Having to deal with a debt collection agency can turn your world upside down. From harassing calls made to your cell phone to embarrassing contacts made with friends and family members, a third party debt collector can get downright nasty in an attempt to get you to fork over the money you owe on an outstanding credit card or a personal loan account.
Fortunately for consumers, the United States Congress balanced the legal field in 1977 by passing a historic consumer protection law.
Referred to as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the landmark consumer protection law lists dozens of previously acceptable bill collector behaviors that are now considered illegal.
Taking consumer protection law to the next level, the FDCPA allows consumers to seek monetary damages because of the illegal actions conducted by debt collection agencies.
Even if you cannot prove debt collection agency techniques caused you physical and/or emotional distress, you can still receive up to $1,000 for statutory damages that punish bill collectors for violating one or more FDCPA provisions.
How Wisconsin Addresses Consumer Protections
In addition to mandating consumer protections into federal statutes, the United States Congress passed the FDCPA to create a cornerstone consumer protection law that protects American citizens living in each of the 50 states.
This means someone living in Galveston, Texas enjoys the same FDCPA protections that a resident of Wisconsin enjoys. Congress also encouraged every state to enact their own versions of the federal FDCPA.
One of the key areas addressed by state FDCPA laws refers to the statute of limitations for collecting delinquent consumer debts. In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations on open accounts such as credit cards is six years.
What Protections Are Granted by the FEDPA and Wisconsin Collection Laws
One of the most important series of provisions written into the FDCPA involves prohibiting aggressive debt collection practices. Before September 20, 1977, third party debt collectors were allowed to intimidate consumers into paying off debts.
That is no longer the case, as evident by the outlawing of abusive language and the issuing of threats. A bill collector cannot threaten to seize your property or put you in jail for not taking care of a credit card or personal loan balance.
The FDCPA also bans deceptive debt collection techniques, such as having a debt collection agency representative impersonate the IRS or a law enforcement agency.
Wisconsin’s version of the federal FDCPA is called the Wisconsin Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Wisconsin version of the FDCPA applies to original creditors and collection agencies, while the federal FDCPA applies only to third party debt collectors.
Under Wisconsin law, it is illegal to threaten anyone with force in the attempt to collect a consumer debt. Wisconsin also outlaws the practice of falsely disclosing consumer information about credit worthiness, as well as making unreasonable communications with consumers.
There is also a dishonored check statute, which mandates different collection standards than the collection standards used for consumer debts.
Bill collectors count on consumer ignorance to bully them into a financial retreat. Make sure that never happens by contacting a licensed FDCPA lawyer today.
If you believe that a debt collector is violating Wisconsin’s FDCPA laws, you should seek the help of an FDCPA attorney. You may be able to seek up to $1,000 in damages for each violation of the FDCPA. An attorney will be able to help navigate you through the entire process.