Domain Investor Safety Tips – #1: Verifying Domain Ownership

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I’ve decided to randomly toss out a domain investing safety tip from time to time to help some of the newer investors protect themselves. In this article, I’ll be addressing different ways to verify ownership prior to making a purchase. It’s become evident that the domain industry (Like most other industries) has individuals that conduct unethical business, some of which could land them in prison for fraud. Sadly, even when they do get caught and locked up, you may never see your money again.

With the above said, let’s see if I can help you avoid experiencing such a situation by providing you with a foundation of ownership verification. The list below is in no way inclusive and you may still run into situations I haven’t covered.

Domain Ownership Verification Techniques

Whois Phone Number – Using your favorite whois tool (E.g. Who.is ), you can find the domain owners phone number and call them directly to confirm ownership. (Unless the domain has privacy services)

Whois Email – Using your favorite whois tool (E.g. Who.is ), you can find the domain owners email and send them an email directly to confirm ownership. (Unless the domain has privacy services)

Video Confirmation – In the event that the domain has privacy services and you are unable to acquire the actual owner’s phone or email, you can request that the seller video capture logging into their registrar, navigating to the domain in their domain manager you’re wanting to buy, and showing you that it is in their possession.

New Page Upload – In the event that the domain has privacy services and you are unable to acquire the actual owner’s phone or email, you can request that the seller upload a new webpage to the domain with custom text and then link you to the page so you can see the domain is under their control.

Screenshots – In the event that the domain has privacy services and you are unable to acquire the actual owner’s phone or email, you can request that the seller provides you with a screenshot of their domain manager clearly showing the domain in their possession. Be sure that the registrar’s logo and navigation is also in the screenshot. Additionally, you may want to enlarge the screenshot slightly and check to make sure the font used for the domain in the list matches the rest of the font in the domain manager (Font type, spacing, color, etc.). Video confirmation is generally safer than screenshots.

Redirect – In the event that the domain has privacy services and you are unable to acquire the actual owner’s phone or email, you can request that the seller redirects the domain to a webpage of your choice so that you can confirm they have control of the domain.

Previous Owner – In the event that the domain has privacy services and you are unable to acquire the actual owner’s phone and email or you just need a little extra comfort in knowing the sellers are the real owners, you can do a reverse whois search using your favorite tool (E.g. reversewhois.domaintools.com ) and contact the previous owner to verify they actually sold it to the person/company selling the domain to you.

Search Engine – In the event that the domain has privacy services and you are unable to acquire the actual owner’s phone and email or you just need a little extra comfort in knowing the sellers are the real owners, you can type the domain in your favorite search engine (E.g. Google.com ) to see where the domain has been listed/used before. In cases where a domain is not the sellers, you may find other reports about attempted sales of the domain.

Tracking Industry Related Reviews And Warnings – If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of domains/sellers/companies with actual warnings or alerts, I would suggest following these two forums over at NamePros:

Note: Keep in mind that some domains are being sold by brokers/brokerages. If this is the case, you’ll also want to research the broker/brokerage to ensure that they don’t have any bad history and that they have explicit authorization from the owner to sell the domain.

While the above tips are in no way inclusive, it should at least help you get started in the right direction for a safer domain investing experience. Sadly, contacting a registrar directly for confirmation usually doesn’t help much due to strict policies that prevent them from sharing customer account information. The majority of the research is going to be your responsibility as a domain investor.

Be safe out there!

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Eric Lyon

Entrepreneur, Freelancer, Domain Investor/Developer, Brand Designer, Brand Manager, Founder of Scorpion Agency™, Founder of OfficeDrift™, And A Father.

Since 1996, Eric has managed companies with 240+ employees, online communities with over 1 million members, attended numerous industry related events/conventions and has personally worked with start-ups, personalities, small mom and pop businesses, corporations, freelancers, news outlets, and a variety of domain investors one-on-one from all over the world. That equates to a lot of years behind the scenes with his fingers firmly on the pulse of multiple industries.

LinkedIn: Profile/Resume - FaceBook: Profile/Social

Eric Lyon

Entrepreneur, Freelancer, Domain Investor/Developer, Brand Designer, Brand Manager, Founder of Scorpion Agency™, Founder of OfficeDrift™, And A Father. Since 1996, Eric has managed companies with 240+ employees, online communities with over 1 million members, attended numerous industry related events/conventions and has personally worked with start-ups, personalities, small mom and pop businesses, corporations, freelancers, news outlets, and a variety of domain investors one-on-one from all over the world. That equates to a lot of years behind the scenes with his fingers firmly on the pulse of multiple industries. LinkedIn: Profile/Resume - FaceBook: Profile/Social

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