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In Florida, can an alias be used legally for business purposes?

Fort Lauderdale, FL |

I would like to conduct business using an alias (ie. pseudonym). For instance, if my name were Jen Smith and I'd like to use Lisa Johnson, would it be possible to do so without having to undergo legal name change process?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Although you could technically use a pseudonym, (as long as it's not for the purpose of defrauding anyone), it could present many obstacles for you when trying to enforce contracts and could create confusion with financial institutions. Further, you may want to check with the Secretary of State to determine whether the fictitious name has been already registered.

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision and this answer is intended and designed for general information only. This information does not constitute legal advice and does not create a lawyer/client relationship.

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Posted

I would recommend that you conduct business using a Doing-Business-As ("DBA") or Fictitious Name designation that is registered with the Florida Department of State: Division of Corporations . The problem isn't necessarily only that you're using a name different from your own (which is a logistical problem for obtaining bank accounts and things of that nature), but also that you could theoretically expose yourself to claims of fraud and the like in a lawsuit. It's not hard to imagine an instance where someone claims (rightly or wrongly) that you failed to deliver a product/service that they paid you for, under a different name, and the attorney on the other side locks onto a fraud claim and you spend the better part of a year in litigation fighting something that could be prevented right here. I usually recommend a "better safe than sorry" approach when setting up a framework inside which your business will function – it saves money, headaches and time in the long run.

This response does not consitute legal advice but rather a general outline of the law for educational or informational purposes only. Furthermore, no attorney/client relationship is established by any response given through this service. For more details and formal legal advice, visit us at www.MetropolisBusinessLaw.com and set time for a FREE consultation. You should always consult with an attorney before taking any legal action.

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1 comment

Andrew Zachary Tapp

Andrew Zachary Tapp

Posted

As a follow-up, it also appears that Florida Law requires you to register the fictitious name before you begin doing business under that name. Florida Statute 865.09 states "A person may not engage in business under a fictitious name unless the person first registers the name with the division..." (2012). As I mentioned above - get the name registered. It doesn't cost very much and will avoid all kinds of headaches later.

Posted

As my colleagues have pointed out, a pseudonym used in certain industries may give the inference of fraud or deceit. However, Florida has a mechanism in place for setting up businesses using a fictitious name. You may register one that isn't taken and conduct business under that name.

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