The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) requires that all domain name registrars provide a publicly accessible record that contains the owner’s personal information. This information is a WhoIs record of the registrant and his or her contacts. Some of the information includes name, address, phone number and email address. A domain privacy service allows you to hide your WhoIs information.
Other information available on WhoIs is date of domain registration, when the domain will expire, where the domain is hosted as well as other technical information. The information for your domain registration is view-able through several tools available on the internet.
Why are WhoIs records public information?
ICANN uses the information you provide for legitimate purposes, such as the verification of ownership of a domain name in case of a transfer request. The information is also critical to law enforcement agencies that may be carrying out investigations into illegal activities carried out over the internet. Some individuals or companies can also use WhoIs information to get in touch with domain owners who are violating property rights, such as copyrights.
What is the problem?
Since the information is readily available immediately after you finish registering your domain, this leaves you susceptible to telemarketers and spammers. The individuals are likely to harvest your information, exposing you to unsolicited and unwanted contact. Since your personal information is available on such a public forum, you are also at significant risk of identity fraud and theft, as well as the possibility of stalkers and harassers getting in touch with you.
Unethical companies have also been known for checking domain expiration dates and sending official-like renewal notices. This is an attempt to have domain owners transfer domains to their firms. Other questionable services one is likely to receive include invoices for service solicitation for search engine submissions.
What should you do to protect your WhoIs registration details?
Domain registers offer a service privacy protection. Once you choose privacy protection services, personal information is not listed in the WhoIs record. The information people get to see is your registrar’s privacy service. However, you still own the domain.
Advantages of domain registration privacy protection
Some of the advantages you reap from domain privacy include:
• Protection against identity fraud and theft.
• Prevention of unwanted direct sales letters and mails bombarding your postal address.
• All your personal contact information is kept confidential.
• You will never receive unsolicited commercials emails.
• It is an excellent way to prevent unwanted phone calls from telemarketers.
Downsides of domain protection
It is critical that you are aware that once you have protected your domain name, you will need to remove the protection if you need to transfer it to another individual or company. This process might require dealing with some red tape.
Some consumer advocacy shows advise clients to check WhoIs records to find out if a business is legitimate before dealing with them. However, one positive step around this problem is ensuring that you provide your customer with as much information as possible. This will negate the need of the client checking WhoIs registration to get your contact information. Another way is providing your customers with a means of getting in touch with you via social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter.
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