domains2.jpgIn recent weeks, I’ve seen many domain registrations come across my desk where the registrant provides false or incorrect contact information. Let me just get this off my chest:


There, now I feel a little better…

Let me break it down for you like this:

It’s quite simple, folks; ICANN wants to be able to reach you in case there’s a problem with your domain or if it happens to be trademarked, a duplicate or otherwise in violation of any of the ICANN rules and regulations. If you give false or invalid name or contact details, ICANN can take your domain and you will be left with nothing; no domain and no refund from your registrar.

Allow me to quote the Registration Agreement of one of the larger Registrars:

” ACCOUNT CONTACT INFORMATION AND DOMAIN NAME WHOIS INFORMATION: As further consideration for the Service(s), you agree to provide certain current, complete and accurate information about you, both with respect to your account information and with respect to the WHOIS information for your domain name(s). You agree to maintain and update this information as needed to keep it current, complete and accurate. With respect to you, the administrative, technical, and billing contacts for your domain name registration(s) and other Service(s), you must submit the following: name, postal address, e-mail address, voice telephone number, and where available, fax number. You agree that the type of information you are required to provide may change and you understand that, if you do not provide the newly required information, your registration or and/or other Service(s) may be suspended or terminated or may not be renewed. Not providing requested information may prevent you from obtaining all Service(s). You may provide information regarding the name-servers assigned to your domain name(s) and, if we are providing name-server services to you, the DNS settings for the domain name. If you do not provide complete name-server information, or if you purchase “Name Only” Services, you agree that we may supply this information (and point your domain name to a website of our choosing) until such time as you elect to supply the name-server information or until such time as you elect to upgrade from “Name Only” Services.

YOUR OBLIGATIONS AND REPRESENTATIONS RELATING TO THE ACCOUNT AND WHOIS CONTACT INFORMATION: In the event that, in registering a domain name or obtaining other Service(s), you provide information about or on behalf of a third party, you represent that you have (a) provided notice to that third party of the disclosure and use of that party’s information as set forth in this Agreement, and (b) that you have obtained the third party’s express consent to the disclosure and use of that party’s information as set forth in this Agreement. By registering a domain name or applying for other Service(s) you also represent that the statements in your application are true and you also represent that the domain name is not being registered or the Services being procured for any unlawful purpose. You acknowledge that providing inaccurate information or failing to update information promptly will constitute a material breach of this Agreement and will be sufficient basis for suspension or termination of Services to you. You further agree that your failure to respond for over ten (10) calendar days to inquiries by us concerning the accuracy of account and WHOIS contact information shall constitute a material breach of this Agreement and will be sufficient basis for suspension or termination of Service(s) to you. As indicated elsewhere in this Agreement, you understand that it is important for you to regularly monitor email sent to the email address associated with your account and WHOIS contact information because, among other reasons, if a dispute arises regarding a domain name(s) or other Service(s), you may loose your rights to the domain name(s) or your right to receive the Service(s) if you do not respond appropriately to an email sent in conjunction therewith.”

Now, I completely understand that you may feel the need to keep your contact details private. This is one reason that many people give fake contact information in the first place. Before your clever thinking gets the best of you, consider, if you will, that the time and money that you put into the registration and upkeep of a domain can be ripped away faster than you can say “ICANN Fraud Department”. Then what? Nothing! That’s what! If ICANN finds you in violation of the rules, too bad, buddy, should have thought about that before you registered. In cases like this, where the registrant intentionally gave false information, most (if not all) registrars will not give any sort of refund. So now, you’re not only out your domain names, but you’re also out the cost of registration.

Instead of giving fake contact details, find a registrar that offers ID Protection if some sort. This service will mask your whois details and gives a generic email address that outside folks can use to contact you, via the registrar. There’s generally a small yearly fee for this service, but it will keep your domain registration ICANN legal and keep your contact details private. In my mind, it’s a small price to pay if it means I’m within the bounds of the rules.

The rules are there to protect you. Know them, follow them and stay legitimate.

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