Domain Name Theft: A Sneaky Attempt to Take My Name
If you have a domain name(s) that you’ve registered how much thought have you given to who else might want the name? That question crossed my mind in the context of – do I have a name that others might like to buy or one that could potentially drive traffic to a website.
At the time I was registering many domain names. Some names I wanted to use myself, some to keep, hoping they would go up in value, and others to sell as soon as I could find a buyer. Most of the names I had made up – until it had become difficult to think of new names that had meaning and were not very long. When that happened, I started registering expired domain names.
After accumulating several hundred (700+) domain names I decided to take a break and pondered my next move. I didn’t have to wait long. Within a week I received a notice from my registrar. It seemed a registrar in Germany had someone who was transferring one of my domain names to their account. How could they get away with that? That was my first experience of having someone trying to steal a name from me. I had heard of such things, but experiencing them first hand is much more real and frightening.
I quickly emailed my registrar and asked what was going on and that I had not given anyone permission to take one of my names. I was told my domain had already been transferred to someone else. I gave my registrar explicit instructions to cancel the transfer, which they did immediately. As soon as I got the name back they placed a lock on the domain so it could not happen again.
This was back around 2004. Since then it is fairly common for registrars to offer an option to lock a domain do it cannot be transferred automatically. Sometimes it’s free, while with other registrars it cost money and the amount varies considerably.
Confident I had solved the problem, that incident quickly left my mind, as I had a myriad of other things to do. But no – things never seem so easy, as I came to realize a couple of weeks later. I checked my email and there was an email from that same registrar, where two weeks earlier someone had tried to transfer my domain name to their account. It was a form letter in both English and German telling me they were transferring my domain name to their registry.
I asked a co-worker who was German to translate the German language part. She verified that in German it said the same as in the English version. All my domains were locked so there was nothing I had to do.
It seemed awfully suspicious that someone wanted that name so badly that they would try to transfer it when it was plainly up for sale. The directory website where that name was hosted showed a for sale notice along with a price.
I quickly composed a letter and emailed it to that registrar expressing my thoughts. I also raised the price of the domain name once I had sent the email. Because I was upset about the matter I decided to raise the selling price by a factor of ten. I never received a response from my email and assumed the matter was closed.
Well, to make a long story short I received three more emails within the next three weeks, each with attempts to get me to transfer my domain name to them. The emails included dubious documentation and said “You must agree to enter into a new Registration Agreement with us”. I ignored all attempts to sign away my domain name to the other registrar.
The last four attempts to get me to surrender my domain name all occurred just after ICANN changed the rules pertaining to domain names. That new ruling took affect November 12, 2004 making it easier (in my opinion) for someone to sneakily transfer a domain name. With the current new rules it seems all you have to do is not respond to your registrar within five days of them sending you notice indicating your domain name is being transferred.
If you happen to be on vacation, not respond to your email quickly, or overlook such email, you may find yourself short a domain name. If however, your domain name(s) is locked, then you shouldn’t have to worry about that problem. My impression is that many registrars are now locking domain names by default so they cannot be transferred automatically, but you should check yours to be sure.
All this fuss over a domain name I made up got me thinking about my rights to my domain name. I checked the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, signed by President Clinton, November 29, 1999. I’m no lawyer, but it does not look favorable for me, even though I made up a name I did not think anyone else had. I’ll let you the reader check the law and come to your own conclusion.
There was no further action on that domain name and it has been well over two years now. That was the end of that theft attempt. I kept the name for about five years and then decided I didn’t want it. I didn’t bother about trying to sell it to that company. Now in 2011 I just checked on the domain to see who had it. To my surprise it is up for sale by whoever owns it.
I have moved on to creating websites and am not actively collecting domain names. I still have over 100 domain names, however. Many have sites on them, while others I am just holding because I like the name or think they might have some value. Still a few others I plan to put a site on if I can get a partner for the site. This is because I just don’t have the time to maintain / update any more sites.
If you are interested in being a partner with me in a site contact me on the contact form of that website. If you want me to install or create a website for you contact me.
Copyright © Charles L Harmon
About the Author
Charles runs http://travelquizweekly.com where he wants you to read about travel destinations and see how much you learn.
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