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Gov. Tony Evers, on Monday, ordered the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) to issue emergency guidance to prohibit debt collectors from using certain practices while doing business in Wisconsin.

DFI oversees the Wisconsin Consumer Act, a law that governs consumer credit transactions. It prohibits certain practices to collect payments under consumer credit transactions. The press release points to the practice of loan servicers making phone calls to people “related to the customer” to get the debt paid.

“In light of the financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, DFI cautions debt collectors that practices that may have been typical or customary under normal conditions may be deemed harassment under conditions of a global pandemic,” DFI Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld said in a news release.

To learn more, consumers can read DFI’s Emergency Guidance on Prohibited Debt Collection Practices. It includes an interpretive letter regarding impermissible pre-crisis calls to a debtor’s friends and family as well as a full copy of the Wisconsin Consumer Act Chapter governing debt collection practices.

“The Wisconsin Consumer Act cannot solve a global economic problem, but it can deter pointlessly harmful responses to it,” stated DFI Secretary Blumenfeld. “Debt collectors who routinely rely on telephone calls as a debt collection tactic should be forewarned: whether conduct can reasonably be expected to threaten or harass a consumer depends on the context, and the worldwide context just shifted dramatically.”

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...