Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection in the State of Wisconsin


The statute of limitations for debt collection specifies how long creditors have to file a lawsuit against you for an unpaid debt or account. If a creditor sues or threatens to sue you after the statute of limitations has run out, they're in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. In Wisconsin, the length of time a creditor has to take legal action is based on the type of debt.


Oral and written contracts are subject to a 6-year statute of limitations in Wisconsin. Creditors have six years from the date of last contact, which is often your last payment. Contact can also include making arrangements to pay or acknowledging you owe the debt, however.

Medical bills, phone bills, cable service agreements, auto loans, personal loans and payday loans are some examples of contractual debts. If you made an agreement to pay, whether verbal, written or electronically, it's classified as a contract in Wisconsin.

Promissory Notes

Promissory notes are often associated with mortgages and unsecured loans, such as student loans. The statute of limitations for promissory notes is 10 years in Wisconsin. Unlike private student loans, federal students loans aren't subject to a statute of limitations. The debt can be pursued until it's paid, regardless of how long it takes. Collection methods for federal loans can include tax refund interception, levies and wage garnishments.

Credit Cards

Credit cards fall under the open-ended account category in Wisconsin. Debt collectors have six years to sue for an unpaid credit card balance.

Tax Debts

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue can assess an additional tax liability to an individual for up to four years after the filing date. If a tax liability is assessed, there is no statute of limitations for collections. The debt can be collected using legal collection methods until it's paid.

Child Support Arrears

The statute of limitations for enforcement of back child support is 20 years in Wisconsin. Some of the enforcement methods for child support arrears include property liens, bank levies, wage garnishments, license suspensions and tax refund interceptions. The parent may be held in contempt of court and face jail time for non-payment.

Small Claims

The statute of limitations for small claims depends on the nature of the claim. If you're trying to enforce a contact or suing over a breach of contract, you have six years to file a lawsuit. For claims that involve property damage or recovering personal property, you also have six years. The statute of limitations is three years for personal injury claims.

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