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Should you avoid using a personal email address for work?

This past week, a great deal of controversy arose over allegations that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used her personal email account to conduct government correspondence. According to numerous media outlets, many prominent Democrats insist that this story will not significantly change the public’s mind about Clinton’s fitness for future government office. Some Americans are even wondering why this issue is a “story” at all.

Whether this issue will inspire any future political issues for Clinton is uncertain. What is certain is that if these allegations are true and are not taken out of context or blown out of proportion, Clinton broke State Department protocol when using a personal email account for official correspondence. This is troubling primarily because office email accounts are often far better protected than personal accounts are and Clinton’s correspondence was likely sensitive in nature.

Small business owners may be tempted to use personal email accounts for business-related correspondence. However, it is not generally advisable to do so. Even if your business correspondence is far less sensitive than Clinton’s, it is best to keep your work email and your personal email accounts separate.

Business accounts tend to be more professional looking in nature. If clients see you corresponding from a Yahoo account, they may wonder why you failed to invest in a simple business account. In addition, you will likely have a different level of protection applied to your business email account in the event of a legal dispute. Finally, it will likely be easier to keep all of your electronic business-related correspondence properly filed and secure if it is not mingled with personal correspondence.

Source: Findlaw Free Enterprise, “Using Personal Email for Work? 4 Concerns for Business Owners,” Le Trinh, March 3, 2015

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