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When registering a domain you're required to give contact information which is then made public. There are ways to retain your privacy.

My hosting service registered my domain with a domain registrar and currently all my private details i.e. name, address, email, and phone number are all available to anyone who checks whois.

I notice some web hosting services provide something called "ID Protect" to protect their clients details. Mine doesn't. Apart from changing hosts can you suggest a way to keep my details private/secure as I feel the current situation makes me vulnerable to identity theft, email & telephone scams.

You're right to be concerned. Many people register their domains without realizing that the information they provide becomes public record.

Privacy services are one approach, though even when available they typically involve some extra cost. There are other approaches, often also involving extra cost, that offer a little more flexibility as well.

I'll show you how I've handled the issue.

The issue is a simple one: when you register a domain on the internet you are required to provide contact information that anyone can use to contact you. It's required, and in fact if falsified your registrar may be required to revoke your domain registration.

Unfortunately, many people don't realize that the information they provide will be made publicly available, and supply things like their home address and phone number. As you say, this makes them vulnerable to various forms of abuse and scams.

"... when you register a domain on the internet you are required to provide contact information that anyone can use to contact you."

Many registrars provide a service whereby they list themselves or some third party as the publicly accessible contact. They then forward on all valid attempts to communicate to you while keeping the scams and other folks at bay. Your true information isn't displayed publicly.

If you do nothing else, I do recommend you use this type of service.

There's another approach, that I use, that's much more flexible.

If you do a "whois" lookup on ask-leo.com at a site such as domaintools.com, this is part of what you'll get back:

Registration Service Provided By: Simple Online Solutions
Contact: 
Visit: http://simpleURL.com
        
Domain name: ask-leo.com

Registrant Contact:
   Puget Sound Software
   Leo Notenboom ()
   
   Fax: 
   P.O. Box  2841
   Woodinville, WA 98072
   US

Administrative Contact:
   Puget Sound Software
   Leo Notenboom (email address)
   +1.206774XXXX
   Fax: +1.206774XXXX
   P.O. Box  2841
   Woodinville, WA 98072
   US

Technical Contact:
   Puget Sound Software
   Leo Notenboom (email address)
   +1.206774XXXX
   Fax: +1.206774XXXX
   P.O. Box  2841
   Woodinville, WA 98072
   US

Status: Locked

Name Servers:
   NS.RACKSPACE.COM
   NS2.RACKSPACE.COM
   
Creation date: 05 Sep 2003 23:57:38
Expiration date: 05 Sep 2012 23:57:38

I've obscured the telephone number and email address here, but if you do the actual search you'll see them.

Other than identifying me by name, and that I live in Woodinville, WA, there's no real personal information here.

  • I use a post office box instead of my real address. Any type of post office box will do - one from the post office, or a office store that includes mail boxes.

  • I have a FAX/Voicemail line that I use as the phone number, via maxemail.com. That way people can contact me and leave me voice mail, but they cannot call my home or cell. (For the record, contacting me this way with questions will not get you a response. It's for administrative purposes only.)

  • The email address used is less important, and I happen to use one of my "primary" addresses. I should instead use a dedicated email address for my registrations. Something like domains@ my domain or something else just to make filtering easier.

It's never too late to change.

If you own domains - particularly if you own several - updating the registration information to obscure your personal information is an important step towards maintaining your privacy. However, the information you provide must still be a valid way to reach you, or you risk losing your domain.

(For the record, I use SimpleURL for my domain registrations, and have been very pleased with the service, particularly when I needed to update the registrations on all the domains I own. Tell 'em I sent you. Smile)

Article C3810 - July 15, 2009 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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3 Comments
Coly
July 21, 2009 10:49 AM

If your domain is registered at GoDaddy, you can use their privacy service. It registers you at DomainsByProxy and hides your info.

Mary Waugh
July 31, 2009 4:16 AM

Excellent mention of ways to keep domain name private and secure. There has been witnessed a remarkable increase in Domain theft cases. Hence, it becomes of paramount significance to keep your domain name safe & secure, not letting your online efforts go futile.

Dinore
February 23, 2013 5:43 AM

I recently registered a domain name with GoDaddy. I signed up using my P.O. Box address thinking this was the address that would be used in the Whois database. Instead, my home address and other personal information display on Whois. I used my home address in the Billing fields when paying for the domain since it is the address associated with my credit card. I thought GoDaddy would use the P.O. Box address. How can I have this changed without fees and without having to purchase their privacy services? Thanks!

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