Prohibited Debt Collection Practices under Wisconsin Law


If you fall far enough behind on your bills, debt collectors and creditors can become impatient. However, debt collectors and creditors may not engage in harassing or abusive behavior.

Wisconsin Statute 427 sets forth the rules for debt collection conduct and practices. Wis. Stat. § 427 applies to any acts associated with “the collection of obligations arising from consumer transactions.” Most consumer transactions that are $25,000 or less are covered under Wis. Stat. § 427.

If a creditor or debt collector violates this statute, you may be entitled to recover statutory damages, actual damages, and attorney’s fees.

Prohibited Practices

1 Use or threaten force or violence to cause physical harm to the customer, or the customer’s dependents or property;

2 Threaten criminal prosecution;

3 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;

4 Initiate or threaten to initiate communication with the customer’s employer prior to obtaining final judgment against the customer, except as permitted by statute. However, this 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;

5 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 does not prohibit the disclosure to another person of information permitted to be disclosed to that person by statute;

6 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;

7 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;

8 Engage in other conduct which can reasonably be expected to threaten or harass the customer or a person related to the customer;

9 Use obscene or threatening language in communicating with the customer or a person related to the customer;

10 Claim, or attempt or threaten to enforce a right with knowledge or reason to know that the right does not exist;

11 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;

12 Threaten action against the customer unless like action is taken in regular course or is intended with respect to the particular debt; or

13 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.

If a creditor or debt collector contacts you, find out and write down:

  • The name, address, and telephone number of the company contacting you;
  • The name of the business you owe money to;
  • The exact amount they claim you owe.


If a creditor or debt collector harasses or threatens you, or engages in any of the above listed prohibited actions, Call 608-829-1112 or email us.