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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 9763
Experience:  Licensed to Practice Law
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Is it possible to create a legal alias / alternate-identity?

Customer Question

I am a software-engineer working from home as a freelance/sub-contractor in South Carolina. Currently my business is an unregistered sole-proprietorship, I intend to LLC this summer.

While I try to be careful, I have been posting online for over a decade. Due to the nature of my career being entirely internet based, I have a personal-portfolio site with resume, and an online business (proudly setup in my own name). Add in social-networking, and gaming-forum accounts... With just a few keywords, virtually every aspect of my personal and professional life is available to any dedicated googler.

- Is it possible to officially generate a "legal alias" for myself under which I could (legally) register/operate the business, setup PO-boxes and business-bank accounts, etc. I want to create a wall firmly dividing my online-professional persona and personal life, such that short-of-a-supeona, no malicious attacker could establish a link between the two identities.

- In addition, have you heard of other buisness owners trying to solve this problem before?

- I'm reminded of the Billy Joel song 'Stranger' describing how we all have many faces, but only ever show certain ones to certain people. Unfortunetly the internet shows everything to everyone equally. I feel this is a liablitly that soon, we will all have to find ways to deal with, for our own safety.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 5 years ago.

Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.

You probably could, but not if you formed an LLC. Anytime you form a business entity that requires registration with the State (e.g. LLC, corporation, limited partnership, etc.), you’re putting your info in the public domain. At the least, you’d need to name a registered agent whose name and address are readily available to the public on South Carolina’s Secretary of State’s website.

For example, I just visited the website and randomly did a search for “Smith LLC.” You can view the results HERE. Even if you had somebody else act as the registered agent, somebody could likely find out your information by contacting the Secretary of State or Department of Revenue. The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that it’s all there for anybody to see.

Therefore, in order to do what you suggest, you may not want convert your business into an LLC or other type of entity that needs to be registered with the State.

Have I satisfactorily addressed your concerns? If not, then please feel free to ask for clarification.

.

 

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX alot of info I suspected but was not sure of. You just proved how easy it is to look up the owner-records of an LLC; and I'm aware an LLC has to be registered to a legitimate person.

The other part of the question is this:
I know one can get a 'name change' quite easily but I don't require an entirely different name/identity per-say. I require a legal-alias or SECOND-identity - such that the state/federal goverment will know these two "identities" are linked and belong to the same person. If the IRS ever wants me, they can have me. If someone wants to legitlmetly sue my buisness and can get a supeona, that fine, thats not what i'm running from.

However as a matter of PUBLIC record, I would like the identities to be entirely UNconnected. Such that if a malicious pereson were to look up my buissness as you just did Smith LLC, (or look at my resume), they might have a 'valid' name, PO-Box, Phone, etc - but they would NOT have my real physical home-address, home-phone, and legal birth-name. Today that amount of info could easily lead them to myself, my personal bank-accounts, family, friends, and who knows what else.

Put another way, I want to lead a state-sanctioned "double-life" to put a barrier between my personal life, and the 2-billion plus internet users world-wide, who might view my website.

In the local dating/beach/bar scene here people commonly introduce themsleves with nick-names or psyeudo names to ward off would-be stalkers. I could just as easily change the name on my resume, and website. But as long as the credit-card and LLC registration contain my real-name it's all for nothing.

My fear is compounded by the fact that my buisness/career exists primarily online AND that it is a home-based buisness. SO anyone who visists the "About Us" page of my corporate-site, or the LLC registration when I get it done, conviently knows not just where I work, but where I sleep. For a small buisness owner this is alot of risk to consider.
Expert:  TJ, Esq. replied 5 years ago.

Hi again.

If you left the company as a sole proprietorship and changed the name to something generic (e.g. “Smith’s Software Company”), then I think you may be able to get away with it to the extent that registering the company may not be necessary. You can find a list of business entities that must be registered with the Secretary of State, and sole prop is not on the list.

The problem is that a sole prop. is not a separate legal entity like an LLC. Therefore, it can’t own a bank account, credit card, or property. You’d have to have those in your name. Of course, financial accounts are private and can’t be viewed without a subpoena anyway, so that may still provide some insulation (at least from malicious internet users). Then there's the liability protection you'd be giving up ... so it's a give and take.

For what it's worth, I understand your concerns. It kind of freaked me out when I was first licensed to practice law and found that my name and address were listed publicly for anybody to see on my State's judiciary website. But I've never encountered any problems because of it.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you luck.

Have I satisfactorily addressed your concerns? If not, then please feel free to ask for clarification.

.

 

TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 9763
Experience: Licensed to Practice Law
TJ, Esq. and 6 other Business Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for your help. Maybe not the answer I *wanted* to hear but you did answer my questions, and gave me some ideas to go from here. Thankyou for your help. Smile

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