A client recently sent me a note asking if he should renew his domain name registration for multiple years at a domain registrar that I had never heard of. Since I hold his registration in my account, I immediately replied that he should not respond at all, since it was a scam.
Disreputable domain registrars have been trying to steal customers (phone companies used to do it too – it was called “slamming”) since the earliest days of the public web. They send renewal notices that include a request to transfer the domain to them from its current registrar. The prices are often much higher than they should be – in this case $45 per year, versus the $20 that I charge to manage a domain.
At the very least, every website owner should know where their domain name is registered, so that they can ignore messages about their domain from anyone else. Even better is to know the login information to the domain registrar. Without this information, it is possible to lose control over your domain.
The website owner should also be listed in the domain registration record as the Registered Name Holder. They will then be able to recover information about the domain and take control of it if necessary. The registration record also lists two other important contacts: Administrator and Technical. The Administrator has most of the same control as the Registrant, the Technical contact less so.
So what do you do if you need to delegate management to someone (like me) to actively manage your site? Most registrars allow two different accounts to share management of a domain. You can hold the domain in your own account and allow your web developer to share access, or vice versa.
Make sure that you have the information you need to safeguard your domain name. It’s truly the key to your entire web presence.