Can a small business list publicly names of customers with unpaid debts?

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Can a small business list publicly names of customers with unpaid debts?

Asked on August 11, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, but it would be very dangerous to do this. That's because if any of the information is wrong, the business would be committing defamation--the public statement of untrue facts which damages a person's reputation--and could be sued, potentially for significant amounts. Even if the information is true, if a customer believes it false or simply wants to fight, he or she could file a lawsuit and force the business to spend time and money defending it. This is not a good idea, from a legal point of view. If the business wants to collect from customers who have not paid, suing them, including in small claims court, is a much better idea.


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