Domain Names -- A Few Precautions

Most businesses operating on the Internet are ethical and honest, but unfortunately there are a few unscrupulous companies and unethical practices. Being aware of these dishonest schemes will help you avoid falling victim to them.

Warning #1 Devious Domain Registrars

Early in 2009 a well-known domain name registrar settled a class action lawsuit that arose from its practice of registering every name that anyone inquired about on its site. This practice meant the domain name could only be purchased from that registrar, as other registrars would see the name as being unavailable. This practice was an anti-competitive measure designed to lock people in to that registrar, since they could not register the name anywhere else.

Warning #2 The Domain Name Front Runner

The Domain Name Front Runner is a person who monitors inquiries about available domain names, and then buys them before the person making the inquiry has a chance to buy. The reasoning behind this ploy is that a new domain name is cheap, but one already registered to someone else is usually more expensive. Sometimes, people who really want the domain name may pay thousands for what otherwise would have cost around $10.

There’s so far no proof that private front runners are operating, but the technology is available, and there is anecdotal evidence that it is happening.

Precautions to Take

The precautions to take to avoid being victim to a front runner or devious domain registrar are to do your homework and be ready to register at the time you inquire. Decide on the domain registrar you want to use before you even ask if the name is available. Use the menu bar on the left to check out domain registrars and hosting companies, or click on Compare Domains to get started on your research.

Don’t inquire about the availability of a name anywhere except on the website of the domain registrar you’ve chosen. That means don’t type it into the URL box in your browser, and don’t post questions about it in blogs or forums on the Net. If you’re not sure which of several names you should choose, then buy them all if your budget stretches that far. It’s much cheaper to buy a new domain name than a second hand one.

Most domain names are registered without difficulty, but it pays to be aware of the potential problems, so you can avoid them.