Do You Own Your Domain Name?

Do you own your domain?

Twenty years ago there was much more mysticism around the “.com”, and webmasters wielded the black box. Now, not only do you have many more choices than the original 3 (.com, .net, and .org), most people jump in and register their own domain names. The black box is open, but there are still a few pieces of mysticism that keep rearing their head.

Who owns your domain name?

You hope the answer is you. And, if you’ve registered your own domain name, then it is you. But, many times IT people, webmasters, and web developers want to be helpful, so they will “assist” you to register your domain name.

In order to legally be your domain, 3 of the 4 domain contacts (Registrant, Admin, Billing, and Technical) must be you. That means the Registrant, Admin Contact, and Billing Contact needs to be you. If you have someone else managing the billing, then your name should be connected with the Registrant, Admin contact, and Technical contact.

Do you need private registration?

First, what is private registration? It’s a service where the domain registrar will hide your name, address, email, and phone number on the publicly available information about domains. It doesn’t really help with spam, and we only recommend it as a must for people who are using their home address with the domain registration.

Would “I” pay extra for a private registration? Absolutely not… unless as noted, a home address is being used.

Now, some domain registrars like Hover include private registration at no extra cost (if they can do it, why can’t others??).

Does a webmaster need access to my domain?

In general, no. The only time that anyone else needs access to your domain is if you’re moving your hosting from one company to another.

There are a set of records connected to your domain called nameservers. Think of them as the main directional markers that point to the main server your website is on. They are easy to update, but many times we are asked to handle that change.

If you want your webmaster to be in the loop of your domain notices, set them as your technical contact on the registration information. They don’t have access to your account, but in case you miss the renewal emails, they can be aware of what is happening with your domain.

Domain scams

This has been on my radar for years, and was a key part of the Web Essentials class I taught at the local SBDC. Remember the long-distance phone scams – where you’d get a call and almost without realizing it you had agreed to switch who carried your long distance phone service?

Domain scams have had a similar history. Luckily both the phone service and domain registrars put safety measures in place to help protect people against the scams… but they can’t protect against you losing your money.

Scam envelope

This past week we got a letter in the mail from one of several domain scammers… instead of tossing it, I pulled out my highlighter and decided to share with you.

Any of the main domain registrars out there will not… WILL NOT send you a letter in the mail letting you know your domain is up for renewal. And, as a general rule, one domain registrar will not cross-market and try and get you to switch over by email or by mail.

Scam letter contents
Click to view full-size image

Regardless of the company the letters are sent from, all of them are almost identical… and have been so for 15+ years. Our goal in going through this in detail is that when you get your letter, the scam will be easily debunked and you’re comfy round filing the letter. So, let’s dissect the letter we received.

  1. The date for the expiration is correct. This is a publicly available date.
  2. They don’t know our name, the letter is addressed to “Domain Owner”.
  3. They want us to reply by Nov 30 when our domain doesn’t expire until January.
  4. The 1st and last sentence (highlighted in green) is a dead give away. They are telling you that they are not the current registrar.
  5. The 2nd sentence (highlighted in pink) is a scare tactic they use – knowing that of course you don’t want to lose your domain.
  6. In the middle of the 2nd paragraph, they say “Review our prices and decide for yourself”. Seriously? Why would you pay $50 a year for a regular .com when it costs about $15 per year from other registrars?

We’ve always kept an open-door policy with anyone – if you’re not sure about a letter or email that you receive from a domain registrar, reach out and ask! We would rather spend a few minutes than have you be out money that doesn’t need to be spent. Yes – you’re welcome to keep our phone number handy (541-450-9732).



Your Online Partner… for Success

If you have any questions about your domain name contacts, or if someone else has their info as the contact, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ve helped many people walk through the process of gaining ownership of their own domain name. We’re here to turn the geek into English and take care of you online!

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