Time and time again I come across an RV Dealer who thinks they are the registered owner of their domain name or they used to own their domain name but when they switched to a new website hosting company they changed the information without their knowledge. Back when I first started this gig 10 years ago, buying, moving and managing domain names was extremly simple – all you needed to know was the domain name and you were golden pretty much. That meant it was very easy to change Registrars, domain name contacts, DNS info, etc.
Now, in order to even renew a domain name, you need the login username or userid and password with your Registrar to access your account. It’s even more of a pain if you want to move hosting, especially since more and more hosting providers are utilizing one main account for all the domains they host. I say it’s a pain, but it’s actually much more secure this way.
One of the tricks website hosting companies pull is to set themselves up as the Registrant, Adminstrative Contact, Technical Contact and Billing Contact for your domain name. What this does is prevent you from moving hosting because if you are not a contact on the account, you don’t get access to it. It’s sneaky and they depend on you not knowing any better or double checking your domain name status to pull it off. With it set up this way if you ever want to move hosting you would need to contact the provider and it’s at their discretion to allow you to move your website. Even worse, they can charge you any amount they want to for you to buy your OWN domain name. I know – nonsense right!!
Here’s a scenario I’m going through with an RV Dealer right now, whom we will call Mr. Ed. Mr. Ed’s current website host / webmaster is the owner of their company domain name and they are unhappy with the results and customer service they’ve been getting from him. After several failed attempts to get in touch with their webmaster, they were finally able to reach him and when he learned they wanted to move hosting, he demanded a lump sum payment of around $2,500+ or he was not going to release their domain name. Well, Mr. Ed paid for that domain name and is not inclinded to pay anymore. In the meantime, Mr. Ed had already cancelled his account with that webmaster and since he is not going to pay to get his domain name back, his webmaster can put whatever website he wants up there on Mr. Ed’s company domain name, including a porn website. I personally would consult an attorney who specializes in domain name and internet issues and I’ve advised Mr. Ed that this is the best course of action.
I want to explain the terms in relation to domain name registration to you and if you have any questions feel free to email me.
Registrar: The website you use to buy or manage your domain name(s). The most popular are: NetworkSolutions.com, GoDaddy.com and Register.com. When buying a domain name you want to make sure the Registrar is ICANN accredited. This is also the website you will go to if you ever want to update any of your domain name info and/or change website hosting.
Registrant: This should be the owner or principal officer of your company followed by your company name. This will be the “owner” of the domain name.
Administrative Contact: This should be the same as the Registrant or another principal officer your comfortable having access to your domain name as a backup.
Technical Contact: This should be a contact at your hosting company just in case there is an issue with your domain name, it’s up for renewal, etc. There’s nothing worse than losing a domain name because the emails to renew it were sent to only one address on the account and that address either blocked it, put it in the spam folder or just didn’t get it.
Billing Contact: Depending on how your hosting provider deals with the renewals, this may be them or it could be you. Either way works.
Remember, if you change your email address from the one listed on your Registrar you need to login and change it there as well – this is very important.
Now, in order to check your domain name there is a tool that will give you all that info and much more here: http://whois.sc – once there type in your domain name (without the “www.”) and click the Lookup button. The top part of that page will give you Page Info, Indexed Data, Registry Data, Server Data, DomainTools and then the WHOIS info, which is what you’re interested in checking out.
If that information does not reflect your company name, current email address, etc., you’ll need to get it changed right away. If you have your Registrar login, you can access your account and make the necessary changes. If you don’t have access to it you can contact your hosting company and they should have it. If it’s on their master account ask them to update your domain name information for you and then go back a few days later and check the WHOIS to see if the changes are complete. If for some reason neither of you have the login information, most Registrars have a “lost username and password” feature you can use to have that sent to the email address associated with the domain, which is another reason to keep your email address up-to-date with them.
Tip: When doing research on domain names to buy, don’t use NetworkSolutions.com or NetSol.com because they will give you a certain number of minutes to buy the domains you’ve looked up or else they buy them, which locks you into using them as your Registrar. Instead use http://whois.sc – look for the link that says Domain Search on the results page.
If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or give me a call.
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