A video store owner in North Carolina is tapping into the power of public embarrassment to recoup her debts.
Christie Ross, the owner of the Video Cafe in Harnett County, publicly displays the names of about 300 customers who owe the store money on what she calls a "wall of shame," according to WRAL.
The reason? She claims to have lost over $26,000 in unreturned merchandise and unpaid fees over the past three years.
"It probably is harsh, but the way I look at it is -– a lot of these people have cussed us. They have told us, 'Who cares about late fees?'" Ross told WRAL.
About 40 percent of the people who were on the list -- which she also posted to Facebook -- have paid their debt since she first displayed the "wall of shame," NBC-17 reports. Ross also told NBC-17 that were it not for the list, she would have to shut down the store.
But Ross's creative debt retrieval method had the reverse effect on customer Tanya Glover who was enraged after learning her name had been made public. She told NBC-17 that not only is she not paying her debt, but she may also pursue legal action if Ross's "wall of shame" isn't taken down.
"I understand how it is to struggle. We're all struggling right now, but it just wasn't a professional way to go about it. I hope she gets what's coming to her - tongue in cheek," Glover told NBC-17.
Ross insists upon the legality of the practice, telling WRAL that she consulted an attorney beforehand. But North Carolina law has a clause that prohibits debt collectors from unreasonably publicizing information regarding a consumer's debt, which according to the measure includes but is not limited to "disclosing any information relating to a consumer's debt by publishing or posting any list of consumers..."
Ross isn't the only one using public shaming tactics to retrieve unpaid debts. More than half of state governments have now published a list of tax evaders online -- a cyber-shaming technique that has gained popularity as states struggle to recoup revenue as a result of the economic downturn, The Huffington Post reported in April. New York's tax department website published a shame list four months ago, naming celebrities such as Damon Dash and Pamela Anderson and companies like American Express and Cantor Fitzgerald as tax cheats.
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