisconsin for certain types of consumer transactions and collection actions. The WCA defines illegal collection actions to prohibit creditor harassment.

Illegal Collection Actions

Under Section 427.104 of the Wisconsin Consumer Act, a debt collector is prohibited from engaging in the following:

  • Use force or threaten to use force or violence to cause physical harm;
  • Threaten criminal prosecution;
  • Disclose or threaten to disclose information adversely affecting the customer's reputation for credit worthiness if they know the information is false;
  • 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 is disputing the debt;
  • Communicate with the customer or person related to the customer with such frequency or at such unusual hours or in such a manner that can be reasonably expected to threaten or harass the customer;
  • Engage in other conduct which can reasonably be expected to threaten or harass the customer or a person related to the customer; Use obscene or threatening language in communicating with the customer or a person related to the customer;
  • Claim or attempt or threaten to enforce a right with knowledge or reason to know that the right does not exist;
  • 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;
  • Threaten action against the customer unless this kind of action is taken in the regular course or is intended with respect to the particular debt;

Wisconsin Statute Section 427.104

The Wisconsin Consumer Act provides statutory penalties for the above listed violations and also mandate that the offending party pay for the consumer's legal fees. The statutory requirement for the offending party to pay for the consumer's legal fees is to allow for the individual consumer to obtain adequate legal representation and to make the law self effecting. If you feel that the you have been victimized by a creditor or collection agency, call the Hanson Law Office for advice and assistance.

Illegal Auto Repossessions

The Wisconsin Consumer Act also governs the rights and responsibilities of consumers and lenders for automobile loans. If a car buyer falls on auto payments, he or she still has rights under Wisconsin law.

It is illegal in Wisconsin for a lender to take a car without first obtaining a replevin (repossession) order from state court unless the amount financed for the vehicle is over 35,000.00. Furthermore, even when the lender has a replevin order, Wisconsin law limits the actions of private persons to take an automobile. A private "repo man" cannot cause a breach of peace when they are trying to recover collateral. This means that if the "repo man" finds the vehicle unattended he can take it. However, if the auto owner is present and tells the "repo man" not to take the vehicle, the "repo man" cannot legally take the vehicle. If the owner objects to the taking of the vehicle, Wisconsin law requires the "repo man" to have the replevin order executed by the County Sheriff.

In the event that a "repo man" causes a breach of peace, the remedy under the Wisconsin Consumer Act is for the lender to release the lien on the vehicle and to give the auto owner all the money paid on the vehicle back. In some cases punitive damages may be awarded depending on the total circumstances and the overall conduct of the "repo men". It is also illegal for a "repo man" to threaten to have the auto owner put in jail, to use profanity, to employ threats or to present themselves as a law enforcement officer. These kinds of violations can result in statutory fines or penalties against the "repo man" as well as his employer. Further, the repossession company will be required to pay the consumer's legal fees upon a finding in court of these kinds of violations.

Lemon Law

The Wisconsin Lemon Law requires the car makers to replace a new vehicle or give the car buyer's money back. If an authorized dealership cannot correct any significant problem after 4 tries in the shop, or if the automobile is inoperable or in the shop for over thirty days. The thirty days do not have to be consecutive. When these events happen to a car buyer, he or she can demand a new car or get their money back, minus an amount based on the mileage on the vehicle.

If the car maker refuses to recognize the consumer's rights under the Lemon Law, the car buyer can bring legal action to force compliance with the law and the car maker will be held responsible for all attorney fees. If you're concerned that you may have purchased a lemon, call the Hanson Law Office and get free legal information and we'll also provide you with the form you need to initiate the Lemon Law claim against the car maker.

Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act

Wisconsin law prohibits a merchant or lender from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices. This law applies to retailers, automobile dealers as well as door to door sales persons. A violation of the Wisconsin Unfair and Deceptive Practices statute is determined by the facts of the case. For an evaluation of your case and an informed legal opinion, call the Hanson Law Office.

Landlord Tenant Law

The Wisconsin Administrative Code contains some provisions governing tenant rights and the responsibilties of landlords. For instance, if a tenant has a legitimate complaint, such as a lack of heat and reports the problem to the City Housing Authority, the landlord cannot respond with a retaliatory eviction.

Another example of a tenant's rights is when a tenant moves out after the expiration of a lease. The landlord must give the security deposit back within 20 days or provide a written explanation as to why the landlord will not return the security deposit. If the landlord fails to give the deposit back or provide an adequate written explanation, the landlord is not entitled keep any of the deposit and can be held liable for double damages to the tenant and will also be responsible for the tenant's attorney fees.

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