Maintaining your anonymity can be harder than ever in the digital era. Anybody who can type can search for—and find—an astonishing amount of your personal information. Your name, insurance policies, companies you have an ownership interest in, and especially properties you own are all potentially compromising details that you likely don’t want spread far and wide. We also know that anonymity is crucial to effective asset protection. So what’s the investor with an online presence to do? Here’s our guide.
Your Personal Information Is Most Likely on The Internet
The simple reality is that unless you’ve taken measures to protect your personal information, it is likely somewhere online. Without taking precautions to preserve your anonymity, many of your personal details which you might consider private can end up on the public record. Anything on the public record can be easily located with a Google search. There’s no need for sophisticated skill sets or deep knowledge on the other party’s part.
Why is this a problem for real estate investors in particular? Frankly, we have more to lose from too much public information.
Of course, the simplicity of locating public records is one of the main reasons we encourage investors like you to never own property in your own name. This is just one of many steps you can take to secure your anonymity, and it is basic yet incredibly important. When you own property in your own name, simply looking up the address leads straight to you, and by extension, everything you own. This is the most vulnerable position you and the asset can be in. Asset protection is largely about moving those easily seized assets out of your name and into a more secure structure under your control.
You might recall that investors can only lose money in two ways: bad deals and lawsuits. Anonymity helps address the threat of lawsuits. After all, for another person to successfully sue you, they will need to know who exactly you are. They will also need to prove your connection to the property or entity owning the property, a problem savvy attorneys can anticipate and prevent. Put simply, our job as asset protection attorneys is to complicate potential lawsuits as much as possible before they ever materialize. Anonymity helps stop lawsuits by complicating the initial research phase conducted by opposing lawyers to see if suing you is worth the trouble.
That said, you can undermine your own asset protection plan if you aren’t thoughtful about protecting your own privacy. The point is, the less information about you that is freely available online, the better.
Online Best Practices You Can Use
Some common-sense techniques paired with simple awareness of the value of your anonymity can help you eliminate potential problems as you navigate an increasingly digital world.
Avoid Openly Discussing Investments or Finances
You’ll also want to steer clear of any behavior flaunting wealth. If you have it, that’s wonderful. But in order to keep it, it should stay your business. You can absolutely enjoy the luxuries of wealth, but you don’t need to Instagram your vintage Moet Chandon or post photos of your exotic car collection to Facebook. Instead, play it cool. Be mindful that the internet really is a public space.
Of course, it may be unavoidable for people to know that you are an investor. They do not, however, need to know the particulars of where you invest and what you own.
Be Wary of Info Scammers
Sadly, the web is crawling with scammers of all sorts. They come in the form of Facebook Marketplace ads that are a little too good to be true, leading you to a “third-party” registration that looks legitimate, but exists just to capture your information. They can also appear as friends of friends, love interests, wealthy relatives hoping to reconnect, and even as potential investing partners. Even if you realize you’re being scammed, some cons are so finessed that you won’t realize anything’s up until you get an obvious red flag.
Here are some quick and dirty tips that can help you avoid falling prey to scams that could compromise your anonymity:
- Don’t talk to strangers. If everyone really stuck to this all the time, scams would hardly be possible.
- When you must talk to strangers, vet them. That mutual friend? Maybe see that they’re actually a friend instead of a victim.
- Be skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true. The cliche exists for a reason.
- Observe Craigslist rules when making any large purchase. That means meet the person face-to-face, so buy locally when possible, and use cash or something that can’t be falsified.
- If you even hear words like “Western Union” or “Moneygram,” run.
- Last but not least, never ever give away account info, passwords, or codes generated by your services.
Bottom line: scams and privacy breeches are best avoided by being tight with your security and smart.
Legal Solutions for Real Estate Investors Who Want Anonymity
There are also legal tools you can use to preserve your anonymity and limit the amount of personal information about you online. At the very least, you can obscure any connection between such information and your business and assets. Not everything can be “undone” online, and absolute anonymity is nearly impossible. What legal tools can provide you with is layers of protection that will make penetrating your anonymity, and therefore connecting you to your valuable assets and suing you for them, far more difficult.
- Anonymous Land Trusts. The Anonymous Land Trust is a tool you can use to remove your personal name from the title of an investment property. The trust will instead hold title for you, and may be set up in such a way that you receive any benefits or profits from the real estate asset, including rental payments.
- Delaware Statutory Trust for California investors. The Delaware Statutory Trust serves the same functional purposes as Series LLCs and Anonymous Land Trusts, but is friendlier to California’s tax law.
- Anonymous LLC Options. Some states require that you report each member of your LLC. When you operate a Traditional LLC as a single person or with your spouse, your names may be recorded by default. Multi-member LLCs may not be exempt, either depending on the state where they are formed. Fortunately, there’s a fairly straightforward solution: pair your LLC with an Anonymous Trust. For real estate investors, the Series LLC presents an elegant anonymity solution and an effective, scalable business entity. The Series LLC may also be owned by an Anonymous Trust or make use of Anonymous Trusts at the “bottom level,” protecting each asset within each Series.
Contact Royal Legal Solutions For Help Forming Your Anonymous Asset Protection Plan
Our experts at Royal Legal Solutions have been specially trained to explain our anonymity-preserving tactics and tools to you. If you’re ready to learn even more about what you can do to protect yourself, schedule your personalized consultation now.