Every website name has a publicly accessible record which includes the owner’s private information. It’s known as a WhoIs record and lists the registrant and contacts for the domain. Your name, address, city, state, zip, country, telephone number and current email address may be listed on the WhoIs record for your domain. It also shows whenever you registered your domain, when it will expire, where your website is hosted, and other technical details. You can view the record for the domain by visiting domaintools.com and putting your domain in the box labeled “WhoIs Lookup” then clicking the “Search” button. These records can be found anytime to anyone who does a search.
Exactly why is the WhoIs record public info?
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) requires domain registrars to make your contact information available. It is used for some legitimate purposes such as verifying ownership of a website name inside a transfer request. Police force agencies could use it when investigating illegal activity on the web. Companies or individuals could also use these records to contact domain holders who are violating copyrights or other property rights.
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So, what is the problem?
Your domain record could also be used in ways that aren’t legitimate or desirable. Since anyone can look up a WhoIs record, spammers, hackers, identity thieves and stalkers may access your personal information! Unethical companies check domain expiration dates then send official looking “renewal” notices in an attempt to get the domain owners to transfer domains to their company, or send “invoices” that are service solicitations for internet search engine submissions along with other questionable services. Both email and snail mail spammers use the WhoIs databases to make contact with domain owners with solicitations as well.
What else could you do to protect your privacy?
Many domain registrars now provide a service called privacy protection. When you choose privacy protection, your individual information will not be listed on the WhoIs record. Instead, the information of the registrar’s privacy service will appear. You’ll still own your domain.
What are the benefits of domain privacy protection?
Once you have activated privacy protection in your domain as well as your personal information is no longer public, spammers can’t use it to locate your current email address or send you those deceptive domain renewal notices from other companies.
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What are the negative aspects to domain privacy protection?
Be aware that if you want to transfer your website name to a different registrar, you will need to remove the privacy protection and deal with some red tape in order to do so.
Additionally, some consumer advocacy TV shows and websites explain to customers how to check WhoIs records to see if a company is legitimate before they deal with them. You can take positive steps to keep this from being a problem though. Make sure that customer don’t need to turn to your WhoIs records to find out what you are so if you feel legitimate. Offer full contact information on your website including multiple ways to get in touch with you (postal mail, email, phone number, fax, etc). Attempt to add ways for customers to contact you through social networking sites for example Facebook if you are using them for business.
How do i add domain privacy protection for my domains?
The procedure depends upon your registrar. Contact the organization where you registered your domain and get about privacy protection. It may be included in the cost your yearly registration or there may be a little fee.