Protecting Your Privacy as a Business Owner

Privacy is a conundrum for many biz owners. You want your business (or your professional self) to be famous, but that doesn’t mean you want your personal finances to be public.  Nor do you want to be inundated with spam or junk mail.

In a digital world where nothing that makes its way online ever disappears, protecting privacy is increasingly difficult.  But business owners are clamoring to reclaim a measure of privacy in their business and personal lives. Some of the same technology that is helping small firms compete – from social media to web-based software – is also putting privacy at greater risk.

And with big companies focusing more and more on the small business market, entrepreneurs are starting to react. Once largely ignored by corporate giants, small business owners have become belles of the ball. They’re constantly being pitched for one thing or another and now place a higher premium on their privacy than ever before.

Surveys show that respect for privacy has become a key deciding factor that influences business owners to select one vendor over another or to recommend a product or service provider to fellow entrepreneurs. In one recent survey that tested 60 different decision-making criteria, respect for privacy ranked second behind easy-to-use products or services.

Opening yourself to excessive sales pitches is only one of many small business privacy concerns.  Fear of fraud or identity theft due to availability of business information is also widespread.

So what can you do as a business owner to protect yourself, your business and your privacy? Here are five privacy protection ideas and resources for small business:

1)   Make your domain registrations private. When you register a domain name on the Internet, you’ll be asked to provide details such as your business name, address, phone number, email contact and other details. That information goes into a massive database and is often a reason your email address winds up on some spammer’s list. Most domain registrars – like GoDaddy, Network Solutions and others – let you protect your information with “private registration” services that mask your identity. Check out these Five Reasons You Need Private Domain Registration. It costs a small annual fee but can be worth it.

2)   Know your privacy rights. Start with guarding your personal Social Security number (SSN) more closely. When dealing with government or banking matters, your SSN may be required. But while many businesses request your SSN, you are not legally required to provide it unless it involves an IRS notification of some kind.  Whenever possible, use your business Employer Identification Number (EIN) instead.

3)   Fight back against telemarketers, spam and other unwanted and intrusive ads. When you do get a call, don’t just hang up. Ask who the caller represents and request that your name be place on their internal do-not-call list. Federal and state laws allow you to take legal action against telemarketers who do not add your number to their internal do not call list and who call you back within 12 months of requesting to be placed on that list.

4)  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a great place for privacy protection advice and information. Visit www.privacyrights.org and select from topics at the left that include identity theft, junk mail and email, online privacy, Social Security numbers and more.

6)  The Better Business Bureau’s “Understanding Privacy” service is available free at the BBB Web site. It offers great tips on protecting privacy, for individuals and businesses alike, both online and off. The consumer’s toolbox has good advice and the Privacy Manager’s Resource Center can help you create a privacy policy for your own business. Go direct to the page at: www.BBBonline.org/UnderstandingPrivacy.

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Filed Under: Owners OnlyTroubleshooter

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About the Author:

Daniel Kehrer, Founder and Chief Content Officer of BizBest Media, is a senior-level leader in digital media, content development and online marketing with special expertise in startups, SMB, social media and generating traffic, engagement and leads. He holds an MBA from UCLA/Anderson and is a passionate entrepreneur (started 4 businesses), syndicated columnist, blogger, thought leader and author of 7 business and financial books.

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