When you buy a domain name, your registrar is required by ICANN to enter your contact information – including your name, physical address, email address and phone number – in its WHOIS database, a searchable directory that holds contact information on all of its domain name registrants. This personal information is available, free of charge, to any member of the public who decides to check domain names in the registrar's online WHOIS database.
Consider private domain registration your protection from the potential dangers of the WHOIS database. In the same way that you might protect your privacy by keeping your number out of telephone listings, you can choose private domain registration to keep your contact information out of the hands of strangers. When you select private domain registration for your domain name, your registrar will replace your contact information with its own in the WHOIS database. Private domain registration is considered an add-on service, which means it will carry an additional fee separate from your domain registration. However, as threats to online security continue to evolve, there are several reasons why it pays to have private domain registration.
#1: Protect your privacy
Identity theft isn't just happening in the movies. When your personal information is available in the WHOIS database, your risk level escalates. Private domain registration can alleviate your concerns by ensuring that anyone who decides to check domain names for nefarious purposes will find only the name of your proxy service.
#2: Prevent unwanted solicitation
When you can't control the dissemination of your contact information through the WHOIS database, you risk becoming a target for those who have less than the best of intentions. Spammers may infiltrate your business email system – causing problems for you and your customers. Telemarketers also have been known to scour the WHOIS database looking for phone numbers for their own phone lists.
#3: Stay in control
When private domain registration keeps your personal information out of the WHOIS database, you can ultimately decide what information you wish to make public through your business website. Provide "safe" contact information that both you and your customers can feel comfortable using.
#4: Disguise your Email
When you elect private domain registration, your domain name registrar should provide a unique email address that is constantly changing in the WHOIS database – every 10 days, for example – to keep spammers at bay. Email sent to this address should be filtered for spam and redirected to the private email account of your choice.
#5: Stay in Budget
While it's difficult to put a price on peace of mind, it's safe to assume it would be higher than the typical $5-$9 price range associated with private domain registration. Business expenses add up quickly, but it's difficult to deny that private domain registration is a bargain.
If you have concerns about misuse of the WHOIS database, consider using private domain registration to maintain control of your personal information and keep others from exploiting it for their own gain.