legal corner PROTECTING YOUR W PERSONAL INFORMATION by Jason T. Hirst e all have some information that we’d like to keep private, and in our digital age it’s becoming more and more difficult to do. Whether it’s our debts, our investments, our cell phone number, or our home address, people that want to discover them can often do so with just a few minutes and a computer. And this isn’t just limited to hackers – anyone that can enter a search in Google can usually find out more information about us than we feel comfortable with. Dentists, even more than most other professions, have particular challenges in this arena. Dentists must maintain a license to practice dentistry; they are business owners, employers, and they are exposed to personal liability; they directly serve the public, and they advertise with their personal name. And because you serve the public, you want as much exposure as possible and to have your name come up in searches. All of these factors make it so that personal information – whether you like it or not – is available all over the internet. 20 HOUSTON DENTISTRY | www.houstondentistrymagazine.com Fortunately, with a knowledge of what information is public, there are steps that you can take to reduce the amount of information that is made available and to make it less accessible. Whether you are protecting yourself from creditors searching for assets to seize, preventing identity theft, or avoiding displeased patients who will call you on your cell phone in the middle of the night, having control over who receives what personal information is always a good thing. As an attorney who works exclusively with dentists, I have seen many of the numerous ways in which personal information finds its way into the public domain. When a dentist is opening a new office, or acquiring an existing one, there is a lot of data that is disclosed to the public in the process, with a lot of information already out there. Some of this is legally required and cannot be avoided, however usually more information is given than is needed, and the effects of those disclosures can be minimized significantly.