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If I set up a small business as a DBA, or LLC, Can anyone, as a point of public record, find out my name??

Evanston, IL |

If I set up a DBA, or LLC - and then open a small-business bank account under a DBA or LLC - can anyone do research to find my personal name behind it?

Thanks for input!

Attorney Answers 7


  1. It depends on the state. Some states require more information than others. Some will allow a LLC to establish another LLC. Se Wyoming or Nevada for examples.


  2. There is a certain amount of information that can be found at the Illinois Secretary of State's website (http://www.ilsos.gov/corporatellc/) for an LLC. The record must include a registered agent, which must be an entity able to accept service of a lawsuit. The record must also include a physical address of the business. Getting to your personal name would take more digging but it is public record. A DBA is trickier -- you may be able to keep your name out of the public realm though taxing entities would require it. I hope this helps. Setting up a business should be a careful and intentional endeavor.


  3. DBA: Since this is an assumed name instead of your own given name, absolutely anyone can go to the county records to see who really owns the business.
    LLC: To a point and it depends on how the LLC is set up. For example, if it is a "member managed" LLC, then the public records would show the members, who are the owners. If it is a "manager managed LLC", however, the most the public records would show are the names of the managers -- and the managers may NOT be the owners.
    But when you give a dba or LLC account check to someone and your name appears on it as the maker, most people assume you have something to do with ownership of the company.
    So ultimately it is a question of what you are trying to protect from becoming public. Normally bank account information itself, ie. who are authorized signers and what their relationship is to the business, are private, non-disclosable records between you and the bank except if you wind up in a garnishment or similar situation.


  4. Generally, yes. There are states such as Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming where you can generally only find the name of the registered agent, and must serve them to get more information on the actual owner if you have a legal reason. However, to do business in other states, you generally must register and those requirements vary as to the information that must be disclosed.

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  5. The short answer is yes, someone can do research to find your personal name behind the DBA or LLC.

    A follow-up question is: exactly what information are you seeking to protect, and why? If it is protection from personal liability you are seeking, you can minimize your risk of personal liability for the debts of the business by (1) choosing a form business organization that creates a separate legal person (such as a corporation or LLC), (2) following all of the corporate or LLC formalities to operate the business as a separate entity from your own "person" status as an individual, (3) limiting your liability by contract, to the extent that the law permits you to do that, and (4) obtaining adequate insurance to protect the business and you, personally, from liability.

    I have stated above the main elements of a strategy to limit liability, assuming that's what you're after with keeping your identity confidential. I recommend that you talk with an Illinois attorney to develop a solid plan of protection for your business and yourself.

    Please feel free to e-mail me at steve@illinoisbusinesslawyer.us . I am answering this question and other questions related to the law, here or at other Web sites or other Internet forums, solely to provide general information. None of this information is legal advice. My answering this question and your or any person's reading my answer or any information to which my answer may refer or link does *NOT* create any attorney-client relationship between me and you, or between me and any other person. You should not disclose any private or confidential information publicly, whether on the Internet or otherwise, and you should consult with a lawyer licensed to practice in your state to obtain customized legal advice for your unique situation.


  6. Generally yes. Businesses that are entities are required to file annual reports and in most states those reports disclose that information. Also, when you filed your DBA you probably did so with the state licensing service. If you go to that entity's website I bet if you search for your DBA it shows your name.

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