All about domains
Domain Name Glossary Terms
# | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Whois Privacy Concerns

When you register a domain name you are required to make your contact information publicly available through the WHOIS database. The penalty of providing inaccurate contact information can be the revocation of your domain name.

Your personal information is publicly available
For convenience and legal reasons your contact info must be correct and publicly available. Situations like the following require your contact info from the whois registry: So the authorities can track you down if you are doing illegal things with your domain; So you can be reached regarding domain disputes or trademark complications; So buyers will know who to contact to purchase an already registered domain; and/or so your registrar can stay in touch with you regarding renewal.

Potential Problems with Your Information Being Made Public
Have you ever had your dinner interrupted by a "courtesy call" from a long-distance phone company, received unwanted email regarding a member enlargement, or sorted through a giant pile of junk mail to get to the actual bills and letters you care about? If so, then you understand the problem with making personal information available to the public. The plague of unwanted mail and calls is due to personal contact information, such as phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses, being posted in a public place or being sold to agencies who pay big money for lists of this information.

Attack of the Spammers
Unfortunately many spammers have taken advantage of the Whois database and use the public information as a way to get live contact information. Spam lists are created from this database and marketed to other spam agencies. If you register a domain name you can generally count on receiving unsolicited emails and offers at your contact address.

Domain Name Renewal Scams
Even some dishonest domain name registrars have abused the Whois database. These registrars would keep track of when a domain name was about to expire and would send an email to the owner reminding them to renew the registration. The only problem was the registrars who emailed the renewal notice weren't the individual's initial registrar. These registrar imposters were sneakily luring registrants into transferring to a new registrar. The transfers caused major headaches for customers when they would try to switch to a new web host and needed their DNS information, but it was no longer with the registrar they had initially registered with. What a mess!

Although legislation and making consumers aware of these types of scams has helped cut back on some of these problems, many are still cautious about making their current and accurate contact information available on the Whois. So is there a way to protect your domain from spam and scams?

Protecting Your Privacy
Some registrars have come up with Privacy Protection registration. This is generally a registration process that costs a little extra, but the registrar will place their information in the WHOIS in place of yours. I tried Go Daddy's private registration and paid nine extra dollars. Instead of my name appearing in the WHOIS, Go Daddy's proxy registration service, Domains By Proxy, information is listed. They forward any legitimate email to me and delete the spam. Although I am still the owner of the domain name through Go Daddy's service, be cautious when doing this with just any registrar. Read the small print carefully to be certain you are still the legal owner of the domain.

Alternative Contact Information
Registrars such as DirectNIC and Network Solutions will let you choose which contact information you would like to appear in the whois. They keep your main contact info on file for their purposes, but you may choose to put alternative contacts for the registry.

Private Domain Name Registrations
Recently domain registrars began providing a better solution for those who are concerned about their privacy.  Private domain registration is available for an added fee paid to the registrar.  Instead of your personal information being displayed, the contact information for the registrar shows up and the registrar acts as a buffer to protect your privacy.

Related Article: Whois Lookup >>