Spam: search engine registration

Curious, this one.
The chances are that if you own a domain you’ve seen these.
It’s a pretty scary format that looks all too official at first glance.

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Only three notes to put to you:

  1. This has nothing to do with your domain ownership
  2. You can register any domain with search engines yourself
  3. You can safely ignore this message

What is the message?

It is a specialised marketing message. What they are looking for is enter into a contract to manage your domains entries on search engines such as Bing, Google, DogPile etc.
These services do indeed exist but they are wholly unrelated to you domain ownership.

What does it say?

It is designed to make you think, at first glance at least, that it is a vital process that you must attend to immediately.
Phrases like “final notice”, “important notice”, try to grab your attention.
Later phrases like “failure to complete”, “difficult for your customers to locate you on the web”, are scare tactics to try to get you to respond immediately. They even give you a spurious reply by date to get you to act quickly.
But the authors are quite, quite clever. Laced through the whole message are phrases that state, quite clearly that this is an advertisement. “As a courtesy”, “no obligation to pay”, and so forth lay things out quite cleverly.
The final “small print” is even clearer.

“This notice is not in any part associated with a continuation of services for domain registration.”

How did they get my details?

When you register a domain, by default your ownership details are placed on a public system that can be searched by anyone.
What is more, they don’t just get your name. Your email address is included. Bad enough but it gets worse.
Yep, your full business or home address is listed. Now, that won’t both most companies, although the naming of a specific individual should be avoided. For a private, individual’s domain however this gives a fair bit of information about you. I’d highly recommend that people try to restrict the information on them on the internet. Publishing your home address, does seem to be covered by that.

How can I hide my details?

Good question!
First, you can check what details can be seen. Some registrations automatically hide the owner’s details. But this is rare.
The owner of a domain is called the registrant. There are many sites that offer to show you what details are available on a domain. Most also offer services to register domains but this is how they pay for offering a a free look up service.
Whois.com (http://www.whois.com/whois target=”_blank”) is a decent service. Just enter your domain name and click the button. You may be shocked at quite the detail you see.
The best way to get this changed is to directly contact the company with whom you registered the domain.
A normal support ticket with your provider should get you the correct information.
You need to ask about “domain privacy” or “whois privacy” or “whois opt-out”, different companies refer to the option under different names.

Is it always possible to hide my details?

In almost all cases if you are using the domain for personal, non-commercial purposes then the answer is “yes”.
It is not thought appropriate to hide domain contact details for commercial domains.
Some registrars though may make it tricky or nigh on impossible.

Is there a cost?

Another good question.
Alas, although it is very common that hiding contact details is free or included in the renewal costs of your domain, your domain provider is obliged to provide the service for free.
Often you can bypass your domain provider and go directly to the domain registrar o get the details changed.

What is a domain registrar?

The domain provider uses the domain registrar to hold and control all domains. They are the holders of the details of who owns which domains. They distribute the domains under a strict set of charters and rules, often these vary depending of the intended purpose of the root domain – .co.uk, .org, .info, .com, .mil etc.
Your domain provider should be able to put you in contact with the appropriate registrar.




Example:

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