Posted Friday, November 19, 2004
Did you know that you can lose your digital piece of real estate, even without an eviction notice? Imagine losing everything in a single heartbeat: your business, your brand equity, your traffic and your source of income ... Without your knowledge or consent!
That's what happened to many unfortunate online business owners, lately. Specifically, a stunning controversy has emerged, which all Internet marketers and business owners should pay very close attention to. If you own an online business, be extra careful.
VeriSign, the online security company, is now not only a domain name registrar but also the company that runs the master domain database (.com's, .net's and .org's). It's a responsibility once held by Network Solutions (since acquired by Verisign) conferred to them by ICANN. Is this monopoly a good thing? Apparently not.
If you neglect to pay your mortgage, for example, you lose your home. But this only happens after you've received several "past due" notices from the bank and still failed to make your payment on time. (That's OK, since your physical address never changes.)
Similarly, most domain name registrars will notify you by email when it's time to renew. But what happens if your email address is wrong? What happens if your postal address has changed? What happens if you're on vacation away from your computer? And what happens if you simply overlooked the notification?
If so, you're probably out of luck.
According to Janet Kornblum in a USA TODAY article, you can lose your "digital home" without ever getting an eviction notice. Says Kornblum, "What if you just came home from work, one night, and found new owners sitting in the dining room, eating your food?"
That was the case with a few business owners whose domain names, which were registered through VeriSign, expired and were quickly snapped up by other people, putting the original owner right out of business in a blink of an eye! VeriSign is not the only one, too. Some registrars fail to even send a single renewal notice!
(One lawyer became aware -- when it was too late -- that his URL for his law practice website lead to a porn site. Not only did he lose all that business and traffic, but he also had to deal with a much bigger loss: his good name, and not just the name itself.)
If the domain name is a registered trademark, chances are greater that the original owner can have it returned -- but that does not take into consideration the time and money required for the legal process, as well as the potential business wasted during the wait along with the incalculable damage caused to the company's brand.
In other words, if you fail to act (and act fast) when renewal time comes, it can kill your business ... Almost instantly, too.
Certain web-based services offer people the ability to snatch up expired domain names, like (http://bizmint.com/) for example. These services may appear to prey on these unsuspecting business owners -- but keep in mind that registrars are really the ones to blame.
However, such services can be used as effective tools by business owners who wish to protect their online piece of real estate from potential loss. In fact, services like these offer features that can become extremely helpful in preventing online identity theft.
(Realize that identity theft is not really a "theft." According to Kornblum: "It's hot. It's legal. And if you've got a popular domain name, you can be sure someone's out there just waiting for you drop the ball so they can snap it up and run with it.")
Here's a three step process to prevent online identity theft (or to protect you from shady registrars with poor customer service):
1. Join an online service like (http://bizmint.com/), and allow for daily email alerts of expired and soon-to-expire domain names to be sent to you the moment they arise. (Only a handful of these subscription services offer this important feature.)
2. Create filters in your email reader that watches for specific words, including prospective domain names as well as your own, and immediately flags them as they arrive in your inbox. (And note that BizMint also offers an online tracking service.)
3. And finally, renew your domains as quickly as possible. (Also, some of these services offer members instant registration as well as domain name transfers for existing domains. Therefore, if your registrar's customer service is less than desirable, consider transferring your domain names to better a one.)
So, be sure to verify and be immediately notified well in advance of when your domain names are about to expire. In fact, USA TODAY reported that an average of 19,260 domain names expire every day in the last month alone, as opposed to 1,200 just a year ago.
Is your domain name among them? If so, you better watch out.
About the Author
Simon Grabowski is the owner of several online businesses that serve a growing network of over 23.6 million people. He is the owner of BizMint.com, the leader in expired and soon-to-expire domain names. Grab a great domain name for pennies! Above all, don't let yours fall into your competitors' hands! Join today before it's too late. Visit (http://www.bizmint.com/) right now!