Privacy is NOT asset protection…however Privacy can enhance Asset Protection.
In fact for example, protecting your home from a lawsuit and protecting your identity from the public are two very different things.
To tackle this difficult topic of privacy protection, earlier this year we had international privacy expert JJ Luna join our podcast and it was phenomenal. Listen here.
I also used JJ’s book as a starting point and inspiration to dedicate an entire chapter to Privacy in my book, “The Tax and Legal Playbook”. I have absolutely loved JJ’s book, “How to be Invisible”, now in it’s 3rd edition. For those with a serious interest in privacy protection, I highly recommend his book.
Over the years, I have had many experiences with clients who have shared traumatic ‘violations of privacy’ and I have been encouraged to continue studying, speaking and writing on this topic.
The story begins when he and his family went on a cruise and left the ship for a shore excursion in Mexico. In the process of what was supposed to be a fun filled experience, they used their credit card to rent some recreational vehicles. Then, to their dismay the operators credit card machine didn’t function properly at this island location, and the parties quickly agreed that my friend would wire or transfer money when he got back to the mainland. The contract was tight and the arrangement legitimate and understandable. However, upon his return, due to international banking issues, it was proving difficult to transfer the funds. Nevertheless, within a week he was close to having the problem resolved and the money transferred. But to his SURPRISE and UTTER AMAZEMENT, there was a knock on his door one late night and the ACTUAL tour operators from this little island, who he recognized from the tour 10 days earlier, were standing on his front door demanding payment at that very moment. After accusations and a tense situation, my friend was able to calm them down and resolve the situation. Yet, the damage was done. My friend realized how precarious and easy it was for someone to find where he lived and confront him in front of his family. He was now a changed man when it came to his privacy concerns.
How many of us could envision something like this happening? I’m sure all of us can. I certainly can envision a disgruntled tenant, renter or even client knocking on my private residence. It’s scary for many of us to think where our address is posted publicly and how easy it would be for someone to find it.
Steps you can take
To protect your home address is actually quite challenging if you have been living in your home some time and giving your address out to every ‘tom, dick and harry’ over several years. However, it never hurts to start now with some basic steps:
- Immediately establish a P.O. Box or CMRA (commercial mail-receiving agency) and NEVER receive mail or packages at home. Use a mail forwarding or ghost address every where possible, including the billing for your utilities and at the doctor’s office. KKOS has a very affordable mail forwarding service wherein we scan all of your mail for you to review in a virtual mailbox. Learn more here.
- Remove your home address from any of your company filings with the State and DO NOT serve as your own Registered Agent sharing your home/street address. Most law firms and our office at KKOS can provide this service as well. Learn more here.
- When you pay your bills next month, OR any invoice from now on, make sure you don’t share your home address, but your P.O. Box or CMRA address.
- Place your home into a Trust wherein your name and address are no where to be found.
- Set up a privacy entity to hold title to your vehicles and other assets that would typically use your home address.
- Start to study and read books on privacy protection. There is a lot of great information out there on privacy websites, blogs and newsletters. Read my new book “The Tax and Legal Playbook” and I also recommend you consider picking up JJ Luna’s book on ‘disappearing’. It’s fantastic!
- Realize that if you can’t push the ‘reset button’ and move to a new address, the process is going to be painstaking, difficult and potentially impossible. Your address is in places you may never be able to remove.
- Thus, if you are able to move or planning on moving in the future, make sure you implement a plan to keep that new address private in every possible pay (one of the easiest ways is to start fresh and never give out your address in the first place).
- Basic rule of thumb: NEVER give out your home address unless absolutely necessary to a government agency, and then there are even ways to avoid doing so.
- Stay committed and don’t give up. One slip and your whole process may be sacrificed to a simple cable bill or something of that nature.
Here’s a video I have also shot on this topic:
Please realize I’m not suggesting that EVERY person needs to start trying to hide their home address and commit their lives to privacy protection. However, a little more caution could go a long way.
In fact, I’m certainly aware that some, if not many of you, may be serving as your own Registered Agent for your company and your home address is “out there”. Make a change and consider a Mail Forwarding, P.O. Box, or Virtual mailbox.
Bottom line, we all NEED to take the topic of privacy and identity theft more seriously. We live in a day and age where cyber theft is more common than being robbed, burglarized or pick pocketed. It’s a different time people!! Keep learning more about this topic and making life changes to improve your privacy protection.
Mark J. Kohler is a CPA, Attorney, Radio Show host and author of the new book “The Tax and Legal Playbook- Game Changing Solutions For Your Small Business Questions” and “What Your CPA Isn’t Telling You- Life Changing Tax Strategies”. He is also a partner at the law firm Kyler Kohler Ostermiller & Sorensen, LLP and the accounting firm K&E CPAs, LLP. For more information visit him at www.markjkohler.com.