Walter Devins, Attorney
What is a DBA? DBA stands for “Doing Business As.” It is essentially doing business using a name other than the name under which your business is registered.
Using an assumed name can be a great benefit to a business. It allows a company to do business under another name without creating an entirely new legal entity. DBAs can advertise, accept money, and do general business on behalf of the true entity. However, when doing business under an assumed name, North Carolina General Statute 66-68 requires a company to file its DBA with the local county’s Register of Deeds. While the penalty for the violation of this act seems minimal – a misdemeanor accompanied by a $50 fine – not registering your fictitious name could result in some dire consequences. The purpose of NCGS 66-68 is to protect consumers by allowing them the ability to track down the true identity of the people they are dealing with. If you do not register your DBA, you are not giving other businesses notice of your usage of the name, which could cause you multiple problems if other businesses use the same or a similar name.
Another possible benefit of registering your name would be to avoid frivolous lawsuits. While a court will not necessarily bar a lawsuit when the true business name is not correctly stated, a court will most likely hesitate to let a frivolous suit through when the plaintiff could have simply looked at the county records to reveal the DBA’s true identity. Besides, filing the certificate of assumed name is usually relatively simple and can be done through the county Register of Deeds for less than $20. Before filing a DBA, the business owner or an attorney should do a quick search of the name with the Register of Deeds and the NC Secretary of State. In most instances if the search reveals that no other businesses are using the name, then the DBA is yours to use!
Harrison and Devins, PA