“With identity theft a real problem, should I use my real name when I start a website, no name at all or should I use a ‘pen’ name?” Frank from Michigan
I get this question on a regular basis. I also get the question “Should I use my picture?”
Here are some things to consider:
1. Identify theft is not an issue if all someone has is your name–even online.
Without further information it is almost impossible for someone to steal your identity with just your name. However, with your social security number or other types of normally private information they can.
2. Your name and picture can help build your credibility online.
Several years ago the president of the Remington Electric Razor company did a series of commercials showing him using the razor. The tag line was, “I liked the razor so much, I bought the company.” It made millions in sales.
Having your name and picture on your website allows your potential buyers to see you and feel they can trust you.
3. You don’t have to reveal your “real” name.
Most people I know who do business online use their real name. In some cases they use a “nickname” or “pen name.” If you are concerned about revealing your “real” name, a pen name can work well as long as you are consistent. If you use your pen name one day and your “real” name the next, it will cause your potential buyers to believe you are hiding something from them.
4. You can use services to keep you from “prying eyes.”
If you don’t want to use your home mailing address for your business, check into using a mail drop service or a post office box. If you don’t want to use a phone line connecting to your house, consider a virtual office answering service or an inexpensive alternative like eFax.com.
This allows you to run your business without worrying about someone getting information you want kept private.