Imagine you’re the web admin at an e-commerce company that’s been around for ten years. Your domain name is up for renewal tomorrow, so you try logging into your domain provider, only to discover that you’re not the domain’s administrator. The domain was registered by the previous web admin with a personal email address, and he isn’t returning any of your pleading emails or phone calls.
No biggie, you’ll just call the domain provider, explain the situation and they’ll just transfer ownership over to you, right? Well, not exactly.
Domain ownership is serious business
Domain names have many strict rules to ensure a domain’s security. Think about it from our point of view: How do we know you are who you say you are? And, more importantly, how do we know that the current domain owner agrees to transfer ownership of the domain?
Think about it like this:
Customer: “Hi, this is Patricia from Google. I need to log in and change our DNS settings but can’t get the login info. Can you send it to me?”
Hover: “Sure, here you go!”
Doesn’t seem right, does it?
To make sure that your domain is in the right hands, be sure to get things right the first time, so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute — or even worse, be out of luck.
Set up your domain info correctly
It might sound obvious, but make sure that you register your domain name with accurate information that gives the appropriate people the rights to access and use your domain. We get calls every day from people frantically and unsuccessfully trying to access their accounts, and it pains us because it’s so easy to prevent.
The following steps should be taken for all new domain names you register, but you’ll also want to revisit any domains you currently own to make sure they also meet all the criteria.
Use a new email address
To avoid confusion about which of your company’s many employees are supposed to receive emails from your domain provider, create a brand new address focused entirely on your domain names.
Automatically forward emails to multiple people
People can get busy, miss an email, or leave an organization. Automatically forward emails from your unique domain management email address to several different people to make sure that the important information we send you will be seen every time.
Don’t use your domain email
It might seem like using your organization’s domain for your email address adds credibility in case you ever need to contact support and resolve a dispute, but this is by far one of the biggest mistakes that most people make. If your domain name expires or its DNS settings are changed, then you will not receive any renewal notices, authorization codes or other critical information that we are trying to send. For your domain management email, stick with a reliable free email service like Gmail.
Provide your organization name
Take a good look at this field. Memorize it. Print it out and frame it on your desk. It is by far the most important information we can use when verifying your organization’s ownership of your domain name.
If the registered domain owner is not cooperating, we can intervene by receiving proof that you are representing the organization that is on file with the domain registry. If the organization name is “ACME Corp” then you’re going to have a much harder time.
The same can be said if you don’t have an organization name. If it’s a personal domain that was registered by someone else, make sure that he or she puts your full name in the organization name field. If you’re getting pushback about this, then really make sure it gets put in.
Use real contact information
It’ll be much harder to reach you or prove your identity if we don’t have the correct information on file. Many people make up information to avoid being spammed, but when you lose your domain name, you’ll give anything to be getting that spam while your website is still online.
Rest assured knowing that your contact information will be kept confidential by Hover with free WHOIS privacy. This will make sure that the only people contacting you will be us in critical situations like domain ownership disputes.
What to do when you’re in trouble
If you didn’t do any of the above things and are now scrambling with a critical domain ownership issue, all hope may not be lost.
Situations like these are just as unique and complex as their solutions. The best way to determine how to sort out your ownership issue is by contacting your domain provider’s support team. Sometimes there will be one item in your account that will give us the authorization to switch ownership; other times we can advise what steps you can take to get the required authorization.
No-hassle renewals for expiring domains
Though you should get ownership of your domain in the right hands regardless, if a domain expiration is your urgent problem then you are in luck! We built No-Hassle Renewals to renew any Hover domain name without logging in, regardless of whether you are the account owner. This allows you to pay for additional years of domain registration on any domain without needing to know your login credentials for the domain management account.
But again, still make sure that the right person is in charge of your domain.
Don’t put one person in charge
If you only take away one thing from this article, make it this: Do not leave one person solely in charge of your domain name!
Your domain is one of the most important parts of your online presence, and you need to make sure it can be recovered no matter what happens. We’ve seen it all and believe me, the extra ten minutes you spend setting things up right will be infinitely better than the hours and stress involved with trying to get access later on and perhaps even losing your domain altogether.