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Fictitious business name/DBA - is this legit?

San Jose, CA |

Hi, I have a CA based S-Corp.

I never need to hide my real business name from customers. So I am good here.
However I need to hide my business name from the freelancers who work for me. And I hope DBA (Doing business as) can help me. I understand that in case I fail to make payment then it will be my personal responsibility, but I am okay to take this risk as hiding my business name from freelancers/remote workers is far more important for me.

Question: If I understand the risk, is it okay for me to hide my name from freelancers? That is they will raise invoice, get paid, and print receipts in the name of my fictitious business name without knowing my real business name?

Thanks a lot.

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Good follow up question.

    The DBA may serve your purpose, but is not a guaranty that they will not search the dba records in your county to determine ownership.

    PS - you didn't ask the question, but whatever the freelancers are doing for you, independent contractors "own" the IP they create unless your agreement with them identifies the work product they produce as a "work made for hire".

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

  2. I agree with Attorney Doland, but I am a bit confused:

    On the one hand, you refer to your "real business name". On the other hand, you refer to "personal responsibility".

    This suggests, perhaps, that you are operating as a sole proprietor, and that your "real business name", itself, might be a FBN.

    Whatever the situation, you should have a lawyer review your agreements with freelancers to ensure that all of your business and legal interests - not just your name - are being protected.

    This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

  3. Operating under a fictitious business name will get the job done to "hide" the name of your corporation. Depending on what kind of business you are operating and what kind of freelancers you are working with, most businessman will likely have determined if a corporation is involved before entering into a contract/agreement. It isn't very difficult to determine the fictitious business name and the corporation name.

  4. There is no restriction to using a DBA instead of the incorporated name but legal documents such as contracts, bank agreements, purchase and sale agreements or credit arrangements should reflect the true corporate name with the dba identified. I'm not sure how you are using the freelances/remote workers, but if they are technically employees (not independent contractors) it's likely that they will be issued tax documents that will expose your real business name.

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