Bureau of Consumer Protection - Applicable Laws

Unfair and Deceptive Business Practices

Key Laws

DATCP's Bureau of Consumer Protection enforces powerful consumer protection laws, including laws prohibiting fraudulent representations and unfair business practices.

  • The Fraudulent Representations Law (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.18) broadly prohibits advertising or sales claims that are "untrue, deceptive or misleading."

  • The Unfair Business Practices Law (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.20) is even more sweeping. It authorizes DATCP to prohibit "unfair" business practices (and prescribe fair practices) by rule or order. This is one of the strongest state consumer protection laws in the nation.

These overlapping laws apply to almost every business in the state. Together, they provide the foundation for the state's general consumer protection program. Because they are so broad, they overlap and support many other DATCP programs (including food safety and labeling).

Consumer Protection Rules

DATCP's consumer protection rules have the full force and effect of law, and protect millions of Wisconsin consumers every day. DATCP rules address a wide variety of consumer protection issues including:

  • Telemarketing (ATCP 127). This includes the popular telemarketing "Do Not Call" rule, as well as rules to prevent telemarketing scams.

  • Residential Practices (Landlord/Tenant) (ATCP 134)

  • Electronic Communications Services (ATCP 123). This rule regulates subscription and billing practices related to telecommunications, video, cable, satellite, and internet access services.

  • Direct Marketing (face-to-face, telemarking, mail/email solicitations) (ATCP 127)

  • Motor Vehicle Repair (ATCP 132)

  • Home Improvement Practices (ATCP 110)

  • Price Comparison Advertising (ATCP 124)

  • Work Recruitment Schemes (ATCP 116)

  • Manufactured Housing Community (ATCP 125)

  • Pyramid Schemes (ATCP 122)

  • Referral Selling Plans (ATCP 121)

  • Credit Report Security Freezes (ATCP 112)

  • Coupon Sales Promotions (ATCP 131)

  • Freezer Meat and Food Service Plans (ATCP 109)

  • Environmental Labeling of Products (ATCP 137)

  • Art Fraud (ATCP 117)

  • Academic Fraud (ATCP 128)

  • Real Estate Advertising (ATCP 114)

  • Car Rentals; Customer Notice (ATCP 118)

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Other Consumer Protection Laws

The Bureau of Consumer Protection enforces other Wisconsin consumer protection laws, including these and other laws:

  • Telemarketing "Do Not Call" Registry (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.52)

  • "Negative Option" Sales (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.195)

  • Credit Report "Security Freezes" (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.54 and 100.545)

  • Prize Promotions (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.171)

  • Mail-Order Sales (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.174)

  • Telecommunications (Wisconsin Statutes sections 100.207 and 100.208)

  • Video Programming Service Subscriber Rights (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.209)

  • Drug Advertising (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.182)

  • Food Advertising (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.183, with Food Safety)

  • Timeshare Memberships (Wisconsin Statutes chapter 707)

  • Ticket Refunds (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.173)

  • Substantiation of Energy Savings or Safety Claims (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.21)

  • Fitness Centers and Weight Reduction Centers (Wisconsin Statutes sections 100.77 and 100.78)

  • Buyers Clubs (Wisconsin Statutes chapter 136)

  • Self-Service Storage Facilities (Wisconsin Statutes section 704.90)

  • Dating Service Contracts (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.175)

  • Motor Vehicle Rustproofing Warranties (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.205)

  • Vehicle Rentals and Collision Damage Waivers (Wisconsin Statutes sections 344.574 to 344.579, and Wisconsin Administrative Code chapter ATCP 118)

  • Vehicle Rentals – Title and Registration Fees (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.53)

  • Trading Stamps (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.15)

  • Selling with Pretense of Prize (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.16)

  • Guessing Contests (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.17)

  • Prepaid Maintenance Liens (Wisconsin Statutes section 779.85)

  • Unsolicited Checks Used as Sales Devices (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.315)

  • Telephone Records – Obtaining, Selling or Receiving Without Consent (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.525)

  • Public Record Solicitation Fees (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.313)

  • Consumer Loan Information Used in Solicitations (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.55)

  • Furs to be Labeled (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.35)

  • Tax Preparers – Client Privacy (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.57)

  • Antifreeze (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.38)

  • Residential Contactors (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.65)

  • Real Estate Foreclosure Reconveyances (Wisconsin Statutes section 846.40)

  • Real Estate Foreclosure Consultants (Wisconsin Statues section 846.45)

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The following entities must file performance bonds or security with DATCP to back their promises to consumers:

  • Fitness centers and weight loss centers (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.177)

  • Future service plans, or buyers clubs (Wisconsin Statutes chapter 136)

  • Dating services (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.175)

  • Timeshare Deposits/Escrow Requirements (Wisconsin Statutes section 707.49)

Consumer Product Safety

The Bureau of Consumer Protection enforces Wisconsin's consumer product safety laws, including:

  • Hazardous Substances (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.37 and Wisconsin Administrative Code chapter ATCP 139)

  • Consumer Product Safety (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.42 and Wisconsin Administrative Code chapter ATCP 139)

  • Flammable Fabrics (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.41)

  • Poison Prevention Packaging (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.43)

  • Farm Equipment Safety Standards (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.47)

  • Child's Containers Containing Bisphenol (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.335)

  • Antifreeze – Bittering Required (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.383)

Environmental Regulation of Consumer Products

The Bureau of Consumer Protection enforces environmental regulations related to consumer products, including:

  • Phosphorus Detergents (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.28)

  • Toxics in Packaging (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.285)

  • Sale of Nonrecyclable Materials (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.29)

  • Environmental Labeling of Products (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.295 and Wisconsin Administrative Code chapter ATCP 137)

  • Plastic Containers; Recycled Content (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.297 and Wisconsin Administrative Code chapter ATCP 137)

  • Plastic Containers; Labeling to Facilitate Recycling (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.33 Wisconsin Administrative Code chapter ATCP 137)

  • Products Containing Ozone-Depleting Substances (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.50)

  • Mercury in Batteries (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.27)

  • Energy Savings or Safety Claims (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.21)

  • Consumer Products; Energy Efficiency Standards (Wisconsin Statutes section 100.46)

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