Control Your Domain Name & Protect Your Online Identity

by : Lynne Foster

Registering a domain name is something that a lot of people leave up to their web designer or hosting company. We have recently come across a practice that, although slightly unscrupulous, is something that cannot be easily policed as not everyone is aware of the problem. So what is this practice we are referring to?
It is the registering domain names on your behalf but not under you or your company's name.*
So what does this mean to you?
Well, firstly, think of it this way. You set up your company, work hard to make it work and decide to get a website. The domain is bought on your behalf, website built and then maybe you spend years building your online presence. So what happens if after all this hard work you then decide to then transfer your hosting or site design etc to someone else? If the domain is not registered under your details your previous host could quite easily refuse to pass the domain to you. If this happens and you cannot resolve this through Nominets Dispute Resolution then there is not much you can do short of starting afresh with a new domain. As much of an annoyance this would be it is far preferable to being forceably tied to a company who have effectively held you to ransom for your company's online identity.
In an attempt to stop anyone else falling foul of this we have a few tips for anyone thinking of registering a domain name through a third party.
1) Ensure that your potential domain registering company does not make a habit of registering domains in their own name by looking up their company using If they have hundreds of domain names registered to them alarm bells should ring. Bear in mind though that this is not 100% accurate for example a search for our company Polr brings back over 100 results whereas actually only have four at the moment (all our own!), make sure you are using the correct companys details in your search
2) Have it written into the contract that the domain MUST be registered under your details so you have some documentation should it come to dispute resolution. Do not fall into the trap of simply assuming that 'It goes without saying' that you would own the domain.
3) Research may take a little time but will be priceless if it stops you from getting into a dispute. Look at their current clients and look up their details in the database. If their clients' domain names are not registered to each individual client then it may be best to steer clear.
4) If in doubt, but you still want other services from the company such as hosting, register your domain yourself. You can do this easily from any number of sources. Any can work with a pre-bought name and question the skills of any that suggest otherwise!
Domain registration is not something that should be taken lightly.
Would you let someone register your company name under their address and details? Then why take the chance with your online address?
* What Nominet say: A small number of Registrars routinely register domain names in their own name without the knowledge or permission of their customer. This breaks the terms of the contract, because it can cause major problems for the intended Registrant.