Every legal business will have to leave an electronic or paper trail of corporate filings, business licenses, tax records, financial statements, lawsuits, complaints as well as a variety of other documents. This means that anyone who wants to research a company, either for competitive reasons, random curiosity, or out of interest in doing business with it– can find a great deal of information online or in hard-copy files at local, state, and federal government offices.
In California, for instance, when entrepreneurs submit documents for filing with the California Secretary of State, they are automatically creating a public record. Accordingly, all of the documentation and information that is provided for filing is therefore made available to the general public for copying and viewing. Internet search engines and third-party websites will also be able to access and use the information as they wish. Details such as the name of the person filing as well as any mailing and street addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses that are provided in public filings, will be made available.
The California Constitution, as well as the California Public Records Act mandate that the Secretary of State provides public access to its records for public viewing and copying. The Golden State has advised that “Corporations and limited liability companies can update address information on the Secretary of State’s records by filing a Statement of Information. For other types of filings, updated address information for filings with the Secretary of State can be submitted through a subsequent amendment or amended filing.”
How to Protect Personal Information When Starting a Business
A California registered agent, also referred to as an agent for service of process, is a federal law requirement for every formal business entity in the state of California. This individual or business entity will receive all official paperwork from the California Secretary of State. They will also receive any service of process that a business may be served with— in the instance of a legal dispute.
Many business owners, especially single-member LLCs, tend to choose to act as their own registered agents. While this is legally allowed, entrepreneurs put themselves at risk of having all of their private information– home address, personal contact details– made public on the California Business Entities Search. A way around this is by hiring a registered agent who will accept legal correspondence on behalf of the company, hence protecting the location of the owner’s home or private business.
Benefits of a Registered Agents Service
Apart from just superior privacy, a California registered agent service also provides business owners with flexibility since registered agents are required to be available every working day of the year, at all normal business hours. Outsourcing the service allows entrepreneurs to be more flexible in the hours and locations that they work.
They also allow for discretion in sensitive matters since receiving service of process for a lawsuit at the actual business premises should not happen in front of employees and clients. Registered agents help to avoid this issue since they will receive any service of process and other documents at their personal office; they can then discreetly have them delivered via mail or online.
Registered agents are required to be a resident or have permission to operate in a state, which can be an issue when a company looks to expand its operations to other states. Since most registered agent services have permission to operate in all 50 states across the United States, entrepreneurs will not have to go through the hassle of the additional paperwork and procedures when expanding.
It is vital that businesses remember to file their required paperwork timeously to avoid fines and keep the company in good standing with the state– which is important in maintaining the limited liability protection of the business. A registered agent service will help the business with the filing of important paperwork and will maintain a compliance calendar and remind the business when annual reports or any other filings are due.
Privacy is an important aspect to keep in mind when starting up a new business, especially for entrepreneurs that run their business from a private residence or office space. While most states make the businesses filing information public, owners are able to protect their personal information by using a registered agent service that will handle all of the correspondence on behalf of the business.