Business Names: What’s in a name?

In my last post, I mentioned Corporate Registrations and Fictitious Business Name filings as sources Experian leverages for discovering linkage relationships.  Today, I’d like to expand a bit on the different types of names that may be associated to a business.  That’s right, there’s more to the topic than meets the eye.

Let’s start with the Legal Name of the business.  The legal name represents the business’s true ownership.  It refers to the legal entity or person that owns a business and there are several variations as discussed below.

For corporations, the legal name of a business is the one registered with the Secretary of State in the state of incorporation. (The state of incorporation may differ from the state in which the business is physically located or operating.)  Other business structures, such as Limited Liability Companies (LLC), are also registered at the state level. 

For a partnership, the name in the partnership agreement or the last names of the partners will be the legal name of the business.  Some forms of partnerships are filed with the Secretaries of State. 

For an individual owner, the owner’s full name is the legal name of the business.  Sole proprietors are not usually required to register their name with the state government. 

Fictitious business names are required when the business owner wants to publicly use a name for their business that differs from the legal name.  It allows the owner to accept checks or credit cards, and to open bank accounts with the fictitious name.  Fictitious business names are also referred to as doing business as (DBA) names, trade names, or assumed names.  The DBA name is most often used on the business’s storefront and in their advertising. 

Requirements for registering fictitious business names vary by state. These rules may differ depending on whether an individual or a legal entity is the owner of the business.  Finally, the place of registration may be at either the state or county level within the state where the business is located. 

We capture legal names and fictitious business names from a variety of public record sources.  Our source-intake process allows us to permanently store the data as it comes from each source.  We then execute pre-defined rules against these sources to get the best Legal Name / DBA combination which we promote to the composite record that our customers see.  

It’s that simple!