Angela Celliucci

Angie Cellucci

Editor’s note: Angie Cellucci, director of UVS Junction, a full-service website, inventory, marketing and lead management software firm for RV and marine dealerships, shares her concerns regarding the safety of website domains.

As web providers, we give all clients the option of self-managing their domain name or passing the torch to us. This responsibility is simple. When the domain is about to expire, the email on file will receive notification. Upon receipt, you’ll enter credit card information and that’s it. In addition, access to this account is needed if ever one is changing providers. If that’s the case, the new provider would need to log into the account and repoint the domain to the new host. In some cases, the domain owner themselves will choose to take action.

Back when we first started servicing our industry is when dealers started becoming active on the Internet. Many purchased their domains for 10 years. All this time it was never even a thought. Now, more and more we’re seeing dealers faced with the challenges or validating themselves as renewals arise.

At the end of the day, if the domain owner does not have access to their domain account they are going to be faced with many challenges. If you fail to renew your domain, your website will go down. This is no fault of your website provider. It’s because your domain is now out there for grabs. You’ll have some time to get it back before it becomes available for sale. In addition, any emails that are corporate (domain tag) will no longer work. It can be a nightmare.

The best way to purchase any domain is to avoid third party companies. Go right to the source.

Here are a few questions you should be able to answer immediately. If not, you need to read further:

  1. What registry company is your domain with? Examples would be Go Daddy, Network Solutions, Register.com.
  2. What email is on file?
  3. Who is the administrator of your domain name account?
  4. Are you able to contact your account administrator easily?
  5. Do you know the user name and password for your domain account?

When our industry first had a whirl at the World Wide Web, many didn’t understand the power behind it. They hired a company to buy their domain or one of their employees purchased it for them. Here are some common road blocks we see time after time:

• When the domain was purchased, it was purchased with a personal email from a third party or employee that can no longer be accessed. This is bad because if you need to retrieve your user name and password, you won’t have a way to receive it. This is a very common occurrence that we deal with frequently. When this happens, it can take a while before you and your dealership can validate ownership because the fastest way to get your login information is via an email request.

• When the domain was purchased, it was purchased from a third party that is now claiming ownership. This can be extremely challenging and cost you a ton of money. In some cases if the domain is your legal name or corporate name it may be easier to assume ownership. With that if it’s a phrase or term, ownership will be extremely difficult to prove.

• When the domain is part of a third party group. This could be any company that oversees multiple domain names with one login into their dashboard. This would prevent you from logging into your own account without jumping through hoops. Sometimes groups play hard ball. If you’re wanting to change website providers they’ll try to hold you hostage for a bit and make your life miserable. If you are ever in a circumstance where your website provider wants to include you in a group, be sure you have a healthy relationship with them. You always want immediate access to your domain account.

• When a domain expires and the dealership had no idea because the email on file is not a corporate email and it remains unnoticed.

So how can you avoid domain drama? It’s easy. Be in control of your domain at all times. Here are some easy steps that you should immediately take if you need to obtain control of your domain:

• Find out where your domain is “registered.” A great place to learn more is to visit with WHOIS.com WHOIS will ask you the domain you are searching. When you enter the name it will tell you the domain is unavailable. That’s what it should do because you own it. Next, click the WHOIS option to see all the information regarding that domain. You should see names, addresses, phone numbers, creation dates, expiration date, etc. If you don’t recognize this information or can’t get through when you call the person on file you need to immediately take additional steps to access your account. We’ve listed them below.

  1. Call the phone number on file. This is who was listed as the administrator of your account. They’ll know you or should be able to look up your account.
  2. Send an email to the email on file. They should respond.
  3. Report any abuse or attempt to hold your domain hostage.

If you start this process way before you have plans to change providers or before your renewal comes up, you should have enough time to get it done. It’s not going to be easy but don’t give up. So if anything, go to WHOIS.com and check out your domain and when it’s about to expire. If you don’t recognize the information on file, start dialog with the account holder. During the process ask to update the email on file and access your account information before it is too late.

In closing, it is okay to have your website provider oversee your domain account based on the following suggestions:

  • You can easily access to the account up request.
  • You remain current with the user name and password.
  • You can at any time lock out your provider by logging in and changing the password.
  • You have an email on file for renewal notifications.

For more information about domain ownership, scams and possible threats, visit http://www.uvsjunction.com/pages/domain_ownership