Who Is My Domain Name Registered to?
It is very easy for anyone to go register a domain name from any number of online vendors. However, from our experience most people do not take proper care of their domain name properties once they have registered them. When you register a domain name for yourself, or someone does it on your behalf, you should make absolutely certain that you or your company are rightly named as the Registrant. You should also make sure that you or the proper organizational position in your business is named as the Administrative Contact. The appropriate person or position should be named as the Technical Contact. Use our WHOIS tool to check the registrant and contact info of your own domain names to see whether that is actually the case.
When we register domain names on behalf of our clients we always make sure we are all clear from the beginning who the registrant and admin contact should be. We normally name ourselves as the tech contact. One of the things that we do is review and update if necessary the conatct info for each of these annually. This includes names addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Not only is this an ICANN requirement, it’s simply good management of a valuable asset.
Where Is It Registered?
Also remember what vendor you registered your domain name through (ie, Network Solutions, GoDaddy, Enom.com, …). Also remember which Top Level Domains (TLD’s) you own (ie, .com, ,org, .net, etc.). The world is full of people that send fake “renewal” notices for TLD’s that registrants do not own. You would be surprised how often these fake invoices get paid by people who are not up to speed on what they really have. If you know what TLD’s you own, and where you have them registered, then you can easily recognize any of these spam notifications that come you. And they come via FAX, postal mail and email.
I recommend you see our earlier blog post, “Where Are Your Internet Properties?” for more on how to manage the info required to access your asset.
Protect Access & Keep It Renewed
Occasionally we get a call from a client stating that their email is broken, or Web site is down. When this happens, one of the first things we look for is to see if their domain name is active. And often is is not, but has expired because the annual renewal fee was not paid. If we catch this within a day or two of the expiration we can pay the renewal fee and the name will be reactivated. After a few days, though the name is past the grace period for renewal. When this happens it is snapped up by a domain name reseller. It must then be purchased back from them at whatever price they are demanding.
Extortion? Well, maybe, but more importantly you have lost a possibly very valuable asset. One of our clients found himself in this situation and the company who grabbed his domain name wanted $10,000 for it!
Just as we discussed in the article referenced above, make sure the username and password to access the domain name registration account are strictly protected, too. Obviously with that information, anyone can access that record and update the password to lock everyone else out. After that it is a trivial exercise to update all the contact and DNS info. Then, voila! suddenly they own your domain name, are the named registrant, and your name can point to any other Web server they choose! Use strong passwords, not the same one you use for everything else (like so many people do).