It’s important when running a business to make yourself available to clients and customers. Having things like basic contact information on your company website for all to see is a good business practice. And not having contact information available doesn’t exactly inspire trust.
So what happens when your business contact information is also your home contact information because you work from home?
Fortunately there are simple things you can do to protect your, and your family’s, privacy when you run a home-based business.
5 Ways to Protect Your Privacy With a Home-Based Business
Let’s look at ways you can protect your privacy with different contact methods.
- Always maintain separate personal and business email accounts.
- Don’t give your personal email address to clients.
- Never publish your personal email address publicly online.
- Make sure your business email itself doesn’t contact personal information (like the numbers of your birthdate).
- Maintain a separate email for use where harvesting is common (like when registering a domain name where you email address can be harvested from WhoIs databases).
- Use a PO Box or mailbox service as your business mailing address.
- Only give clients that PO Box address for sending payments.
- Don’t post physical ads for your business on your home property.
- Unless you absolutely must let clients on the premises, avoid local SEO efforts that require your physical address (like a Google My Business listing that will help customers find your address on Google Maps).
- Never give out your home or personal mobile number to clients.
- Maintain a separate business cell phone account.
- Where your phone number has to be published publicly, consider free VOIP numbers (like Google Voice) that can be forwarded to your own phone.
Other Ways to Protect Your Privacy
The tips above are a good start if you want to protect your privacy and avoid having customers intrude on your home life. But there’s more you can do.
- Maintain a separate email address for any free service or newsletter sign-ups to avoid letting work-related spam and marketing messages interfere with both your personal time and business time where you need to stay focused.
- Check your privacy settings. Stop allowing companies like Google and Facebook to track your every move to use your private data and behavior to sell advertising.
- Put freezes on your credit so identity thieves can’t try to open new credit accounts in your name.
- Change your passwords (to email and online services) regularly, and make sure they’re secure — especially if you’re caught up in a data breach.
- Don’t do any sensitive business on public WiFi connections, and don’t do any confidential work in public places where others might be able to see.
- Run regular virus and malware scans, both on your own computers and your server if applicable. Compromised systems can give hackers access to private information like passwords.
- To protect yourself from phishing attempts to get your private information, never click links in emails from people you don’t know (phishing attacks mask them to look like they’re from legitimate sources like your bank so you’ll enter your passwords on their cloned websites).
These tips will help you protect your privacy as a home business owner. If you have other tips for protecting your privacy while working at home, feel free to share your suggestions in the comments below.
This article was originally published on September 12, 2007. It was updated to reflect changes in available tools on its currently-listed publication date.