If you’ve formalized your business by incorporating and obtaining an EIN — which I do thoroughly recommend for most writers — it is important to remember that this information is just as sensitive as your own Social Security number. Just as someone with access to your SSN can do all sorts of damage to your credit, an identity thief who gets ahold of your EIN can cause plenty of financial damage.
The U.S. National Better Business Bureau has been working to inform small business owners (a category that freelance writers fall into) of the dangers associated with business identity theft:
Because businesses have higher credit limits and make larger purchases than consumers, charges by scammers are less likely to be noticed by owners, accountants and creditors. And whereas most consumer ID theft costs victims less than $5,000 on average, individuals and criminal networks that target businesses can easily haul more than 10 times that amount.
One identity theft scam specifically targets small businesses rather that individuals: a scammer will get a few examples of your work, solicit new clients and rip them off. Once a reputation like that has been associated with your name, you’ve got a lot of trouble.
Treat your business’ financial information just as you handle your own. Keep control of your EIN — it can be used to open new lines of credit for your business, among other things. Protecting your business’ information is mostly common sense: don’t give out your EIN to people you don’t trust and similar steps meant to limit access to your information are the main ways to protect yourself.