Can I Be Put on a “Wall of Shame” or “Blacklist” for Not Paying My Bill?
We’ve all seen the Walls of Shame that decorate small business bulletin boards with bounced checks and customer names who never paid their tab. You may have even laughed, but it’s not so funny when you have to contact a debt collection attorney in Clearwater because it happens to you. I’m sure you’ve been wandering in the back of your mind if it’s really legal to do this. When it comes to the law, can I be put on a blacklist or Wall of Shame for not paying my bill?
Ask a Debt Collection Defense Attorney in Clearwater About Debt Blacklisting
Depending on who it is that you owe the debt to, the answer varies. Let’s say, as in this example given above, you owe a debt to a small business. You can only legally be held responsible publicly for the debt if you signed a contract at the time of purchase.
For example, if you rented a movie and did not return it or pay the late fees, they could call you out on social media or put you on a blacklist. This is because you signed a contract when you rented the movie. This is why bounced checks are often on a Wall of Shame. The check is a contract to pay. Without a contract, a business has no right to put your name on public display for non-payment. While it is technically legal in a black and white sense, it is highly inadvisable. There are several lawsuits that could apply and usually a debt collection attorney in Clearwater would strongly suggest keeping private information private.
Often, you will hear of cell phone companies blacklisting phones. This is due to non-payment and it means that the phone is unable to be used again.
If you are a business and hired a freelancer, the same rule applies. However, you may have a little more freedom to protect your name and your privacy, and it is inadvisable to publicize names of businesses for non-payment. This could result in an expensive lawsuit and also ruin your credibility to a certain point.
A debt collector cannot threaten to put you on a blacklist. In fact, there is no such thing as a debt collection Blacklist. What they can do is report non-payment so that it shows on your credit report. However, threats and aggressive language is not permissible. If a debt collector threatens to put you on a blacklist or ruin your credit, call an attorney immediately. Threats such as these are illegal, and constitute debt collection harassment. Third-party debt collectors acting on behalf of a business are also held to this standard.
A collector also cannot release your private information. They do not have any right to publicize the non-payment of your bill or to embarrass you on social platforms or public record.
For the most part, you do not need to worry about your name being publicized when you do not pay a bill. There are rare cases in which the law has small loopholes, but unless you are consistently not paying your smaller contracts, most businesses will not risk defaming someone’s character, ending up in a lawsuit, and being accused of all around pettiness. Again, if a debt collector does threaten action similar to this, they do not have the same rights to publicize your name and you should contact an attorney immediately.