If you have a small business website and you don’t know who owns your domain name – find out pronto. If you don’t know how to find out who owns it, keep reading.
Sometimes, web designers, and let me make it clear I think this is really unethical, will purchase domain names for their clients. Again, I think this is really, really, really bad. Since domains cost $10 per year, there is absolutely no excuse for business owners not to own their domain names.
How do you know for sure that you own your domain name?
Go to: http://whois.domaintools.com/ and enter your domain name.
Look under: Whois Record
You’ll see three names/email addresses listed: Registrant Contact, Administrative Contact, Technical Contact. The “owner” is the Registrant Contact.
Now, clever folks will hide their real names by making this information private. So you might see something like this (if you look up my own domain AldebaranWebDesign):
See how it doesn’t say my name, but says “Private Registrant”? That’s because I have it set to be private with my domain registration hosting company DreamHost.com. To contact the owner, simply send an email to the email addresses listed. Many, folks don’t take advantage of the Privacy features – so you might see real names.
If on the awful chance you see the name of someone other than yourself – you have work ahead of you. If indeed you are the rightful owner, you need to get this person to transfer ownership of the domain name to you. If you are a small business with a website – make this your #1 priority. Until your name shows up in this field, it is possible that whoever owns it might just decide to sell your domain name to someone else…maybe someone really awful, like a competitor.
Remember, domain ownership is PUBLIC INFORMATION – anyone can see who owns a domain (unless it’s private) and when it expires. Make sure you own your domain and make sure that your domain registrar has your current email address and credit card so that when your domain name needs to be renewed, they are able to contact you.
True story: I had a fellow contact me who had his domain name stolen during a period of illness. The fellow became ill for several months, and it was during this time when his domain name expired. Apparently someone who didn’t like him had been monitoring the situation, and bought the domain name when it expired. The fellow contacted me for help, but there was nothing I could do.
So make sure YOU own your domain name and make sure you know when it expires and have made arrangements with your domain registrar to keep it owned by you.Jill
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.