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.
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.
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. )