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The Pros and Cons of Domain Whois Privacy

Yesterday I registered a new domain name at my registrar, but forgot to enable Whois Privacy for it. And today, I started getting all kinds of telemarketing phone calls, spam emails and texts. I have registered hundreds of domains over the years, but I have never experienced this much spam over a single domain registration.

I had close to 50 spam emails, texts, and telemarketing calls from various web development and SEO “companies.” I don’t see how any law-abiding, respectable company can use these shady methods for getting new customers.

Email Spam Domain Registration

As soon as I figured out what was causing this, I turned on Whois Privacy for the domain. Unfortunately, once you register a domain without Whois Privacy, it’s too late. The spammers already have your contact information. The spam and telemarketing calls continued to come in well after I turned on Whois Privacy.

For those of you who do not know, when you register a domain name at a registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap, your personal information becomes accessible to anyone that does a simple Whois lookup. But it’s not your registrar’s fault; all registrars have to abide by the same rules established by ICANN. By pulling a Whois lookup report of new domain registrations, these spammers can get the registrant’s full name, address, email and phone number. With list in hand, spammers will then mass email or auto-dial a bunch of new domain owners. This is a spammer’s dream!

Pros of Domain Whois Privacy

  • Simply for privacy reasons. If you are not using your business information, then you will have to use your personal information.
  • Hide your personal information from spammers and scammers.
  • For business reasons. Say you have competitors who are trying to gather competitive intelligence on your business, you may want to hide what domains or websites you own.
  • Whois Privacy can be instantly turned on or off.

Cons of Domain Whois Privacy

  • Depending on the registrar, you may have to pay for Whois Privacy service. There are some registrars that provide free Whois Privacy.
  • By enabling Whois Privacy on a domain, you technically give up ownership of the domain as long as you are hiding your personal information. The reason for this is because according to ICANN, whoever is listed as the Whois registrant becomes the rightful owner. When Whois Privacy is enabled, your registrar uses their own business information as Whois info.
  • This doesn’t apply to most people, but according to some domain investors, they do not want to hide their contact information so the buyer can easily inquire. I personally do not understand their view point because you can still receive forwarded emails with Whois Privacy turned on.

Should You Use Whois Privacy?

I think the answer depends on your situation. If you own a business and can use your business contact information, then privacy shouldn’t be much of a concern for you. And if you’re a domainer with specific reasons for not wanting to hide your contact information, then you probably don’t care for Whois Privacy.

The only small concern I have with Whois Privacy is the ownership thing. But honestly, I’m not too worried considering I use a well-known accredited registrar based in the US. Also, unless you’re breaking the law somehow or someone else has legal rights to your domain, you have nothing to worry about. As a US citizen you have a legal process you can use in case you ever need to get a domain back that was stolen or unlawfully taken from you.

Want to know which domain registrars offer free Whois Privacy? Check out this domain registrar comparison.

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