Whois Privacy and Why It Matters.

Every registered domain name has a Whois record which will contain contact for the registrant (owner), administrator, billing and technical contact.  For each of these contact positions (they can be the same), the Whois record will contain:

  • individual’s first and last name
  • organization’s name
  • postal address
  • phone number and optional fax number
  • email address

Additionally, the Whois record will contact contact information for the domain’s registrar, and the domain’s creation date, expiry date, name server names and IP addresses, the domain’s status and the date the record was last updated.

A little History

In 2002, many different registrars abused access to other registrar’s Whois servers to pull together a mailing list of domain owners, and used this information to send solicitations.  Theses solicitations were often sent by postal mail, and designed to appear like an invoice, and confused many domain owners into sending a payment thinking the were renewing their domain with their current registrar.  We documented this practice on a website called domainscams.com, and were subsequently sued by one of the companies.  The link above goes to a page with archive.org, which recorded a snapshot of the domain scams web site at the time.

In response to this practice, Register4Less.com created our Whois privacy service which shielded our customer’s contact information from the public Whois record, keeping them safe from spammers and ethically challenged companies.

Whois Privacy Today

A trend we have seen with most registrars this year is they are starting to charge additional fees, up to $12/year, for Whois privacy.   If you transfer a domain that has some time to go before it’s expiry date, they will charge for this time as well!  So for example, if you have a domain with 3 years left on it and you order a transfer with one of these registrars, they will charge you 1 year renewal fee for the transfer, and $48 (four years) for Privacy!  With Register4Less.com, we charge only the renewal fee.

This is a service Register4Less.com has offered for free since we introduced the service in 2002.  With our Whois privacy service, your personal name, address, email, and telephone information stays private and not part of your domain’s public Whois record.  That information is instead replaced with contact information from privacyprotect.org.

Can I Still Be Contacted With Privacy Enabled?

Yes.  privacyprotect.org maintains a website that will allow visitors to fill out a contact form.  When this is filled out and your domain is specified, the contents of the form will be emailed to you without revealing your contact details.  The contact form uses a captcha to prevent automated programs from connecting and submitting spam through the form.

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