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Navigating the legal, financial, and strategic aspects of starting a business can sometimes overshadow the importance of personal privacy. But in our digitally connected world, where cyber threats and cases of identity fraud are at an all-time high, safeguarding your privacy as a business owner has become a crucial consideration.
In this article, we’ll explore the steps you can take to protect your privacy when setting up a business. Let’s get started.
Avoid using your home address as a registered office
When forming a limited company, you must provide a registered office address during registration with Companies House. This address serves as the official point of contact for government entities like Companies House and HMRC.
For home-based businesses without commercial premises, it can be tempting to use your residential address. However, your registered office address will appear on the public register online and is available to anyone wishing to view it. Exposing your home address can lead to unwelcome visits, unsolicited mail, security risks and the potential for identity theft. With that in mind, it’s strongly advised to choose a non-residential address.
A Registered Office Service is a popular solution for helping you achieve this, keeping your home address completely confidential, while offering a professional business address that enhances your company’s corporate image.
Don’t use your home address as a service address
In addition to your registered office address, you’ll also need to provide a service address (also known as a correspondence address) when registering your limited company.
A service address is the primary contact for each company director, secretary, subscriber, and PSC. It prevents the use of home addresses, and it’s the address where any formal correspondence, legal documents, and government notices related specifically to someone’s role within the company are sent.
As with a Registered Office Service, a formation agent like Rapid Formations can provide you with a professional Service Address that keeps residential addresses off the public record. What’s more, this service includes free mail forwarding by scan and email on a daily basis.
Keep your business address separate from your home address
Keeping your business address and home address separate is not just about your professional appearance, it’s a vital security measure.
Your business address appears in a number of public places, such as your website and branded stationery, which can open up the floodgates to junk mail, uninvited visitors, phishing scams, and identity fraud. So again, it is strongly advised not to use your personal address.
Having a professional Business Address allows your company to benefit from a prestigious office location, while keeping your home address out of the public eye.
Once again, a Business Address service includes mail forwarding, meaning all general business correspondence is handled on your behalf and forwarded to you the same day it’s received, for just a small fixed fee.
Avoid giving out your personal telephone number
Another common mistake that small businesses are particularly susceptible to is using their personal mobile or landline telephone numbers for business purposes.
As well as infringing on your personal space and impacting your work-life balance, sharing your personal number can make you much more vulnerable to cold calls and messages. It can also present major security breaches, making it easier for unauthorised individuals to connect your personal information to your business dealings.
To avoid this, it’s recommended that you establish a clear line of separation by using a dedicated business phone number.
A Business Telephone Number service is an affordable way to achieve a professional London or regional telephone number that can be used across your company.
Take steps to enhance online security
In today’s digital landscape, online security has become a top priority. Cyber criminals do not discriminate when it comes to business size, and the impact of a cyber attack can have devastating consequences for startups, who are often prime targets.
There are a number of steps new business owners can take to mitigate the risks when setting up a new business:
- Implement the latest cyber security software – including antivirus, anti-malware, and firewall solutions
- Use strong passwords – and create unique ones for each separate account you set up
- Encrypt and back up data
- Use a dedicated email address for business purposes – not your personal one
- Do not transmit sensitive data, such as logins, passwords, and financial credentials, over public WiFi
- Avoid oversharing or exposing personal details on social media platforms
Apply to protect your details on the Companies House register
If you have used your home address as a service address or correspondence address, you can request that Companies House remove this from the public register.
To do this, you’ll need to complete an SR01 form and pay a fee of £32 to remove your address from each document.
In certain circumstances, for example, if your business’ activities pose a risk of intimidation or violence, or if you have a Court Order to allow the suppression of your residential address, you can also ask Companies House to withhold your address from credit referencing agencies by applying for a section 243 exemption.
With a surge of home businesses and the rise of digitalisation, the line between personal and professional life has become increasingly blurred. It’s crucial to maintain a clear separation between the two, not only for the sake of your personal privacy, but also for the professional image and security of your business.
If you would like help setting up your limited company, or would like to learn more about our various address services, contact our team of experts today.