Wisconsin has specific laws and rights in place for consumers that protect you from unlawful repossession and creditor harassment. If you have a change of income, get sick and miss work for a long period of time or simply lose your job, it can be hard to keep up on regular payments for a vehicle. In many situations, the car would eventually be repossessed by the lender, but it is important that you know your rights and what requirements must be met. According to FindLaw, the state’s laws were developed to keep consumers safe from a long list of unfair business practices.
First, your vehicle loan must be in default. This means that you have missed at least one full payment and that it is more than ten days late. Creditors must also provide with you a written notice that you have a right to cure the default. You may be emailed the information about your loan being in default, but the right to cure the default must come through regular mail.
After you have been notified, you have the right to 15 days before the creditor can take your vehicle. A creditor cannot breach the peace, and you have the right to simply ask the creditor to stop during the repossession. Without a warrant, they are unable to lawfully search your residence or your vehicle.
They are also prohibited from invading your privacy and cannot enter your garage or home to repossess the vehicle without your permission. If the vehicle is behind a locked gate, they cannot go through it to get the car. Once your car is repossessed, you have 15 days to get it back. During this time, the creditor cannot sell the vehicle.
Finally, while creditors can repossess and sell your car, they may still be able to come after you for the rest of the balance. They cannot sell the car for an extremely low price and then expect you to make up the difference.
This information is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.