Posted on July 24, 2017
Do you have a domain for your business? Do you know when your domain registration expires? Depending on how reputable your registrar is, this is something everyone should keep an eye on.
A client recently contacted me to say that her web site isn't currently working, and wanted my help figuring out the issue. When I went to her site, I found out that not only was her site no longer in place, but that someone had essentially stolen her domain name.
Is her domain name something that many people could use? No. It is a custom name, made up of words that were important to her, which she used to form the name of her company - a company that has been in business, with a website at that domain, for more than 7 years.
After doing some investigation, I found out that her domain registration expired, but that her registrar had neglected to warn her that the expiry was coming up. Like most companies, she wasn't tracking the expiry date. She assumed that she would be given ample time to renew before the registration expired. However, unbeknownst to her, a third party was out there, running a program letting them know when any domain hit it's expiry date. Then this third party proceeded to purchase her domain name - for about $10 - not because they needed it, OR because that domain is their company name as well, OR because they intended to use that domain. No. They purchased it and immediately put it up for sale for $2195.
Personally, I don't understand why this is allowed to happen. It should be illegal. We can file an official complaint and start legal proceedings, but that costs about $1500 simply to submit the documents.
The system clearly has flaws.
What can you do to ensure that this doesn't happen to you? Make sure your domain registrar is a reputable company and that they send email reminders about a pending expiry of your domain registration. You should get reminders at least 4 weeks, 2 weeks and 1 week prior to expiry. Personally, I use Namespro.ca for all my registrations, as well as those that I do on behalf of my clients. And yes, they do send many reminders, and I have never missed a notification on any of the 35 domains I've registered with them.
Either way, take this as a reminder that there are companies out there just waiting to try to profit off your mistake. Just think about it ... if you had to change the URL for your business, what would that include? Your website, yes. But also your email accounts, your business cards, your social media accounts, any advertisements, links located on other websites, references to your URL in anyone else's social media account ... It is a much bigger deal than you might think at first glance.
Not sure about your own registration expiry date? Click here to access a WHOIS database. Just enter your domain name in the field and check the record for your expiry date. Then make note of the date so that you don't miss it.
And now I'll get back to trying to figure out what we can do to reacquire a domain that never should have been stolen in the first place.